Thursday, August 18, 2016

Under the Hoffstadt Creek Bridge

As we drove to the Johnston Ridge Observatory along Washington Route 504, we stopped at each and every one of the scenic turnouts.  There was one, however, that was very odd--a sign enticing us with a rather generic, yet pleasurable promise:  Bridge Viewpoint.

  We pulled into a parking lot filled with cars.  Obviously, other tourists had been lured by the sign as well.  We were all equally baffled.

"Where's the view?" we asked each other.  "Are they serious?  Is this it?"

"This really sucks," one young man complained.  "What a waste of time."

From this vantage point, tall trees now blocked the bridge view.  Clearly, this was a public relations stunt by the Weyerhaeuser Company to boast about its success.  The logging company had lost many camps and equipment during the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980, as well as acres and acres of private timberland.  The documentation at the non-viewpoint informed us that the company had spent millions of dollars in a massive salvage and reforestation project.  Indeed, the new lush forests on either side of the bridge would once again be ready for harvest in a mere ten years.

Everyone else returned to their cars and left.  But not us.  We wanted to see the darn bridge!  During the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, nineteen bridges had been wiped out.  Many of them had since been rebuilt and the Hoffstadt Creek Bridge was the longest and highest of the bunch.  A whopping 2,340 feet long and 370 feet high.  We would soon be driving over it, but we wanted to see its structure from underneath.  So off we went down the hill, bushwhacking our way through thorny vines, deer poop and stinging nettle.

Tenacious, we are.

  We got down to the bridge's underbelly and noted right away we weren't the only ones that had done so.  We marveled at the construction, but truth be told, we marveled even more at the graffiti artists who had undertaken gymnastic feats to climb up inside the buttresses to do their thing.

And we thought we were tenacious.  Ha!
Still . . . What was the point?

Why risk life and limb to spray paint, "Blow me" across a span of bridge that no one can see?  It's not creative, that's for sure.  It's actually rather trite.  Is it frustration?  Loneliness?  A desire to be noticed if only by old farts like us?  Or did they boast about their defacement on Facebook for all the world to see?

I love graffiti if done well.  If it is colorful and original.  But this type of graffiti leaves me depressed.  Its sordidness spoiled the otherwise unblemished beauty of the area.

As I walked back up the hill, my thoughts entered the Dark Side.  But rather than allowing my Vishnu/Shiva/Human Race comparison to ruin my day, I shrugged it off.

Tenacious, I am.

 That dude was right.  What a waste of time!

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