Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Where were you? (3)

Eruption of Mount St. Helen's - May 18, 1980

It was a Sunday afternoon and the Hunk and I were scheduled to be married the next Saturday. He and his brothers decided to go to an air show at Fairchild Air Force Base. About the time they got to Coeur d'Alene, they heard on the radio that the Air Show had been cancelled. They were really miffed. "Why would they cancel the air show at the last minute?" they fumed.

From the west, a large dark cloud began to sweep across the sky. It was similar to a storm cloud, but very dark. Then they heard on the radio that Mt. St. Helen's had erupted. "Wow, was that cloud from the volcano?" Interestingly, they had the Hunk's super 8 movie camera, and decided to take some movies to document what was happening. The western sky dark was as a starless night, and the eastern sky was still daylight.

They decided to turn around and drive home, but stopped briefly at the edge of Coeur d'Alene Lake and take some more movies. Then they drove back over the Fourth of July pass to the Silver Valley.

In the meantime, I was home and heard about the eruption on the television. Everyone was told to stay indoors. (No one knew at that time, whether or not the ash would be toxic and it was heading our way.) I was really scared about my groom and hoped they would not be caught in the fallout. The Hunk arrived at my house before the cloud of ash began to fall. We drove to his mom's place in Kellogg, and he dug out his industrial respirator - just in case.

Soon the ash started falling in Kellogg. He put on his respirator and went outside to take some movies of the ash falling onto the cars. I didn't want him to go out - but you know men - they love danger! Unfortunately, he ran out of film, and couldn't take any more movies that day.

Soon the news report said the ash wasn't toxic, but it would be harmful to car air filters, and to reduce the amount of driving you needed to do. The ash kept falling for several hours. We ended up with about 2 inches all over. (Further south in Idaho, they had to deal with about 4 inches of ash all over.)

The ash hung in the air like ground fog. It was eery. When cars drove down the street, it kicked up into the air again. And now, we had a delemma. Our rings and the tuxes were in Coeur d'Alene - 30+ miles to the west. The marriage licence was in Wallace - 12+ miles to the east. Some of our attendants were from out of town. We had to travel - or postpone our wedding.

Besides all of this, I discovered I was allergic to the ash. I couldn't breathe in it. I went to the doctor for anti-biotics, as the ash had irritated my throat and lungs and I had a sinus infection. So, the Hunk did most of the traveling, and checked his air filter frequently to make sure it wasn't clogged. I stayed in as much as possible, and wore mask-like filter to keep the ash out of my nose, throat and lungs. (I looked so cute ----HA!)

On Saturday morning, May 24th, I was still wearing the mask outdoors. I had to get ready for the wedding at home, then finish up at the church. My mom or dad took a short movie clip of me with wet hair and the "mask" on. It was sooo embarrassing! At least I wouldn't have to wear the mask at the wedding ceremony since it was indoors.

Someone took a picture of us after the ceremony, standing by the Hunks pickup. The hills were covered with grey ash. It almost looked like a dusting of grey snow.


myrtle beached whale said...

I was living in Italy at the time. I honestly didn't hear too much about it. I heard there was lots of ash around. I watched the movie about it years later.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

It was rather scary. . .you weren't living near Vesuvius at the time, were you? That volcano really scares me!

InlandEmpireGirl said...

I was in Pullman with my soon to be husband #1 S.E. celebrating his birthday. I couldn't leave Pullman. School was closed in the valley ( I was teaching in Pinehurst). Of course you can imagine Pullman and Moscow during a volcanic eruption. I never saw so much beer move out of stores in my life! I just wanted to get home!!You story is a classic.

Silver Valley Girl said...

I was out at Rose Lake for a church youth group function. I remember seeing the dark cloud coming across the lake. We heard about it on the radio. I remember we rode home in the back of a pickup covered with a blanket. The ash just started falling as we were leaving. Those were wierd days. I was a junior in high school, and I remember one of our choir concerts was cancelled. We lived where we could see I-90, and the semis and other vehicles creeping along. That was an interesting time. I'm sure you were very glad your wedding didn't have to be postponed!! And what a great story to share about your wedding, and movies, too!!

myrtle beached whale said...

No, I lived in northern Italy. The area is prone to earthquakes and we had some mild ones while I was there. Very scary indeed. I would not want to live near Vesuvius. It has erupted over 50 times and is certain to again. Regardless where you live, there are some risks. Here we have hurricanes. I am not really afraid of them. You get a week forewarning. Tornadoes, flash floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, blizzards, and the like allow no preparation time.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Yea, I agree. Hurricanes are the most avoidable disaster. We had earthquakes in So. California, but they weren't a problem. Most were so mild, I only felt them, because they made me dizzy.

Also lived in Tornado alley in Tx. We had about 30 min warning that the storms were dropping tornadoes to the southwest. I would gather the girls and go to a shelter. My husband wanted to sleep, and stayed home. I was a wreck. Esp after Stephanie was born and I had a 6yr old, 2yr old and a newborn to take to a cellar.

In retrospect, my husband was right, but I wasn't willing to take any chances with my little ones.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Inland E. Girl: You were in the "thick" of it in Pullman! When did you get back to the Valley and How? How long did they cancel classes? So funny, a run on beer. . .not water and batteries! Sounds like the Moscow-Pullman area all right.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Silver Valley Girl: I'll bet it was scary riding in the back of a pickup - under a blanket! (Guess it could depend on the driver, and who was under the blanket with you! LOL) I'll bet your mom was scared for your safety!

raymond pert said...

I had kind of an odd response to the volcano erupting. I was in Eugene, my first year in grad school. My x-wife's parents were visiting. I had a big paper due. I was hoping the ash cloud would shift south and the U of O would close so I would have more time to get my paper finished! That's how grad school warps the mind!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Don't know if it's Grad school - or just human nature to try to get more time for a project. . . LOL!

myrtle beached whale said...

You have to be some kind of student to hope for a natural disaster to keep your paper from being due. I think a volcano would be even better than "my dog ate my homework".

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

MBW: You crack me up!