It seems appropriate today to post this photograph of one of my few treasured possessions.
It has deep meaning in more ways than one.
11th September 2001.
A dear friend was in Seattle on business and I was on vacation so we could spend some time together.
At 6 am he called me to tell me what was happening and of course I went to my TV to watch the appalling developments.
Realizing that aviation was going to be messed up for the foreseeable future, I decided I should go to work, so I donned my uniform and went to see my father who was living close by.
Aged 89, Dad’s mind was still intact. He seemed surprised to see me and he clearly had not been listening to the news, so he went to turn on his television.
While he watched, I called my boss to say I was cancelling my vacation and would be in to help with the resulting chaos but he told me there was no point. With no flights in or out, there was nothing anyone could do.
Dad was hard to read. He had lived through the London Blitz. Perhaps he was immune to drama. Anyway, he didn’t appear to need me either, so I went back home.
This left me feeling useless but then my friend called to say that because of the events, his conference was cancelled and he was on his way to see me.
Not knowing what else to do, we decided to drive out to Mt Rainier and stay overnight at the Paradise Inn.
The inn had not yet been renovated back then, and it was decidedly seedy, but it was a place to lay our heads.
We needed to be away from populated areas to find some peace. It became one of those strange, nostalgic and very emotional memories.
As we strolled slowly through the lobby, another resident sat at the piano, picking out patriotic tunes. “Glory Hallelujah” nearly did me in. People hardly spoke. No-one knew what to say.
Silly the details you remember of times like that. It sticks in my memory that in the gift shop, I noticed mice running about on the shelves.
We went outside to gaze at the empty sky and realized how unique an experience it was, on a clear night, to see no air traffic. Just the great expanse of space.
Piano man continued to play, or maybe someone else took over. The patriotic tunes drifted to us on the cool night air.
We held hands and wandered about but then, exhausted, we decided to attempt sleep.It did not come easily.
In the morning, we took breakfast in the subdued dining room, paid our bill and set off to drive slowly back to Renton.
Mt Rainier State Park is very beautiful.
Hard to believe I did not yet have a digital camera, so the photos are very inferior.
We drove around the mountain to another famous viewpoint at Sunrise, then dropped slowly down through the forests and flower-filled meadows.
Mt Rainier is, of course, an active volcano. Maybe it’s because I have always been afraid of them, I decided I could feel the energy flowing within, the power of that mighty mountain.
Whatever the case, our decision to go there that awful night had been good. Nature, the great healer…
…and the great destroyer.
A file photo of Mt St Helen’s.
My brother and I took Dad there on a road trip.
Some twenty years after the big eruption, the devastation was an impressive sight.
Nature has many ways of telling us to respect her.
Like nothing else, I do.