Trip summary: I can’t wait to move to the Pacific Northwest.

I flew out to Portland on Wednesday the 23rd with Anna and Nick (two grad students in my lab) and Ben (grad student in another Biology lab). Our first day there wasn’t too exciting since we were all functioning on a couple hours of sleep and dealing with a three hour time zone change. We pretty much did nothing but sleep and eat for that first day.

Though we did notice how green Portland was. I’d say environmentally friendly, but at times they didn’t seem too friendly about it. Some of the anti-littering signs seems border line threatening. There was part of the highway where we saw angry sign after angry sign, and being from Indiana, we all were expecting them to end in some angry Christian “You’re Going to Hell” sign – but it ended in a “Don’t Litter” sign. We did get a kick at how the fine for littering on the high way was orders of magnitude higher than the fine for not wearing a seat belt. But as biologists, we oddly approved of caring about the environment more than reckless humans. Oh, and I was very amused by the toilets that you could flush in two different ways depending on your…contribution. And apparently the toilets at the convention center used collected rain water to flush – neat!

We discovered we were within driving distance of Mount St. Helens, and being a bunch of geeky biologists, of course we decided to go the next day.Lucky shot of Mount St. Helens with a mini rainbow!

It was amazing seeing the difference between the area affected by the blast zone and the untouched area. Even after thirty years much of the blast zone looked completely destroyed, void of any growth more than some grasses or shrubs. Parts of the trail were full of eerie dead tree stumps, made all the more ominous with the still-active volcano looming in the background.But you know what was super eerie? The hill-sized chunks of mountain that were scattered across the landscape. Can you imagine hill-sized chunks of mountain being exploded out at you? I guess you wouldn’t have too long to contemplate it.I learned a very cool fact while there, though. About 11% of the mountain has been recovered since the eruption in 1980. You can see it in my photo – it’s the little bump in the middle of the crater, the lava dome. This was super cool to me. I mean, I know geological structures form over time, but the idea of a mountain growing before our eyes was just so bizarrely cool.

We quickly started coming up with out disaster movie scenario. Nick would play the part of “Dude, there’s nothing wrong” comic relief. We imagined his demise would come while obliviously looking at some bird through his binoculars while the rest of us ran away from the ash and lava. I’d be the next to go due to me being the least in shape (Seriously, do not do a 5 mile 1,000 ft increase in elevation hike when you’re out of shape and have a sinus infection, ugh). The final scene would be Ben sacrificing himself to help Anna over some ledge, since that’s just how nice he is. And then Anna would have gone to the Evolution conference and nonchalantly informed our professor that two thirds of the lab had perished, with our advisor lamenting the fact that our research papers weren’t finished yet.

Yeah, we’re a little weird.

On the way out we stopped at this little restaurant on the side of the road called 19 Mile House, mainly because they claimed to have the best cobbler ever, and we wanted to test their claims. Their fries were insanely good, and their had a delightfully quirky owner:

Ben: So, what cobbler do you recommend?
Owner: Oh, they’re all horrible.
Ben: Well, which is less horrible?
Owner: The marionberry. It has cocaine in it.
Ben: *laughs* Oh yeah?
Owner: Yeah, the other ones only have methamphetamines.
Me: And then tomorrow morning [our Professor] reads a story in the newspaper about four Purdue students stranded on Mount St. Helens high and naked…

Needless to say, the cobbler was delicious. I went with apple blueberry, mmmmm.

The next day we went to Cannon Beach, which some of you may recognize from The Goonies:
Haystack Rock.

It was overcast, but still beautiful. All the little shops in the town were cute, too. We at at this place that had the most delicious clam chowder – if I ever go back, I’m definitely stopping there again (On Hemlock St next to the library, can’t remember the name). We left early in the afternoon, and of course it proceeded to clear up and become a beautiful blue-sky day after that. Ah well. On the way back to Portland we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, mainly because we all thought free cheese was a good idea. We ended up getting ice cream which was delicious (do you see a theme yet? We’re all bad food influences on each other).

Then we all remembered we were actually in Portland to go to an academic conference, not bum around, so we all started frantically practicing our talks for the conference.

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  1. Givesgoodemail says:

    Jul 3, 2010

    On the way back to Portland we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, mainly because we all thought free cheese was a good idea.**jealousjealousjealousjealous**

  2. FlamingAtheist says:

    Jul 3, 2010

    Glad you stopped at the cheese factory and got to CB. Was it Mo’s that you stopped at?Hope you get some chances to come back down to PDX and you’ll need to hit up Astoria to see more Goonies related things if that’s your cup o’ tea (or Kindergarten Cop, Short Circuit, Free Willy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, the Ring 2, etc). Plus there is some awesome food in Astoria.

  3. K.W. Ramsey says:

    Jul 3, 2010

    GOONIES!!! I love the movie. Sounds like the trip is a blast. :)

  4. Gbeyser says:

    Jul 3, 2010

    Just go further up the coast and visit Vancouver – I mean Vancouver in Canda – and you will never want to go back. Jen, I love to read your blog even though I am a senior already. :(

  5. Gbeyser says:

    Jul 3, 2010

    Should read: Love reading your blogs

  6. Ryan Langford says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    You should make it very clear, Mt St Helens is in WA. Not in that heathen area known as OR!That being said, I make a pilmagrage to Mt St Helens at least once a year….you were very lucky to get that close to the crater this time of year…..I know at least a couple weeks ago, “windy ridge” (FR 99) was still closed for the season. I didn’t catch which direction you were coming from, though. Windy ridge is the closest road to the summit.One of the most famous WA motorcycle roads, which is one of the reasons it always draws me like flies to shit. But I do find the biological implications fascinating. I’m not totally one-dimensional.

  7. giffy says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    I live in Seattle and St. Helens is one of my favorite backpacking and hiking places! There is a loop that goes around the whole mountain that I am hoping to do this year or next. Its supposed to be pretty damn difficult but well worth it. I think you’ll like this area. I’ve been all over the world and never found a place that comes close. You have a tremendous diversity of ecosystems and activities within a short drive and Seattle itself is an amazing city. Plus the UW is a great university!

  8. the_Siliconopolitan says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    Oh, and I was very amused by the toilets that you could flush in two different ways depending on your…contribution.

    Funny that.I recall being shocked at how much water US toilets use and how inefficient they *still* are.

  9. Michael Barton says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    Just went to Cannon Beach & Tillamook Cheese Factory today…

  10. Metal_Warrior says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    You where amused by the toilets? Girl, that way we do it in Germany since WW2, if not longer…”…about four Purdue students stranded on Mount St. Helens high and naked…” Why doesn’t that strike me odd? :D:D

  11. sci says:

    Jul 4, 2010

    ma’am, I believe that mini-rainbow in that first picture is called a Circumhorizon Arc. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try and wash off this geeky feeling I have from knowing that. Nice shot though. :)

  12. Quiltrebel says:

    Jul 5, 2010

    I was thinking that it was a parhelion. We get them often here in Tucson, which seems backwards since they’re caused by ice crystals and one would not expect to find naturally occurring ice in the desert.

  13. Peter B says:

    Jul 7, 2010

    >The next day we went to Cannon Beach… It was overcast, but still beautiful… We left early in the afternoon, and of course it proceeded to clear up and become a beautiful blue-sky day after that. I remember being in an almost identical location many years ago. The Minnesota farm boy in our group simply did not believe me when I predicted clear sky’s by lunch time. Every day he refused to believe me. Every day it cleared up between 10:30 to 11:00. This is a typical summer weather pattern from Vancouver to San Diego. I like to say we have the world’s largest air conditioner – the Pacific Ocean.

  14. Ted Powell says:

    Jul 10, 2010

    There’s a choice of auto-refresh views of Mount St. Helens at… including high def 1024×768.

  15. Mary says:

    Jul 10, 2010

    The chowder place in Hemlock was probably Mo’s. You’re right, it’s good.

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    Aug 2, 2010

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