June 29, 2003

Adventure Log: Helen

10:36 AM – Left the house in the Green Dragon Wagon, rocking out to Matt Pond PA’s Nature of Maps. We are currently set to meager rations and a grueling pace.

10:42 – Dogs were waiting for their owners outside Safeway. Got $40 from the ATM.

10:46 – Bought Oregon and Washington maps from Walt at the Chevron station. Paid for it with the ‘minimum bill possible’, a rare $8 bill.

10:53 – On the highway near Viento. Rain and sticks start falling from the sky.

11:15 – You know, New Mexico is the only U.S. state that boasts “U.S.A.” on its license plate. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, it’s not Mexico, Mexico… it’s New Mexico, United States of America, dawg!”

11:26 – PRESS F1 TO PULL OVER THE WAGON AND SIZE UP THE SITUATION. Stopped at VIEW POINT. There may be more trash and empty beer cans here now than there was in Lewis & Clark’s time. It may smell less like urine, however.

11:28 – Looked at detailed Washington map. “APE CAVE?!?! HELL YEAH WE’RE GOING TO APE CAVE!”

11:29 – Switching CD to Cowboy Curtis’ two-song EP. This should keep me going for another hour or so.

11:45 – Entered Portland, City of Roses.

11:47 – Left Portland.

12:01 PM – Threading through the mountains at speeds that make my car creak with every turn. Life suddenly becomes exciting and dangerous.


12:39 – Tried to get into the Speedway Bay Recreation Area, “Brought to you by Pacific Power.” They wanted $3. I said nuts to that. That’s $3 I need for sinister plots.

12:42 – Just got passed by a Model T.

12:45 – My car needs gas and I need to pee.

12:46 – “Well, I’ve got Yale and then I’ve got Cougar. And then I’m fucked.”

1:09 – Reached Cougar. Found gas and potty. Everyone is happy.

1:11 – The kid in the Hyundai next to me is listening to shitty music. He is wearing Oakleys, a wifebeater and an upside-down-and-backwards visor. His car is purple and has a pink feather boa draped across the dashboard. A sparkly pink “I’m Innocent” stick is on the windshield. Either this guy’s real car is in the shop and he’s borrowing his sister’s, or he’s got a lot of explaining to do every time he picks up a girl for a date.

1:39 – Mount St. Helens is a silly-looking mountain. If it were in junior high it would be wearing a funny hat and glasses and would get slammed into the lockers by the cool kids.

1:42 – I have reached Ape Cave. No apes are in sight yet; probably because they’re all in the cave. The rangers want to charge me a fee, apparently. I’ll just tell them I’m with the apes.

2:03 – I got into Ape Cave, but it was huge and my flashlight was small and powered by the batteries left over from my CD player. A good Woocher is always prepared for spelunking, even if he is ill-prepared. My light works fine for the cramped spaces beneathe universities, but is insufficient for lava tubes two miles long and big enough to drive a Volkswagen through. There was way too much darkness for giant apes to lurk in, so I got out quickly.

2:04 – I have decided to take a winding road alongside St. Helens up to the town of Randal, and to take another road down to Trout Lake and back to Hood River. The ranger says the trip would take at least five hours. I thumped my chest and said I was hardcore. She said have a good time.

2:24 – Got sidetracked into Lava Canyon. If I spin around really really fast I can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood all at the same time.

2:45 – I drove a little bit further, and got sidetracked into the actual Lava Canyon. The first was a decoy to throw off tourists of less-cunning intellect than I. Lava Canyon is fashioned with lots of danger signs: Easy Trail. Harder Trail. EXTREME WOOCH! TRAIL! with ladders. Please Dangle Children Over Edge. All Men Banished from Rainbow.

3:45 – Climbed into the rigging of the Ship, a dark and hulking volcanic formation. Ate a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk and Cereal Bar.

4:15 – Dunked head under a tiny waterfall.

4:26 – Returned to the Wagon. Time to devise another plan.

4:28 – Decided to go to Carson, a town on the Washington side of the Gorge. 90 to 51 to 30. Should be fun.

4:47 – Got distracted by a sign for “Climber’s Bivouac.” Need to go see what that is all about.

4:49 – If they’re not going to bother paving a road, why do they still bother putting all those washboards down under the gravel?

5:07 – Apparently “Climber’s Bivouac” is where you go when you want to climb St. Helens, which I think is a silly idea because this is the only mountain that keeps doing everything in its power to get shorter and easier to climb. To climb the mountain they recommend you come outfitted with ice axes and crampons. I had fingernails and Chacos. You are required to have a climbing permit. I had an ATM receipt. There is snow and wind up on the mountain, and you must dress accordingly. I lost my shirt playing poker with the lava flows.

5:11 – Going to Carson, and the Gorge, and Hood River, again.

6:26 – In the mountains, a green exercise bicycle was sitting on the side of Wind River Road. I slowed down for a moment, but the whole thing stunk of evil so I kept on driving.

7:01 – COWBOY BREAKFAST. SUN. 8-2. Grub for all the cowboys that get up early and all the cowboys that stay up late. I know where I’ll be next Sunday.

7:19 – Stopped at the Hatchery on the way back to Hood River. The swells were a good five feet high, and there were at least fifty windsurfers out on the water. When I left town today there was nary a breath of wind.

7:40 – Stopped at the Event Site to see what was shakin’, and saw only about forty sailors on the water. If I hadn’t cleared out my gear to make room for my adventure, I could have rigged and gone out. Damn.

7:51 – Driving home from the Event Site I spent those $3 that Pacific Power tried to weasle out of me. I bought three pounds of cherries out of the back of a truck. “They were picked about an hour ago,” said the orchardist wearing a South Park t-shirt. They were absolutely delicious as well.

7:56 – Stumbled in the front door, drunk on mountains, wind, and cherries.