Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blog 5

Belated wishes for a Happy Birthday to our grandson Collin McIntosh! We hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration, Grandma and Grampa.

Thursday, 26 May.
This leg started out much the same as the day before: buttes and partly cloudy skies. But as we approached the eastern boarder of New Mexico the mountains vanished. In a sense, they didn't vanish, we were now on top of them. Much of the Continental Divide on the I-40 corridor is a broad plateau. But, while the topography and fauna are less visually interesting, the skies are magnificent and ever changing.
The changes are brought about by the wind! The same winds that are transforming the skies in a brilliant display of shapes, textures and colors, our little RVmore sail than truckis constantly buffeted about by them. The grand finale came in a brilliant sunset while in our Tucumcari Mountain Road RV park.

Try to imagine these three shots as a single image and you might get a sense of the grand skys of the high plateau

A Tucumcari sunset.
Friday, 27 May.
Shortly after starting out, on the hottest day of the trip, our air conditioner, which had been complaining from the start, gave up the ghost. We chose to drive on with the hope of getting it repaired the next day. From Tucumcari eastward across the Pan Handle of Texas the arid landscape gradually moistened and, by comparison, Oklahoma was a virtual Eden. The green vegetation was soft to the eyes and a welcomed relief from hard edged desert, and the green was set off by the deep red color of the soil. Then, shortly before Oklahoma City, we saw the effects of a recent tornado. Trees, some with their branches ripped off, others uprooted. Ten travelers were killed by this storm. It reminds one of the uncertainty of life. Sobering thoughts as we enjoy a mostly wonderful trip, especially so since we had originally hoped to leave a week earlier than we did.

Red earth/green grass

Trees ripped out of the ground by the recent tornedo.

The cattle return to the fields after the tornedo.
We arrived in Oklahoma in the early evening hot and sweaty, and, after registering at the Twin Fountains RV Park, we we went to the home of Chuck and Beth Connell. Chuck is my first cousin, which makes him a rarity amongst the many layers of cousins we will meet on this trip. He is the son of my uncle, Dave Connnell and brother of Lori and Diedre whom we met at my brother's in Lake Forest (see earlier blog). In spite of the genealogical closeness of our relationship we barely know each other and may never have previously met. We spent a little while getting to know each other in their magnificent new home and then went out for dinner to continue the process. When we returned to their home the evening was capped off by meeting their son, John. What a treat to have finally gotten to know this accomplished fellow and his family.

Chuck, Beth and John Connell
But the evening was far from finished! And the finish could not have been more exciting nor more frustrating. After leaving Chuck and family, we headed back to our RV site. Our troubles began when we mistakenly turned onto the Turner Turnpike, which, as the name implies, is a toll road. What the name kept hidden is the fact that there would not be an exit for 35 miles! 35 miles in the wrong direction! 35 miles that would be more than doubled by the time we would finally find our way back to the Twin Fountains RV Park. At 15 mpg that's about a $18 mistake not counting the 75 cent toll.
And just getting off the turnpike had its trials. Valerie drove up to a machine to pay the tollclose to the machine because it would require an awkward, backhand, left-hand toss into a basket into which she was to toss the “exact change, coins only”7 dimes and a nickle. Of course only four of the seven coins made it into the basket. Then, because she was close to the basket, she could only open the door part way, barely enough of an opening to squeeze through. She collected the errant coins and put them in the basket. The red light turned to green, Valerie self consciously waved at the cars waiting patiently behind us, squeezed back in and we were on our way.
And where was Bruce during all this?” I hear you ask. Well, Bruce was madly fighting with the computer trying to figure out where the hell we were and how to get back to the Twin Fountains. The problems now were: it was getting late, we were way out in a very rural country side, and we were running low on fuel.
We did make it back somehow, but he emotional cost was much higher than the cost of fuel as we were at wit's end trying to figure out how to get back. The good news is we found a gas station, we found our way back and our marriage seems to have survived. Knock on wood.

Saturday, 28 May
Things have gone much better so far today. We got up earlier than usual and arrived about 8:00 am at Bob Howard Toyota hoping that the repair of our air conditioning could be accomplished with a minimum of time and not too much expense. The fact that we had to wait in a line of about five cars for a first-come-first-served service on a holiday weekend did not bode well. Much to our satisfaction, however, things progressed reasonably swiftly and the staff was very friendly and kept us apprised of the progress. Three new V-belts and $145 later we left Bob Howard's in delightfully cool rig. We decided not to push our luck and are spending another night in Oklahoma City. There was laundry and shopping to do. There was no room at the Twin Fountains, but we found accommodations at Rockwell RV Park where we plan to have a more relaxing day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blog 4

24 May. We had a pleasant drive From Bob & Debbie's to Kingman, AZ; the temperatures were pleasant and the air clear. We arrived at Gloria Dukeshire's house pretty much on time, chatted a little while and then took her to dinner. A more pleasant and generous lady would be hard to find. We had met only one time prior to this meeting several years ago in eastern Oregon. She and I (Bruce) share an ancestorThomas Purves—Gloria by his second wife, Nancy Hattery, and I by his first wife, Ann Henderson. One of the fortunate things about her is that, like me, Gloria has a passion for genealogy. We shared thoughts and insights into the family's history, but my brain, already tested by traveling all day, was soon filled and overflowing, so I had to say goodnight.

The next day (25 May) it was back in the RV. Again, the weather was perfect: not too hot, not too cold, clear skies, and mostly interesting landscape.

Gloria Baskerville Dukeshire

Gloria & Valerie

I-40 has more trucks than cars
Leaving California: Lovely depth of field accentuated by the thick air.

As we drove accros Arizona and ascended towards the Continental Divide, the geography became more complex as well as the fauna.
There were painted cliffs
The Navaho apparently have no laws concerning the size of signs along the highways.
There were quarries

There were buttes.
There were Volcanic forms.

And there were freight trains running east and west along the entire I-40 corridor.

All in all, it was a fascinating drive, and I am looking forward to the next leg of the journey. But for now, it's getting late. Valerie is now quite asleep. I'm surprised that the amount noise she makes sleeping does not wake her.

Good night for now. I'll soon add my own voice to the chorus of snores. It will surely awake the entire KOA campground.

Gallup, New Mexico

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blog 3B--Pictures

For the text see Blog 3A--Text
Table 1

Debbie - Lori - KC - -Deidre

Lori -- KC -- Deidre


Debbie -- Diane -- Bob

Deidre -- Valerie -- Dave -- Diane

Debbie -- Valerie







Table 2

Blog 3A--Text

Before I launch into the the wonders of this leg of our trip, let me correct two errors in Blog 2. #1: Yes, I know what month it is: May! #2: The final in the blog picture is not a picture of the “San Joaquin Valley;” it's a picture of scrub trees in southern Oregon as we climbed through the many passes of the Siskiyou Mountain range. This is a whirlwind of a trip, so there will undoubtedly be more booboos as I try to form a narrative from the debris in what I loosely call my mind.

And one other thing. Putting pictures in this blog has given me a lot of trouble, so will have a text blog page and a picture blog page. The text pages will be "A" pages, and the picture pages will be the "B" pages.

The San Joaquin Valley is not so much a place to visit as it is a place to endure on your way to get someplace else. It is a very broad valley with the Sierras on the east and various coast-range mountains on the west. On this trip—and I suspect most trips—the Sierras were invisible. They are quite distant—well over 50 miles most of the time, more of the rest of the time—but, for those of us who love mountains and have spent a lot of time in them, they have a strong presence even when not seen. On the west of the valley are various smaller mountain ranges, and on this day (Friday 20 May) they were a visible but the thick valley air rendered them a dirty blue and obliterated most of their details.

At the southern end of the valley, I-5 rapidly ascends into the mountains which form a wall on the north of Los Angeles. The pass was 4,000 ft., plus, and was the most interesting part of the day's trip. The hills seem largely untouched and seem to have only native species growing on their slopes. This a significant contrast with both the San Joaquin Valley which lies south of Sacramento, and the Sacramento Valley which lies on the north of Sacramento.

The remainder of the trip was exciting, also, but not in a pleasant sense. The traffic got increasingly dense and increasingly slower, and, from Hollywood to Long beach, it was stop-and-go with the emphasis on “stop.” My line, which was repeated many time in this stretch of I-5 was, “Why would anyone chose to live here?” South of Los Angeles is much better. Lovey weather and more tolerable traffic.

21-23 May
My brother Bob and his wife Debbie welcomed us with a tidal wave of love and food. Debbie's family comes from Italy and brings with it food, more food, and, just in case, more foodall of it delicious! Another Italian trait is love, big open-hearted love, with lots of hugs. We could not have felt more welcomed.
Bob and Debbie arranged for a reunion on Sunday (22 May). This was a reunion of people on my mother's side of the family: my uncle Dave (my mother's baby brother) and his wife Diane, Dave's children (my cousins) Diedre and Lori, and Lori's husband KC. Uncle Dave, approaching his 84th birthday, is the last of my mother's siblings. I don't know Dave's children well—we grew up on opposite ends of the country—they in California and I in Vermont. I will always treasure this opportunity to get to know them a little bit better. A grand time was had by all, and there was food, more food, and, mama mia, piu mangiare!

We will be meeting more relations on my mother's side later on this trip. The next will be Pamela Edwards Hoffman, my 2nd cousin in South Carolina, and her children, my 2nd cousins, once removed. Later in the trip in Michigan we will be meeting Walter Edwards, Pamela's uncle—my 1st cousin 1 once removed. More on these folks later.

Monday, 23 May, we went into Laguna Beach to meet with Sandra Shrader. This will give you an idea of just how crazy I am. She and I are not related—at least not in the usual way; I did not go to school with her; in fact, we had never met. She found me on line because of my work preserving my parents' business, the Vermont Copper Crafters. And herein lies the relationship: my father worked for her grandfather. That makes me her uncle in the copper business. Whatever the relationship, she turned out to be an absolutely delightful person. Her grandfather was a long-time owner of Craftsmen Inc., one of the most important manufacturers of copper giftware (bookends, bowls, pitchers, ashtrays, etc) in the country. It was with Craftsmen that my father learned the trade. Sandra has been researching the history of Craftsmen with the intention of publishing a book on the company. It promises to be The Word on the subject. She is the right person for the job. Not only is she related to the business, but she is a tireless researcher and a professional writer. I can't wait for it to roll off the presses.

Tuesday, 24 May, we will head to Kingman. AZ. There we will meet with Gloria Chase Dukeshire. Gloria and I are both descended from Thomas Purves, She is the 3rd generation, I the fourth. More on this when I post the next blog.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blog 2: 18 - 20 September

18 May 2011: An I-5 day

The colors of green

We left the house this morning at 10:30,but it was 11:00 before we could say we were on our way. The weather was was pleasantly cool and sky was filled with pillowy clouds . The Willamette Valley, the "Eden of the Oregon Territory," which, in the middle of the 19th century had drawn thousands from the eastern states, was its usual lovely and benign self. Sheep, goats, llamas and dairy cattle were grazing in the fields; hawks and vultures soared above, and everywhere it was green—the green fields of valley, the dark, blue-black green of the conifers, the pale chartreuse of the willows with their fresh spring leaves made possible by the bounty of the Valley's rains. Closer to the ground patches of blue and yellow marsh iris made wonderful splashes of color. Bright yellow scotch broom was gorgeous too, but our ardor is cooled by the fact that this is an aggressive, imported invasive species.

Scotch Broom
Shortly after Eugene we began the long haul up through the passes of the Siskiyou mountains which straddle the boarder of Oregon and California—Canyon Creek Pass: 2,020 ft., Stage Road Pass: 1,830 ft., Smith Hill Summit: 1,727 ft., Sexton Mt. Pass: 1,970 ft., Siskiyou Summit: 4,310. The climate is cool in winter and hot in the summer, and is considerably more arid than the Willamette Valley. Mount Shasta, at 14,162 ft., of course has snow and ice year round, but even the lesser peaks still had snowsome of it probably fresh (it's been a strange spring). The dryness results in a different flora: fewer Douglas fir and western hemlock, but more madrones and pines, especially ponderosa. But even at that, many hills are nearly devoid of trees, and, what trees there are, are scrubs. They squat there like old men, worn rough and bent from the wind, cold winters and arid climate. Mt. Shasta, by the way, had its head in clouds of its own making the entire time it was in our view.

Climbing out of the Willamette Valley

Because we had gotten such a late start, and because we had so many miles to go, and because we chose to drive at a fuel-saving-speed of 55 mph, to save time we took pictures through the windows of the bouncing rig. The resulting photos are blurry, but they are included here to help our friends back east who never seem to be able to travel west of the Mississippi.

Mt. Shasta hides her head
One of my favorite bits was the huge sign we passed in the hills of the Roseburg, Oregon. Not only was it huge, but it was bright yellow. Its message: "The Day of Judgment is Coming: 21 May 2011," or words to that effect. At the time I was driving in the midst of double and triple trailer trucks, and, if I had stopped to take a picture of the sign, 18 May might have been my day of Judgment!

We finally stopped for dinner at 7:00 pm, and to save time we chose a McDonalds. We ate in the van to keep Henrietta, our basset hound, company.

It was already becoming dark as we hit the road again and about a half an hour before reaching our destination—Valerie's aunt's house in Sacramentoa nearly full "full flower moon" rose in the southeast. It was a lovely shade of yellow caused partly from being so close to the horizon and was thus filtered by much more atmosphere than had it been higher in the sky, and partly because we were looking at it through Sacramento's heavy breath.

Hello, this is Valerie. Bruce wants me to say a few words about “why Sacramento.” I was born in Sacramento4th generation on my mother's side. My mother's great-grandparents came to California for the gold. George and Margaret (Gill) Hagelstein came from Germany, and Christian and Agatha (Tennis) Jurgens came from Helgoland (an island in the North Sea close to Denmark and Germany, which, at the time they came, belonged to England). George Hagelstein walked from St. Louis, Missouri, to Hangtown (Placerville), California, and his wife probably came across the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco. Christian and Agatha and many of other members of both the Tennis and Jurgens families sailed from England to San Francisco around Cape Horn.

My father's side of the family were late comers to Sacramento. They moved to Sacramento from Portland, OR, in 1923. Both of my parents are buried here in Sacramento. And, not only my beloved aunt (my father's sister), but, also, two of her daughters and their children and grandchildren are now living there. All of this family, alive and dead, keep me feeling at home in Sacramento.

Miles traveled: 545; hours on the road: 12 hours.

Bruce is writing again.

19 September. We spent a very pleasant day with Valerie's aunt and cousins. Aunt Phyllis is in her 80s now and her short-term memory is not what it once wasa source of great consternation for this highly intelligent, Smith College graduate. Two of her daughters, Linda and Katherine, live in the Sacramento area and look after their mother. Linda was the maid of honor at our wedding and Katherine was a flower girl. The morning was spent talking with Phyllis both about old memories and more current events. In the evening we had a delicious meal with Katherine and her family: husband Peter, son Benjamin and daughter Amanda, and Ben's girlfriend Gwen. All are delightful, intelligent, talented, and with a sense of humor that kept the banter delightful, interesting and fast paced.

20 May

We are back on the road again and hope to spend a day or so with my brother and his wife, Debbie, in Lake Forest, CA. I have an aunt and uncle in nearby Laguna Beach, and a cousin, Lori, Uncle Dave's daughter, who lives in the area as well. We'll see them Sunday

Hills in the Sanouquin Valley.
I-5 (the main multi-laned road through the west coast states). I-5 through the San Joaquin Valley (the valley south of Sacramento) has to be one of the most boring stretches of road anywhere. It is long (383 miles), and, in the summer, hot and arid. We're not in summer yet, so it's not unbareably hot, but the grass has already gone dormant from the lack of rain. The Sierras are off to the east, but you can't tell by looking, as the Valley air is too thick to see them. To the west, at the moment, are the Santa Barbara Mountains and beside being an uninteresting shade of blue, provide nothing to hold ones attention for more than a few seconds. A few miles past Bakersfield we ascended what is called the Grape Vine to cross a range of mountains which help hold the smog in Los Angeles. The name, "Grape Vine," is probably a hold over from the time when US route 99 was the main thoroughfare crossing these mountains. Old folk can recall the many switchbacks which made it possible to get over the 1499 ft. pass. The engineers who designed I-5 did a much better job, and, except for heavy trucks and underpowered RV (like ours) the average speed is about the same as on the flats of the valley.

The traffic through Los Angeles and its burbs was stop and go with the emphasis on stop. For the life of me, I can't figure out the appeal of living in or around L.A. The traffic is horrendous! the air unbreathable as well as corrosive, and the traffic maniacal. But we made it through and arrived at my brothers house about 9:00pm and ate a wonderful meal with Bob & Debbie. In spite of our weariness the laughter made us forget our exhaustion.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trip 2011: 15 May

Hi to all,

Valerie & I are about to make another circumnavigation of the U.S. It is our plan to see as many of you as possible, but because of the complexity of the trip there will be some of you that we will have to miss. There are 82 people and places of interest on our list including siblings, cousins (1st thru 4th cousins), nephews & nieces (grand & great), high school and college class mates, colleagues, former teachers and students, friends and places. Hopefully many of you would like to gather a favorite watering hole or other gathering place for some great reunions. We won't be able to see you all, but, being the party animal that I am, we will make every effort to come close.
We plan to begin our 2-month, 10,000 mile odyssey this Wednesday (May 15) and be in Sacramento by the evening. We'll spend a day with some of Valerie's relatives there and then head south to Orange County California for some of my family. From there we head east visiting all manner of folks and then turn north in Georgia travelling up the coast visiting cousins and colleagues and pausing at Civil War battlefields to remember those in our families who fought and died there. We will go all the way to Magog, Quebec, where a branch of Valerie's family lived in the early 1800s. From there we head back south and then west through New York and Pennsylvania to Ohio where both of our families lived in the 19th century and where many of those with McIntosh blood running through their veins still live. While in the mideast, as I call it, we get a bit crazy zigging and zagging to Kentucky to Michigan to Indiana to Illinois.
Then we will look towards home covering more miles than relatives and seeing some pretty spectacular scenery. Perhaps the last major stop before home will be Kalispell, Montana. It was there that my father was born in 1915, and his mother died just 11 days later. She has rested in an unmarked grave since, but my brother and I have made arrangements to have a marker installed for her, and Valerie and I will pause to view it.
Then we turn southwest for home with a possible pause in Washington to visit with the Zirkles in Richland, Washington.
That's all for now, but it is our plan to post a blog every day or so. We're hoping to meet with many of you in person, or at least on line.

Best wishes,
Bruce & Valerie