Washington

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The last two weeks of August were spend visiting our daughter, Amy Royce and her family. In my thoughts throughout the visit was the fact that their 26th wedding anniversary was just around the corner. I found myself thinking that it was amazing that they could have been married 26 years already. I also found myself thinking about just how happy and connected they are with each other. They are loving their life and their home, and it was a pleasure to watch them together. Their marriage has been blessed with two beautiful children and now the family is growing to include Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster…a beautiful girl and a great blessing to us. I love how their family gets together every week to spend quality time together. It makes their marriage and their family more and more rich in love and happiness.

When your kids get married, you hope the marriage will last, and you know that there are never any guarantees, but you want the very best for them, and that means a happy marriage. I am so thankful that these two “kids,” while young at marriage (18 and 19 years) were able to beat the odds and stay married. Not only that, but they were able to build a beautiful life together and raise two beautiful children, Shai and Caalab, together. They are so blessed and they are a blessing to us. We can’t imagine life without the two of them as a couple. Every year, their love grows more and more rich and beautiful.

Whenever we go to visit them, or they come to visit here, we have a wonderful time. They are fun-loving people, and yet they love being at their house, enjoying their beautiful back yard too. They have worked hard on their back yard, and every time I get new pictures, I love it even more. Amy never could get flowers to do much in Wyoming, but in Washington, her garden and flowers are stunning. Travis has always loved yard work, but like most men, prefers mowing the grass to planting flowers. Nevertheless, they have a wonderful vision for their yard, and it is so restful and peaceful. I just love sitting back there, enjoying the day. Travis loves to barbecue and their guests are, of course, the beneficiaries of his grilling abilities. They also love playing games like pool and corn hole, as well as getting the family bank together for a jam session in their recreation room. It is a wonderfully fun time listening to Travis and Caalab play, while Shai and sometimes Amy sing for us. They really make a beautiful band.

Amy and Travis love going to Ilwaco, Washington for little getaways. It is a quaint little town located across the bay from Astoria, Oregon. They go there a lot, much like Bob and I go to Thermopolis, here in Wyoming a lot. It is a place that is close enough for an anniversary getaway, and yet special enough for them always have a great time, and never get tired of it. Ilwaco is a little town, kind of like Thermopolis, but sometimes that is just what you need. A place with the much needed peace and quiet, far away from the stresses of daily life and the busy lifestyle you have at home. A cute little place where you can have romantic dinners and quiet walks along the shore (a river for us and the ocean for them). It’s just perfect for this happily married couple. Today is Amy and Travis’ 26th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to you both!! We love you very much!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster is an all around sweet girl, making it easy to see why he loves her. Chloe is a family girl and a loving Aunty to Levi, Callie, and Aiden, all of whom love her to pieces!! For Chloe, becoming and aunt was one of the “epic” moments in her life. I totally get that, because babies are just amazing, and each is a blessing beyond measure. Chloe is a blessing to her family too. She loves her mom, Jeri; dad, Craig; brothers, Tyson and Tanner; sister in law, Alicia, and of course, those babies. Chloe’s relationship with my grandson, Caalab has brought a great blessing to Caalab’s family too, my son-in-law, Travis Royce; daughter, Amy Royce; and granddaughter, Shai Royce have gained new friends, and really extended family members in the Fosters. It’s a win/win for both of these families!! I love the combining of two families, and Chloe is a great connector for this one.

Chloe has been keeping a low profile…mostly by force, as the state of Washington is still under Covid restrictions, but staying home did give her more study time. Chloe is working toward a degree in Forensic Psychology. Yesterday, she started a new course for the summer semester. She tells me that school and working is a lot to take on, but my sweet grandson is very supportive, and she says it makes it a little bit easier to handle. Plus, I know that my grandson can cook, so I expect that he is sharing or taking over that job from Chloe to give her time to study. Chloe works as a supervisor at Starbucks, and really enjoys the job and the people she works with. Her job comes with the usual perks, of free coffee, so what else could she ask for. Hahahahaha!! Not a reason to take a job, but it doesn’t hurt.

Chloe is so thoughtful. She is always doing little things to brighten the day of those around her. Her parents have often been the recipients of her humorous and sweet sides. Now, Caalab’s family is too. She is a blessing to all who know her. Chloe has artistic abilities too. I don’t know how I could be associated with so many talented, artistic people, and not have an artistic bone in my body, but that has been what I’ve seen. Chloe enjoys painting, and when she met Caalab, who loves Bob Marley, Chloe set out painting a Bob Marley picture for him. She did an amazing job, and Caalab was so pleased!! She also did a painting of her little niece, Callie that is amazing too. Such wonderful talent!! I love it!! Chloe truly is a blessing. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

Captain George Vancouver, a British Officer, commanded the HMS Discovery and its accompanying ships on an exploratory voyage of the Pacific Northwest, between the years of 1791 and 1794. Vancouver and his crew were privileged to be the first to see places like Mount Saint Helens and the first to explore the Puget Sound. Their goal was to explore every bay and outlet in the region…following the coasts of Oregon and Washington. Men were sent in smaller boats to explore the Columbia River and enter the strait of Juan de Fuca.

The larger ships, including the Chatham…the Armed Tender of the HMS Discovery, often anchored in the safe harbors, while the smaller vessels explored the many channels and rivers along the coast. On April 29, 1792, the ships entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca and anchored in the calm waters of Discovery Bay. While the ships stayed in the bay…using it as a base, Vancouver and his men explored the waters of Admiralty Inlet and Hood Canal. After several weeks of exploring, the Chatham began to sail north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to explore the San Juan and Lopez Islands. After successfully exploring the islands, the Chatham sailed southward in May to rejoin the HMS Discovery and continue their explorations south. They moved the explorations south, as far as Commencement Bay in Tacoma, before turning around and returning north, where they hoped that the waters were going to be safer.

When the ships arrived at the Puget Sound, a storm was raging, accompanied by severe currents and tides. While crossing an unknown channel, the Chatham was caught by a flood tide and swept away helpless. In an effort to slow her progress, the crew dropped her stream anchor. Unfortunately, the strain was too much and the cable snapped. Amazingly, the Chatham survived, but the sweep of the waters did not locate the lost anchor, so the ship rejoined the HMS Discovery.

Vancouver’s journal entry for June 9, 1792 read, “We found tides here extremely rapid, and on the 9th in endeavoring to get around a point to the Bellingham Bay we were swept leeward of it with great impetuosity. We let go the anchor in 20 fathoms but in bringing it up such was the force of the tide that we parted the cable. At slack water we swept for the anchor but could not get it. After several fruitless attempts, we were at last obliged to leave it.”

These days, the anchor would be a treasure of great value, which motivated a company called Anchor Ventures, LLC of Seattle to initiate a search of not the Cannel, but rather off Whidbey Island’s northwestern shore. Their bet that the Chatham wasn’t with the Discovery at the time of the storm apparently paid off. Anchor Ventures pulled up what they believe to be the long lost anchor in 2014. Since then, the team has been trying to prove its identity. Skeptics aren’t so sure that this is the right anchor, because they say it is heavier than those of the late 1700s. That said, the question remains. Is the anchor still there, or did they jump to conclusions. It’s hard to say, and proof will be tough to find. I think it is not likely that they found the right anchor…especially looking in the wrong place.

As is common with ships, the William P. Frye was a four-masted steel barque named after a US Republican politician of the same name, from the state of Maine. The ship was built by Arthur Sewall and Co of Bath, Maine in 1901. For a time, the ship had a great run…until 1915, that is. The ship sailed from Seattle, Washington on November 4, 1914, with a cargo of 189,950 US bushels of wheat. The ship and its cargo were bound for Queenstown, Falmouth, or Plymouth in the United Kingdom. In 1915 the United Kingdom was at war with Imperial Germany, but the United States was not enter the war yet and was officially neutral. It was early in the war, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous to sail the high seas.

When the ship was near the coast of Brazil, the Imperial German Navy raider SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich overtook the William P. Frye on January 27, 1915. The Germans stopped and boarded the ship. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have an enemy navy detain a ship I was on. You just never know what they are going to do. The William P. Frye was owned by the United States, and so a neutral ship. The ship should have been treated as neutral. The problem the William P. Frye had is that the cargo was deemed a legitimate war target because the Germans believed it was bound for Britain’s armed forces. In reality, even detaining the ship was probably an act of war, but that never seemed to bother the Germans anyway.

Upon making his decision that the William P. Frye was a legitimate target, the captain of SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich, Max Thierichens, ordered that William P. Frye’s cargo of wheat be thrown overboard. The captain and crew began to comply, most likely begrudgingly, and when the orders were not followed fast enough, he took the ship’s crew and passengers prisoner. Then he ordered the ship scuttled on January 28, 1915. The William P. Frye was the first American vessel sunk during World War I, and the United States wasn’t even in the war yet. The owners of the ship, Arthur Sewall and Co, wanted damages for the sinking of the ship and presented a claim for $228,059.54, which would total $5,763,800 today. In all, the SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich scuttled eleven ships during their reign of terror. They stole coal and gold from their victims, which kept them going for a while, until they developed engine trouble.

In another act of war, Thierichens took the passengers and the crew captive. Women and children, were part of approximately 350 people taken prisoner from eleven different ships that SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich’s crew had searched and destroyed. I suppose the possible act of war was somewhat forgiven when all 350 were released on March 10, 1915, when the German raider had engine trouble, and docked Newport News, Virginia, but then again, what else could they do with them. Nevertheless, an outraged American government forced the Germans to apologize for the sinking, and of course, the SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich was detained in port.

Time flies by so fast. It seems completely impossible that 25 years could have passed since the day my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis said “I do” and began their life together. So much has changed since those days. Their children, Shai and Caalab are all grown up, and they have added Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster, to the family. The raised their children here is Casper, Wyoming, and then after Caalab’s high school graduation, the family moved to Bellingham, Washington. The area where they live is beautiful, and the weather is mild, which suits their family, especially Amy, who never liked our cold winters.

I am always amazed when a couple reaches a big milestone anniversary, even though my own marriage has endured, as have those of both my girls, and many other people I know. Still, I am amazed, because as we all know, marriage is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, endurance, stubbornness, and is best handled with prayer. It also takes a knowledge of the kind of person you are, and the kind of person you want to spend your life with. At such a young age, I wonder how it is that anyone can have any idea of who they are or who they want to be with, but it seems to me that more people are staying together these days than they were when I was a kid. Amy and Travis are two of the kind of people who knew that their spouse would be someone they could love forever, and they knew it at a very young age. They are so compatible, and they work together as a team. The ups and downs of life did not deter them from reaching the goal of “together forever!” Their home is filled with love, laughter, and harmony. They have chosen their spouse well, and I couldn’t be happier for them as they reach this milestone day…their Silver Anniversary.

I know that the next 25 years will be for them, as sweet as the first 25 years have been. Their love is real and lasting. They surround themselves with beauty and love, and that makes their life peaceful and sweet. God has richly blessed their union, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Yes, time flies by so fast, and before we know it, 25 years have flown by…as if we weren’t looking, somehow. Our children are grown and have children of their own. They are off living their own lives and all I can think is how proud I am of them. They are successful, and in a lasting marriage. The make a great living, and have a beautiful home, where Travis loves to mow and care for the yard, and Amy loves to grow beautiful flowers to brighten their days. It is a home filled with their own special love. Today is Amy and Travis’ 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

As my daughter, Amy Royce’s birthday approached, I found myself looking back on her childhood. While Amy was my bigger baby, 7 pounds as opposed to her older sister, Corrie Petersen, who weighed 6 pounds 2½ ounces, it turned out that she had put all her effort into her pre-birth weight, and she slowed down after that…only reaching 4 feet 10 inches by adulthood. She might be little…a midget if you ask her husband, Travis, but Amy is feisty, She always has been. I think it was self defense, from her toddler years when the other kids thought she was a baby doll, and wanted to pick her up an carry her around. Of course they only tried once. The blood curdling screams that came out of my girl were enough to cure those kids of any desire to carry Amy ever again. The funny thing is that, while she had a temper, Amy was also a very happy toddler…most of the time. Just don’t assume that you could pick her up, hahaha!! As long as she felt safe, Amy was a bubbly little girl, who rarely walked, but rather somersaulted or cartwheeled around the room. Walking was just too boring, I guess.

Amy and Corrie spent lots of time together as little girls, because we lived in the country. What I saw through that time was two little girls who were best friends. While there were little fights, they would also protect each other no matter what. Their closeness is harder these days, because they live so far apart, but they love each other very much. Many people commented to me when they were little, that they got along so well. They just couldn’t believe that sibling love my girls had. I am so proud of their relationship, then and now.

As I look at the life Amy has built now, I am very proud of her. Amy is a peace-loving person, and her lifestyle notes that very well. Amy loves the rainforest area of Washington state, and the beaches that go along with it. The area she lives in just feels peaceful, especially when she and Travis head out to Birch Bay to watch the sunset. Even now, while they are required to stick closer to home, their back yard has become a sanctuary for them. Amy has roses, calla lilies, and a variety of other gorgeous flowers, enhancing the beauty of her back yard as well as the fragrant smells. Travis loves yard work too, especially mowing the lawn, and so their grass is beautiful. The built a patio and set up a table and chairs with an umbrella, and a fire pit, to enhance the relaxing effect of their yard. It makes me very happy to know that she and her family have such a beautiful place to relax and reconnect with friends and family. Bob and I love to go for visits, because it give us a chance to enjoy the area that has drawn Amy’s family to its beauty.

Amy is on vacation this week, and so is home relaxing. She is an account manager for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. She, like so many people, worked from home through much of the pandemic, but now she is back at the office. At home or at the office, Amy is a hard working insurance agent, and she stayed very busy. Today is Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My son-in-law, Travis Royce has surprised me over the years. He didn’t do it intentionally, but rather he just turned out to be different than what I expected him to be. When he and my daughter, Amy live in Ferndale, Washington these days, out in the country, which is totally not what I expected of them. They just didn’t seem the type when they first got married in 1995. Of course, they were kids then, and they were into the typical things that young people were. They music they liked was different than the music I like…well, it still is, so I guess that hasn’t changed. Still the music they like doesn’t normally seem typical of country living.

Travis is a very social person, another thing that doesn’t seem to fit with country living, but there is another side to Travis too. The side that loves the peace and quiet he finds in his back yard in the country. He loves sitting out in the back yard watching a fire in their fire pit. He feels so relaxed there. Don’t get me wrong, Travis still likes to go out, have a few drinks with friends, and do a little gambling, but it’s almost like the ranch family going out to a square dance on a Saturday night, and afterward, head back home to country living. The fact is that as often as not, Travis would rather have people over at their house that go out. When their kids, Shai and Caalab come over, Travis enjoys playing the guitar with Caalab, while the girls sing. I’ve had the privilege of attending some of their little impromptu concerts, and they are really good. The whole family has talent, and that makes it a lot of fun.

Because Travis loves yard work…or at least mowing the lawn, their yard always looks amazing. And Amy loves flowers, so she adds her special touches, and the effect of lovely. I can understand why they like being out there in the peaceful beauty of their back yard, because I have been there myself and it is very peaceful. Travis loves his yard work so much, and his yard tools too. In fact, that was never more evident than recently when he went out in the back yard and started using his leaf blower. there were no leaves to blow away, so Amy thought the picture was quite comical. Maybe it was, but I think it is also very much Travis. My guess is that while he wasn’t blowing leaves away, h might have seen some dirt or pine needles, and decided that the leaf blower was the best tool for the job. It’s as simple as that. Today is Travis birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On January 3, 1923, the suspension bridge at Kelso, Washington was nearly finished…but it had not yet been opened, and the old bridge was still in use. The old bridge was just that…old, and they knew it, but until the new bridge was open, the old bridge was all they had. Both bridges spanned the Cowlitz River. Kelso was a small town, with a population of less that 2,000 people on the day in 1923.

On that day, the bridge, which was a major roadway in the area was experiencing a traffic jam, due to a stalled car in the middle. To further complicate matters, there was a crowd of people in the area who had gathered to watch a log jam. The combined congestion on the bridge caused the cable that held the bridge up give way. Approximately 100 people were thrown into the flooded and rushing river. The collapse happened at night, making rescue and recovery very difficult. No bodies were located that first night, and 20 to 30 people were said the be missing. About the same number of people had been rescued from the river with various injuries. To further complicate matters, a transformer in the electric plant had blown out, so there were no electric lights.

Two piers of heavy piling provided the foundations for the structure, which was of a bascule suspension type, this construction being necessary because of the fact that the Cowlitz is a navigable waterway. The two lift portions of the bridge meeting at the center were suspended by steel cables from two high wooden towers. With the exception of the steel cables the entire bridge was of wood. The collapsed span of the bridge had been supported by the cables, and when one of the supporting piers buckled under the weight of the traffic, the whole bridge went down. Normally the Cowlitz River is a narrow stream, but in times of high water, the river becomes very swift. In this sad instance, heavy rains had flooded the river.

The town of Kelso was in chaos shortly after the crash. People were frantically searching for friends and family. Many rushed to the hospital in search of their people. I they didn’t find them there, they rushed back to the river. Adding to the chaos was the current blackout in the town. At one hospital an operation upon an accident victim was in progress as the lights there flickered. Those who were injured had a long road to recovery, and that was just from their injuries. Still, they were blessed. They lived.

My Aunt Ruth Wolfe was the youngest of the four children of my grandparents, Allen and Anna Spencer. She was born on November 9, 1925 in Duluth, Minnesota. Strange to think that 31 years later, she would get a niece…me, who would be so much like her…in some ways that is. My Aunt Ruth was a very talented woman. She could play any instrument that was set before her, she could paint and do crafts, she loved horses and even raced them, and of course, she was an animal lover…all animals.

Aunt Ruth was never really one to want to settle in one place for very long…until she and Uncle Jim moved to the Spokane area, that is. Once they bought their mountain top outside of Newport, Washington, she knew she was home. The family built three cabins on the mountain top, one for Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim; one for their daughter Shirley Cameron and her husband Shorty; and one for their son, Terry Wolfe. The beauty of the mountain lulled them into a quiet, peaceful life, far away from the hustle and bustle of the California area they had left behind after losing their son, Larry Wolfe to an accidental explosion. Nothing would bring him back, of course, but the peace of the mountain top helped to heal their wounded hearts.

Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim, while very much at home on their mountain top, never lost their love of the open road, and often took trips to several location, including Casper, Wyoming to visit my family, her brother, Allen Spencer; sister-in-law, Collene; and daughters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryn Schulenberg, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock. We loved those visits. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim were always lots of fun, and having them in town again was a great treat. They had lived in the Casper area years before, and we were all very sad to see them move away. Those wonderful visits were cut short when Aunt Ruth became ill, and she passed away on May 11, 1992 of Cancer. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ruth, I know you’re having a great celebration with all the loved ones who have now joined you there. We love and miss you very much.

When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to Washington state a few years ago, I began to take an interest in the Pacific Northwest. I think mostly it was so that I could tell her about things to go see. I don’t know how interested a non-tourist is about those things, but I have certainly found that I am.

Like anyplace where there is shipping, there is likely to be shipwrecks. The Great Lakes, with their horrible weather conditions in the winter months, are littered with them. The waters of the Pacific Northwest have somehow always seemed rather benign to me, but as I learned about an area called The Graveyard of the Pacific, it occurred to me that maybe they are anything but benign. The Graveyard of the Pacific is a somewhat loosely defined stretch of the Pacific Northwest coast stretching from around Tillamook Bay on the Oregon Coast, running northward past the treacherous Columbia Bar and Juan de Fuca Strait, and up the rocky western coast of Vancouver Island to Cape Scott. Unpredictable weather conditions, fog and coastal characteristics such as shifting sandbars, tidal rips and rocky reefs and shorelines which are common to the area, have claimed more than 2,000 shipwrecks in this area. That makes the area, in my mind anyway, practically cluttered with debris.

In a way, it makes perfect sense, given the fact that many of our nation’s storms enter the continental United States from that area…excluding the tropical hurricanes, of course. With the unpredictable and frequently heavy weather and a rocky coastline, especially along Vancouver Island and its northwestern tip at Cape Scott, have endangered and wrecked thousands of marine vessels since European exploration of the area began in the 18th century. The area has claimed more than 2000 vessels and 700 lives near the Columbia Bar alone, and one book about shipwrecks lists 484 wrecks at the south and west sides of Vancouver Island. Combinations of fog, wind, storm, current and waves have crashed hundreds of ships in the region by the middle of the twentieth century, including famous wrecks in regional history.

The area is home to some famous and dangerous landmarks…Columbia Bar, a giant sandbar at the mouth of the Columbia River; Cape Flattery Reefs and rocks lining the west coast of Vancouver Island; and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. The shipwreck charts of the area are studded with wreck sites. There have been a number of salvage attempts, but they are often unsuccessful or of limited success, and physical wreckage is usually minimal anyway due to the age of many wrecks. The weather is very unpredictable and the sea conditions harsh. This brings extensive damage to the vessels at the time they were wrecked.

The term, The Graveyard of the Pacific is believed to have originated from the earliest days of the maritime fur trade, not only as increasing numbers of traders’ ships began to be wrecked, but also because of the ongoing state of incipient warfare in the area between Russia, Spain, Great Britain, and native tribal peoples, making it one of the most dangerous and deadly regions to trade in the Pacific for political as well as climatic reasons. Although major wrecks have declined since the 1920s, several lives are still lost annually. The Graveyard of the Pacific remains a dangerous area, but with modern science, storms aren’t as unpredictable, so watching weather reports can prevent many dangerous situations.

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