Today is the 20th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. I was 7 when it erupted. I remember going to the pet store to get a kitten for my sister, and she picked out a grey and white kitten. We saw the mountain on the way home, and it had a huge cloud of grey smoke over it. It had erupted. We named the kitten Smokey because of her coloring and the mountain.

In the days that followed, an ash cloud floated over much of the Northwest. Many people wore masks over their mouth and nose while working outside. We found a fine covering of ash all over our deck and picnic table the day after. My mother saved some in a ziploc bag, which she still has.

The wildlife and plants are slowly returning to the region. A large visitor's center was built at the site, and helicopter tours of the area are popular.