Portland and Vancouver Area

Mount St. Helens
We've visited Mount St. Helens several times, but only from the west entrance. We decided to do a little investigating to the south this time. This area was less affected by the volcanic eruptions. The picture on the left shows the south side of Mount St. Helens.
We started from Vancouver and drove north on Highway 503 to Cougar. We headed west on Highway 90.
Lewis River Area
We enjoyed a drive along the Lewis River and we stopped at the Lower Falls for a picnic lunch. Then, we hiked to Middle Falls.

Cedar Flats
We stopped at the Cedar Flats Nature Trail north of the Pine Creek Information Station. This one-mile easy loop trail was a nice way to end the day. As we walked through the ancient red cedar and Douglas-fir trees, we feel transported back to prehistoric times. The ground is covered with pine needles and lush green moss. The fallen trees are "nurse logs" for moss, ferns, and new trees.

On the Fourth of July, we decided to join a local tradition, the fireworks show. Vancouver Washington claims the biggest fireworks display west of the Mississippi. Around 8PM we headed toward the Columbia River. We found many of the exits along highway 12 closed, so we had to find a back way to find a parking spot. Rather that getting into the crowded downtown and historic site areas, we chose a roadside pullout along with a few hundred other people and cars. Having spent most of our lives in states where fireworks are illegal, it was strange to find people setting off fireworks all around us. We got out our lawn chairs and enjoyed the show.
Panther Creek Falls
One of the highlights of our stay in Washington was our drive into the Wind River area of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We drove east on highway 14, then north at Carson. Our mission was to find a couple geocaches. Our first stop was in the Panther Creek area called the Creek Confluence. After some hunting, we found a wonderful waterfall where two creeks meet. We explored the cache and decided to spend the afternoon. After a hike back to the car for our lunch, lawn chairs, and bag of books, we relaxed next to the water at the top of one of the waterfalls. We were surrounded by water, moss, and rocks. It was a wonderful, relaxing afternoon.

Big Lava Bed
We were only a few miles from the second geocache, so we packed up our lawn chairs and headed down the road in late afternoon. We were looking for the Big Lava Bed geocache. After a short hike in the woods, we came upon the cache in a jumble of ancient lava.

As we drove along the Columbia River on the way home, we discovered a group of kitesurfers. We spent lots of time watching them move up and down the river surfing, flipping, and cruising. It looked like lots of fun.
When Ben came for his visit, Larry and Ben spent another afternoon watching them. By the end of the trip, Ben was ready to move to the Northwest and become a kitesurfer.
Larch Mountain
Another day, we took a nice drive down the Columbia Gorge and up the back road to Larch Mountain to locate a geocache called Big View. The hike took us to Sherrard View Point where we could see Mount St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. It was a pretty clear day, so we got great views of all the mountains. The geocache was hidden on a small trail on the side of the mountain. Larry and Ben returned later and took the picture on the right with Ben and Mt Hood. They also made some stops along the Columbia river as shown in the picture below.

Mount St. Helens
Larry and Ben also took a trip on Mount St. Helens. They checked out the lava tubes on the south side of the mountain near Cougar.
The Pacfic Ocean
When Annette arrived back from a trip back east, the family headed to the beach. They drove out Highway 4 to the coast and stopped at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. They also explored a couple lighthouses and took a hike along the beach.

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/01.
Updated 5/02.
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