washington state

Periodically over the past few years, the subject of the Yellowstone Volcano has come up. When I think of a volcano, I imagine the high mountain peaks of Washington state, not the lower elevation mountains of Wyoming. Nevertheless, we are told that underneath Yellowstone Park is not just a volcano, but a supervolcano. The most recent volcanic activity at Yellowstone consisted of rhyolitic lava flows that erupted approximately 70,000 years ago, which says that the volcano is clearly overdue for the next eruption…or some phenomenon unique to Yellowstone Park is allowing the pressure to release enough to prevent the eruption. Of course, I’m no scientist, and my opinion is purely speculation, but we have been told that the recent large number of small earthquakes in the area could be telling when it comes to the volcano.

We are told that should the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park ever have another “massive eruption, it could spew ash for thousands of miles across the United States, damaging buildings, smothering crops, and shutting down power plants.” Then, almost in the same breath, we are told that it’s possible that Yellowstone might never have an eruption that large again. Maybe I’m not so far off in thinking that the geysers, mud pits, and hot springs allow enough pressure off to avoid another eruption. Still, the earthquake swarms in the area are troubling to the scientists who monitor the Yellowstone supervolcano, but then those earthquakes have been going on for as long as I can remember too.

Time will tell, I guess, and there is really nothing anyone can do about it anyway. If the supervolcano erupts, it just does, and if not, then the scientists will have something to speculate about for the foreseeable future. Either way, the people of Wyoming, and any other part of the world that would be affected in the event of an eruption, can’t sit and worry about it all the time, or we would never get anything done. People can’t live their lives in fear of the eruption that might happen.

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.

After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.

These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Most people who were alive in 1980, remember the catastrophic eruption of Mount Saint Helens on May 18th, but I wonder how many people…at least people who didn’t live in Washington state at that time…remember the earlier eruption that took place on March 29th. Volcanic eruptions don’t usually bring loss of life these days, because there are so many warning signs. That is what made the 57 lives lost to the Mount Saint Helens blast on May 18th so devastating. The warnings were there. The people were told, but the ones who lost their lives chose to stay in the area anyway, despite the glaring changes in the mountain and the urgent warnings to stay away. We had all heard that there was a distinct possibility that the mountain was going to blow. It was not just the people in Washington who were warned, but all across the nation too. I vividly remember being told what to expect when the mountain blew, because they knew the ash would encircle the entire Earth before it was all said and done.

For a week, prior to March 29th, the area had been hit with small earthquakes below the mountain. These earthquakes were an indication that magma had begun to move below the volcano. On March 20, at 3:45pm Pacific Standard Time, a shallow magnitude 4.2 earthquake centered below the volcano’s north flank, signaled the volcano’s violent return from 123 years of hibernation. Over the 20th and 21st, 174 earthquakes of 2.6 or greater hit the area. At 12:36pm on March 27th, phreatic eruptions (explosions of steam caused by magma suddenly heating groundwater) ejected and smashed rock from within the old summit crater, opening a new crater 250 feet wide, and sending an ash column about 7,000 feet into the air. On March 29th, an eruption of Mount Saint Helens blasted a mushroom cloud over most of the state of Washington. Then on May 18, 1980, came the catastrophic blast that took the lives of those who had stayed, even with the many warning signs, and public warnings.

I understand the rights of people to make their own decisions concerning their safety, but when warnings are given, the choices people make need to be taken into account before allowing any lawsuits to take place. Of course, as with any kind of disaster, people want someone to blame for the pain they are feeling over the loss of their loved ones. In this case it appears that the safe zone might have been miscalculated, but it is my belief that we are also responsible for our own safety. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be anywhere near that mountain in those days. Of the 57 people killed, the Weyerhaeuser Company and representatives of 14 victims of the Mount Saint Helens’ 1980 eruption filed lawsuits. The plaintiffs alleged in a King County Superior Court suit that Weyerhaeuser misrepresented the danger posed by the volcano and misled loggers and others into believing it was safe to be near the peak. Maybe they did, but the trial ended in a hung jury. They could not agree either. To me it seems as if this blast was nothing like the normal eruptions people knew about. In the end, the plaintiffs settled out of court for a reported $225,000, but the forest products company still denies liability. I don’t claim to know whether or not these 14 victims were wronged or if they simply didn’t take their own safety into account when they went too near the action. I do know that at the time, it made no sense to me to be anywhere near a mountain that was so filled with pressure that it was bulging. I thought that was a warning in itself. I remember the public warnings about the mountain. It simply made no sense to take the chance.

12042965_10206350174732130_43899556622801737_na13690579_10208540203336126_3086425729592877936_nNo wedding brings with it the guarantee of a lifelong marriage. That is up to the couple who are in the marriage, and it takes two people to make a successful marriage. The years fly by, things in the couple’s life change, and sometimes people decide to move to a new place. It may not be the way other people expected their life to go, but as long as the couple agrees on the new journey, it will work out to bring a beautiful life. I have had to be one of those parents who saw the life of her daughter and her family in a very different way than it turned out to be, and sometimes that is hard for me, because I miss them very much, but they are so happy living in northwestern Washington state, that I can’t help but feel happy for them.

My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis were married almost 20 years when they decided to pack up and move. They had spent the first 20 years of their marriage here in Casper, Wyoming, and I will be forever grateful to them for doing that, because it gave us the chance to really know their children, Shai and Caalab, and to spend time with all of them. I think that, while it is always hard to have your grandchildren living far away, it is easier when they were close while they were growing up, so they know their grandparents and how much we love them.

Amy has always loved the rain and the beach, and since she visited the Pacific Northwest as a Senior Trip, she has been in love with that area. The funny thing is that since she and Travis moved there, we have had more rain than we used to. These days, Amy and I have sort of a standing joke going. When it rains here, I sent her a text telling her it’s an Amy Day, to which she answers…”Send some my way.” Trying to be cooperative, I tell her that I will, but since it will have to get to her by way of Florida and Japan, it could take a while. Funny thing about that…Amy loves rain so much that she didn’t even care how long it took, just that it was on it’s way.
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Amy and Travis are so happy living in their new home and their new state, that I can’t help but be happy for them too. Of course, I wish I had the ability to beam myself over there more often, but I don’t so Facebook, telephone, Snapchat, and texting are the modes of communication for now. I’m just happy that they love living in their beautiful area. Today is Amy and Travis 21st Wedding Anniversary. The years surely do fly by. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! We love you!!

Shirley CameronShirley's front yardMy cousin, Shirley Cameron lives on the top of a mountain in Washington state. It was a beautiful, rugged, tree filled area, that is quiet and peaceful. She raises chickens and ducks, for their eggs, and gardens in the summer months. She loves to can food, and make jellies and jams of all kinds of unique flavors…and believe me, they are wonderful. In the summer months, there are bears in the area, which I think would bother me a bit, but Shirley is used to it, so she just knows how to stay calm and wait them out. She has lived on this mountain top for many years now, as did her parents before their passing. The place might be a bit wild by city dwellers standards, but for Shirley it is home, and I don’t know if she could really ever see herself living anywhere else now.

Peonies in front of the house There was a time, however, when Shirley lived in the very populated areas of Reno, Nevada and Vallejo, California, which is possibly the main reason she lives where she does now. Too many people in one area can drive you crazy, and then the best solution is for find peace in the general solitude of a mountain top. Now don’t get me wrong, Shirley isn’t a recluse. She enjoys being with people, getting online and connecting via Facebook, and even going into town and meeting up with friends, but when she goes home, it is to her beloved mountain. In many ways, I think it is there that Shirley feels the closest to her parents. They loved the mountain top too, and in fact, at one time the whole family lived up there on separate places. It was their little slice of Heaven on Earth. And it is where Shirley still loves to be, because of its quiet, peaceful beauty.

Shirley loves to take photographs of the different wildlife in the area. I have deer that come into my yard on occasion, but Shirley sees moose in her yard, and bald eagles in the trees. There are fox, deer, and every other EagleCow Moose In Shirley's Yardanimal imaginable too. I can see why she likes it there…in the summer anyway. And then there are the flowers. Wild flowers are everywhere, of course, but Shirley has a green thumb…unlike her cousin, aka me. She is able to grow not only a vegetable garden, but beautiful flower gardens as well. Her pictures of Iris and Peonies are stunning. While country life is not really what I want anymore, I still think it would be very inspirational to sit a while in her yard. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! You are an amazing woman. Have a great day!! We love you!!

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