Generally speaking, one week is not typically enough time to plan a trip across the planet. But hey, things were pretty quiet at the office, and how often do you get invited to a launch event that involved goat caddies? So here I find myself at Vancouver airport, having missed my ambitious connection to Portland, cashing in a $10 meal voucher at Starbucks and contemplating the last leg of a 38-hour journey from door-to-door.
The sunset flight down the west coast to Portland is ridiculously scenic – an unexpected bonus of the missed flight. Out the window of our turbo-prop are extravagant seaside communities, dense forests and hazy mountain peaks. Then, the distinctive shape of Mt. St Helens comes into view, which I recognise immediately from a well-loved National Geographic issue covering it’s famous eruption in 1980, causing the largest known debris avalanche in recorded history (and one that caused the mountain itself to lose 400 metres in height). Fifty-seven people were killed, primarily by the vicious pyroclastic flow that was released after the north side of the mountain collapsed. The resultant lahars (volcanic mudflows) completely destroyed over 600 km2 of pristine wilderness. In the weeks following, U.S. President Jimmy Carter surveyed the damage and said, “Someone said this area looked like a moonscape. But the moon looks like a golf course compared to what’s up there.” Which reminds me why I’m here.