Monday, October 11, 2010

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon

Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon

As you drive on the property the first thing you see is vineyards and then a building under construction that has a 747 on the roof. What I heard was that this was going to be a restaurant and wine tasting room in the 747, not sure what the remainder of the building will be. But it sounds like it could be a lot of fun to visit again.

The Evergreen Air and Space Museum is very impressive with its displays of aircraft from the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright to the space craft of both the United States and Russia. There are 3 buildings that make up the museum, "Evergreen Aviation, Evergreen Space, Evergreen IMAX Theatre and an educational center. When visiting the museum you should plan on being there for a good day as it will take that much time to at least do a walk thru to see all the aircraft, space crafts and vintage vehicles and to take in the IMAX theater. There are many video presentations going on throughout the buildings. There is also an area outside in the parks of more military vehicles, tanks and equipment.
In the Aviation building the main feature is the famous Howard Hughes troop transport "Spruce Goose" build mostly of wood. The plane's features of wingspan and tail section are longer and higher than a 747. Wingspan of over 319 feet and tail height over 79 feet. It was designed to carry 750 troops. Some interesting fact that 7 tons of small nails were used in construction to form the shape and then when all the glue or special adhesives were set they were removed and holes plugged and the aircraft painted. The plane history is short as it only flew once on Nov 2, 1947 for approx 1 minute and 1 mile and 70 feet above the waters of Long Beach Harbor and the pilot was Howard Hughes. After this flight it went into storage in a special built hanger and after Mr Hughes death in 1976 it was to be disassembled and parts sent to different aviation museums or scrapped. The plane was saved and put on display in a dome facility near the Queen Mary in Long Beach for the period of 1982 to 1988. In 1988 Disney Corporation bought the facility but did not want the plane so its fate was up in the air. In 1992 the Evergreen museum was awarded the honor to save the plane, so in 1992 the dis assembly of the aircraft started and was the fuselage and wings were put on a barge and other parts trucked to the Portland, Oregon and in 1993 it was all trucked to McMinnville and stored on site and in 2001 the new building was ready and the aircraft moved into it and reassembled and opened for tourist the same year.
In the Aviation building there are over 150 aircraft from the Wright Brothers to some modern day aircraft. In the Space museum many different rockets, an SR-71 Blackbird, American and Russian space capsules, lunar rovers, landing craft, suits and so many exhibits to mention. It is a must to see for those who are interested in aviation.
We did not get into the IMAX, time constraints but they did offer several movies to see during the day. Also offered for an additional charge you could go up in the cockpit of the Spruce Goose and have pictures taken of being at the controls.
We did find a compact vehicle in the parking lot that we could almost strap to the roof of the RV as you can see in one of the pictures Sue is standing over it.

The Pacific Northwest offers so much to see that it will take another trip there and not just a drive by and stop a few times. What a beautiful area.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oergon Historic Route 30 Columbia River Gorge Drive

Horsetail Falls

Old Route 30 Tunnel

We stopped in Troutdale, Oregon and visited the Columbia River Gorge. We drove historic Oregon Route 30 and visited the 7 waterfalls and trails along this route. Near the start of the scenic drive is the Crown Point State Park which is 700+ feet above the Gorge and offers on a good day a 30 mile view. The Vista House is an octagonal building built in 1916 where the Columbia River Gorge Highway was dedicated. It is a visitor's center, restrooms and of course the always there gift shop.

The are 7 natural waterfalls within a 15 mile route. The most popular is Multnomah Falls. This waterfall is some 700 feet high and is 2 tiered with a pond at the 620 feet drop mark. There is a trail about 2/10 of a mile to the pedestrian bridge view point. A few years ago when a wedding party having pictures taken a rock from the face of the falls fell and landed in the pond sending a large wave over the bridge with such force that several people were injured.

When the road was built around 1916 the construction crews had to dig out the road and create some tunnels thru the base of the mountains. As time past and traffic got heavier the road needed some revamping and most of the tunnels have gone by the way. There is only one tunnel that has been saved and is now used as trail path to a waterfall, no vehicle traffic is allowed thru it.

We drove down to Bonneville Power Plant and Dam and Cascade Locks, and to the Bridge of Gods. This area like before is another spot that calls for a repeat visit, but for a longer stay. A very beautiful part of the USA.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mt St Helens Windy Ridge View Point & Spirit Lake

Mt St Helens from Windy Ridge Viewpoint

Johnston Observatory from Windy Ridge

To drive to Johnston from Windy Ridge is about 150 miles. Park Rangers have been known to walk across the valley to Windy Ridge and back in a shorter time than to drive one way.

The Valley between Johnston and Windy Ridge

Crater and mudslide flowpath snow still remains on mountain top and sides. In the right side picture in the crater shows a new dome that has grown in the 80's and into the 90's then it stopped growing.

Meta Lake
This lake was protected by the mountain directly in front of the blast zone. The destruction of the forest that was on either side of the lake received the effects of the blast. The lake area received up to 6-8 inches of ash. When the scientist started inspecting these areas they were surprised to find that nature was already starting its comeback. Plant life and fish in the lake had survived. The return of wildlife like deer, elk, and moose have helped with the reforestation with their daily animal droppings that contains seeds of what they eat.

KRMO TV Car abandoned at scene

The reporter was driving this car covering the story and had to abandon it. He was rescued and survived. The car was donated to one of the visitor centers on the road to Johnston Center.

Spirit Lake with Logs from eruption

Spirit Lake with estimated million logs floating on the surface. They are not to be removed as this is a National Volcanic Monument. Today the lake is estimated to be about 200 feet higher in elevation than May 18, 1980. The lake was in direct blast zone where the mudslides from the mountain flowed before eruption with the rising temperatures and then the blast changed the complete landscape. Scientist determined that when the mountain exploded that it caused everything in front of it to travel several hundred miles per hour and the mud, rocks, trees hit the lake with such force that a wave several hundred feet high went across the lake and up the the next mountain. When it rolled back took the trees that were hit by the blast fell back into the lake along with all the mud and debris to raise it level by about 2oo feet higher than before the eruption.

Two points that are seen just upper left and below right of center are the approximate location of where the Spirit Lodge was location. It was owned and operated by Harry Truman who refused to leave his home where he lived for 50 years. He died there with his dog and 13 cats.

There was so much to see. We only spent a couple of days to view the mountain, Spirit Lake and the view points along the main roads. We would have liked to visit the Ape Caves and the Lava Canyon. Next time! There's a lot more to see and do in Washington state.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mt St Helens, Washington Johnston Observatory View

Mt St Helens, Washington, August 2010

We left McChord Air Force Base FamCamp and drove about 140 miles to Silver Cove RV Resort in Silverlake, Wa about 40 miles from Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument Visitor Center. There are several visitor centers as you travel around the volcano. The first center is located about 45 miles from the Johnston Ridge Observatory, where you first get a view of the mountain and during the day the park rangers offer briefings about what happened in May of 1980. A 15 minute video with actual newscast from local coverage of when it erupted and the aftermath. Several museum type displays are there along with newspaper articles, film clips and a gift shop with many books that were written about that day. We left the center and headed towards the RV resort and set up. Mid afternoon we drove up state route 504 and headed to the Johnston Observatory. Along the way we came across many signs along the road indicating points of interest. First and most interesting was the sign "Entering Blast Zone". This was about, I believe, to be 10-15 miles from the volcano. Trees that were in the direct path of the blast had their tops snapped off or just ripped from their trunks and sent to topple other trees in the blast zone. An example of a tree in the direct path is in the Observatory on display, the force is shown where the top was snapped off.

In June 1987 the Wayerhaeuser Company completed their commitment to replant the forest with a 9 million dollar project to replant some 18.4 million trees by hand one by one with their projected first harvesting in 2010. The project covered some 45,000 acres. When you drive down the road you can see where the controlled plantings took place and where nature started over reforestation.

Again at Johnston they have a 15-20 minute video on the eruption but from a different view and being so close to the volcano once you see the movie you have a better sense of what it was like back then. When you go out on the observation deck you can see the direction of the mud flows and you also have to imagine that this landscape is now 200 feet higher than what is was before the eruption. Trees flowed downstream took out bridges, homes and anything that was in its path. You have a great view of the volcano and can see another volcanic dome that has been growing over the years and see the ash dust that keeps sliding down from the top of the mountain and creating landslides in the crater. Ash dust flies all the time and these landslides inside the crater cause the elevation to rise about 150 feet a year. The day we visited the wind must have been around 35-40 mph. From this view point you could see Mt Adams which is still snow covered as well as Mt Rainier.

This National Monument is a work in progress as the mountain is still being monitored and according to the park rangers, a lot has been learned on predicting eruptions. They share their lessons learned with other countries - one of the largest classrooms we have ever seen. On our way out of the park we stopped at another center where you can take helicopter rides to the top of the mountain and into the crater, you don't stop you just do a fly by. We weren't ready for that adventure but it did sound like it could have been interesting. At this center we did see a car that was recovered from the blast zone from a local TV station. The reporter was safe but the car did sustain much damage. I will post more pictures on the next travel day. After the eruption, search and rescue operations started and all people who knew the area came back and saw that the landscape they knew was gone and it was all strange to them. No landmarks, roads, rivers, buildings just a complete wasteland. Many new lakes were formed with the landscape changes. The death count was 50 and 60, with some never to be found. Complete families, reporters, scientist and just people that shouldn't have been there.

Our first day of travel in the park was so very interesting and does give you a wake up call, especially when you look at the Volcano. To me it looked like it had a smirk on its face to tell people that I am still here and don't try to wake me up again. I can be some ugly.
Our next stop was Windy Ridge View Point.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seattle's Pike Public Market

Our trip from Deadwood, SD took us across Montana and then into Washington. We got about 80 miles east of Seattle on I-90 and found that the road conditions were very rough for an interstate highway. For a while I was worried that the fillings in my teeth were going to be shaken out of place. The conditions lasted all the way into Seattle and then on I 5 south was just as bad for about 40 more miles. We stopped for a couple of nights at McChord Air Force Base FamCamp. Nice campground, great price the only problem is that it is in the middle of a red wood forest so that eliminated the use of our satellite dish and problems with our Internet connection. We had to rough it for a couple of nights.

We had heard so much about Seattle that it was one of those places you have to see. We made our way into town the next morning and found that we couldn't get out of town fast enough. We made it to Pike's Public Market on the waterfront and walk the area. We spent a couple of hours there and headed back to the base. Road conditions, traffic and road construction and talking with locals is that you only have a few hours to enjoy the city as heavy traffic runs till after 9 and starts again around 2 pm, so that does not give much time for sight seeing. We come to the conclusion that we like the country settings, State and National Parks and just enjoying the quieter things in life.

Our next journey to this area will be better planned so that we will visit Olympic National Park and stay out of the big city.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kool Deadwood Nights Concert

Downtown Main Street turned into a concert with a party atmosphere. Budweiser was a major sponsor along with all the local casinos and bars. Special celebration glasses were sold for around $5 and refilled depending on what brand of beer your were drinking for between 2.50 and 3.50 and you could walk the downtown section till 10 pm each night. What was surprising to us was the lack of visibility of the local police only 3 officers were on foot patrol the whole day and night. The crowd was estimated to be between 10000 and 15000 both nights and where all the people went to after the concerts we don't know as we had to drive out of town back to the RV park about 6 miles away. We did not encounter any traffic problems. There is not that many hotel rooms in this town and the population is around 1300 people in Deadwood and around 1400 for Lead a couple of miles away.

Friday night concert featured "Sha Na Na" and on Saturday "The Platters". Concerts were opened with local bands.

This was a great spot to visit. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota and surrounded by loads of history and fun.

While we there we had to make another visit to Mt Rushmore about 40 miles away, still an amazing National Monument.

This what Main Street looked like around 4 pm before the concerts. Crowd estimated between 10 and 15k.