Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

We moved here for a reason and it wasn't all goats and chickens either.

Western Washington is a fabulous and beautiful place. It's easy to get so caught up in normal life, that you forget just how awesome it is out here.  Luckily, Sarah remembers these things and uses her special days to force us out of the bubble and into the actual, beautiful world.

We paid a visit to the Ape Caves just south of St. Helens. We hadn't been there for six years. It was our first visit to Washington when I did a contract in Vancouver.  There are a few pictures.

It was May of 2011

There was snow in the bottom of the holes on the first hike

We marveled at the ash under a fallen tree.

"It's not safe to go alone, take these."

We had a great time. Great enough to return again today. So we hopped into the new ride, Sarah finally let me drive, and headed south to Mt. St. Helens.

This time we had better cameras.

Our first stop, just like last time, was here.

It is a short trail with a boardwalk through an old lava flow. It has little signs that interpret what is going on and how the formations came about. It is a neat, short walk in the woods.

The place was the same. But we may have changed a little.


The rocks haven't changed.

There was still snow at the bottom. Probably not the same snow.

Max still had to climb in and explore.

The trail only takes a few minutes and then it was on to the Ape Caves a short way down the road.

Last time we came, we had snacks, a few dollar store lanterns and optimism. This time, we came a little more prepared with lights and cameras that might work.

The entrance is along the middle of the lava tube. It was discovered in the fifties after the roof caved in and a guy on a tractor almost drove into it.

Luckily they have made some improvements.

Luckily not too many though.

The tubes were formed with fast moving lava cooled on the outer surface of a flow,but the inner part stayed hot an fluid. The lava inside kept moving until the tube emptied.

Time for a walk inside.

Upon entering, there is a dark pit below.

There are stairs leading down into the tube. That's the last improvement
Then it was down into the lower Ape Cave proper.

In some places it is pretty big.

They boys had a great time. They loved lights out.

This picture shows how wet it was. There was a constant drip of water from the roof.

These pictures came out pretty well. There wasn't much light, despite what we brought. So, most of the pictures turned out like this.

But sometimes there were cool rock formations.

I imagine little dwarves commuting over the bridge.

And little ledges for kids to scamper down.

We found a few small openings

Then we found a bigger one and it sparkled.

Look closely and you can see tons of little sparkles on the walls.

The different minerals sparkled with different colors.
Eventually we made it down toward the end where the tunnel tapers down. Some places are large enough to drive a bus through.

And some are smaller

No, smaller.

Way smaller

And cold and damp enough to see your breath
The first time we came, it wasn't as wet and the boys and I belly-crawled all the way to the end. This time we turned around and went back to the entrance.

But, unlike last time, we went a little into the upper cave. The lower cave is pretty tame. The floors are mostly flat and there aren't any real holes. The upper cave has cave ins, holes, rock tumbles and even a lava falls.

We didn't have time to go far and we didn't get to go all the way to the lava fall. Darn it all. I guess we will just have to go back.

Back up to the land of light.

Happy Mother's day Sweetie. You're the bestest in the whole universe infinity I win.