Quite a while ago I made plans to spend this last weekend in the Portland area. I was looking forward to seeing Steve and Shannon and Bennett (my second-cousin and his family), and also Rebekah and Chuck (my aunt's sister and husband). I was going to head there on Friday, and then on Saturday night head a little north to see friends Chris and Carrie and their boys, hear Chris preach on Sunday, and spend the day with them before heading home on Monday. That was the plan.
Then, you may have heard, there was some flooding in the area. Thanks to those of you who have called to hear how I am, but I'm happy to report that I wasn't affected here in Puyallup at all. The worst area was about 45 minutes south of me where entire towns were pretty much wiped out. Awful. For some amazing pictures, go to Chris and Carrie's blog (link on the side).
One of the huge results of this terrible storm was that I-5 was closed for quite a few days. It's the freeway that goes from Canada to Mexico, and is really the only good way to get from Seattle to Portland. After doing quite a bit of checking on the WA-DOT website, I learned that the only good detour was about 6-8 hours out of the way, going through central WA then south. There were too many of the smaller roads washed out to make anything else feasible. I was so disappointed not to be able to make this little trip! I've only been to Portland once (HLA Band Tour 1994, one quick night, no sightseeing) and I wanted to see the city, hang out with Steve and Shannon, play with Bennett (born the same day as David!), visit with Bec and Chuck, and see their beautiful new home. It was going to be a full weekend!
Well, on Saturday I talked with Carrie again realizing that I-5 had opened up. Even though I had by then scrapped the whole adventure, I knew I still wanted to be able to hear Chris preach and spend time with their family. So, I decided to pack up and hop in the car. I'm so glad I did! I got to Kelso, WA about 8pm and Carrie and I went straight over to another church where they were doing a live nativity "Journey to Bethlehem". For some great pictures, check out Chris and Carrie's blog again. It was an amazing live, interactive walk through ancient Bethlehem. Very cool!
On Sunday, it was so good to be in Chris' Sunday School class, and worship at Faith Fellowship. I love the advent season, and it was good to talk about Peace this Sunday. That evening was the church's annual Christmas Party, and it was really fun to get to visit with many of the different people there, and enjoy some great food and fellowship, along with a white elephant gift exchange! Here we are at the end of the night. I forgot to take too many pictures earlier!
Today we drove around so I could see a little of the Kelso/Longview area. We stopped at this great Japanese garden and wandered around a bit. I love this beautiful bridge!
A pond with a waterfall that goes back into the big lake.
William is always good about saying "cheese!"
Andy, just "hanging out"!
I didn't get any pictures of Zac alone -sorry about that! He's not usually in one place too long to snap a picture!
After driving over a HUGE bridge that spans the Columbia River, we did something I hadn't even put on my radar -we got to go to Mount St. Helens! It's fairly close to where they live so we took off. We stopped at the Visitor Center quick, then headed up. The clouds kept getting thicker and thicker and we weren't sure that we'd be able to see anything. And, there was more and more snow on the ground that started to make things slippery. Just when I was thinking that we might have to give up and turn around, we could see the sun shining through the top of the clouds and we finally broke through them. The view was AMAZING!
What you can't see in this picture is how COLD I was feeling! Brrrr....
In this picture, you can actually see all the way from the bottom of the valley that was filled with ash, up to the top where the very top 1300 feet were blown off during the eruption of 1980. There is now a crater where mountain used to exist.
Mount Adams in the distance... another part of the Cascades.
Our view on the way back down. If you ignore the reflection of Chris' red shirt, you can see that we were above the clouds. The boys agreed it felt like we were in a plane flying over the clouds, and it was quite spectacular. It was amazing to be in this bright sun one minute, then after driving down again, we were under a huge cloud-cover.
Thank you Chris, Carrie, Zac, Andy and Will for the great weekend! It was so fun to see you again and spend this time together! Thanks for your hospitality!