In an ideal world, I would have driven to the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the end of the road, which has the sweeping view of the volcano. It's a long drive, with a lot of switchbacks and I didn't feel like doing that to my car, not with a 3,000 mile road trip coming up. I only went as far as the Forest Learning Center which was really cool. Great exhibits, films, hands-on stuff. I was a bad girl in this gift shop as well, but hey, it's my swansong in the PNW. I want stuff to remember it by.
This is as close as I got to Fire Mountain.
Imagine this valley choked with a massive and muddy lahar, lava rocks and blown down trees, all rushing down the Toutle River, 60 miles to I-5. The ash blew east/northeast and turned the skies in Yakima black.