Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire: Escape From Mt St. Helens

On the 33rd anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St.Helens, I’d like to share this story with you.  I’ve marked and used a few borrowed images, so that you can better understand the events of that day.  

In 1980, my sister Constance and I took a birdwatching class. At least I tried watching them.  Before I could focus my binoculars, the birds were usually natural history.  Our last trip, to Eastern Washington, was to depart on Friday, May 16th.

“Let’s skip it,” said Con. “Stay home and I’ll buy you dinner.”

As our classmates loaded gear into four cars, I felt suddenly shy.  But surely I could survive a quiet weekend of birdwatching with a pleasant group of strangers, even if my sister wasn’t there to hold my hand.  “I’m going,” I said.   I jumped into the first car with room, and waved to Con as we drove off.  I was riding with Bob.  His other passenger, Betsy, was quick to smile and kept up a lively conversation.

But I missed Con that night, and lay awake in my sleeping bag listening to a lone coyote howling in the distance.  The next day I stayed only slightly more focused than my binoculars…until we found a Forest Service birdhouse, and peeked inside at a nest of cheeping baby birds.  Featherless birds aren’t easy to identify, but our leader, Peter, said they were bluebirds, and I believed him.  Some people think they know everything; Peter really did.  But you’d never know it unless you’d observed him carefully, as I had.

Saturday afternoon we hiked into a canyon and made camp.  After the others retired, Betsy and I sat by the fire singing and talking.  We rolled out our bags on the same patch of ground.  As I drifted off, I thought, “I made a friend.  I learned my lesson.  Now…I want to go home.”

When I awoke, the sun was shining, the bees were humming, and the birds–I know not which–were singing.  It was eight-ish, and camp was deserted.  “They left at six-thirty,” said Betsy, yawning. “I couldn’t make myself get up.”

It could’ve been a sense of foreboding that made us yearn for home, but I suspect it was caffeine withdrawal.  “Pray for rain,” I suggested.

As if on cue, we heard the loud crack of distant thunder.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  “Probably a sonic boom,” I said.  We went on to weigh the virtues of cinnamon rolls at the Phinney Ridge Cafe against all-you-can-eat hash browns at Beth’s Greasy Spoon.  But the sky was darkening.  The hum of insects and the twittering of birds trailed off.  The woods were eerily silent.

“You know, I think it really is going to rain,” I said.

The others, having reached the same conclusion, bustled back into camp.  Within ten minutes we’d packed up, donned rain gear, and were following Peter single file out of the canyon. The sky to the west had turned an ominous yellow-green, reminiscent of tornado weather back home.  But this storm wasn’t following the rules.  I could hear rain falling on my poncho, yet I wasn’t getting wet.  The sky rapidly changed to an ugly green-gray.  My eyes were stinging.  I looked more closely at the surface of my poncho.

“It’s dirt!  Peter, there’s dirt falling from the sky!   Oh, my God!  They’ve bombed Seattle!”

Peter whirled about and gripped my shoulders. “No!” he cried. “She did it!  She blew!  Mt. St. Helens blew!”

(USGS Photo)

Nothing could have been further from my mind than volcanic eruptions.  We joked about our class going out with a bang, while Peter studied his map and estimated we were between fifty-five and sixty-five miles from Mt. St. Helens, as the crow flies. The acrid darkness thickened.  We were no longer amused.  Ash was in our eyes and hair, and it was difficult not to breathe it into our lungs.  In Seattle, we’d chuckled at the “In Case of Volcanic Eruption” brochures; now we desperately tried to recall their advice.  This was my first volcano; I wanted to live to tell the tale.

“Use your canteen water to soak your bandanas, and cover your faces to filter the ash,” said Peter.  “Less than a mile to go, but we’ve got to keep moving.  Hold hands or hang onto a belt, so we don’t lose anyone.”

I gave Betsy my brimmed hat, because her eyes burned, with gritty ash particles grating between her eyeballs and her contacts.  We stumbled after Peter, unable to see our hands before our faces, but somehow he got us over the last barbed-wire fence to the trailhead.  There we encountered Bob’s personal tragedy–six inches of ash piled on the cars, including his brand-new Toyota.  He was frantic about what the ash would do to his engine and the paint job.  Peter reminded him that our first concern was to get out alive.

We followed Peter’s Volvo into Yakima, although we couldn’t see past the hood, even with headlights on.  Peter’s taillights were barely visible at a standstill; when we started moving, ash flew like talcum powder and windshield wipers just stirred up the mess.  The interior of Bob’s car was soon covered with a fine layer of pungent ash that over-powered the smell of new car, and defied closed windows, doors, and air vents.  There were close brushes with the ditch at the side of the road, and once with Peter’s bumper.  At last we came to the outskirts of Yakima.

(AP Photo)

The ash-laden streets were deserted, but The Buckboard Tavern had opened its doors to stranded motorists. Refugees gathered under a television mounted over the pool table.  Mt. St. Helens rated minute-by-minute coverage on the ever-rising statistics, flood damage, missing campers and scientists.  Stuck in our own little ash cloud, we hadn’t realized how fortunate we were.  News flash!  All roads in and out of Yakima were closed.

Glumly we stared out the windows.  It was nearly noon, but by the light of the streetlamps, it could’ve been a midnight snow scene. Another wave hit, and the air grew thicker.  Instead of coffee, they started serving beer.  Now and then the swinging doors would bang; all eyes would turn to the newcomer.  Once a cowboy entered, brushing ash off his coat. “I got a hundred head of cattle out there,” he told anyone who would listen, “and half a dozen newborn calves…”

I thought of the baby bluebirds.  Had they smothered in ash or survived the blast only to die of starvation?   What would they eat?  Who would feed them?

All the laws of nature, as we understood them, were suspended.  But the Real World intruded into our Twilight Zone.  Steve had to give a talk at the U, Russ had a job interview, Betsy said she’d used up all her volcano leave.  And, of course, we had to get Bob’s car to a doctor.  Bob threatened to make a dash for it, and the other drivers were inclined to join him.  Peter agreed to lead the way, if they promised to let him choose the moment.  It was several more hours before the ashfall let up a bit.  We ran for the cars to go home to whatever reality awaited us in Seattle on Monday morning.  As our caravan traveled west, the sky gradually changed from pitch black to gray to an unnatural white.  It was a weird moonscape, devoid of life and color.  When we got to the roadblock, the police waved us through.  We stopped at Snoqualmie Pass to pose for a photo with buckets and bags of ash collected from pockets, pants cuffs, and car hoods.

It was the weekend of the University Street Fair.  On the way home, we thought of the fortune to be made, if we could bottle and sell the ash we’d brought home, fresh out of the oven.  I even designed a tee shirt for a rather small target audience–birdwatchers caught in the ashfall.

Those entrepreneurial thoughts were forgotten when we topped the pass and saw the first rays of sunlight filtering through ash-dark clouds.  It was nearing sunset, but to me it was the second sunrise on a long and very strange day, such a beautiful sight, I wanted to cry.

Bob dropped me at Con’s, amidst heavy foot and car traffic in the U District. The smell of food and the sound of music filled the air.  Fairgoers in sundresses, cheeks burnt rosy by the sun, still meandered from booth to booth.  “Go home!” I wanted to shout.  “Go turn on your radio. The real world is black and acrid and people are huddled in the dark and dying on the mountainside.”

(USGS Photo)

My sister hadn’t heard the news, but there was still a hot shower, a borrowed bathrobe, and a candlelight dinner waiting for me.

I’m so glad I didn’t let insecurity prevent me from experiencing this life-changing event.  The fortunes made on T-shirts and bumpers stickers were made by others. If you could take everything I learned about birds and put it into the brain of a blue jay, it would have flown backwards.  Regrets?  Only one.  Bob broke my heart when he refused to pull over, so I could take our picture next to the “Use Your Ash Tray” road sign.

But here is what I carried away from it.  A tiny bottle of ash collected from my pants cuffs, that I still hang on my Christmas tree each year.

The realization that Mother Nature doesn’t always play by the rules, at least not our rules.  An appreciation for fine leadership–thank you, Peter, wherever you are.  Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the sun for rising and the birds for singing.  I’m grateful for the good fortune that kept me from becoming a statistic that day.  But I’m still haunted by that nest of baby bluebirds, more non-statistics, and it makes me wonder about the countless stories in this world that will never be told.

Copyright Naomi Baltuck, except where noted.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape.

Click here for more interpretations of Ailsa’s Travel Photography Theme: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire.



  1. pattisj says:

    That was some escape. Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience.

    1. Hi Patti,
      It was a long time ago, but this time of year I think about it. Thanks so much for taking the time to read!

  2. Weren’t you lucky to have Peter to lead you to safety that day, in fact, weren’t you lucky! What a story, Naomi – and terrifically told. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Meredith. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for him, and for his very mature leadership in what could have been a terrible situation. We were about two miles into a canyon, and it was pitch black with inches of ash on the ground before we even made it to the cars, but he knew the way in the dark and kept us all safe.

  3. advocacine says:

    Gripping tale of an escape!! Yes! we’ve got to be thankful in still seeing the dawn each day.

    1. Thank you for your visit, and for taking the time to read and share a comment.

  4. Jamie Dedes says:

    What a wonderful experience; such a blessing to learn to value each day while you are still young and have many days ahead. So grateful you got out alive, Naomi! … and now I will always think of the blue birds and other animals just the way I think of the animals in war zones.

    Another wonderful post. You are the best.

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thank you for your really kind response. Ever since then I have been aware that if someone doesn’t tell the stories of those creatures, great and small, who cannot speak for themselves, then no one else will ever know or care. You do it every day, Jamie, through your eloquent poetry, and you are the best!

  5. All the time that has past and I still can’t put this into perspective. I don’t have anything to compare it to so I have a frame of reference. It is strange how someone else’s story can stir all of those feelings. The picture you have of the downed trees and the ash are almost exactly like the images I have stored in my head.

    1. Hi Charlie,
      We were some 60 miles away from the explosion. The photos borrowed from USGS help show the force of what was happening. It was nothing like what people closer by experienced–we had maybe six inches of ash and that weirdly dark night. A few days later, ash from the volcano fell on my mother’s car in Detroit. But when my mom came out to visit the following year, we drove to Mt. St. Helens, and saw the fallen trees–mile after mile of them–and it was very sobering to actually see with my own eyes the wide scale of destruction.
      Thanks so much for your visit, and for taking the time to share your thoughts, Charlie.

  6. sue says:

    Wow! I remember that event like it was yesterday- I was in high school in the Napa Valley area and watched it on the news… having no idea how close it was to us or that someday I’d be living here, or that I’d befriend someone who actually experienced it first hand! Wow indeed. Your account is staggering. I can imagine it a tiny bit as the ash in the sky was something like that of the great San Diego fire in 1993 where 660,000 acres burned and including 350 homes in our neighborhood. We packed and ran for our lives and waited for days not knowing if our home stood. The county looked like a moonscape- a giant ash tray after that. And then, for weeks afterward- no, months- the air would stir up the ash and settle once again, never letting us quite forget.

    1. Dear Sue,

      That fire sounds really really bad. Very scary, and I am sure those memories are seared into your mind forever. I guess every region has its own benefits and disadvantages, including a particular kind of natural disaster. I was relieved to escape tornado weather when I came out here. To experience a volcano almost as soon as I got here was kind of ironic. My kids have grown up with the threat of earthquakes.

      Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts and stories. I love to hear from you!

  7. A fantastic story, Naomi. And a remarkable adventure, to be sure. I enjoyed this very much.

    1. Hi George,
      Thanks so much for your visit. I don’t think I would ever have chosen to experience it, but was really glad (once it was all over) to have had the experience. It is so good to hear from you.

  8. A page from your diary… when we are young, sometimes we are adventurers!
    A very deep story that evokes real fears.
    I was impressed by your sensitivity of rethinking -even today-
    at the little chicks in the nest…
    Dear Naomi, by the hand of Man (without considering the unpredictable Nature) even most dreadful disasters happen every day…
    And like you, I think of the defenseless beings (animals but also human) that have no way out.
    Thank you for sharing your memory from the past… have a lovely sunday :-)claudine

    1. Thank you, Claudine, for your very thoughtful response. I know from your posts that you have a big heart and speak out often for those who cannot speak out for themselves.

  9. frizztext says:

    I remember your story – still amused about the sentence “Oh, my God! They’ve bombed Seattle!” – especially, because friends of us (from Germany) now move to Seattle to live there …

    1. I didn’t want to let this anniversary go by with out a remembrance, and I have so many new followers since last year who hadn’t heard this story. I hope your friends like Seattle? It would be a big change from Germany.

  10. footsy2 says:

    It must have been a very frightening experience.

    1. Dear Footsy, at first we didn’t have the sense to be frightened, and then it got scary. But it was only when we saw news footage and all the photos and heard about all the casualties that we understood the gravity of the situation. Unlike many others, we were far enough away so that by following Peter’s lead and acting sensibly, we were never in mortal danger. On the way out of the canyon, we came upon some campers who decided to stick it out in their tent, instead of coming along with us to safety. They didn’t want to leave their camping gear behind. I sometimes wonder what their experience was like.

  11. nutsfortreasure says:

    Wonderful post! What a memory! Glad in the end you all were OK:
    I know human life is precious but I too stress over the wildlife having no idea the danger they are in.

    I was trucking Boston to Seattle every week when it happened God I had forgotten how long ago it was and how bad it was. Not living there was of course my case but trucking goods to the people out there took a toll of all drivers and their equipment too.

    Thanks for the memories you shared

    1. Thank you, Eunice. Oh, I can imagine. That ash wreaked havoc on engines as well as paint jobs. So glad you were there to keep the supplies coming.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:

        It was touch and go but somehow we did it but like you I shall never forget it. glad you made it through with Peter’s help.

  12. Wow! I felt like I was there. Being near an erupting volcano is not something I would normally think about. Nor the ash. I think you should have marketed it. You’d be a millionaire by now. 🙂 But perhaps the little vial on your tree is enough. I love your tree ornaments, by the way. Very personal and significant, I can tell.

    1. We fantasized about how we might market the ash to all the people at the University Street Fair. There were fortunes to be made, but not by me. I do sometimes send out-of-state friends beautiful Mt. St.Helens ornaments blown with glass that is made in part with ash from the volcano. I do love to make my ornaments matter, and most of them have some symbolic or sentimental reason for taking up space on my tree. There is a little Mayflower ship ornament, because my mother’s people came over on the Mayflower, and the key to the house I grew up in, way back in Detroit, below those two ornaments is the Mt. St. Helens ornament I sent to my mother–a beautiful iridescent blue, among the many others. Something tells me that you have a very interesting Christmas tree!

  13. I really got into your story and think the ending so fitting.

    1. Thank you for your visit, and for taking the time to share your response. I bopped over to your blog, and I have to say that your “About” post is one of the best I’ve seen!

      1. Oh, Naomi thank you. The syncro needs to be replaced. Perhaps Bikram yoga or extreme line dancing????

    1. Thank you for the pingback. I loved your perspective on ‘escape’!

  14. So glad Peter knew the way and saved all your lives. Such trauma for one so young but you tell your story with such vividness, I feel I am right there with you. Well told. I also loved the line about ‘they’ve bombed Seattle’. You certainly have a way with words.

    1. Dear Tess,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I think things could
      ve turned out differently if we had not had a great leader and a little common sense. As I mentioned to another reader, on our way out of the canyon we met campers who refused to come out with us because they didn’t want to leave their camping gear–even though it was pitch black, there were inches of ash already on the ground, and hours of ashfall still to go. I sometimes wonder what happened to them, but I’m sure they made it out eventually.

  15. Roy McCarthy says:

    What a great adventure story, brilliantly told. And so true about the many stories that will never be told at all.

    1. Thanks so much for your very kind words, Roy. I appreciate your visit, and your encouragement.

  16. ShimonZ says:

    A beautiful post… with many thoughts to ponder. No, mother nature is far greater than our rules, and it does give us a new perspective to observe nature beyond our expectations. Our concept of time is very limited… and so such an event is startling. I think I have read of this experience before on your blog, but it was a pleasure thinking about it again. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Shimon. You read about it here a year ago, on the last anniversary of the eruption. Thank you so much for taking the time to go back there with me. I appreciate that we have been visiting each other, at least in the blogosphere, for over a year now!

  17. kz says:

    what a story of escape that was.. “Mother Nature doesn’t always play by the rules”, very true. and i love that last photo, and the sort of mystical quality about it 🙂

    1. Hi KZ,
      Thanks so much for your visit. That last photo is my daughter, Bea. She seemed to me a perfect symbol of the innocence and vulnerability that we need to be watchful for and protective of. Thank you for your generous response and thoughtful comments.

  18. For many of us the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption was the first real exposure to this sort of event on western soil. And for … nature doesn’t play by the rules. Great way to put it. Thanks again for wonderful photos and thoughtful prose.

    1. I remember visiting Craters of the Moon with my mom when I was a kid. It is the site of an ancient volcanic site. They showed a film of Mauna Lea in Hawaii, and I remember verifying with my mother that there really were still active volcanoes in the world. I don’t know if I hoped to see one, or wanted to avoid it. Probably a little of both, but I never ever thought that I would see or experience one in person.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for sharing your thoughtful comments.

  19. Jo Danehy says:

    Wow what a great memory you have. You write this story as if if happened a few months ago. Well written. My memory is one like when Elvis died. I remember where I was and who I was with, that is all. Loleta, California with Jody and “Grasshopper”…when St Helens blew.

    1. Hi Jo,
      I first posted this story a year ago, but have been telling it for thirty-three years! It’s interesting, isn’t it, that there are certain moments where time seems to stop for all of us, all at the same instant. Those of us of a certain age, remember JFK’s assassination, MLK’s assassination, the Challenger disaster, September 11, and of course, Mt. St. Helen’s eruption. Thank you so much for sharing your memory of that day.

  20. Wonderful story Naomi and poignantly told with some great pictures.

    1. Hi Dallas,
      Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your generous comments.

  21. Kanerva says:

    Gripping. Thanks for sharing your encounter.

    1. Thanks so much for your visit, and for your generous response.

  22. What an amazing story! I remember that I heard about the eruption. I loved the aesthetic images of the smoke and ashes. And now I read what that meant to you. Quite gripping and you put a lot to feel in between the lines. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thank you so much. I try to keep posts to 500 words or less, and this one as much longer than I wanted it to be, but I already had to cut out so many of the sensory details and memories that I couldn’t take out much more. Thank you for bearing with me, and for your very kind response.

      1. I enjoyed reading it!

  23. We were in Europe when the mountain blew. We missed both the excitement and the aftermath. Reading your account makes it so vivid.

    1. Hi Cathryn,
      Thank you so much for your visit, and your kind response, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have signed up for it, but am very glad to have had the experience. It changed how I look at the world. Looking back, I suppose many of our life changing experiences are ones we would never have chosen, but which make us more compassionate or wiser or stronger in some way. Thanks so much for your visit.

    1. Thank you for the pingback!

  24. t2van says:

    Thank you for remembering and marking the anniversary. I well remember when Mt. St. Helens blew….I was living in Victoria BC at the time and for several days the sun was blocked by clouds of ash that fell into a fine layer across the city, reminding us all how connected we are to all things.

    I’m so glad you were not hurt!


    1. Dear Terri,
      Yes, it is a very strong reminder that all things are connected, as you so eloquently put it. Thank you for your visit, and for your very kind words.

  25. adinparadise says:

    This was a really gripping tale, and so beautifully told, Naomi. Your photos really add to the drama of the tale. I’m sure it’s a day that will live in your memory forever.

    1. Thank you, Sylvia. It is unbelievable to me that so much time has passed since then, but, as you say, I will never forget it. Thanks so much for your visit and, as always, your very kind response.

    1. HI Arlene,
      Thanks so much for your visit, and your kind response.

  26. A very fine post, dear Naomi.
    Thank you.

    1. Dear Micheline,
      Thank you so much. It is always good to hear from you!

      1. Dear Naomi,
        It is also a great pleasure to hears from you.
        I thank you for your kindness.

  27. Becky says:

    Wow! I think you win the prize for the best “escape” story. That is just amazing! I can’t even imagine all of the emotions that you went through during that experience. Thankfully, you weren’t alone, and thankfully, you made it safely home. Great story!

    1. Dear Becky,
      Thank you for your very kind words! It is still such a vivid memory for me. I can’t believe it was thirty-three years ago! I sure appreciate your visit, and your thoughtful comments.

  28. Tina Schell says:

    Great story Naomi, and wonderful challenge response. we visited the Mt. St.Helens museum when we visited the area and were stunned, for lack of a better word, at the evidence of destruction. Nature is amazing, especially when it turns violent. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Tina,
      That museum is very good. I went back to the area the year after with my mother, and I simply couldn’t believe the destruction. The trees were felled and the landscape totally flattened for seventeen miles from the volcano. But just as amazing is the fact that life has returned and is settling back in. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments.

  29. Grace says:

    Wow, I’ve never had such experience. Thanks for sharing this story and this experience. It’s one great read. 🙂

    1. Dear Grace,
      I was really really lucky. Since then I have experienced two earthquakes, which never would have happened in Michigan, but they were not bad–a few fish sloshed out of the aquarium, and a few cans fell off the pantry shelf, but that’s as close to a natural disaster as I ever hope to get. Thanks for your kind response!

  30. I remember your post from before and how it breaks my heart to think of that day. I wasn’t living in Washington at the time, seventeen years separated me from Washington but I remember that day like it was yesterday. Thank you for this post, Naomi.

    1. Dear Susan,
      Thank you for your kind response, and thoughtful words.

  31. What an exciting adventure. It reminds us that as much as nature provides refuge and endless inspirations, it can evoke disaster, fear, loss and pain. Watching the Oklahoma Tornado’s devastation once again opened my eyes and heart to what is real.

    1. Dear friend,
      It is heartbreaking to see the suffering that was left behind int he wake of the tornado. It is a little scary to know that we are helpless to the whims of nature. Thank you so much for your visit, and for your thoughtful contribution to the conversation.

  32. Lynne Ayers says:

    An amazing experience, and well told.

    1. Hi Lynne,
      Thanks so much for your encouragement.

  33. Tom Siewert/深思 says:

    An amazing tale! You may find this odd, but as a geologist, I’m envious. I wish no one harm, but I love experiencing the power of the Earth, even if someday it may take my life. Good thing for you, and for us, that this was a small eruption and and you lived to tell the story so well and to continue to share your beauty with us. The eruption of Mount Toba in Indonesia dumped 4-8 feet of ash on people over 1000 miles away. They mostly lived to tell the story, though, as their ancestors likely made it to Australia to become the Aborigines. Oh the stories, the stories…!

    1. Dear Tom,
      The story about Mount Toba is fascinating! I never knew anything about that! I knew you were a park ranger and fine storyteller, but I also never knew you were a geologist. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, your insight, and your very generous comments! It is always so good to hear from you.

  34. My Tropical Home says:

    Hi Naomi,
    Thanks for sharing this. It’s interesting how events where nature makes herself felt in such magnitude is seared into our souls. Your post reminded me of Pinatubo’s eruption in the 90’s. I remember the day turning black and ash raining down on us, too…and we were more than 150 km away…Images and memories like these and the floods and the tornado, remind me how truly awesome our Creator is.
    Have a blessed week ahead! I’m catching up on blogs now….

    1. Dear Mary,

      Having experienced the power and strangeness of a volcanic eruption, you know how bazaar it is when it seems like all the laws of nature are suspended and the world is coming to an end. Really, nature is just going about her business and we little ants just happened to be in the way. I’m so glad you were okay, too!

      Good luck on your blogs–I seem to be in a perpetual state of catch up, but I got to spend some some time today catching up.
      Best wishes to you and the kids.

  35. 12kilroy says:

    I love this. You tell it so well. Your observation at the very end is true but melancholic.

  36. Thank you for your generous comments. I’m usually a very upbeat person, but that experience made me understand that terrible things happen to innocent beings: just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And we usually don’t hear about it, because very few people speak out for the small and vulnerable, from baby bluebirds to child brides.

  37. Jamie Dedes says:

    I don’t know where the time has gone. I didn’t realize I missed so many of your posts. A lovely visit here today, Naomi. I hope you and your are well and happy.

  38. fgassette says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.

    1. Thank you, Francine. It was my pleasure.

  39. TBM says:

    Wow I can’t even imagine. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad I experienced it, although I might not have said that from inside the ash cloud!

  40. elisaruland says:

    What a story! Mother Nature is FIERCE. I respect her for that.

  41. reocochran says:

    I think this is a great post, it holds so much truth about Mother Nature, God, and all of its dramatic impacts on we as people. It is also poetic and filled with philosophy. You had a journey you recounted and had photos, too. It was a lot like Ulysses or other major literary adventures. I loved the clear, clean mountain top sky with the sun’s hopeful rays shining like a beacon. You survived Mt.St. Helen’s! Wow! side note, I hate to think of the lives of things and creatures that do get destroyed during these disasters! (baby birds in their nests…)

    1. Thank you for your visit, and for taking the time to share your very thoughtful and generous response. This was not what I was expecting from one of my first outings in my newly adopted home, but I am so glad I had the chance to experience this (and live to tell the tale).

  42. Wow! I remember seeing this on the news and watching documentaries about it when I was in high school. So glad you made it out alive, what an incredible and frightening experience.

    1. Thank you! I don’t feel like a very adventurous person, but sometimes an adventure chooses you, and I am very glad to have experienced it (in retrospect). Thanks so much for the visit, and for taking the time to comment.

  43. Wow, what a story, thank you for sharing and I’m glad you and group made it out. I like your tee shirt design. I was on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, having a yard sale with a friend. We heard the boom that far away. I don’t have ashes from the first blow, but we have ashes from the second one. Take care and keep writing. 🙂

    1. Hi Iris,
      Isn’t it amazing that it could be heard so far away! Thank you for wandering in and sharing your story!

  44. What a harrowing tale, Naomi! I sat here, glued to my screen as I read your story.Your writing is wonderful and I’m so glad you escaped. One of my favorite touches is your ash-filled Christmas ornament. What a memory! ~Terri

    1. Hi Terri,
      Thank you so much for your very generous response! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.
      Best wishes,

  45. Hi Naomi,
    We just love this post and wanted to let you know that we featured a link to it today as part of our “Slice of Americana Series” that we’re running this July. You can check it out at the link below. Thanks for writing so beautifully! All the best, Terri & James

    1. Dear Terri and James,
      It is an honor to be included in your “Slice of Americana Series.” You have a top notch blog–both the writing and photographs, and it is an honor to be included.
      Best wishes,

  46. What a great story about the Mt. Saint Helens eruption. I can’t believe you were so close! I too have a bottle of ash from the eruption. At the time, I was living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If I recall, it was a Sunday morning, and we hadn’t yet turned on the news. We saw a dark ominous cloud approaching across the horizon and we thought it might be a nuclear bomb! When we finally turned on the news, we learned it was the volcano. We were covered in ash for several days, trapped inside our house and told not to drive, until the first rain washed it away. What an experience.

  47. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks for this exciting and evocative post. Quite a story! I’ll be back to,read more here. Regards from Thom at the immortal,jukebox (drop a nickel).

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