Roadtrip to the Airport-Calgary to Mt. St. Helens


Before I continue discussing our plans for leaving Canada for Thailand, it seems appropriate to stop and spend some time sharing our roadtrip to the airport.  Our daughter lives and works a couple of hours east of San Francisco.  She’s the one who we sent off to university in Pennsylvania with a, “you’ll love this new experience!”  We wanted to see her before we left so we booked our flight to Chiang Mai from the San Francisco airport.  I don’t think we saved much money after we added the travel to get there, but we had a wonderful trip.


A sample screenshot of My Maps of our trip to Utah in March

We spent a few days looking at all the possible routes to California.  We have taken most of the obvious ones already.  Some are fast, some scenic, some exciting, some are calming.  We used Google My Maps to keep track of routes and attractions as well as distances.  It looks like regular Maps, but you can include links to campgrounds or hotels.  You can also save it in Drive and share it with travelling companions or those at home who want to see where you are going.  I decided that I would like a less adventurous trip to relax after all the packing and planning of the previous weeks.  We passed up on the trip through Utah and agreed to travel down the Oregon coast.

It was snowy and foggy when we left Calgary.  We had taken a day to say goodby to our family there. It was one of those days where you realize that you have been pretty inward looking in planning a trip away without really thinking about what your mother or sister might think about the idea. I realized we were going to be missed quite a lot.  We had to be sure that we had an easy means of communication ready to use with family.  What’s App is what we will use with our immediate family, and Facebook Messenger should work best for family that don’t use their cell phones much.

We headed west to the mountains.  After a quick stop in Canmore to pick up some sandwiches, we took highway 1A, just because we could.  Travelling without a set destination or time constraint is wonderful.  We had 12 days to make our flight. Highway 93 past Radium and Fairmont was a replay of fall.  Leaves were yellow and mixed amongst the dark evergreen.  There were so many larch trees in full color.  I didn’harealize they grew taht far west. We stopped at St. Eugene’s Mission at Cranbrook for a drink and a tour of the residential school museum.  It was sobering to say the least.  The building is so magnificent and the story so tragic. Our first night was spent in Sandpoint, Idaho in a hotel, out of the steady rain.  The draught beer at $3.50 a pint was definitely a highlight of being in the United States.

Our second day led us through the Columbia Gorge of Oregon.  It was busy but a it’s a good road.  It was built in the 1920’s to be accessible for Model T Ford’s to drive on a “European Style” touring road.  We didn’t get down as far as

Western Washington north side of the Gorge

Western Washington north side of the Gorge

the waterfall section but crossed the bridge at Cascade Locks and took the back road to Seaquest State Park

Not our "ridiculously good at camping" set up, but it works.

Not our “ridiculously good at camping” set up, but it works.

across from the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center.  It felt kind of like “Groundhog Day,” experiencing the height of fall all over again.  It’s odd having the same season twice in one year.





View of the washrooms from our tent.

There were showers through the night but our tent stayed dry enough.  The falling leaves were much larger than the ones at home.  We awoke to cloud and mist.  After checking out the visitor’s center and watching the movie about Mt. St. Helens eruption, we took the hour long drive up to see the mountain itself.  The eruption was in 1980. We visited the area in 2000 when all we could see were stumps of trees twisted off by the force of the explosion and the beginning of regrowth, mostly in the form of fireweed and other wildflowers. I wanted to see what

Regrowth at Mt. St. Helen's

Regrowth at Mt. St. Helen’s

was growing now.


Weyerhaeurser Forest Company had cleaned out the fallen lumber and replaced it with new trees. They were planted in the late 1983 and will be ready for harvest in 2028.

Even though the fog obscured the peak itself, I was amazed at the natural regrowth of plants within the blast zone.

What used to be a valley of ash and mud.

What used to be a valley of ash and mud

Some of the plants are invasive species that

Some days are just like this.

Some days are just like this.

blew into the area.  Many are adaptations of naturally occurring plants.  This area is such a great biology lab!


The views were not what we planned, but some days are just like that when you travel.  You have to make the best of them by either looking for what is still great about the day, or else having a plan B altogether.  I still very much enjoyed our day exploring the area and seeing the changes since our last visit. Our drive to Seaside was an improvement and I will share our time along the Oregon Coast in another edition.

One thought on “Roadtrip to the Airport-Calgary to Mt. St. Helens

I would love to hear from you too.