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Looking Back Four Decades

May 18, 2020

It’s a if it was yesterday. In fact, it was a Sunday. I was 15. My brother was 17. We were getting ready for church. It was early in the morning of May 18, 1980. I was gazing off to the South. I was watching the clouds billow. It was like one of those nature programs where they use time lapse photography to show the clouds forming.

Except this was in real time. The clouds continued to billow up, miles into the sky. Fifteen miles we would later find.

It was the largest volcano eruption in modern American history. Mount St Helens blew over 1000 feet off the top of it’s mountain. The ash cloud would circle the globe, twice. The ash would bury eastern Wasington, Idaho and parts of Montana.

It was truly a once in a lifetime event. But, then I guess many events are once in a lifetime. Watching a volcano erupt was certainly one of them. Well, watching it erupt for the first time. It erupted a lot over the next several years. Some eruptions were more visually stunning. Sunday May 18, was somewhat cloudy even before the eruption. Other eruptions occured on a clear day. It was possible to see all the way to the mountain itself, nearly 300 miles away. The ash plume acting like a giant inverted arrow pointing to the mountain.

But, there’s no forgetting that first one. Even now, after a lifetime of experiences, it’s one of the memories I’ve chosen to hang on to. I can’t imagine ever forget it. Even if I live another four decades.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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