Where was I on May 18th, 1980? Yakima, Washington
It was 8:30 am…
It was already a dark morning as clouds filled the sky over Yakima. By the time we left McDonald’s a few short moments later, the sky on the western horizon was filled with more than clouds.
Stopping to fill the tank before our drive home along the Columbia River Gorge, the man at the gas station said he had heard there was a very large storm coming.
What was coming was black as night as its darkness was quickly filling up the sky as it rushed across the state.
As it drew closer, I remember seeing lightning bolts from within this dark cloud that was racing towards us. As a ten year old… this was a little scary as our car raced its way to the border and out of this cloud of darkness and its line of sight. We stopped several times to take a picture. By the time we arrived at Goldendale, we knew this was no ordinary storm. This was Mt. St. Helens.
Pulling over on the highway outside of Goldendale to take some pictures, we were not the only ones doing the same. Remarkably, there was a t-shirt vendor there hawking shirts that said… “I’m a Lava Lover… Mt.St.Helens, May 18th, 1980!”
Even to a ten year old, I thought that was amazing that someone had shirts already printed up along the highway not 45 minutes after the eruption.
Driving along the Columbia River Gorge that morning was a sight I will never forget.
Happy to be out of the ash clouds path, I was enamored at the sheer power of what was before my eyes as it seemed to like hover in the distance over what was already majestic setting within the gorge.
In a weird way, or maybe it was because of the enormity of it… life that day seemed to be lived in black and white. I don’t remember any color in the landscapes that painted my day. Maybe if I tried hard enough, I could remember the yellow in the golden arches over that McDonald’s we stopped at? Or, maybe I could see the green in the farmland between our stop to take a picture and buy a shirt between Goldendale and the Gorge?
If I could, they would be faded I am sure.
There are certain moments in life that warrant the question… where were you then?
This was one of those moments. Where were you on this day?