Monday, May 18, 2009

Memory Lane

I bet most of us who lived in the Pacific NW can tell you exactly where we were and what we were doing 29 years ago today. It's the anniversary of Mount St. Helens' volcanic eruption.
We were living in Coeur d'Alene and had friends from Portland visiting. I stayed home to get things ready for dinner while everyone took a drive. At some point I dozed off while reading the paper and when I awoke it was pitch black out. Panicked that everyone was still gone, I saw the clock said it was 3, and assumed it was three a.m. Turning on the television I found that it was still afternoon and that a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of nature had occurred.
It was eery when we awoke the next morning to see familiar landscape covered in gray volcanic ash. There were few cars on the road for days, people wore surgical masks when outdoors and getting the inches of ash off the driveway and sidewalks was nearly impossible. Hosing it down created a clay-like mud and it was too dense to sweep away with much success. It was a pretty big mess for quite some time but I recall the excitement of bearing witness to history.

Where were you when the mountain erupted?


  1. It was a beautiful morning and a couple friends and Sue's little brother and I were off to Fairchild AFB for Aerospace Day. Yeah, yeah, volcano, bla bla bla. Let's go.

    Heading west that big black cloud kept getting bigger and blacker. As we were approaching Airway Heights in bumper to bumper traffic, the radio said that Aerospace Day had been cancelled. You could tell who was listening to the same station as a few cars both ahead and behind joined us in a U-turn.

    Aw, jeez, we came all the way over, too. Hey, what's happening at the Raceway Park? So we hung out there for an hour or so watching go-karts until it was big and black enough for us to head for home.

    And of course, we have our jar of ash in the garage.

    Dave Walker

  2. I remember a beautiful spring day--warm as today. I took my dogs down to my aunt's home at Fernan and gave each a bath in the lake. Then home to mow the lawn until it looked like a big storm coming. Went in to take a shower, and it got very dark. Looked out a little later and my two freshly washed dogs were totally gray covered with ash!

  3. We had been on a Sunday drive out Beauty Bay way, and were heading home. We watched the the very scary looking black clouds in the distance coming our way and getting closer and closer as we approached Cd'A. Very eery, and very obvious not a normal thunder storm. We were sure glad to get home safe and sound and hunker in. We had our jars of ash too, for many years!