Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Time

Thanksgiving has always held a special place in my heart.  The reasons vary.  Football Games, I love turkey, family get-togethers, I really do love turkey, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving every now and then, and because in the late 1980’s, I found out something very special….

Although college games are on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, the NFL has had Thanksgiving games since the 1920’s.  In “modern” times of the NFL, Dallas, Detroit and then random teams each host a game on Thanksgiving, but back in the ‘20’s teams regularly played on Thanksgiving.  Most the of time that I lived in Arkansas the big game was always LSU -vs- Arkansas with every-other year being played in Little Rock.  Although I never attended one of these games, my kids each have, and they loved it.
And although I love turkey, having lots of family together, which happened many times when I was young through even this week, is always great.  And just how much do I like turkey?  When I was young, if we went out to a restaurant, if turkey was on the menu, it was a safe bet that is what I would order.  Go to a Chinese restaurant, and yes, if there was turkey, I would order it.  If we went to Sam’s Hof Brau, which for a time was a landmark in downtown Sacramento since it opened in 1959 and expanded from there, then contracted to just one restaurant left, other family members would have a large slice of their roast beef, while I would have turkey.  Before I turned 20, I cooked my first turkey dinner.  When my kids were young, I had a major part of cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  That’s how much I love turkey, although I rarely will order it in a restaurant because I know too much now about the dangers of turkey and lake of standards in some restaurants.  But that is all another story…

Since Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of each November, from time to time it lands on the 23rd.  When this happened when I was young this meant that many people would attend my Birthday dinner.  That was cool.  The last time my birthday was on Thanksgiving was 2006, the next will be in 2017.

In the late ‘80’s while taking a Christmas break from college we traveled from Utah to Sacramento to be with family.  I was a student worker in the Library at the time, in the genealogy area of the Library.  Working there led me to my career in the Public Library world.  Anyway,  I had made much progress on dad’s linage by this time.  I knew that my paternal great grandfather was born in Alameda County, California, and that his mother and father (2nd Great Grandparents), both were early settlers of California.  I knew they were buried in Irvington, Alameda County, California, now Freemont.  So one day during this Christmas break, I drove the 120 miles to the cemetery were they are buried at.  Though I knew his parentage, I knew nothing about hers.  Got to the cemetery and asked where they were buried.  Person looked it up, said there were no headstones, but showed me where they were.  I did know that her maiden name was Healey, spelled various ways, so I asked if there were any Healey’s.  “Oh yes,” they said, “a few large monument type headstones in this section and that section nearby where you will be.

I find my 2nd great-grandparents, and three large Healey headstones for which I wrote down the information I found.  What now?  Well to a local library, of course.  When I find the local branch library, I at first feel letdown….it is in a temporary building, like a large double-wide mobile home.  I decide to go in and look at their computer card catalog.  While I do, the Reference Librarian asks what I am looking for.  I respond with, “I doubt you have anything here due to your size, but ….”, and I tell her of my find.  She reaches back to a small bookcase at her desk and pulls out a couple of books.  “Why don’t you look at these?”  And in one of the books it confirmed that I had just seen the headstone of my 3rd great-grandparents, Ebenezer Haley and his wife Mary (Lee Scott). and two of their sons and their wives.  WOW!
So on my drive back to Sacramento I wonder what the likelihood is of getting one more genealogy day while visiting family….I really wanted to go to the California State Library where I could look up some obituaries for these newly found names, and see what else they have.  A day or two later I do this, find many more obituaries including my 3rd great grandfather who had a major 1/4 page write up in the Oakland Tribune.  And in looking up books about him, I find the big prize….it is a book titled, “The Haley and Healy family ancestry of Ebenezer Haley, California pioneer of 1850,: With an account of his descendants to the present day”  Amazingly, the State Library had this book, but it couldn’t be checked out, but I was able to look at it….and in it I see that the Haley line descends from the Mayflower, and it’s verified by the Mayflower Society.  And since I work in a library, I KNEW that I would be able to get a copy through Interlibrary Loan from which I could make a copy before it needs to be sent back.  WOW, all of my Thanksgivings from this point on would be filled with much more meaning.
I hope that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. May God bless you all, wherever you are, and may your travels be safe.

Note:  Confirmed Mayflower ancestors are William Brewster and his wife Mary, Stephen Hopkins and his wife Elizabeth,  John Howland. Edward Tilley and his wife Ann.  Many of the other passengers are distance relatives in that descendants married brothers/sisters of my ancestors.  When it comes down to it…we are related one way or another.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

Birthdays are just another day as I see it, have felt that way for many years.  I remember just before turning 25 one of my sister-in-laws, who was two days older than me, was all freaked out.  “We are turning 25!  Where did time go?  We are so old now!!!”  Well, I reminded her that when I was 12, she was 12 but wanted to be more like 16.  When we turned 15 I was still 15, she wanted to be 19.  When we turned 17, I was the typical 17 year old, working 30 hours a week while going to school…. she was already a mother.  If her childhood had vanished, it vanished because she did not want to be a child…and there was no turning back.  By the time we turned 26, it was time for a divorce.

When I turned 21 I had a real surprise party thrown for me.  They pulled it off, somehow, and what I remember most is the provocative cake they had given me from some adult store.  Lots of friends there, this was back in my restaurant days, I had a real good time.  But it was just another party where I was the special guest, by the end of the night I felt no different than I had when I was 20…just able to get into places where before I was not allowed to enter.


But it was nice getting together with family.  Mom, Dad, Brother, Sisters, Arny, Arny’s mom, Marcia…nice small gathering for BBQ and cake.  And of course, as sisters do, she remembers a birthday from my childhood….when mom allowed us to bake our own birthday cake.  I baked a large strawberry cake, and by the time the frosting mix was ready…it was a deep, dark purple.  So tonight she brought out a strawberry cake, a bowl of frosting, and food coloring.  Lessons learned long ago….pick a color that matches the cake, stir it in, frost the cake.  Everyone wanted me to revert back to my childhood, just can't go there, those times are past.

And I heard from each of my three kids…. all three are doing well, wished they could have been here, but are busy with their lives as they should be.  Of course we saw Stephanie earlier in the week, will see Michael over Thanksgiving, and Ryan will be on our agenda as we pass through Arkansas in May on our way to Alaska.  Yep, it was a good day… are most of my days…. just like they should be.  I am so very blessed....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Made it Home by the Hairs on my Chinny Chin Chin

Isn’t weather forecasting just great.  On Friday before we left Donner Summit was going to be sunny for five or six straight days.  By Sunday afternoon when we left there was talk about a “change” coming.  While we were gone it rained off and on in the Sacramento area for three straight days.  I figured that if we were to get over Donner Summit without problems, we had better do it around 2 pm, which meant getting up at 5 am to leave Salt Lake City by 5:30.  We were pulling out of the parking lot at 5:33, not bad.

We stopped for coffee at the Flying J at the Tooele exit.  (That is pronounced as “Two Ella”, not “Tool E”)  As we are leaving the Flying J our Rand McNally TripMaker RVND 5510 says turn left, which I did figuring they might have put a new freeway entrance in since I last traveled this way…but no, it decides to take us on a four mile longer route through Grantsville, at 65 mph max instead of the 80 mph max on I-80.  Well, after a bit of cursing and complaining about the “B in the Box” as she is affectionately known, we make it to I-80 where we drive under the freeway, and circle around to get onto the western direction, and look at what we see to the east…..


Now had we been driving I-80 at this spot we would have never seen the reflection pond … it would have been a picture opportunity missed that we would have never known about.  Perhaps our GPS needs a new name.  We contemplated staying a bit longer and getting more shots as it got brighter, but I know Donner Pass, and it is nothing to mess around with.  We needed to be there around 2 pm.


We stop at the last rest area before the Salt Flats, and get this shot.


The skyscapes made the trip across Nevada much easier to take, although the occasional periods of rain were a bit annoying.


And we did stop for breakfast, Subway on the go at Wendover, and Arby’s on the go in Fernley.  I don’t mind eating and driving, Marcia does not like it very much when I eat while I drive.


And I was right, we got to Donner Pass right around 2 pm, it was snowing, but the road was open without any chain restrictions.  The temperature at the 7,250 ft summit was 35 degrees.  It snowed and remained at 35 degrees all the way down to Emigrants Gap, then it started to get warmer and snow turned to rain.  We arrived back to our motorhome at 3:30, after eleven hours on the road (5:30 Mountain Time to 3:30 Pacific Time).  There sure were a couple happy puppies when we got there, that’s for sure.  After a long nap, we had some soup and later watched the 10 O’clock news….watching the backlog of traffic going over Donner Summit with chains on in heavy snow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Visit With Stephanie


The purpose of trudging through the snow to Utah was a visit with my daughter Stephanie.  (Ok, so we did not have to trudge through the snow…and we hope that we don’t have to trudge through the snow on our way back home, but we won’t know that for sure until we get back on the road Wednesday morning.)  Stephanie is 25 years old, works in Park City for a company which essentially manages and rents out nice houses that people have purchased as rental income and occasional use.  Winter is their busy season, and she is very busy.  We knew that we would probably just have a couple of dinners and evenings to visit with her…but we won’t see her for a year so it was worth the travel for.

She asked me to look over her car while we were here, just some basic stuff like putting on new windshield wipers, stuff like that.  So Monday night after eating at the DoDo Restaurant, we went over to Walmart to pick up new wiper blades, a tire pressure checker, some windshield wiper fluid, a deicer and a flashlight.  She just got new tires a few weeks ago, and the only thing she has left is a oil change and a back brake light, which requires the entire light assembly to come out to get to…so she will have that done with the oil change.  It sure was cute when she tried to pay at the checkout…”do you really think daddy is going to let you pay for this?”, I asked.

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Tonight we ate at the Olive Garden, and her roommate Jenny came along too.  She was invited last night, but she was under the weather….doing much better tonight.  After the Olive Garden Steph asked if she could take us out for Ice Cream since “Daddy” was having a birthday before month’s end.  So we went to Baskin Robbins.  As you can see above, these two are a real crack-up. 


We had the good fortune to meet Jenny a couple of years ago when Stephanie had surgery down in Orem.  She is a real good friend to my daughter, and Steph is a real good friend back.  Glad we were able to see Jenny tonight.


And my girl surprised her dad with a real nice birthday card….

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The envelope says enough, but the card inside was more than touching…


Don’t ask me how, but I did not tear up over this….


…and the handwritten part will not be shared, let’s just say that I am one of the luckiest fathers on earth.


So we head back to Sacramento area bright and early Wednesday morning.  But a piece of my heart will remain in Utah….and I know that Stephanie is in good hands.  Sure love you girl…see you in a year.

Made it to Salt Lake City


We were on the road by 7:30, and the landscape had not changed….but the skyscape was looking good.  And yes, it is a word….click on it and see…

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Yep, the sky was our canvas this morning, that is for sure.  (It surely wasn’t the green grass!)  But from my friend Joe in Pine Bluff is this quote pertaining to yesterdays transition from California to Nevada, “This post defines transition — from towering green to widely scattered, scraggly bushes. The lesson is, without contrast, life would be a terrible bore.”


One thing I remember in going through Nevada as a kid were the letters up on the mountains near the town……”L” for Lovelock, “W” for Winnemucca, and yes, “BM” for Battle Mountain.  Even as a kid we wondered who would want to live in a town with “BM” all over their mountain.  As an adult, one still wonders such things…..

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Well, there were a few neat rock formations, and we even ran into a few trees after we passed Elko and climbed up and back down a thousand feet or so.


And now and then we would see snow capped ranges, which brought a lot of character to the mountains.


And as we got close to Utah, Marcia found a mountain that she really liked.  I told her that she needed to enjoy Nevada….because very soon, we would be in…


…Salt Country.  Yes, the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, where land speed records have been set and reset.  Craig Breedlove broke the 400, 500, and 600 mph speed limits about 7 miles out from this point. Gary Gabelich broke Breedlove’s 600.601 mph record set in 1965 by going 630.388 mph in 1970.   Later land speed records surpassed this, but they were made in Black Rock Desert in Nevada.


The salt flats go on and on for many miles in all directions, and I don’t know what it is about them, but it seems to make people do stupid things…..


….and it makes artist make silly things.  Metaphor: The Tree of Utah, an 87-foot sculpture created by the Swedish artist Karl Momen, who was moved to create the tree after having a vision of a tree while driving across the desolate Bonneville Salt Flats.  It has been a laughing stalk, I mean landmark of the flats since the 1980’s.


And as you get closer to the Great Salt Lake, you sometimes get mirror perfect pictures from the small ponds to the south of the Interstate.

We did hook up with Stephanie tonight, taking her out to dinner to the DoDo Restaurant near our hotel.  Did not get any pictures today, but will get some tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Almost Halfway There–Winnemucca, Nevada

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I love the drive from Sacramento to the Nevada line along I-80 in a car, especially on a clear, sunny day.  Above we are just past Auburn.  When we did this in our motorhome to Truckee on our way to Quincy, that was nice too...but I am so much more alert driving the motorhome, and more relaxed driving a car.

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Soon we are at Emigrant Gap (above left), and then getting close to Donner Summit (right).  Marcia took many of the pictures, but I took a few today too.  I guess we share the camera pretty good, don't we honey?  Honey??  HONEY???  Hmm, where did she hide the camera now????  (She never likes it when I sneak a shot while I drive).

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And as we get closer, we see snow along the side of the road where the sun does not shine (left), and then Boreal Ridge Sky Resort (right), one of the first ski resorts around the Lake Tahoe area to open each year because they have been making their own snow for around 35 years, probably more.


And then just over the summit, we pull off the Interstate and view the beautiful Donner Lake.

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Just a bit down the road we come to Truckee, where the Fruit Inspection Station for incoming traffic is located for the west-bound lanes (left), and as we get closer to the boarder, we drive along the Truckee River (right).


Over sixty streams flow into Lake Tahoe, and only one, the Truckee River, flows out.  And instead of heading out to the Pacific Ocean like most other rivers on the western side of the Continental Divide, the Truckee River heads east/north-east through Reno and into Pyramid Lake, which is a dead lake with no rivers exiting the Lake.


And as we get closer to Nevada, the green trees start to disappear.


And there we are, into the Silver State.


Also known as “The Treeless State” (though if you look close there are a few off to the right there along the Truckee River.)  But one thing we did agree on……


It sure make one heck of a good sunset…..  We are staying in a Super 8 in Winnemucca, got a room with a Jacuzzi in it.  Picked up some Chicken from the Raley’s Grocery Store next door along with some stuffed potatoes and a Tortellini Salad.  Ate, had a good soak, and we are both feeling very relaxed.  Should be in Salt Lake City around 2 p.m., and looking forward to having dinner with Steph.