After spending the week at JavaOne, I spent a day touring San Francisco with a couple co-workers, and then I headed to Portland to meet up with Jenny, my wife. A friend got married July 3 near Mt. St. Helens, and we also did some good hiking and spelunking. We also got to see a lot of fireworks on the drive back the evening of the 4th.
The tour of San Francisco was fun, and we saw quite a lot. We did the Alcatraz Tour and the San Francisco City Tour through Tower Tours, which wasn’t quite what I expected. There were two separate tours for $55; a bus tour of the city and a ferry ride to Alcatraz. The bus tour was pretty good; the driver seemed to know the city well, and the route hit a lot of great highlights. I was the only one in our group who had visited San Francisco before, so some was review, but I hadn’t been to the Golden Gate Park or seen Haight Ashbury before. There wasn’t a lot of depth to the tour, but we saw a lot.
Blue and Gold Lines actually does the trip to Alcatraz, so Tower Tours really was just a ticket agent. I had never been out there before, so it was the highlight of the day. I really enjoyed the audio tour of the cell block and the movies about the Indian occupation. It’s definitely worth the trip. After the ferry ride back, we got sundaes at Ghirardelli, and then I got my stuff from the hotel to go to Portland.
After seeing an old friend from my days working at CSC, Jenny and I headed up to Anderson Lodge near Mt. St. Helens for a wedding. My dear friend from college, Melissa Clark, was getting married. She and Rowdy (his real name) were finally getting married. It was a lovely ceremony in a mountain meadow with wild flowers. Very fun. There were also a lot of other friends from college there, which was great.
The next day, a bunch of us from the wedding went spelunking in Ape Cave in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Ape Cave was created from a lava flow from Mt. St. Helens about 1900 years ago. It was a lot of fun exploring the cave, although it’s a lot different than the limestone caves we find in Missouri and neighboring states. The walls are a lot harder because it’s basalt, and there aren’t many side channels or rooms to explore (the lava just went where it wanted: straight downhill). We had to climb over a lot of rock piles created by ceiling collapses, and there was also an 8-ft wall to navigate. Unfortunately, most of my pictures inside the cave didn’t turn out.
After the lunch in Cougar, WA, Jenny and I went to the Windy Ridge lookout at Mt. St. Helens. The view was amazing. On the edges of the blast zone, many trees have recolonized the slopes, but much of the landscape near the volcano is still desolate and nearly devoid of life despite the 24 years that have passed since the great eruption. I was especially surprised to see that there are still thousands of dead trees floating in Spirit Lake, after all these years. Amazing.
On the drive home to Portland that evening, July 4th, we saw fireworks throughout Southwestern Washington and the Portland area. It was a lot of fun to drive on I-5 and see five or ten fireworks displays around us. Unfortunately, we had to head back to St. Louis the next day and go back to the real world of work.