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october 2010 | by ben harrison | show project

The site was up on Mt. St. Helens. It's known as the petrified forest, because the trees are encased in rock from a lava flow. Planning for our install, we get all the exhibits and tools packed up the night before. The next morning, we drive up to meet with our client and it's raining the entire time. At first, it's that cute sprinkle that makes you hold your newspaper over your head (if people still do that?), but as we start gaining in elevation, it becomes a constant down pour and the temperature drops to the low 40s. Some rain is to be expected in the mountains (this is Washington after all), but I was not expecting a monsoon.

We get to the site and dig in. The large exhibit for the introductory sign is our first task. Unfortunately, the hardware from the old one is so rusted after years of disuse that we have to carve into the wood kiosk to release it.

Although we have rain gear and gloves we soon discover that in order to maintain the finger dexterity required to perform certain tasks we must go without. Well, Peter does. I have a nice pair of wool fingerless gloves that are somewhat effective in keeping my hands warm, despite being waterlogged.

After the large intro sign, we load our tools and equipment into the wheelbarrow, cover it with bubble wrap to keep it dry, and follow the boardwalk around to the seven sign locations. First to remove the old, then to install the new. Each of the seven exhibits is fastened to the wood railing by 4 sturdy bolts. At this point, however, it's clear that the weather is going to seriously impede our work. We decide to put 1 bolt in each frame and save the rest for the next day. Even doing just this much, takes us all day to complete. Soaking wet, we hop back into the van and drive the 2 hours home.

The next day, loaded with bad weather gear, we are ready to knuckle down and fight it out. When we arrive back on sight though, we are greeted with a perfect sunny day - almost 10 degrees warmer - and the work is finished up in less than 3 hours.

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january 2010 | by linda repplinger

"Who's got a chain saw? Anyone?" There are seven downed trees between our loaded truck full of exhibits and the Verlot Ranger Station. My mind flashes to our drive the night before, which began on a sunny afternoon in Oregon - "This install will be a cinch, we can drive there" - and led us into the inky-black, near-hurricane-force winds of a northern Washington winter storm.

A full day and night later, the road cleared, and we arrive at the Verlot Ranger Station, a cozy CCC cabin nestled among the tall cedar trees of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. We were glad for the shelter of this warm little building, as we worked to install the exhibits. Light glowed out of the hand-crafted windows. Outside a soft snow fell through the forest branches.

Somewhere on the other side of that storm, past the downed trees, over the river and through the woods, we landed back in time. In a real-life fairy-tale, spinning our craft installing exhibits in the shelter of the cabin just as men worked years ago.

The Verlot Public Service Center, in the Snoqualmie Mt. Baker National Forest, was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp between 1936-38. Originally built as a headquarters for the newly created Monte Cristo Ranger District, Verlot is now a staffed visitor center. The exhibits celebrate the history of the area from the Native Americans through the mining and lumber era, to today's scenic byway. Sea Reach planned, designed, fabricated, and installed the exhibits.

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