Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holy Chihuly!

Holy Chihuly! It's August 20th; the Olympics are in their second week; Usain Bolt from Jamaica is just about to run the 200 on the day before his 22nd birthday (another world record at 19.30 and with a head wind, no less!); and here we are .. still reporting the adventures of "Moffats on the Road"! It's very difficult to cast our focus backward when there is so much in our immediate future. Any day now will bring the news of the birth of our first 'Moffat' grandchild (to Sarah and Andrew), and Elizabeth is into regular training for her pilgrimage (Sept 18 - Oct 22) with six other women across northern Spain on the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

If you are even reading this, we are grateful. Life is too full for everyone to believe that we still might have vicarious companions as we bring this blog home. So, thank you, friends and family for your perseverance over the long haul. It's been quite a seasonal soap opera of shared exploration, expedition and reunion.

Now, if the bright glass display above is not enough of a clue as to what a 'Chihuly' is all about .. you'll have to come along with us to find out more. We'll start from the Grand Coulee Dam in north-central Washington state, just below.

In recognition of this historic battlefield between progress and ecology, you might want to sing "Goodnight Irene, Goodnight" with these famous Woody Guthrie lyrics: Roll on Columbia, roll on .. Roll on Columbia, roll on. Your power is turning our night into dawn .. Roll on Columbia, roll on. And so, we continue on up the river ...
West through Snoqualmie Pass at 3022 ft. ...

Into the delightful city of Tacoma, nestled on Puget Sound just south of Seattle ... under the eagle eye of a quiet volcanic giant ... Mt. Ranier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range @ 14,410 ft ...

... famous, among several things, as the place where the practice of 'standing during the Star Spangled Banner' originated (another great trivia question) ...

To a precious house on Tacoma's North G Street, over looking the Sound ...

Up the front walk to the home of my teenage buddy ...

Wingate Charl Unger Johnson or 'Winnie the Pooh #2'.

Winnie and I met in a swimming class in high school, where she taught me to do a 1 1/2 dive off the low board. It was to be the first plunge into a pool of youthful adventures, shared by us both. I'm proud of this friend, who eventually, as a single mom, raised two great kids while doing interior design in Denver, Colorado and teaching downhill skiing at Copper Mountain. Below is son Bryan, daughter-in-law Betsy (both teachers), and grandsons Henry and Myles ...

My... life is a going concern with these active little ones. I loved Betsy's comment to me: "I always considered myself to be the very best of mothers ... until I had children." Does she not speak for us all? These cutie pies do, however, have the good fortune of wonderful parents.

One cannot introduce Winnie's Tacoma family without mention of "Guinness", a very real presence .. a cat who sits up and begs for treats .. a sight almost worth the trip to behold.

Here we are on Winnie's deck giving thanks for this very special reunion. Below, the view that accompanied this dinner ...

In the distance below, you will see the current "Tacoma Narrows Bridge", a structure with a famous history of its own. Opened for the first time on July 1, 1940, with the largest suspension span in the world at the time, this steel ribbon highway, known as "Galloping Gerdie", collapsed on November 7th of that same year in a windstorm. Famous as the most dramatic failure in bridge building history, Galloping Gerdie changed forever how engineers design these structures. It's successor, once again connecting Tacoma to Gig Harbor, opened on October 14, 1950, designed to carry 60,000 cars a day. But traffic in recent years has risen to 90,000 daily. So in July of 2007, a parallel bridge was opened to more fully facilitate traffic in two directions. Oh, and in 1992, the remains of Galloping Gerdie were placed on the national Register of Historic Places as a sunken reef.

The Narrows Bridge at dusk is a sight to see with the setting western sun...

Definitely a romantic evening walk ...

This patron is ready for lunch on the deck at "Dukes" ...

And, so are we!
Great lobster chowder and ceaser salads here .. and northwest berry pie! Below,

Olympic hopefuls, rowing in Commencement Harbor.

Now we are approaching the Museum of Glass (above) and the Walk of Glass (below)

Tacoma is also famous for its 'Chihulies', and you are getting here, a view of 'the real things'.

Dale Chihuly is a revolutionary of the Studio Glass Movement, whose achievements have influenced contemporary art in general. Though these solitary glass sculptures stretch traditional ideas of small glass art, you have to see his big works to appreciate the scope of this artist's imagination and capabilities. Come with us into the old train station, which currently houses the US Courtrooms, to see what we mean.

We're now inside the rotunda and closing in on a 'hanging Chihuly'...

Here it is up close... 600 pieces of glass, weighing 2000 pounds. Dale Chihuly has taken the art of glass blowing into the team production of large scale collaborative installment and environmental art, using the full insights of his studies in archetecture and interior design.

Here is more ...

Holy Chihuly!

And speaking of special 'creations' .. how about the two below ?!
Meet 5 year old Mina and 2 year old Miles. They are the children of Richard and Annie Lander (friends of Andrew and Sarah) and the grandchildren of Dave and Doreen Lander (United Church minister friends of ours, Doreen being featured in our first or second blog chapter).

Left to Right: Daddy Richard, Miles, Peter, Mina, Mommy Annie and Elizabeth

A rendition of "I know a weenie man" before bed.

It's Sunday, May 18th, and we are on the road to Mt. Saint Helen's for the 28th Anniversary (1980) of the epic eruption. Our little family was camping nearby the summer that followed that event and were not allowed to get close. How amazing after all these years that we finally get to visit on an anniversary that brought many of the survivors back to tell their stories. See the mountain there in the distance?

A fascinated crowd comes to commemorate and to learn.

There's always a few nuts in every crowd. But get a load of the depth of the snow!

We are standing on the deck at the current Visitors Centre, the very place from which the radioed message was sent before the messenger lost his life ... "Seattle, this is it!"

A lone wolf walks the snow covered slopes.

The tiny red lights on the scale model above, indicate the area encompassed in the flow zone.

This great remnant of the old forest, shows how trees were like toothpicks before the 600 degree lateral blast of gas and flying stone. Below, a forest cemetery...

Equal to the force of thousands of atomic bombs, trees were mowed down as far as 17 miles (27km) from the volcano, all laying in patterns revealing the direction the blast was channeled and deflected by ridges and valleys.

The onslaught of water, ash and debris formed a hot slurry of mud that rushed down the slopes at speeds up to 80 miles an hour, slowing down to 15-30 miles an hour on the lower slopes.

Hear these first hand accounts from survivors:
It was morning and we were on the riverbank, when all of the sudden we saw the river rising fast, so we ran for the car. Then a huge log jam held back by a railroad trestle rounded the bend and burst, releasing a sea of mud and logs. The car was swept away and so were we."

"The mudflow surrounded us so quickly we didn't have time to panic. We immediately started struggling to survive. My friend Roald managed to jump from one log to another, but I was pulled under. I fought to stay above the mud and logs until finally Roald pulled me out. The oddest thing was we never heard the mountain errupt. We thought the dark gray sky was an overcast day."

This phenomenon of silence is quite a fascinating aspect to the eruption. Though dogs were reported to be barking and running around wildly before the eruption, and birds stopped singing,
those closest to the event heard nothing. Hikers and climbers on nearby Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Ranier watched the mountain disintegrate in eerie silence. The force of the explosion pushed sound waves upward into the upper atmosphere, where it bounced back to distant places. The result was that people hundreds of miles away heard sounds, while those nearby heard nada. Below is a display that attempts to portray this peculiarity.
Within a few hours of this 9 hour eruption, ash began to blanket towns east of the volcano, blotting out sunlight and turning day into night. Cities as far away as Denver (1000 miles) reported dusting over the next few days. Most people and animals killed by this event died from suffocation by inhaling dust particles. In all, the mountain spewed out 540 million tons of ash, which fell over an area greater than 22.000 sq. miles.

Below, a landscape in the aftermath of 20 years.

Above .. track nature's incredible regenerative capabilities .. the same flow area photographed in 1980, 2000 and 2006.

On our way home from this amazing day's adventure, we stopped in the neat little town of Centralia, Washington .. at one of Winnie's favourite haunts .. the retro Olympic Hotel. Below, inside ...

"Here's to Life! Our ingress to it is naked and bare;
Our progress through it is trouble and care; Our egress
from it is 'God knows where'; So, may our friends down 'here' be our friends out 'there'!" (a toast of Dad's, slightly modified)

Staying at Winnie's home provided a place for lost things to be mailed to us; to make important phone calls; and for 'Lil' to apply herself to the blog.

In the meantime, Winnie and Peter went out to play ...

Both enjoyed Tacoma's many antique and junk shops. Below is an example of how these pursuits can engage a lot of one's time...

Opps! Peter's found a stash of magazine car ads!

And, always, there are special old cars to admire ... remember these models with the portholes?

Happy hours at the Le May antique car collection ...

"Okay, you grills, smile for me..."

Such a happy camper ...

And then, there was this other special collection in an old car dealership ...

This collection went on down the stairs into several rooms, until - at the back of one corner - was spied an anitque in a different catagory. Behold, a 20 year old replica of an aristocraft, the very model that Peter fell in love with at Pen Lake as a boy. Several of his friends and cousins had them.

Take a closer look ... yellow leather apolstery, no less!

An original Mercury engine!

Now we know why that trailer ball on the back of the RV was installed!

Even Henry's excited about all this.

Yup .. "Sweet Sixteen" now rides the waves at Pen Lake, evoking many nostalgic memories for the lake crowd. If you continue to check in with us on the blog .. we will include pictures from July of the boys enjoying this toy.

In the meantime ...
we've come to the end of our wonderful adventures with Winnie and are making our 'goodbyes'.

Wins, so many bouquets to you of gratitude and love. Keep blooming where you are planted! Sorry to miss you at the New Trier reunion this fall (will be in Spain), but don't you think our own reunion was even better? We do!

And so we push off again from this 'Land that Lures' .. this time headed for the Canadian border, a visit with son Tim in Grande Prairie, Alberta, ..an encounter with the Rockies at Jasper and Banff, ..the dinosaurs at Drumheller, .. a reunion with members of our first pastoral charge in Manitoba ... and then "home again, home again, jiggety jig". We ought to be able to share all this in one more chapter, entitled "O Canada" - yet to be published.

Hang in there, Blogmates. Hoping your summer is filled with glorious re-creating moments.

Elizabeth and Peter