It has been a very long time since my sisters and I took a trip together…just the girls, and I wish it could be all of my sisters on this trip, but sometimes that is not meant to be. Nevertheless, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, and I are heading out today to visit our cousin Shirley Cameron in Newport, Washington, with a stop in Coeur d’Alene to visit our cousins George and Greg Hushman too. Unfortunately, we are going for a sad reason…the memorial service for Shirley’s husband Shorty, but it will be blessed family time for sure. How often do sisters get to take a trip, during which they can see and do the things they want to…things that the husbands might roll their eyes at, like shopping, girl talk, and even chick flicks. Of course, I’m not saying we will do all those thing, or even any of those things, but most likely we will do some of those things, as well as girl talk…lots of girl talk, and sister time…lots of catching up on sister time. That is something we have really been missing. As you grow up and have families and jobs, it’s easy not to spend sister time together, and I want to keep that relationship with my sisters forever.
We will be stopping for an unfortunately short visit with our cousins George and Greg Hushman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We don’t get to see them very much, so even a few hours is very special to us. In our childhood years, our families spent lots of time together. Those were great years, and they went by way to fast. Looking back now, I don’t think we really appreciated the amazing opportunity that we had to see our cousins so often. Those years go by so fast, and when they are gone, they are just gone. I don’t want to miss the opportunities we are given to see these precious cousins. We are all looking forward to this wonderful visit, even if it is short.
On top of the sister time, will be cousin time. It has been four years since Cheryl and I have seen our Cousin Shirley, and even longer since Caryl has seen her. After a good number of years not seeing our cousin Shirley, my mom, Collene Spencer, Cheryl, and I made the trip to Washington in 2013…again under sad circumstances…the passing of Shirley’s dad, Jim Wolfe. While that trip was for a sad reason, it became one of the greatest blessings for all of us. Out of that trip, and events that preceded it, came a beautiful relationship with our dear cousin Shirley and I think it has been as much a blessing to her as it has to us. Families can drift apart, but I can tell you that it is always best if they don’t. Still, if they do, the reunion can be amazing. Such was the case with the reunion between our cousin Shirley, my sisters, and me. Since that reunion, we have all felt a more-than-just-cousins type of relationship…almost like having another sister in the bunch.
Life has changed drastically for Shirley over this past year, and in so many ways, it has been very hard for her. With our families living so far away from each other, the only support we can give her is over Facebook, which we have done, but that will never measure up to the support that a visit can give. We are all looking forward to this trip, and I know that it will be so very blessed. Like most trips, it will be over far too soon, but the blessings we will receive from this visit will be with us for the rest of our lives. I know that for Shirley, and for my sisters and me, this will be much like the first reunion, one of blessed connections that will stay with us until the next time we see each other, which we all hope won’t be too many years.
For quite a while now, my husband, Bob Schulenberg has been thinking of retiring. Then, with the economic downturn, he was offered an early retirement package, and it was such a sweet deal that he took it. By coincidence, his retirement came the day before a planned vacation to the Black Hills, so I don’t really think it sunk in that he was retired. It was just a vacation. Following the vacation and the retirement party that we threw for him, Bob set out on another trip. This one was to move our granddaughter, Shai Royce out to Washington to live nearer to her parents and her brother, Caalab. This trip was different in several ways. For one thing, I was not with him, so it did not feel like a normal vacation. For another, I was back at work, so it was odd that he wasn’t. I think it was during this trip that the realization began to come to him, that he was retired. Still, it was a little bit like a vacation, because he wasn’t at home either…he was still traveling.
Bob was gone ten days, and the trip was a lot of fun for him. He got to spend time with our daughter Amy Royce and her husband Travis, as well as their kids, Shai and Caalab, with whom he traveled to Washington. It was such a great time. They treated him to all the fun things they could think of. During the days, while Amy and Travis worked, Caalab, who mostly works at night, and Shai who doesn’t have a new job yet, showed him all the sights of Bellingham. They went on the trails, and to the parks, as well as the many food places around. Then, when Amy and Travis were off, they had a barbeque, went to the beach, a festival in Seattle, a baseball game, and of course, a jam session with our own guitar players, Travis and Caalab Royce. Bob got to see their new home, and was quite impressed with their…BIG garage and bonus room, also known as the “House Divided” room, where half is decorated with Chicago Bears memorabilia and half with Green Bay Packers memorabilia.
The trip was over all too soon, but somewhere between the day he left, and the day he came back, Bob became a whole new man. He is more relaxed, less pressured, and maybe even quicker to laugh. I could say that the trip to visit our daughter and her family was good for him, and I would be right, because he had such a wonderful time, but this was something more. I think that during this trip, it suddenly hit him…”I’m retired!! I don’t have to go back to work when I get home…in fact, I don’t have a job to go back too. I can go home and do what I want to…when I want to.” Yes, Bob came back to me, a whole new man. Retirement looks good on him. I think I’m going to like this new relaxed man of mine. He really is…a whole new man!!
In 1980, my parents and younger sisters took a trip to California. It was a trip that would take them to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, as well as, drives along the Pacific Ocean, and relaxing time spent on the beach. It was the first of a number of trips my parents would take to California. They really loved that area. I would not get to see California until the late 1990s. I’m not sure what took me so long really.
Today is a rather significant day in the history of San Francisco, and one that in reality makes any trip to California worth taking. It was on this day January 5, 1933 that work began on the rather controversial Golden Gate Bridge. I’m sure that most people would not think of the bridge as being controversial, but there were a lot of people who were against it because they thought it would ruin the beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. I guess I can understand that to a degree, because I am someone who really doesn’t like change much, but when you look at the finished product, I would have to agree with most people when I say that I think this one was a good change. The bridge is a beautiful addition to the bay. I especially like its red color, which I suppose might seem a bit unusual for a bridge. Nevertheless, it does make this bridge stand out.
Still, why was the bridge necessary? When you look at the whole area, you find that you could have driven around the area. Nevertheless, I’m sure that back then, driving around would take too long. The idea was that if the land north of the bay was easier to access, it’s value would increase. It made sense, but while the idea was first presented in 1869, it was pretty much tabled until it was revisited in 1916, when a former engineering student named James Wilkins, who was working for the San Francisco Bulletin brought it up again. He proposed a suspension bridge with a center span of 3,000 feet which was nearly twice as long as any bridge in existence at the time. The expected cost was $100 million, but when the city engineer, Michael O’Shaughnessy, who is also credited for naming the Golden Gate Bridge began to ask around, he found Joseph Strauss, a 5 foot tall Cincinnati born Chicagoan who said he could do it for less. In fact, for $25 – 30 million, Strauss said he could build one with a 4,000 foot span.
The idea was well received, but the Great Depression would stall the construction until 1933 when bonds could be sold to make it happen. The bridge would take four years to complete, and so it first opened on May 27, 1937, as the longest bridge span in the world at that time. The first public crossing had taken place the day before, when 200,000 people walked, ran, and even roller skated across the bridge. It’s red paint job and its famous towers have made the Golden Gate Bridge an American landmark and popular tourist attraction ever since, and one that I am glad I got to see. While San Francisco’s temperatures don’t always appeal to me, the summers of which are not always warm, I do nevertheless, love visiting there. Like my parents, I find the California coast to be a pleasant change from the mountains of Wyoming.
On a trip to Tennessee and the surrounding area in April of 2003, Bob and I had the opportunity to visit Lookout Mountain, which is located near Chattanooga, in southwestern Tennessee. The drive up was stunning, and everything we saw there from Ruby Falls, to the Incline Railway, and Rock City proved to hold amazing views as well. From the top of the mountain, you can see seven states…Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. The view across that area is spectacular. When we travel, we love to go sight seeing, so this area fit right into our idea of a great place to visit. looking back now, I’m sure that time constraints played a part in my missing out on some of the amazing historical value of the area I was visiting, and to me, that is really a shame, because so much took place there, and I didn’t even know it.
I suppose I should have known the history of the area, but apparently I wasn’t as up on my Civil War and Indian history as I am now. I really wish I had known or had at least taken more time reading the many signs in the area, because I could have figured out what a great area we were in. During the Nickajack Expedition which occurred in the 18th century, Lookout Mountain would become a last stand for the Chickamauga Cherokee, who were followers of Chief Dragging Canoe, who opposed the peace treaty between Native Americans and the American settlers. The peace treaty was signed in 1777. Most of the Chickamauga Cherokee agreed to the treaty, but a small band followed Chief Dragging Canoe, and they went to battle in the late summer through the fall of 1794. The final battle, and the point that Chief Dragging Canoe’s warriors would lose the fight took place on Lookout Mountain. The Indians were no match for the military might of the army, and after wounding only 3 of the militia, the villages of Nickajack Town and Running Water Town were destroyed, leaving seventy Cherokee dead.
The Civil War battle that made Lookout mountain famous took place on November 24, 1863 and was a part of the Chattanooga Campaign. Major General Joseph Hooker defeated the Confederate forces who were under the command of Major General Carter Stevenson. Lookout mountain has an excellent view of the Tennessee River, making it a perfect stronghold. It also held a perfect view of the Union supply lines, so if the Confederate army wanted to starve out the Union army, they needed Lookout Mountain, and if the Union army wanted to keep their supply lines clear, they needed Lookout Mountain. One of the hardest places to fight a battle is a mountain…at least for the side who is at the bottom of the mountain. They are far too visible to fight the battle easily. So, after calling for reinforcements, Major General Joseph Hooker went into battle. It was a must win situation. If they lost the Union soldiers would be starved into surrender.
Looking back now on our visit makes everything we saw seem much more interesting. In my memory files, I can pull out the different views of our visit to Lookout Mountain, and I can visualize the exact view the Confederate soldiers had, and knowing that there was virtually no place to hide, I can’t help but wonder how the Union soldiers managed to win that battle. I suppose that it was partly the numbers of soldiers, with the Union having more than 1,000 more, but more importantly, I think it was the fact that they surrounded the Confederate soldiers, leaving them with too many sides to cover. Our trip to Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, and Rock City has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I wish I had known it then. I would have really enjoyed that stroll through history. The great thing is that my pictures, memories, and a little look at history can take me back to visit again.
Our trip back to Superior, Wisconsin was to reconnect with our Spencer cousins, Pam and her husband, Mike Wendling, Bill, wife, Maureen and daughter, Kristin Spencer, our cousin Jim’s son, Cody Spencer and his girlfriend, Emma Rainey, Uncle Bill Spencer, Aunt Doris Spencer. We did that and had a wonderful time with them. They also took us to some of the old places our family had lived, and especially the old places that my dad and his siblings had lived as children. It was a way of walking where my dad had walked, and it made me feel closer to him again. It also reiterated to me, just how much I miss him. I am so glad we made that trip, because we don’t know how long we will have Uncle Bill and Aunt Doris with us, so we wanted to see them again. That was cherished time for us.
We also went out there to meet our cousins on the Schumacher side…some of whom we had never met before, and some to reconnect with. They were so gracious to us and we had such a good time with them too. We met Carol Schumacher Carlson and her kids, Don and Judy Carlson, Steve and Nancy Carlson, Laurie and Rick Stepp, Dave and Michelle Carlson, Jim and Kari Carlson, Julie and Marty Soukup, and Jeanne and Creston Dorothy; Les and Bev Schumacher and daughter Cathy Schumacher La Porte, and Bernice Schumacher Hutchison. There was just not enough time in the short visit we had to spend all the time we wanted to spend with everyone. The great visit with our cousins, the Schumacher family left us wanting more time together. My only regret is that we didn’t have the chance to meet all of the Schumacher family members that we have met online. Some were unable to make it because of prior engagements, and we were sure sorry to have missed them. Maybe next time.
Our final family get together took place in Madison, Wisconsin, with Tracey Schumacher-Inglimo. It was Tracey who first connected with me through Ancestry.com and then Facebook, and basically got this entire trek started. She was unable to come to Superior to see us because of school for her kids, and we could not imagine going all that way without meeting her, so in the end, we met for dinner in Madison at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italianio. The food was wonderful, but the company far more so. As with the rest of the Schumacher cousins, we found Tracey to be our kind of people. I have to think that’s because we are all cut from the same cloth. When you have a past that is much the same as someone else’s, you find similarities that can be surprising. Personality traits, voices, and even looks can be very similar. That seems strange when you have never even met before, but it still happens. That’s what being cut from the same cloth is all about. We are all family. We are all connected, and that is very cool!!
Prior to going on our whale watching tour, I hadn’t given any more thought to seals, otters, and sea lions than I had to whales. In fact, I wasn’t really sure which one was which. Maybe I should have known that, but then maybe some of you don’t either. After our whale watching tour, I decided that maybe I should clarify that in my own mind…especially if I was going to write about them.
So, here is what I found out. The seal has smaller front flippers and an ear hole, no flap. They can’t move around on land as easily and the sea lion. It is a seal that can be seen waving to me as I took its picture. The sea lion is bigger than a seal. It has an ear flap, not just an ear hole. It also has larger front flippers, allowing it to move more easily on land. Sea lions love buoys. They seem to think that is their personal sun bathing space. Apparently buoys have to be cleaned periodically…I did not know this either, and the only way to clean it is to use a type of crane on a boat to lift it out of the water. Otherwise, the sea lions keep climbing back on and won’t allow the buoy to be cleaned. So it was the sea lions I photographed on the buoy. I didn’t see any otters, but apparently, otters get cold, so they are covered with hair for warmth. they have as many hairs per square inch, as are in the entire human body! Imagine being cold enough to need that much hair. But then, I guess they do spend a lot of time in the water.
We really enjoyed watching the seals and sea lions. They were so cute. When I took the picture of the seals, I had no idea that I had captured one waving at us…until I looked at my pictures. I was so excited then. I had heard that the seals like people, and liked to put on a show for them. This little guy sure did. He not only waved at us, but it looked like he was calling his friends over to join in. All the pictures I took of the seals were great. There were dozens of them, just floating in the water, relaxing, enjoying themselves. The sea lions were so funny. They kept vying for a space on the buoy. It reminded me of a bunch of people trying to get to the front row of a free standing room only rock concert. I never thought of that kind of thing happening in the wild, but I guess all animals try to prove their superiority…or they were simply sunbathing and that was the only buoy in the area.
We never had the chance to see an otter, but if I ever do, I will know what it is now. I think once you take the time to learn about something like that, you never really forget. I don’t have to look at my pictures to see the sea lions and seals, they are imbedded in my memory files now. Spending a little time around these amazing animals, and around the whales was so special. It was the trip of a lifetime, and a tour of a lifetime. These animals were amazing!! Would I go in search of whales, seal, sea lions, and otters again. Absolutely!! Just give me the chance, and I’m there.
I never really gave very much thought to whales before our trip to Alaska. I had always thought they were interesting, and liked pictures I had seen of them breaching and of their tails standing straight up and then slowly slipping into the water and they dived down for another feeding run, but on a personal need to see them for myself kind of basis, no. I really never felt a huge tug at my heart for my own personal encounter with them, like my daughter, Amy had always felt about dolphins. Then, I went to Alaska, and on our trip, we planned a whale watching tour. That tour changed things for me. I didn’t want it to end. I found myself watching the water wherever we were, hoping for just one more glimpse of them…one more tail view…one more breach. It didn’t happen, unfortunately. After the whale watching tour, no more whales came into view, but that tour…well, I will never forget it.
We set out, and the plan was to go out to where the seals hung out…which we did, but we were surprised but a whale in that area. Her name was Sasha. We found it surprising that the whales had names, and even more that our guides were so sure that this one was Sasha, until we were told that the underside of a whale’s tail is like our fingerprint. Each one is unique, and the whales can be identified by the underside of their tail. So now we knew that this was indeed Sasha, and not just some guide pulling our leg. One of our guides, Mark Kelley, had been photographing whales for years, and had helped illustrate a book on whales that I had to have. Mark was probably almost a friend to some of them, since he had been near them so often.
After seeing the seals, which is it’s own story, we went on in search of more whales, and we were treated to a fairly rare event, and one that many people never get to see…a Bubble Net Feeding. A Bubble Net Feeding is the whales’ most inventive technique; a group of whales swim in a shrinking circle blowing out bubbles below a school of prey. The shrinking ring of bubbles encircles the school and confines it in an ever-smaller cylinder. This ring can begin at up to 98 feet in diameter and involve the cooperation of a dozen animals. Some whales blow the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish toward the surface, and others herd prey into the net by vocalizing. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the “net”, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp. Plated grooves in the whale’s mouth allow the it to easily drain all the water initially taken in. This procedure was something I had never heard of before, but we were told that whales most often feed alone, and so our guides and our bus driver after the tour were all very excited about it. I was too, because this is where I caught my best pictures of the whales.
I became mesmerized by these amazing mammals, and found myself snapping picture after picture, often of the same whale, who had only moved a few feet, not wanting to miss anything amazing they might do. I was not disappointed either. I got to photograph the whole group breaching, as they took in all those fish, and I photographed tail after tail…including my prize shot of a tail straight up in the water, before it slipped beneath the surface. It was an amazing day. I saw so many movements of the whales. They performed for us, without really even knowing or caring how we felt about it, although they knew we were there, because they have great perception concerning the things around them. Nevertheless, they were busy, and we were simply spectators to this amazing event. I had such a great time, and I can see how some people could be addicted to this pastime. So, would I go whale watching again…in a heartbeat.
These days, a trip to the store is a minor part of the day, even if it is a weekly or monthly trip to buy groceries, but it wasn’t always so. Many, and in fact probably the majority of people live right in town now, so it’s easy to run to the store for forgotten milk or bread, but when people live in the country it is a little bit more of a big, planned out trip. In the old west, it was even more than that…it was an all day event…and a lot of people didn’t go to town very often. They bought what they needed in quantity, and didn’t go back in for a while.
Now with the invention of the automobile, people travel a lot of places, not just into town. These days people drive all over the country, and into Canada and even Mexico sometimes. We have become a nation, and indeed world, of people on the move. In the old west, people had to plan trips around the country over the course of several months, because there was a lot of preparation needed to make such a trip. There weren’t hotels and restaurants all over the place to stay and eat at, so food had to be brought along, and cooked over a campfire when they stopped. It’s no wonder they didn’t go places very often. It all just took too long to make it a casual event.
These days, I can’t imagine people being patient enough take the time to get where they need to go in a wagon, pulled by horses…at least not most people. And I’m sure that even in the old west, people often wished there was a faster way. In fact, that is probably how the automobile got invented in the first place. Inventions come for someone seeing a need, and in our world, there is a definite need for automobiles.
Nowadays, we have every kind of vehicle imaginable to get us where we need to go. There are sports cars for the fun ride, around town or to the store, pickups for those big jobs, vans for hauling lots of people, and SUV’s the ability to take a lot of things with you and a lot of people too. They come in every color and size to suit each drivers personal taste. I know there are still people who use a horse and buggy, but this girl is a child of the modern age, and I’ll stick to my sporty car…over a wagon any day.
Jacob, the son of my cousin, Denise DeVogel, who I recently met on Facebook, got busy the other day and in his play, he reminded many of the rest of us in the family about the fun things many of us did as kids. Jacob pushed the couch and chair in his mom’s living room together, covered them with a blanket, and…presto, he had a private little tent to camp out in. He has spent the last couple of days having a great time in that little tent. And his mom, Denise has had such a good time watching him have such a good time.
Looking at the picture she posted on Facebook, took me back to my own childhood, and the many tents my sisters and I made. We had such good times playing in the little shelter that the tent provided. Not that we needed shelter, but more a secret little place to hold our meetings, play games, have snacks, and pretend to go to sleep…not that any sleeping happened, unless we planned to camp out for the night like it seems was Jacob’s plan to do. The things that went on in those tents, were such a big deal when we were kids, and I suppose that everyone’s games were a little different, but we all thought that our little club meetings were a total mystery to our parents, not ever realizing that our parents were little kids once too, and they probably played many of the same games you did.
And it wasn’t just me who took a trip down memory lane while looking at the pictures of Jacob in his tent, because Denise’s friend, Karen commented, “How fun!! I remember doing that!!” Her words were exactly the ones that would have come out of my mouth, had she not beat me to it. It’s pictures like these that remind you of all the good things that define childhood. It’s the freedom to be creative, inventive, and yet silly, all rolled into one little person, that makes the whole scene so fun to watch. It makes me want to be a kid again…well, maybe not, but I could be a kid again for a day or maybe a week, so I could build a tent in the living room, and hold the little club meetings, or read a book, or camp out, and then I could step back into reality again, and take with me the little vacation memories I had in the tent in the living room. Thanks for the memories Jacob!!
The first time I met the Montana branch of Bob’s family, I felt more than just a little overwhelmed. I was shy, and it seemed like there were a lot of them. In reality, there weren’t that many people, it was just me and my jangled nerves. One of the things I remember most about that first trip to Montana was Bob’s Aunt Pearl. Pearl is the kind of person who is always happy…or it seems like that to me. Every time we went to Montana, she welcomed us with open arms, a big smile, and her woderful hospitality. Pearl is one of those people who are the perfect hostess. She wants to make sure that you have everything you need, and that makes you always feel very welcome in her home.
Needless to say, that first trip to Montana went very well, in spite of my nerves. Pearl played a big part in that successful trip. It’s nice to find such a friendly face in a place where you don’t know too many people…especially if you are as shy as I was. Shyness can be quite painful, and there isn’t a lot that can be done to alleviate it, but a smile truly goes a very long way toward doing just that. Pearl endeared herself to me on that first visit, and I was one grateful girl.
Pearl has not change much over the years. We don’t get to see her as much these days, since Grandma and Grandpa passed away, and we don’t go to Montana as often as we used to. I keep in touch with her mostly by texting these days, and I am very grateful for that technology. It keeps people in touch, even if they don’t get on the computer, and especially on Facebook. Maybe one of these days her grandchildren will even get her into that. I look forward to it. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!