Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Norwegian Settler Family Movie


Yesterday, I posted a short video describing my Norwegian family history. Hope you enjoy it.


Monday, December 8, 2008

2009 Travel Plans


We're headed to Argentina and Chile in January and February, Puget Sound with the Airstream for July, and Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar for September and October. I've begun to use a small digital audio tape recorder, attached with velcro to my hat, to capture the sounds around me as I take photographs. I plan to try to use it to add a new element to the video photographic shows I post each day we're traveling. Hopefully, it will make seeing where we've been even more interesting.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Looking Back to World College West


This weekend, I found a website that was set up to celebrate the life and accomplishments of World College West. It contains a rich history of the campus, it founders and pioneers, and the ongoing legacy it has in the hearts of all of those who continue to work to improve the world around us.

Wishing to assist in the collection of WCW memorabilia, I went to my garage, and dug out some old photos I had in a file cabinet. Scanning them, I was in the process of editing each when i discovered a strange photo. Knowing that it was my camera which had taken the half dozen photos one early day in the campus opening, I discovered that one of the photos was of me talking with students sitting on some rocks on hillside. I may never know who used my camera to capture that moment, but I will cherish the fact that someone did. And that it took me 25 years to find my own little memory treasure.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sonoma County's Thanksgiving Rally


Today, those opposed to Proposition 8 on the November 15th Election, held a rally to thank Sonoma County voters for their overwhelming votes to oppose the measure. Here's a video of the march and rally.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday, Sep 17th - The Bed at Home


There's nothing quite as comforting as our bed at home after a long trip. We arrived on Monday night, spent all of yesterday cleaning up the car and Matilda, and last night watching some of the accumulated new season television shows on the DVR.

We had an absolutely wonderful trip. I could not have gotten a better reception from my cousins, nor seen more of the original settler homesites. The stories of their lives are clearer to me know, and the questions which remain are even more interesting. I cannot thank everyone enough for all that they provided to Pat and I, and I promise to work hard on strengthening the relationships which were begun.

To all of our Northern California friends who we love to be with..... we're back! (and let the election and the country get even more exciting!)

Gregory and Pat

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday Sep 14th - Bandon, Oregon


Wanting to spend some time on the Oregon coast, we chose the town of Bandon. Fortunately, our walk through the downtown area coincided with the last day of the annual cranberry festival.


To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: Sep 14th Bandon, Oregon

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sep 13th - McMinnville, Oregon


Pat mentioned at lunch today that she knew we were on vacation when we had just finished two Bozo Burgers (huge) and french fries. It wasn't until we were opening up the Airstream 350 miles away when we realized she had left her purse on the seat next to her.

We called 411 with our still dying cell phone - no listing for Bozo Burger in Boardman, Oregon. It was just a miracle of memory that she remembered that the other end of Bozo Burger was Popeye's Pizza. Finding a listing for that, we called and learned they had found it. They even volunteered to send in to our home at no cost to us on Monday. So please, have a Bozo Burger in Boardman, Oregon if you find yourself near there.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Sep 12th - Clarkson, Washington


We made a beeline for the Oregon coast today, stopping only briefly in Missoula to stock up on supplies and have lunch. Tonight, we're at an RV park on the backside of a Costco store in Clarkson, Washington. It's basic, but clean, and it has wi-fi, cable, and another Airstream nearby (23 foot -boy do those have storage space!).

Tomorrow, we'll drive all day to get to the Oregon coast in order to take our time on Sunday driving down it. Hopefully, we'll make the last sprint to Santa Rosa on Monday or Tuesday.

No photos today or tomorrow. But the stretch between Missoula and Clarkson was a beautiful pass and descending river valley.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sep 11th - Glacier Natl Park


With wi-fi getting harder to find, and beautiful mountains surrounding us, we're parked at the West Glacier KOA. Yesterday, we drove across the Park on the famous Rising to the Sun Road. Just as spectacular as it was 28 years ago when we first came through here. Last night, we found a good restaurant at the end of Many Glaciers Road, and had elk lasagne and eggplant parmesan. There are lots of trailers and people up here, and a very impressive hotel. This is the last week of the season, and everything is getting ready to close. Today, we'll kick back, take in a local hike, and get some laundry done.


To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: Sep 11th Glacier Natl Park

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sep 8 Ray, North Dakota


We did it. If I can find an internet connection in Montana fast enough to send the pictures, I'll show off all of the great photographs I got to take of the farms of my great grandfather and his wife's brothers and sisters. But alas, no luck yet. Stay tuned. We're headed off to Glacier National Park, with the ancestral portion of the trip behind us.

I may be able to get them on Picasa before I can get them up here. To see if I do, go to: Sep 8th Ray, North Dakota


Monday, September 8, 2008

Sep 6th - North Dakota Badlands


With one more stop on the Norwegian history tour, we drove west from Fargo to Medora, North Dakota. It's the entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and a perfect weekend pause to get in some walking and beautiful landscapes. Not bad for the animals, with priarie dogs outnumbering everyone.

Tomorrow, we'll drive north to Ray. It's the town where my grandfather and great grandfather's families lived during the period from 1910 to 1940. My grandfather was police chief, and I hope to find some information on his tenure from the city hall and the newspaper archives. My great-grandfather owned a large farm outside of town, and I hope I can track it's location down from city records.

To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: Sep 6th North Dakota Badlands

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sep 5th - Moorhead-Fargo & Shirley Manning


I am so glad that I persisted in my pursuit of finding Shirley Manning. With only two addresses to go on (One in Moorhead, one in Fargo), I was excited to have gotten a phone number from Bob Skogman in Isle on Wednesday. But no one was answering, and the answering machine voice sounded like Stephen Hawking, and he didn't really care.

So when we got to Moorhead, I told Pat that I wanted to just go find the first address and knock on the door. The address we arrived at was the costume shop she had described in the last letter as one she was trying to sell. It looked closed and dark. I looked in the windows, and rang bells on the doors. No response.

In a whim, I went around the corner where it appeared that a couple of cars were parked in driveways of the building. Ahah! Another door between them. I was so happy to find it open, and even more so when I found a light on inside near a back wall. Between me and the light was floor to ceiling racks of costumes. I called out to the silence "Hello, I'm looking for Shirley Manning?" "That's me", came the reply from many aisles over in the darkness.

We've just said goodbye to Shirley and her husband Joe, after lunch and dinner, a trip to a regional history research center across town, and hours of talk. We looked at hundreds of pages of genealogical research, painstakingly compiled by Shirley over decades, and made lots of copies of key documents. I have come away a whole lot more knowledgeable, and much better prepared for our trip to our next stop - Ray, North Dakota. I am happy to have had the chance to meet and thank Shirley for all of the work she did twelve years ago to start me on this road, and that I have gotten the chance to show her how her work has expanded into my research and genealogical activity. As her husband said just before we drove away tonight, he was so glad that she could see what good her works does for others. So am I, Joe. So am I.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tues-Thursday, Sep 2-4 in Minnesota


Over the past three days, we've visited several cousins, and learned more about my Norwegian ancestors and current relatives living in this area. Roger Skare, and his wife Jean, shared a long lunch with us in Clearwater. They helped me get to know the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of my Aunt Eloise. Another of those cousins, Ted Skare, talked with me, and linked me with his granddaughter, Jennifer Cheeseman of Houston. Jennifer is leaving for a trip to Norway, and I was able to share with her some of the information I have on her family's Norwegian history.

On Wednesday, we drove up to Isle, and spent the day with my cousin Bob Skogman, and his wife Diane. Bob has been helping Minnesota Norwegians find out about their family history for several decades, was instrumental in establishing the Noregian branch of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, volunteered for many years in the Sons of Norway, and assisted with quite a few annual Soine Family reunions.
Today, we drove down to Prior Lake, and found the gravesite of my grandmother (Edna Maxwell). We stopped by the Prior Lake Library, and found the obituaries of her and her husband (William N. Maxwell). Later this afternoon, we were fortunate to be invited to the home of Trudy and Boyd Wasson, who hosted a traditional Norwegian dinner at their gorgeous house in Eden Prairie.

This trip has exceeded my expectations, and risen to my hopes, in helping me establish strong relationships with the cousins I had grown to know about over the past few years. Their help has been vital in enlightening me on the Norwegian experience both here in Minnesota, and in Norway. Clearly, I could not have had such a successful trip to Norway last year without them.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to find another cousin, Shirley Manning. Shirley has provided me with more information than anyone, and we have not yet contacted her to estabish a visit. She lives a few hours west of here in Moorhead, and I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be able to spend some timewith her tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sep 1st - Searching farms and cemeteries with Norm and Marlene.


Today, we met and thoroughly enjoyed Norm and Marlene Miller. Offering to join us in another day of family research, the four of us headed back to Wang. First, we stopped off in Waverly, where my grandfather's second wife had taken him when he died - for burial in her home town cemetery.

Arriving and asking around in town, we found the St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery just north of town east of the railroad tracks. Walking the large hill together in rows, I found his grave overlooking the river, within earshot of the train's whistle. I think he would have approved of the location.

Earlier in the day, we spoke to Constance Soine, another of our cousins be speakerphone from Norm and Marlene's kitchen. Connie had inherited the Soine family farm in Wang, and we asked her if we could visit the farm later in the day. She happily agreed, and gave us directions. She also indicated the location of another church and cemetery we might want to visit. I promised to send her some photos, and invited her to participate in the family tree project on Ancestry. She is eager to do so, and promised to add special stories on family members.

Our visit to the Wang Cemetery was one again the highlight. Combing through the graves stones with Norm and Marlene was so much fun. Here a relative, there a relative, oh look - isn't this one too. It was especially good to show them the special building which had been constructed in 2004 by the membership which provides an explanation of the origins of the church, contains a directory, and a list of the present membership.

But the cream on the cake was what we found inside the church. There are shelves of records of the church committees, ladies aid society, and a great wall display holding photographs of the confirmations from 1902 until recently. Talk about valuable genealogical records! Marlene and Pat had to drag Norm and I out of there.

I'm including one photo that I took of the Class of 1941, which features our own Constance Soine at 14 years old.

To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: Sep 1st -Searching farms and cemeteries with Norm and Marlene

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 31st - My Aunt Eloise and the Cemeteries


We traveled west across Minnesota to Benson, where my Aunt Eloise lives. At 93, she's the last of my father's sisters, and has helped guide my search for information about my Norwegian ancestors. She was eagerly awaiting our visit, and brought out all of her family photos for us to see. She even gave me a few key photos for use in the online family tree. After answering many of my questions (and agreeing to try to remember the answers to the rest), she made sure we took some of her excess corn and tomatoes for our dinner tonight.

We explored the area around Benson, and found two key cemeteries (Wang and Maynard) where relatives are buried. The photos today include the grave markers I could find.

Tomorrow, we'll be connecting up with my cousin Norm Miller, and heading back to the area to continue the exploration of cemeteries and farms.

To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: August31-My Aunt Eloise And The Cemeteries

Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 27-30th, Denver to St Cloud, Minnesota


We're in an RV Park outside of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Wednesday and Thursday were all-day sprints across Wyoming and Nebraska to Lincoln. On Friday, we started out our drive north, planning on another sprint to Minneapolis. That morning, I had emailed several of my cousins in Minnesota to alert them to my location and plans. Trudy Wasson, and her husband Boyd, responded with a suggestion that we stop by Decator to visit the Vesterheim Norwegian Museum, and indicated that they were currently there in their RV. We picked up the email at a rest stop, and made the detour a few miles up the road. While we arrived too late to see the Museum, we found the RV Park.

Boyd found us before we had even finished settling into our space. We talked for a few minutes, and then agreed to meet in their trailer after dinner to watch the Barak Obama's acceptance speech together. We enjoyed a wonderful evening of viewing and political discussion.

The next day, we visited the Museum. It's main building consists of several floors of Norwegian historical artifacts, and excellent displays describing life in the area in the 1800's. Behind the building are many structures which represent houses, a church, school, and mill which have been carefully transported and assembled for display.

Upon our return to the park, Boyd and Pat talked while Trudy and I worked to synchronize our computer ancestral records to link ourselves genealogically. That evening, after a great dinner which they prepared for us, we viewed hundreds of photos Trudy took over several visits to our home village of Vang, Norway.

Today, we drove north into Minnesota. After phoning several RV parks in the central Minnesota area, we found one with a space for us. Lots of campers are out for Labor Day Weekend, and we were lucky to find one here in St. Cloud.

Each day, we seem to make at least one new discovery, or overcome one new problem, about Matilda or the Toureg. This week, we learned more about filling and draining the auxilliary water system, opening and securing the awning, cable programming the television, and responding to inclined campsites and the Toureg's variable height reactions.

We'll be staying at this campsite for five days, using it as a basecamp for day trips to visit cousins. Tomorrow, we'll be stopping by several cemetaries, before we meet after lunch with my Aunt Eloise. She is 95, and her correspondence many years ago helped provide vital information on her parents. Next week, we'll be visiting her children, and the grandchildren of her aunts and uncles.

To view all of the photographs for the day, click on: August27-30th, Denver to St. Cloud, Minnesota