In May of this year the Chernoffs, TJ Tomjak, and the Lorings set off on a scouting trip for the planned Fall Tour to Mt. St. Helens and environs. We had a really fun time and learned a great deal while mapping mileage, checking viewpoints and restroom stops, looking at room possibilities and potential dining establishments. Though we were concerned with what the temperatures and rainfall could be like in late September we didn’t have to worry in that regard as the tour unfolded with exceptional Fall weather and nary a glitch!
We gathered on Friday morning, September 19th, at the Starbucks parking lot to be met by Mary Tomjak who transported the Tour Coolers and Goody Bags for each participant. Thanks Mary, as it’s hard to get all that stuff into our small cars! After the requisite safety and driving instructions we set off on a spirited drive that took us through Maupin to the small town of Dufur where we turned West and drove toward the eastside of Mt. Hood; an especially beautiful landscape! We lunched just south of Hood River on Hwy 35 at the funky Saw Tooth Roadhouse where we enjoyed tasty food and quick service. From there we motored to “Route 30” for a visit to the iconic Porsche stopover while simultaneously munching our after lunch desert of lemon bars and brownies at the park across the street. Back in our racers again, we took the old road to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint for a splendid look at the mighty river gorge and countryside. Then it was off to the Heathman Hotel in Vancouver by way of the “Bridge of the Gods” and Hwy 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia. At the hotel we were spoiled with “HDPCA Only” parking and Concierge Floor room choices…thanks Ev!
That afternoon, after a wash-up and nap, we met at the Chernoff’s room for a Wine Party that could have gone on all night had not a splendid buffet dinner been arranged for us right there at the hotel. I believe everyone got their fill of libations and foodstuffs as the fare was quite tasty!
Following our early Saturday continental breakfast, 19 shiny machines left the hotel parking lot for a romp north on Hwy 5 to the Mt St Helens exit. I was a bit concerned with the apparent cloud conditions as the mountain was obscured. So, as we gathered at the park entrance visitor center, to make sure we all ascended together, I spotted a park employee watering some plants and hopped out to inquire if she knew the conditions at the Johnston Ridge overview. She said: “clear and windy”. That was music to my ears and so I (as a male) asked if she were sure. She, with a look that all males know (we see them from our mothers, wives and daughters) said: “yes, I am sure!” So off we charged on a picturesque drive to the observation point. As we traversed a lengthy bridge span approaching our destination, some of the drivers toward the rear of the line mentioned how beautiful our ribbon of Porsches looked with the sun sparkling off the shining coachwork and the mountain looming above.
At the Johnston Ridge Observation Point we had a group photo taken with the stratovolcano in the background…thanks Bren! We were able to watch an informative film and hear a Park Ranger talk which ended in a demonstration showing just how a live volcano pops.
We learned the difference between a basalt rock based eruption that spews red lava down the mountainside and the Mt. St. Helens type, andesite, which sends the lava out embedded in the rock at 500 miles an hour and at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing survives for miles around and ash was found up to 300 miles away! Until you see this mountain in person and up close, one has no idea about the force of nature…and the healing powers she has in repairing the aftermath’s destruction. The eruption was in 1980 and already the forests and lakes are recovering nicely. The volcano, with a quickly growing and renewing magma chamber, and the close-in moonscape surroundings are beautiful and moving sights.
Now, as newly minted amateur volcanologists, we were free to spend more time on the mountain or meander down to one of the luncheon spots we had recommended before heading back to our hotel. That night we went to the Grant House for dinner and had private HDPCA parking…thanks Tom and Kathi! This beautiful restaurant in Fort Vancouver was frequented by the Tomjaks when they lived in the area. What a special place! And we ate our scrumptious meals on the veranda as Vancouver registered as the hottest city in all of Washington that day. Balmy at 6pm!
On our return trip to Bend Sunday morning, we again traversed part of the old Route 30 Highway stopping at the matchless gorge vantage point named Vista House at Crown Point. Exploring a unique building and enjoying stunning views we worked up an appetite for brunch (hard to believe after all we’d been consuming!). We continued on our morning drive until we reached our destination at the extremely popular Multnomah Falls Lodge. Our champagne brunch, with waterfall view, topped off a lively, interesting, and educational visit to our neighbor state and its beautiful and powerful mountain. And all of this was immeasurably complemented by the pleasure of the company of our mutual friends from the High Desert Porsche Club!