WASHINGTON            • Day 11    • Day 12    • Day 13

Day 11. Thursday, November 22, 2012. Thanksgiving Day.

MT St Helens RV Park- Mount St. Helens NM – Seattle KOA Tacoma.  2H - 107 miles. National Monument.

Longview North/Mt. St. Helens KOA was indeed a gateway to Mount St. Helens and Vicinity.

Thanksgiving Day’s morning was cold, misty and quiet. The air was fresh and invited us to take a walk around the campsite and take pictures of the trees and the lower hanging clouds in the Cowlitz River valley.

We were eager to get on the road again and to set off for Mt. St. Helens, but Registration at 9 am was compulsory, and that gave us a chance to ask for more information about the road to the mountain.

The Camera on Johnston Ridge Observatory ( http://mountsthelens.com/volcanocamera.html ) gave us the answer, as the mountain was wrapped in a morning cloud and not visible at all.

We decided to visit Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center to see if it was closed due to the fact that it was Thanksgiving Day. We met some people at the Center, who could tell us about the mountain and the effects on the landscape since the volcano erupted in 1980. They had been to the Center for turning off the heating system, as no visitors would be allowed indoor that day, and now we caught them, him, his father and his small son, while they were preparing to have a morning run at the trails near Silver Lake.

He told us, that the Silver Lake was a former part of a river system, which had been blocked or diverted since the eruption of the volcano and now was left as a shallow lake.

As a result of the May 18, 1980 eruption, the source of the North Fork Toutle River was changed, and the upper part of its drainage system evolved on the dissected surface of a debris-avalanche deposit.

Prior to the May 18 eruption, the source of the North Fork Toutle River was Spirit Lake, which received runoff from 46 sq.km of rugged, forested terrain, north of Mount St. Helens.

The crater of Mount St. Helens was the source of the North Fork Toutle River from the time of the eruption until November 1982.

The outlet of Spirit Lake was blocked by the debris-avalanche deposit.

During the period from May 18, 1980, until November 1982, the level of Spirit Lake rose as it received runoff from rain and snow in the surrounding mountains. The rising waters threatened to breach the unstable debris-avalanche deposits damming the lake.

In May 1985, a tunnel was opened connecting Spirit Lake and South Coldwater Creek. Water was released from Spirit Lake into South Coldwater Creek at controlled rates and as the level of the lake approached the tunnel gate elevation during June through August 1985, tunnel discharge  declined from about 11.3 cubic meters per second to less than 5 cubic meters per second, the natural summer discharge from Spirit Lake.”

We then left Castle Rock and drove directly to Seattle, where we found, that the Seattle/Tacoma KOA’s office was closed, but we were expected and the necessary information for us was posted outside the office. When we had visited our site 73, we took the car and drove off for an afternoon in the areas around Seattle Space Needle, originally build for the 1962 World’s Fair, but now an observation deck and a revolving restaurant. We did not have much success of purchasing the ingredients for the Thanksgiving dinner later that day, as it is a Family and not a Take Away thing.

We drove back to the KOA before dark, knowing, that we would be able to look forward to have a warm, tasty plate of chicken soup for dinner that evening.

Click here to see more DAY 11 photos posted at "Else Duch's Gallery" on Picasa.

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Day 12. Friday, November 23, 2012. Black Friday.

Seattle KOA Tacoma - Tourists in Seattle – Kmart – Downtown Seattle – Boeing Factory Tour – KOA Seattle/Tacoma

Yesterday, when we drove back from Seattle Space Needle, I told Else that I did not like to drive while it was dark, and I also mentioned, that I was now dead tired of driving, and I was happy, that we were at the end of our tour of The West Coast of America, so we decided only to go for a small tour in our vehicle the next morning. We wanted both to experience, what Black Friday meant for the local Kmart, and we also needed a little last minute shopping, and after returning from Kmart, Kent, we would park the RV at the KOA and let a Tour Guide collect us and take us on a full afternoon tour of downtown Seattle and the Boeing Factory.

Black Friday started at 5 am at Kmart, Kent. When we arrived at 9 am, we could still see outdoor chairs left behind from people, who had spent the night in front of the shop, wanting to be the first to get to the most attractive purchases – and that seems to be a permanent and future tradition of the Thanksgiving Holidays!

We were again among those who identify by Hispanic, Latino and Africana in a huge number, all of us having fun of finding the best barging’s in the Kmart store, and we spent a couple of hours before had to say, that there might not be more space for any more in our suitcases, but the real packing of suitcases we would do in the evening, taking turns as the space was limited inside the RV.

Despite the continuing rain our tour guide was on time dressed as an Aviator of the old school, and we drove downtown Seattle to different hotels, where other guests would be ready to board our van and eventually to be transported to the Boeing Flight Aviation Center in Everett for our guided tour of the Assembly facilities.

The Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington is an airplane assembly building owned by Boeing. Located on the northeast corner of Paine Field, it is the largest building in the world by volume, where Boeing 747’s, 767’s, 777’s and the new 787 Dreamliner are assembled.

Plans for the factory were first announced in 1966 for it to be the site of the construction of the 747 after Boeing was awarded a $525 million contract from Pan American Airlines to build 25 747's. It purchased 780 acres north of the little used army airfield Paine Field. Boeing had an Everett presence since 1943.

In 1968 it began offering factory tours with the first roll out of the 747.”

We witnessed the awe-inspiring process of jumbo jet assembly up close inside the world’s largest building by volume. We saw the 747-8, 777 and 787 Dreamliner planes in various stages of assembly and manufacture for airlines customers around the world. Being a day among the Thanksgiving Holidays many workers were taking days off from their work at the Boeing Factory, but what we saw was magnificent and unbelievable.

It was again dark, when we were returned to our KOA, but this time we were together with a more qualified driver than me.

Our dinner was made out what was left in the fridge and later we were packing our suitcases and at the same time emptying the cupboards and the shelves of the RV, and we could soon see that we were not travelling lighter on our return trip, than when we came to the United States of America 2 weeks earlier.

Click here to see more DAY 12 photos posted at "Else Duch's Gallery" on Picasa.

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Day 13. Saturday, November 24, 2012.

RV returns – Departure to Seattle/Tacoma International Airport – LH491 Seattle – Frankfurt

Our RV should be returned to Cruise America between 9 am and 11 am at Everett near the Boeing Factory, and driving out there might take a very long time in the morning traffic, but it was Saturday and it was in the middle of the Thanksgiving holidays and therefor the only Saturday during the whole year, where there would be no traffic congestion on the Highway.

Because of the changing of cars in San Francisco, we knew that we had to negotiate different things with the company in Seattle, but we did agree on all the subjects in questioning and soon a taxi was called to drive us to SeaTac International Airport back in Kent. The Cruise America Company in Seattle was acting very professional and they were very pleasant people to interact with. They gave us a nice start on our journey back to Europe.

After reaching SeaTac, we had to negotiate with the Lufthansa personnel about our rather heavy suitcases and luckily we found a way of satisfying everybody, and the suitcases were allowed on board the aircraft.

The US Security Personnel at the Airport were much more talkative and informative, than I had expected. They came up and asked for our origin and suddenly we were talking about them doing military service in Germany and being married in Denmark. I was also told, that I was three years from being allowed not to take off my shoes, when going through the inspection, and that the Samsung Tablet could stay in the suitcase together with our GPS.

After the conversation, we had our first full body scan, so maybe they thought we needed an X-ray.

It did not take long before we were comfortably inside the SeaTac building and looking for something to eat, as it was nearly 1 pm, and a chicken burger for Else and a cheese burger for me solved our problem, and at the same time it was a sort of symbolic meal for the place we were now departing from.

We had been looking forward to this part of our trip, because we were having two chairs in the airplane situated next to each other and with only a couple of persons sitting behind us and in front of us. It was a “two-four-two” row of seats, and for the first time on this tour we had our own entertainment system just in front of us, which was not the case in the Lufthansa jumbo jet from Frankfurt to Los Angeles.

We had been enjoying the meals and the service provided on our trip to Los Angeles, and Lufthansa’s Airbus A330 was much more comfortable and the service just as excellent, as we had before.

Else fell asleep again before takeoff, so everything was as normal, and I managed to watch the majority of the films available for this trip, before I would let my body and soul have a couple of hours rest.

We even landed in Frankfurt before schedule, so we would have no problem reaching the connecting flight to Copenhagen.

Click here to see more DAY 13 photos posted at "Else Duch's Gallery" on Picasa.

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