Set the alarm for four am this morning. Woke up at three noodling on a problem with Mainspring
, as I reported earlier, so I got up and worked on the novel a bit, then I was out the door to tillyjane
's house in north Portland, to pick her and lillypond
up. Strangely, bibliothec
refused to go, as did lillypond
's husband or tillyjane
's housemate. Something about sleep and the weird hour of the day. Some people have no sense of priorities.
Anyhoo, we'd planned a route to Woodland, WA
, then over back roads to Kalama, WA
. We were concerned that the highways might be closed early, and likewise the Kalama exit. We found our way to an overlook recommended by my friend JN, which when we arrived there about 5:45 am was already crowded. We parked the New Genre car, walked up a bit of a hill to clear the view of some power lines, then stood around for well over an hour.
It was fun. Almost like a festival. The vast majority of people out there were good-natured -- and there were hundreds, just where we were, maybe thousands in the area to watch. They'd really closed up the Oregon side, for fear of possible debris or other problems, so everyone was looking from across the river, except for the official observers and some of the press. Our site was perhaps a mile and a half distant, and two or three hundred feet above the river level. (For reference, the tower stood almost at sea level and was 499 feet tall.) We stood through dawn, watching light fill the Columbia valley until the cooling tower glowed.
Right before 7:00 they set off the bird charge -- a pre-blast designed to scare away any birds near the cooling tower. Exactly one bird lifted off, but the rest of us got ready. It was our signal too. When it went, it went in eerie silence. The entire collapse took several seconds, even before the sound reached us across the river. Just like thunder-and-lightning, but for some reason I hadn't thought that through. The quiet collapse of that mass of concrete was so amazing. When the sound did come, it was a grumbling, rumbling roar. It was followed by answering roars like distant thunder, which someone nearby theorized was the explosion echoing up and down the Columbia valley.
If you follow through to the video link, you can experience that delay, though the noise isn't bone-deep on that little clip as it was in real life of course.
Afterward we waited out the worst of the traffic, drove up to Kelso and Longview, WA, then over the river to Rainier, WA and back down past the plant. We wanted to see if we could glimpse the still-standing portion of the cooling tower (part of the southeast face didn't fully collapse). We stopped to admire some geology and admire a derelict ferryboat, and found a guy taking Geiger counter readings. (Photos on that later.) He showed us his meter, and said the levels were the same as they had been in Portland prior to the blast.
No chromosome damage for us today, I guess. It was awesome, worth even the interruption of final revisions to Mainspring
. Here's a just a few more shots ( Collapse )