Olaf von Michalofski and his daughter, Saskia, were practicing to climb Mount Rainier. To prepare, the Bellevue man and his 19-year-old...

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Olaf von Michalofski and his daughter, Saskia, were practicing to climb Mount Rainier. To prepare, the Bellevue man and his 19-year-old daughter, along with two friends, spent the night at Longmire. They planned to hike to the 10,000-foot-high Camp Muir the next morning. The von Michalofskis carried skis, planning to ski back down.

That practice climb happened 25 years ago tomorrow. The ski run was canceled.

The foursome rose early that Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, and started hiking.

“Mount St. Helens was at our back, but we weren’t looking at it,” von Michalofski said. “A group of Mountaineers were practicing rescues on the Nisqually Glacier. They started yelling. We looked around to see what they were yelling about and saw Mount St. Helens had exploded.”

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They watched as the plume of ash rose into the sky. When it became obvious the ash was headed east, they resumed their climb — briefly. The powdery ash fell on them, and they decided to head for home.

The von Michalofskis donned their skis, only to discover that the ash impeded their downhill progress. They ended up walking down.

Even though their practice was cut short, von Michalofski and Saskia, who now lives in Port Angeles, did reach the summit of Rainier that year on July 22. That was the same day Mount St. Helens exploded again.

“I think we’re a bad influence on the mountain,” Olaf von Michalofski said.

Walk in the park

Joanne Primavera calls it the three-week project that was three years in the making. Kirkland Rotary voted to buy a kit and build a picnic pavilion at Everest Park — sometime in the next couple of weeks. That was in 2002.

“We were so wrong about how long it took,” said Primavera, the incoming president of the service club.

The initial $30,000 budget grew accordingly, covered by outside grants and in-kind donations. The Everest Neighborhood Association contributed $22,000 from a community-grant program. The city of Kirkland helped with preparation and installation. Gardeners helped with landscaping. Primavera figures the 40-foot octagonal building with skylights cost $120,000.

“It has no plumbing, no electricity and no walls, but this pavilion is built so well it will be standing 1,000 years from now,” she said.

More than 50 people attended the dedication Sunday afternoon — not that the neighborhood waited for the official ribbon cutting.

When Rotary volunteers showed up to landscape the pavilion recently, it was pouring rain and someone was using the shelter to practice tai chi. A little girl who was watching the workers commented that her family had already had a picnic there.

Measured progress

As a nation, we just haven’t measured up to the metric system, even though teachers keep trying.

After Jeri Albertini retired as a teacher in the Bellevue School District, she became a math adviser for another district. She recently was preparing for a lesson on the metric system. Albertini realized the school didn’t have enough meter sticks for the students. She was told to purchase them at a local branch of a mega-chain office-supply store.

Albertini called to double-check that the office-supply store had metric sticks. The salesperson said they had two types of 1-meter sticks — one kind at $1.99 and another at $2.99.

When Albertini asked what the difference was, the salesperson responded, “The one at $2.99 will be longer.”

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com