Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We started homeschooling after Labor Day and it has been great so far. Adalaya is loving the computer-based math program and keeps asking me if she can do more math. This is a first. This week we are also studying volcanoes, and (not coincidentally) we happen to be in volcano territory. Our first stop was Mt. Rainier National Park to visit the active volcano that looms over Seattle. It's a breathtaking sight when this mountain appears out of the clouds and seems to hover over the city. We were lucky to catch a clear day and make it to the mountain before the clouds engulfed it. An hour after I took this photo you couldn't see the mountain anymore, just cloud cover. It's so massive that it creates it's own weather patterns.

We had a great hike through the subalpine meadows.

We then headed south to Mt. Saint Helens in order to get a good "before and after" understanding of volcanoes. We drove up the east side of the volcano, where most of the blast damage occurred. We had a good view of the caldera and could even see some wisps of steam still rising from the crater - it is still active after all!

The entire area was covered in ash and pumice, and dead stumps and snags still remained. Thirty years after the eruption, it still looked quite barren. Even Spirit Lake still has a huge amount of logs floating in it from the blast. You can see the peak of Mt. Rainier in the background of this photo too.

The view from here was amazing. All the volcanoes in the Cascade Range are much taller than the surrounding mountains, and from this vantage point we could see Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood (in Oregon) and this beauty, Mt. Adams.

To complete our first-hand experience of volcanoes, we also explored a lava tube. Ape Cave is a one mile long cave that formed 2000 years ago during one of Mt. Saint Helens' eruptions. As a river of lava cooled and hardened on the outside, it formed an insulated tube where the inner lava could continue to flow. The hot lava eventually drained, and this cool cave remains. It was pitch black in here except for our flashlight and the flash of the camera.

Homeschooling is so much fun!!!


  1. Hi Whitney! Aubrey and I are keeping up with your travels and loving all of the pictures of the west and northwest. Some of our favorite memories are from recent summer trips out there with our boys. You are definitely making us pine for the great outdoors. Hugs to Adalaya and George.

  2. Okay, I hate to nitpick, but in the interest of Adalaya's education I have to dispute Rainier's claim to be the tallest mountain in the lower 48. Technically, it is "the most prominent" but California has the tallest mountain. Can you name it???
    By the way, there was an excellent article in Nat. Geo. recently about the recovery of Mt. Saint Helens. Maybe you can see it online, if not I'll save it till you get here.
    Can't wait to see where you all are going next!