Before we said goodbye to family and started our road trip down the coast we had to go on a beautiful nature trail called Watershed Park. It's just a couple of blocks from my brother-in-laws house and is utterly spectacular. Randi and Rich try to walk it daily with Hilde their dog when they visit. Sean told me often it felt like we were on the planet Endor from Star Wars. I wouldn't even be surprised to find out it was filmed here.
We rented an SUV like a Ford Edge for this trip but when we got to Seattle to pick it up they were all out and upgraded us to a Ford Flex. We had no idea what it was going to be like but were thoroughly impressed by the end of the trip. It was top of the line and had not one, not two but three sunroofs which proved to be really cool for seeing all of the views. Plus with the third row seating we were able to fit six adults in it for the graduation (we left the three kids with a sitter). It was like a fancy little school bus.
After leaving Olympia we headed south to go see Mount St. Helens. It was an overcast and drizzly day so we weren't expecting much. Turns out it's good to keep your expectations low, the mountain was hiding in a giant cloud. We drove all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which was quite a ways off of the highway. It was a beautiful drive none the less.
Above is the picture from the observation deck. We laughed. Here is a picture of what we should have seen from this point. The Observatory itself was full of information about the 1980 eruption with a movie and detailed accounts from the survivors. Wish we could have seen the mountain, perhaps another day. The lady at the observatory said it's only visible for about 100 days out the year.
Down the road is the Forest Learning Center which is even more informative than the Observatory with beautiful views of the valley. Plus it has a nice gift shop which is always a hit with the kids.