Mel’s sidenotes: Please remain seated for the grand finale

We went to Mt. St. Helens today and the weather was the same as yesterday – rainy and foggy with visibility under 30 meters for part of the way. Nevertheless, we made it to Johnston Observatory, where the weather was so miserable that we skipped the outside viewing points and went straight inside and decided to wait for the next educational film viewing.

So we sat down in their spacious movie theater and saw a well-made film with cool sound effects and graphics that let us better understand the incredibly devastating power of the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Above the wide screen there was a little screen with subtitles for the hearing impaired. We are in the US after all… And after the impressive 16-minute movie, it said there “Please remain seated” while the movie screen retracted upwards.

Ok, I thought, lights are still out – this is for safety reasons… And then the red curtain at the back wall rose. I had wondered about that curtain, a dark red velvety affaire, before, because it had illumination from the back and thought “nice touch – looks like molten lava”. Well, the curtain rose and we got to see… a whole white wall of foggy nothingness. Nada. Nill. Just plain white fog.

There were ironic giggles all around, when we noticed that the creators of the observatory intended us to have a spectacular view onto Mt. St. Helens from this theater. Great thought, guys, and it’s probably working for most, but today, that probably aweinspiring effect was lost on us. I promise we will return one day and then you get to try again.

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