I'll Meet You There ...

Sunday, September 1, 2019


I drove up the Toutle; it was a nice sunny day – just right for a Fall Funday Drive. Bob spent time up Toutle while growing up: his parent’s camped at Silver Lake; in his teen years, he and his pals spent a lot of time swimming on Tower Road, a spur off the main Toutle road; and his parents bought a piece of property near Silver Lake; right on the main highway, and Bob lived with them for a bit when he and Gloria were split up the first time. I spent time on the Toutle before I even saw, or knew, Bob: my Uncle Don Anderson, helped build the Spirit Lake Highway Bridge – and both families, his and mine, camped the summer on the Toutle while that bridge was being built: my cousin, Timmy, hunted big fat, long, night crawlers by flashlight – and sold them to the Silver Lake fish shack for summer money. Timmy also taught me how to fly fish that summer.

And Bob & I spent a lot of time in Toutle over our 44 years together ;-)

It was an emotional drive … BUT ALL the drives are emotional drives, because the drives I do are places Bob & I went for 44 years. I can’t stand being cooped up and penned in by 4 walls; so, I have to get out of the house quite a bit – and Bob understood that: we were taking drives almost every other day after he took early retirement 8 years ago. Sometimes we’d do really-really-LONG drives (like 16 hour round trip drives, or overnight mini vaca’s; sometimes we’d do a week long vaca. But mostly we just did quick short drives, like over the Delameter loop, and back home). I really needed this drive today.

And these emotional drives are getting better and better – I’m not shaky now when I get in the car, and I don’t feel like I am having a near heart attack when I go places without him next to me. It’s a bittersweet experience, & memory jog now. I’m happy I HAD those times with him, to remember; so, I don’t let those memory flashbacks bother me like they used to, when the loss of his presence was so fresh & raw. I still feel his absence in my life, but it’s not an acute missing – his absence doesn’t throw my heart into seizure mode now.

I know I want to get back into the mountains – specifically Mt. Rainier, but honestly, I am not confident that I CAN DO that solo – or even with Kerry as a traveling companion (I like to be on the road A LOT … and Kerry isn’t my husband; he will not want to go with me whenever I wake up with the ‘urge to surge’  - like Bob did. Bob loved me – Kerry doesn’t; Kerry will humor me; to a point). Mt. Rainier is a VERY LONG drive; and I tire easily now – there is no way I can do that drive on my own: Packwood, on the edge of the Mt. Rainier National Park, perhaps. And that’s okay … I like Packwood, and that would be a nice place to visit too; and it would keep the daytrip significantly shorter. I am thinking I may have to rethink day trips and keep them fairly local – like the trip I am doing today.

I was thinking, when I started out this morning, that the drive up the Toutle would be just a quick 1 hour drive: but it was quite a bit longer than that: I really have NO concept of how long the drives we did were because Bob always extended them for me because he knew I needed to be out of the house for a bit – so now I KNOW, for future references - that this round trip drive will take me 4-1/2 hours from start to finish; Packwood would be the same time-frame as today – so it is totally doable ;-)

From Longview to Packwood Map

Getting back to today’s daytrip … I went over Delameter from home, for a nice, leisurely country drive all the way around; and - as happens in a country setting - a deer passed in front of my car just before Ragland Road, up Coal Creek Road:

Map from Castle Rock to the Forest Learning Center - which was as far as I went this afternoon. It was a nice drive; the day was perfect for it.

Coming off Delameter, and entering Castle Rock, I stopped at Select Market there and grabbed some fried chicken tender strips …

Passing Silver Lake, a memory of my cousin, Timmy’s smiling devil-may-care face flashed before my eyes:

Along the drive, I stopped by Punkie’s house and told her about Bob’s graduation to Heaven in December 2018. Bob had lived on Bill & Punkie’s property for a bit while his crew logged up the Toutle – their house was the place he died in, in 1981 – when he was dead for 25 minutes before Elohim resurrected him and scared everyone; before he was rushed off to St. John’s Hospital to be tested for 72 hours and leaving doctors mystified as to WHY he died. Punkie and I had a nice visit; I always liked Punkie. I think she is only about 75 years old; I have known her for 48 years, and love her like an older sister. So, that is another loose end that has been tied now.

After that visit, I drove over the first of MANY bridges on the Toutle – the first one was the one my Uncle Don built (I said 1970’s in the video, but upon reflection, I realize it was really the later end of the 1960’s)

The logging road where our 2 families camped along the river during that time.

Kid Valley is rife with legends: Bigfoot & Harry Truman, among them. Driving through Kid Valley, Harry Truman immediately popped into my memories. Bob actually knew Harry Truman; personally. Bob told me some pretty colorful stories about Harry ;-) And what Bob said was true: Harry refused to leave during the evacuation; and he died when Mt. St. Helen’s blew her top:

Recalling Bob's recollection of Harry Truman, as Bob knew him.
Bigfoot Statue - not sure if Kerry did this one or not: we had heard he did a Bigfoot. Kerry did artistic stuff like this. And he was GOOD at it.
Helicopter Sight-seeing Rides over the crater.

I think another reason – and more than likely, the main reason – Bob didn’t want to finish the Aviation Course was because his wife at that time, Gloria, had slept with His Instructor, Bill Hudson; who was Bob’s friend at the time. Gloria slept with ALL Bob’s friends. It was her way of really digging the spurs in to hurt him, and it was really a rotten thing to do: and it showed the low characters of those questionable men too. When he told me that, I said, “Babe, those guys were NEVER your friends – friends DON’T DO THAT. If these guys were your friends, they would NEVER have slept with your wife.” Bob had a LOT of things to overcome when we were dating. He had really been betrayed, and hurt badly.

As the drive progressed, there was a definite nip in the air, the higher in elevation the road climbed. It was a nice crisp day – not cold: just right. I crossed another lengthy bridge spanning the gorge at about 1,000 feet. As the tires left the bridge at its other end, and touched down on the blacktop, I was thanking Yeshua; and thanking Bob for helping me do this: I could never have done this without knowing they were both with me during this journey.

Bob’s brother, Kerry, lives on the other side of that bridge. Kerry helped with the establishment of the ‘Eco Park’ – a ‘resort’ camp that is supposed to be eco-friendly in every way possible. BUT, because they really screwed my BIL, Kerry, over; I never promote them …

I have never been to Kerry’s home in the Mt. St. Helen’s area – but Bob was, several times. I think the video above is correct, though ;-)

Crossing the bridge, I spotted a definite ancient Cinder Cone. I wanted a picture of it, but I couldn’t just stop in the middle of the bridge … even if I WANTED TO; I could not have done it. Heights really bother me. So, I was thankful, when a few feet off the bridge, I noticed it showing through the tree foliage :-D

And THEN … the Bridge I KNEW I would HAVE to cross appeared! I girded myself, and prepared to meet it head-on. If Bob were in the car with me (actually in the flesh), I would have changed places with him and made him drive over it to get to the other side.

But, Bob is no longer here.

I was on my own. 'God help me’

That bridge was VERY HIGH, and the gorge bottom was very FAR BELOW. Even as a passenger, this bridge scares the hell out of me. But; it was time to ‘grab the bull by the horns’ so to speak; if I wanted to get from ‘here to there’. The bridge is 2,000 feet in elevation – and I literally cried with relief, when I made it to the other end without incident …

Crossing Hoffstat Bridge. Bob could never get me to drive across that bridge when he was with me. So, I was really THANKFUL to both Yeshua, and Bob, for getting me safely across that thing!

Coming up on the Rest Area & Viewpoint on the other side of the Hoffstat Bridge, the right side of the highway had cracked and slid quite a significant piece before settling. I don’t like that; that slippage means the road is unstable in that spot, so I don’t know if I’ll be going that distance again in the future. Stuff like that is worrying.

I finally reached the ‘Forest Learning Center’ & Gift Shop 
(http://www.mountsthelens.com/Forest-Learning-Center.html) – I was amazed I actually DID it ; Bob usually drove us this far because when we reached the Hoffstat Bridge, I would refuse to cross it – he would have to take the steering wheel if he wanted to view the Elk herd.

But, I HAD to cross today.

For several reasons.

I believe we were up here last, about a year and a half ago. We had our grandchildren with us – to show them the Elk herd. We also bought some things in the Gift Shop, but ran out of cash before I spotted the Bigfoot Coffee Mug; so, I bought that mug today ;-)

Ancient Cinder Cones
You don’t have to worry about Grandma, kids; I’ll do okay.

I decided not to push on to Spirit Lake – I only had ½ a tank of gas left, and wasn’t sure how much further up the highway the lake is: maybe another day, I’ll try. And I will leave the carport with a full tank of gas, instead of ¾ full. Just to be on the safe side. Bob would know how much further along the road – and how much gas would be needed: but, Bob is not here now; and I don’t know.

I went further up the Toutle that I thought I would go. And I accomplished crossing that Hoffstat Bridge! So, that was as far as I wanted to push things this afternoon.

So, I turned back towards home.

Catching sight of the Tower Road road sign, I decided to drive that way; it loops around to Spirit Lake Highway, and I knew I would have enough gas for that. I was looking for a specific bridge – the Tower Road Bridge – because Bob would tell me that he used to dive from the top of it. For some reason I assumed the bridge was one of those old green painted metal bridges, but all I saw was a concrete one … and people swimming in the waters below. So, I stopped and asked if this was the Tower Road Bridge. “It must be” is what I got from everyone – no one was a local, so they weren’t sure. I never saw another bridge along the Tower Road road, so it must be :-D

And, it COULD have been as I assumed, BEFORE the eruption (https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/51dd9727e4b0f72b4471d3cb):

Tower Road Bridge. I never saw Bob dive from this bridge (or the original bridge either; but I did watch him dive at other swimming holes, rivers, creeks, and swimming pools. He was awesome to watch – he swam like a fish. He taught our kids to swim too; and they also swim like fish ;-)
I grabbed some river rock to haul home, on my way back to the car. They are blue, green, and red ones. This picture does not do them justice.
The sky viewed through the sun/moon roof.

I may have to drive out here just to spend the day by the river; it’s not that far from home ;-)

Passing back through Castle Rock, on the way home, I saw a Farmer’s market in progress – so of course, I had to stop …

Turnips. I bought 2 bags; I like turnips in the Fall & Winter months. My garden fizzled out  this year.
Saw this sign in the Books & Pub window, when I passed it on my way back to the car from the street tents.

I only used a little over ¼ tank of gas; that’s pretty good for a relaxing drive.

The entire trip was done on backroads.

The best way to travel. MPO ;-)

My shoulders and neck hurts a little – but I am sure that is from the long solo drive; and I was gripping the steering wheel pretty tight going over those stinking bridges spanning the gorge. SIX OF THEM!

Bob would be proud of me.

I can almost hear him saying, “I always knew you could do it, baby; you just have to have faith in yourself.”

I love you, Babe.



Gift Shop goodies
I know what I KNOW - I don't care if people think I a crazy. I know what we experienced. I saw our wolf's (1/2 Timber wolf/1/2 Gray wolf) fearful concern for out granddaughter's safety. I will never forget that wilderness experience. I will never forget that hauntingly eerie sound - it was unearthly. Bob & I are country people, and we NEVER heard any wild animal sound like that!

Tomorrow, I will start pulling things out of my garden boxes, and getting the boxes ready for their Winter downtime. I’ll drain the rain barrels too – and see if Mike can help me tip them so they empty completely before I store them, until Spring 2020.

Hopefully I can spend more time in the garden area next year instead of being tied up with legal business in town, like I was this garden season – and hopefully the sun will make a better appearance next year too: my garden suffered pretty bad this year because of those 2 factors, which I really had no control over at all :-(

No comments:

Post a Comment