When planning out route through CA, OR and WA, I purposely included a few nights in Vancouver WA. Some of you may be wondering why, while it is a very nice city and has lots to do, it isn’t usually a stop along the way. Some people would choose instead to head straight up the coast, or simply pass right by Vancouver and stop instead to see Mt. Rainier. We stopped here, as you may be able to guess, based my usual MO, to spend some time with a friend.
We have known our friend, Lynn, since elementary school days – yes, I know, that was a LONG time ago! We attended the same elementary, middle and high school together. We were in marching band together, went on school trips together, graduated together! The internet (and FaceBook in particular) has made it so much easier to keep in touch with friends that we cannot see in person, but now, here we were, our RV’ing lifestyle giving us the opportunity to spend time in person! Face to face – with REAL hugs all around! How awesome is that? I have seen Lynn a few times over the years, but Bill hadn’t seen her since graduation back in 1983!
Our fairly short drive day was uneventful (even though I drove about half way!) and we pulled into the RV park about 2pm. As I was checking us in, the guy behind the counter asked me, as happens most of the time, “Where are you from?”. We have gotten in the habit of answering that with “Originally from Jersey”, mostly b/c we really aren’t from FL (my parents address for our domicile), or even really PA, even though we did live there for 12 years. So, he asks me “what part” as sometimes people do, and I replied “Monmouth Co”. He continues, “what part?”. I say a tiny little town you have never heard of, but he persists so I finally answer “Cliffwood Beach” and he says “I’m from Cliffwood” – wow – what a small world – Cliffwood is the next town over from Cliffwood Beach! That opens up a whole conversation, who do you know? etc. Turns our he used to live on the same street as my friend Lynn, actually knows her and is FB friends with her! I need to stop being surprised by these things! Bill finally came in to see what was holding me up – and he was surprised to hear about the small world also!
After exhausting all the names of people we knew from “home”, we finally got parked. The park, 99 RV Park, was well kept, although tighter than we’d like, the Passport America rate of $17 per night was hard to beat. I texted Lynn to let her know we had arrived and what time could we expect her for dinner? Lynn works with an autistic boy in a local elementary school, and after work had some errands to run, so we agreed on 6:30’ish. We finished setting up and got dinner started. We grilled some steaks and made potatoes with onions and Cajun seasoning in a foil packet, and salad.
Lynn arrived, and hugs were exchanged all around! We then ate right away – we were all starving! I showed her around the rig after dinner, she was surprised at all the room we have! We caught up on each others news until way too late, the conversation flowed into the wee hours! We finally had to call it a night! Lynn had a baby shower the next day, but had made reservations for dinner at her fav local bar/grill, and they also were having a Led Zeppelin tribute band playing. Couldn’t wait!
The next day, while Lynn attended the baby shower, Bill and I headed to Mount Saint Helens. The weather could have been more cooperative, although it didn’t rain all day, so it could have been worse. We were able to see most of the mountain, oh wait, its an active volcano! Saying that makes it sound kind of scary – ACTIVE volcano! We stopped at the Visitor Center, which was very interesting, it showed how minute by minute of how and what happened that spring back in 1980. I never realized it, but it wasn’t just one day, it was weeks of waiting to see what would happen next. There were earthquakes leading up to it, and people were evacuated from the immediate area, saving a lot of lives. I clearly remember seeing it on the news, but it seemed so far away, which considering I was in NJ, it was. But now, here we were seeing it in person. The top was still snow covered, as are most of the peaks. While you can still see where the damage was done, it was surprising how it has also “healed”, as there are new forest trees, where they had been blown down. I am very glad we went to see it.
When Mount Saint Helens blew her top, 57 people were, including a local man, Harry R Truman, who had spent 50 of his 83 years as owner of Mount St. Helens Lodge, which was on the banks of Spirit Lake. He refused to leave when he was asked to evacuate. He is quoted as telling National Geographic, before the disaster “I’m going to stay right here because, I’ll tell you why, my home and my (expletive) life’s here.” He owned 16 cats, who died along with him. Spirit Lake no longer exists, as it was swallowed up with lava and other debris when the volcano blew. Harry R Truman’s remains were never recovered.
One might wonder why the loss of life wasn’t worse, and credit for that is given to another man who lost his life that day, a volcanologist, David Johnston, who was only 30 years old. He was very outspoken about the dangers of the volcano before it erupted. He was monitoring the volcano from, what was believed to be, a safe location, and his remains were never recovered. It seems fitting that there is now an observatory named after him, the Johnston Ridge Observatory. We would have loved to see it, but it was still closed for the winter. Johnston persuaded authorities to limit access to the area, therefore keeping hundreds, or even thousands from losing their lives.
We returned home and after catching our breath for a few minutes, got ready to leave. We showed up for dinner right on time, and got seated. Lynn arrived a few minutes later and we ordered some dinner. The food was yummy, as were the drinks! A friend of Lynn’s joined us a little later, as the band was getting ready to start. The band, Valhalla, was very good, I was just glad Lynn had some ear plugs, otherwise I’m sure I would have ended up with a headache! We danced and enjoyed the evening, again, until the wee hours!
The next day, Lynn came and picked us up, treating us to to lunch at her fav spot, Beaches! It is right on the Columbia River and we were seated at a table with a view! The food was delish and the company even better! Thanks Lynn! After lunch, we walked along the riverfront, chatting away the whole time!
We headed into downtown Vancouver to see some local sights there. We stopped at the Vancouver Farmers Market, where all sorts of things were for sale. We got ourselves some honey and royal jelly, and also some nut butters. YUM! Lynn showed us her fav spot for summer BBQ and swimming fun, and we also headed into Portland for a sweet treat at a local icon spot, VooDoo Doughnuts. OMG! Crazy yummy! Lynn got a full dozen, but Bill and I decided to each choose 3, which trust me was not easy to do!
Before dropping us off, we stopped to meet her son and daughter, which was a special unexpected treat! Neither of them remembered, but I had met them before, when they were much younger, when Lynn and I, and our friend, JoAnn took all our kids (6 all together) to Holmdel Park in NJ, near where we grew up, for the day. We had packed a picnic lunch and talked the day away while the kids played on the playground. Wish I had the pic of that day in the computer!
Bill and I very much enjoyed our time in Vancouver, visiting with our childhood friend! Lynn posted this on FaceBook the other day, which sums up our time in Vancouver quite nicely