Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Days!

We came to the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario specifically to see Niagara Falls, but we wanted to camp in a rural area, not the urban and touristy neighborhood that the falls are located in. So we chose a campground from our trusty Woodall's campground book that was about 20 miles from the falls. From its description, it sounded right up our alley, so we pointed the motorhome that-a-way and crossed our fingers.

As we drove to the campground, we were really liking what we were seeing. Peach trees, vineyards, cherry trees, vineyards, pear trees, vineyards, apple trees...and more vineyards! Without consciously planning it (I swear!), we found ourselves right in the middle of Ontario's wine country. Oh, happy days!

So what began as a one-day stop to see Niagara Falls, turned into a two-day stop so some proper wine tasting could be conducted. We also took some time to just meander around the beautiful countryside, dotted with small villages.

Next up...Niagara Falls!

--- Barbara
Day 51 (in Caraquet, New Brunswick)
Total miles: 5,823

Finding Family

When I started looking into my family tree a few years ago, I knew my father had a half-sister, but didn't know much more. After some research, I discovered that she had had three children, two sons (Eugene and Edward) and a daughter (Sonjie). I remember Eugene (known as Gene) visiting my family from time to time, and this clarified his relationship to me (my cousin). The others I don't recall meeting, and both Gene and Edward were now deceased. By some luck I made contact with Sue, the daughter of Gene, who indicated that she had lost track of her aunt. I did discover that Sonjie had spent several years as a missionary in Japan.

About a year ago, I recontacted Sue to ask if she had located her aunt. She had not, but with the aid of Sue's cousin we determined that she was a retired minister associated with a church in Toronto. With this information, I was able to establish email contact with Sonjie and put her back in touch with her niece. Since, on this trip, we were planning on passing through the area where Sonjie lives, we arranged to stop by for a couple of days to visit. Earlier in the trip I had given her the address of this blog.

On Mon. July 21st, we were able to meet. We did not know what she looked like, but she recognized us from our blog pictures. I had brought my laptop with my genealogy database and many scans of old family photographs. She also had many old photographs. We looked through what each other had and found some that we each had copies of. Others were new to either Sonjie or myself. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other and discussing our common family members. She seems to really enjoy reconnecting to different parts of her family.

Later in this same trip, we hope to meet Sue who lives on the East Coast. Sue is technically my half-first cousin, once-removed; but definitely family!

Country Roads

After our memorable welcome to Ontario, we continued east towards the Waterloo Region where we would meet Art's cousin Sonjie.

We were astounded by how much water was around us as we drove. Lakes, bays, creeks, rivers, ponds...and islands! Some no bigger than a house, but an island all the same (at least according to our GPS unit, Connie II).

If you look closely at this photo, you will see a house or two, even on the very small islands!

We then encountered farmland. We have always enjoyed driving through farmland. It has always impressed us as being peaceful scenery. But there was something different about this area, something extra special. There was the usual corn and wheat, there were the usual barns and silos, but there was also a glorious abundance of carefully tended flower gardens and bountiful vegetable gardens planted around the farm houses. And all the yards were neat and extremely tidy. There were lines and lines of laundry billowing in the wind behind what we later learned were century old farm houses. There were signs with images of horses and buggies. And then there were the horses and buggies themselves.

Ah, yes. We were in Mennonite country.

The ancestors of the current southern Ontario Mennonites first came to Canada from Pennsylvania during the American Revolutionary War, and there continues to be a significant Mennonite population in the area.

Art and I would like to thank them for one of the most enjoyable drives out in the country we've ever had!

--- Barbara
Day 51 (in Caraquet, New Brunswick)
Total miles: 5,823

Our Ontario Welcome

Our first night in Ontario, after crossing at Sault Ste. Marie, was at Grundy Lake Provincial Park. We were sitting at our laptops on our dinette when Barbara was startled by an adult black bear in our campsite. We had our coach door open with just the screen door closed. We soon found ourselves looking at him and he looking at us through just the screen door. Of course, by the time I got my camera out and turned on, he had wandered further through the campground. We figured that he was looking for the barbecued chicken we had smelled just a little earlier. Later we joked that maybe he was our official greeter, sent to welcome us to Ontario.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Soo Locks

Our last stop before entering Canada was Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Sault (pronounced like Sue) is the French word for the rapids on the Saint Mary's River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The Saint Mary's River drops over 20 feet through the rapids and presented a considerable obstacle to commerce between the lakes, until canals with locks were built starting in the 1850s. The concept of the canal lock intrigued Barbara, so we took one of the excursion boats that takes you through the locks both upstream and downstream. With a little luck, you can also observe one of the big freighters that use the locks going upstream and downstream. The visitor center posts the expected arrival times of ships over the next few hours, and gives their names and lengths. The largest ships that the locks can handle is about 1,000 ft. (over 3 football fields long!).

Here is Barbara waiting to board our excursion boat. These boats sail fairly frequently during the summer months.

Here we are sailing into the lock with the downstream gates open. The water level in the lock is at the level of the river below the rapids.

Here is another excursion boat that was in the lock. The lock has nearly filled to the level of the river above the locks.

Here we are on our excursion boat, the lock has filled, and the upstream gates have started to open.

Here is the Presque Isle, one of the 1,000 foot freighters we happed to pass while on the excursion boat.

Canal locks date back a long way in navigation history. They were apparently used in the 900s in China. The first known modern style of lock (pound lock) was built in the Netherlands in 1373. The first of the Soo locks was built in 1855. There are currently four locks on the American side of the Saint Mary's River and one on the Canadian side. Two of the American locks are not used because of damage. There are plans to use the location of these two closed locks to build a "super lock" that could handle much larger ships.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who Knew? #1

We couldn't help but wonder (as did K.C. in his comment on the previous blog entry).

Why doesn't the chunk of land called the Upper Peninsula of Michigan belong to Wisconsin instead of Michigan? It seems to make more geographical sense. Take a look at the map and see what you think...

And then we learned about the Toledo War.

The Toledo War? That was a new one for us! From what we understand, the Toledo War (also known as the Ohio-Michigan War) was a bloodless boundary dispute in 1835-1836 between the state of Ohio and what was at that time the adjoining territory of Michigan. Both Ohio and Michigan claimed a 468 square mile bit of land along their border (now known as the Toledo Strip). Both sides actually mobilized militias during this "war", but the only shots fired were into the air.

By December of 1836, the Michigan territorial government was in dire financial straits and ready to make a deal. Michigan accepted the following compromise: they gave up their claim to the Toledo Strip in exchange for statehood and the Upper Peninsula.

Who knew?

At the time, the Upper Peninsula was considered a worthless wilderness, so it appeared that Ohio was the winner of the Toledo War. But when copper was discovered in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula, and iron was discovered in the western U.P., well, that certainly more than compensated for the loss of the Toledo Strip.

Ironically, had Michigan not lost the Toledo Strip, the Upper Peninsula would most likely have become part of Wisconsin when it became a state in 1848.

This was but a very brief summary of what happened during the Toledo War, but I just had to share some of it with you. This is one of the reasons why Art and I love to travel...we learn so much about things we never even knew we didn't know anything about. ;-D

--- Barbara
Day 47
Total miles: 5,212

Friday, July 25, 2008

Say Ya to Da UP, Eh?

Firstly, we'd like to thank all our family and friends out there who have commented on our blog, either through the blog directly or via e-mail. We are delighted that you are enjoying reading our blog as much as we are writing it!

Now back to our travels...

We had seen and enjoyed the Minnesota side of Lake Superior. Now it was time to see what the Michigan side had to offer.

So we headed over to Michigan's Upper Peninsula (also known as the U.P), the northernmost of the two land masses that make up the state of Michigan (the U.P. is separated from the rest of Michigan, called the Lower Peninsula, by the Straits of Mackinac...see map below for a little geographical relativity).

The Upper Peninsula contains almost 1/3 of Michigan's land area, but only 3% of its population. It was once described in a federal report as a "sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness." Surprise! Copper and iron were discovered in the U.P. in the 1840s and its mines ultimately produced more mineral wealth than the California Gold Rush. In fact, by the 1860s, the Upper Peninsula was supplying 90% of America's copper. And by the 1890s, it was the largest supplier of iron ore.

But I digress. Our first stop was the Keweenaw Peninsula, a finger of land that points into Lake Superior from the western Upper Peninsula. The Keweenaw Peninsula is home to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan's largest area of undeveloped wilderness (so that aforementioned federal report wasn't all wrong) . It sounded like our kind of place. There are 59,000 acres of lakes and rivers and waterfalls and forests (maple, birch, pine and the largest virgin hardwood-hemlock forest in the United States). It's a beautiful park and we truly enjoyed all the trees, although for a couple of folks who love the endless horizons of the desert, we did begin to feel as if we were in a continuous tunnel of trees.

We also enjoyed a few of their many waterfalls.
Truth be told, we never met a waterfall we didn't like!

The poetically named Lake of the Clouds

Another highlight of our time on the Keweenaw Peninsula was having our very first pasty. A pasty is kind of like a pot pie without the pot. It's all sorts of meat and vegetable goodness wrapped up in pie dough. It was originally brought to the Upper Peninsula by Cornish miners who came to work in the copper mines. It was a small and portable meal that was also very filling. It evidently stayed warm for a long time, but if the need arose to warm it up, all a miner had to do was put his pasty on a shovel and hold it over a head-lamp candle. Hmmm...

The Noble Pasty

Many thanks to our dear friend Di who had previously shared with us the correct pronunciation of pasty. It was delicious and I was delighted to find out that I actually like rutabagas.

We ended our stay on the Keweenaw with a visit to Fort Wilkins State Park, home to a restored army military outpost. During the Upper Peninsula's mining boom, thousands of people moved to the area and the fort was built in 1844 in order to keep the peace. It's a relatively small fort, with 27 structures that include officer's quarters, quarters for married enlisted men, barracks, mess halls, a hospital, a bakery, a blacksmith's shop and a guardhouse. Some of the structures are original and others have been rebuilt following archaeological excavations.

The fort's exhibits are exceptionally well done. You are allowed to wander from building to building and room to room where original furniture, clothing, weapons and personal items are displayed, along with some well written documentation. It all works together to give you a vivid feeling of what life was like for the soldiers and their families who were stationed at this extremely isolated fort. If you are a history buff and find yourself anywhere near the Keweenah Peninsula, we highly recommend a visit to Fort Wilkins.

The Copper Harbor Lighthouse, a part of Fort Wilkins State Park

One last note on the Keweenaw...while we explored the Keweenaw Peninsula, one of our campsites was in the town of Ontonagon. We were camped right on the beach, with a magnificent view of Lake Superior. We had enjoyed a campfire while watching the sunset, and just when we were about to douse the fire and head into the motorhome, we suddenly saw a flash of light across the lake. More flashes followed and we were then treated to an outstanding light show on the Minnesota and Ontario, Canada side of Lake Superior. We marveled at what must have been a very severe thunderstorm across the lake, while we sat dry and comfortable. Our turn came later that night, but by then, we were tucked in, all dry and cozy, in our motorhome.

When it was time to leave the Keweenaw Peninsula, we headed east, over to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We had been hearing from many folks about Pictured Rocks being a "not to be missed" spot on the Upper Peninsula. That was good enough for us.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a 73,000 acre park that hugs the shoreline of Lake Superior for nearly 40 miles (it's about six miles across at its widest point). Created in 1966 to protect and preserve the shoreline, cliffs, beaches and dunes along those 40 miles, it's the roughly 15 miles of its 500-million year old sandstone cliffs that are the real draw. Rising 50 to 200 feet above the water, the cliffs are subject to the relentless pounding of storm-generated waves from Lake Superior, some as high as 20 to 30 feet! The result of all this battering? Wondrous natural sandstone sculptures and sea caves and arches. And as a bonus, a huge artist's palette of colors as groundwater containing iron, limonite, manganese, copper and other minerals leaves behind colorful streaks on the cliffs as the water seeps out of the sandstone and trickles down the face of the cliffs.

Verbal descriptions cannot do this place justice...I hope the following photos (taken during a boat tour) will give you a hint of just how special this area is. We had opted for the Sunset Cruise, hoping the late afternoon sun would break through the heavy clouds and treat us to some dramatic lighting. Alas, that was not to be. Instead, we got rain. But the silver lining to that dark cloud was that the colors on the now rain-soaked cliffs simply glowed.

One last note on Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore...we learned that the pounding waves are, not surprisingly, still eroding the cliffs. But as the cliffs are being eroded inland, Lake Superior is actually getting bigger!

And for those curious about the title of this blog entry... it's borrowed from a popular U.P. bumper sticker and t-shirt design that is inspired by a slogan promoted by state tourism officials. That slogan is "Say YES to Michigan" and the U.P slogan is further inspired by the fact that U.P. natives speak a dialect influenced by Scandinavian and French-Canadian speech. "Say ya to da UP, eh?"

Next stop: Sault Ste. Marie!

--- Barbara
Day 46
Total miles: 4,717

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Most Pleasant Surprise

"Blessed are those who have no expectations, for they shall not be disappointed."

That wise little saying was on a plaque that once hung from a wall in our house. I don't know where that plaque ended up, but I do remember the saying. There is so much truth in it.

Recently, Art and I camped at Amnicon Falls State Park in northern Wisconsin. It was going to be just a pretty place to overnight, with a quick walk to the falls in the morning before heading to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But it turned out to be my favorite we-weren't-expecting-this stop on our trip. So far. ;-D

The campsites were all wooded and pretty, and the falls themselves were delightful. But what really surprised us was the "Geology Walk" along parts of the Amnicon River. Folks who know us, and especially those who have camped with us, know that I enjoy a bit of geology now and then, and that Art has more than a passing interest in it. So it was with some enthusiasm that we started out on this little stroll.

The walk itself was so lovely...along the banks of the Amnicon River and then through a small wooded island in the park, created by two forks of the river. It didn't hurt (it never does!) that we saw very few other people on the trail. Ah, solitude and tranquility.

The little trail guide that was given to us was exceptionally well written, filled with good clear information about the geology of the area (it's always interesting to us to understand why an area looks like it does). But just as importantly, it was filled with a sense of wonder, a sense of wonder about nature that we all too often lose as we get older. Perhaps we don't lose it, we simply misplace it. We get older and busier and distracted with the everyday demands of living and we simply forget that a waterfall is more than just water or that a flock of geese flying overhead is not just a bunch of birds or that a riverbank made of basalt from an ancient lava flow is more than just rocks. Art and I tip our respective hats to the author of that trail guide...anyone who can get excited about glacial striations and fault planes and get other folks excited about them, too, is A-OK in our book.

We would have enjoyed these pretty little falls regardless, but what we learned about the area and how that information was conveyed to us really enhanced our enjoyment of this little gem of a park.

It just goes to show you...blessed are those who have no expectations, for they shall not be disappointed.

Day 40
Total miles: 4,133

Minnesota's North Coast

As we passed through Minnesota on the way to Wisconsin, a park ranger suggested that we ought to visit the Lake Superior coastal area of Northeastern Minnesota. After our visit to Minneapolis we headed north to visit Minnesota's North Coast. Our first stop was Gooseberry Falls State Park.

As we walked around the first evening, a storm passed north of us, providing some dramatic lighting.

Here is a picture to prove that we were actually there!

Wild iris seen during one of our walks.

One of the waterfalls at Gooseberry Falls State Park.

Our next camping stop was Temperance River State Park. On the way we passed the Split Rock Lighthouse, one of many along the coast of Lake Superior.

We had read web reports that several restaurants along the North Coast were noted for their homemade pies. So during a drive further up the coast, we stopped for lunch at The Pie Place, where we had a delightful lunch and, of course, pie for dessert!

On the way back to our camp, we stopped to see a waterfall in Cascade River State park.

As we were driving in the area we saw many nice stands of tall flowers. Turns out that they are a variety of lupines, but larger than the ones we have in California (flower stalks about 18" tall).

On the last day, as we were leaving the North Coast, we had to stop by another recommended pie stop, Betty's Pies. Good pie, but we liked the The Pie Place better!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We Go Shopping!

The Mall of America. Touted as the largest retail shopping and entertainment complex in the United States, with over 520 stores, 50 restaurants, seven nightclubs, the largest aquarium in Minnesota and an indoor amusement park.

This I gotta see.

Because one really cannot visit Minneapolis - the home of the Mall of America - without a visit to that venerable institution. It just wouldn't be...well...American. In addition, Art and I had visited the Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which is currently the largest shopping mall in North America (it had held the title of World's Largest Mall for 23 years, until it was dethroned in 2004 by a mall in China). So we wanted to compare the two.

Highlights definitely included the amazing amusement park in the middle of the complex. Several roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel, and other rides that made me glad I wasn't on them. There was also an incredible Lego store. Art and I were impressed with not only the number of Lego kits for sale, but also the bins and bins of individual Lego pieces one could buy. There was also an ingenious bit of marketing right in front of the store...there were two tables, one covered with Legos and the other with Duplos (over-sized Legos for young children). Employees of the Lego store were encouraging passing families to come over to the tables and build something. The day we were there, the Lego table was building little cars and then racing them down a ramp. Brilliant marketing can bet that the majority of the kids at that table were later going to pull their parents into the nearby store to buy some Legos. Or to buy more Legos. As parents of a boy who grew up on Legos, we know you can never have too many of them.

Erin, this one's for you!

Nick, does this bring back memories?

No thanks!

One last comment about the Mall of America...I read today that even in the middle of Minneapolis' notorious winters, when the temperatures are frequently below zero, only the entrances to the mall are heated. The heat produced by all the lighting fixtures and by all the bodies inside the mall is enough to keep it comfortable. And during peak hours in the winter, they even have to run the air conditioner to maintain a comfortable temperature!


One last genealogy update and then I promise I'll not subject you to them. For a month or so, anyway.

My genealogy goal while we were in Minneapolis was to find the grave of my paternal great grandparents, James and Jane Upton. They were both originally from Canada (James from New Brunswick and Jane from Quebec), but they met and married in Maine and then moved west, first to Wisconsin (where my grandfather and his brother and sister were born), and then to Iowa, and finally to Minnesota. Although I was able to find Jane's death certificate, I was not successful in finding her grave. But I did locate the surprising final resting place of James, thanks once again to the amazing genealogical resources on the Internet.

Because of, I already knew that my great grandfather had been in the Civil War. I had found his enlistment date and what regiment he had been with. And I had found him in both federal and state census records in Minnesota in the late 1800s. But I had no idea, despite many hours of researching, when and where he died and where he was buried. Enter, a wondrous website that contains more than 300 years worth of priceless material, including newspapers, books, military records, and government documents. And it's all searchable! I love the Internet.

We were introduced to this incredible resource while visiting the Genealogy Library at the Minnesota History Museum. I merely typed in my great grandfather's name and poof! There appeared an article from the May 31, 1898 issue of the Omaha World Herald. This particular article was reporting on a Memorial Day celebration that had been held the day before in Montana at what was known then as the "Custer Battlefield". We know it today as the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

As I read the article, I was mighty puzzled. Why would James Upton be mentioned in an article written about a Memorial Day observance at "Custer's Last Stand"? I knew he hadn't been with General George Custer that fateful day in June of 1876 because I had found him in various documents dating up to 1890.

And then I read...

Could this be MY James Upton? I knew he was living in Wisconsin when he volunteered for the Civil War. But why would he be buried there, in Montana? Those familiar flutters of anticipation and potential discovery grew as I quickly headed over to Previously when using this site in an attempt to find James Upton, I had entered Minnesota or Iowa or Wisconsin as the state of burial. I had never considered Montana because...well, why would he be in Montana?

But son of a gun, there he was, complete with the following corraborating information:

Private James Upton

Birth: unknown
Death: Sep. 23, 1869

Private, Army, Company C, 44th Wisconsin Infantry
Residence: Royalton Wisconsin
Enlisted on 10/27/1864 as a Private.
On 10/27/1864 he mustered into "C" Co. WI 44th Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 8/28/1865 at Paducah, Kentucky

The only thing that stopped me from letting out a whoop of elation was the date of death. Because of the aforementioned documents I had found on that showed him alive and well in 1890, I was certain James Upton had not died in 1869. But all the other information was correct, right down to the enlistment and "mustering out" dates. This HAD to be my James Upton!

But first things first. If this was my great grandfather, what was he doing at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument? Once again, Google came to the rescue. I learned that "Custer's Last Stand" was preserved as a national cemetery in 1879, originally to protect the graves of the 7th Cavalry troopers killed and buried there. Then in 1886, there was a decision to include the burials of veterans of other wars. So as a Civil War veteran, he was eligible to be buried in what is now called Custer National Cemetery, within the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

It was time for a deep breath. It could be him, it could really be him! The flutters of anticipation began anew. But what about that incorrect date of death?

A visit to the website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs produced a "Nationwide Gravesite Locator" for all national cemeteries. I typed in my great grandfather's name and selected Custer National Cemetery and was rewarded with the following:

DATE OF DEATH: 09/23/1896

Now it was time to whoop and holler! The VA listed the date of death as 1896, not 1869! That was more like it. This WAS my James Upton!

Did I mention that I love the Internet?

If you have done genealogical research yourself, then you will know the thrill, the immense feeling of satisfaction that comes when you discover that missing piece of the puzzle. I now know where my great grandfather is buried! One question answered. But you may recall my sharing with you in a previous post Genealogical Research Law #1: When you answer one question, at least two more questions appear. So here goes: why was he buried at Custer National Cemetery instead of at a cemetery (military or otherwise) nearer to his home (which at the time was Elk River, Montana)? I could assume that there was no national cemetery closer to Elk River in 1896 than Custer National, but remember Genealogical Research Law #2? Never assume anything! So I'll keep searching for the answer to that one.

Another question I can't but help ask is this: why was James Upton's grave the one chosen for the 1898 "decoration ceremony"? Was it chosen at random? Was it in a convenient location? Did someone making arrangements for this ceremony know him? This is as good a time as any to remind myself of Genealogical Research Law #3: There are some questions that will never be answered. Sigh...

Custer National Cemetery
("Borrowed" from Picasa)

We promise you that this will be the last photo of a graveyard you'll see in this blog. Well, at least until we get to New Brunswick where James Upton's parents and grandparents are buried (those would be my great great and great great great grandparents). And when we get to Salem, Massachusetts, in the fall, I'll be searching for the graves of four previous generations of Uptons. The 1600s...what a time to live in Salem!

I'd like to sign off this update with a thank you to our readers for tolerating all my genealogical ramblings. Genealogy research is hopelessly addicting...there will always be "just one more branch" to research. But my, it sure is fun!

--- Barbara
Day 33
Total miles: 3,379

Thursday, July 10, 2008

48 Years Later

I had a memory of visiting my grandfather's grave from when my family visited this area in 1960. I was pretty sure it was in or near Minneapolis, but had no idea what cemetery we had visited. But thanks to the genealogical resources on the Internet I was finally able to resolve that question. I had found a website for a genealogical group associated with an old cemetery in Minneapolis and had sent them a query if my grandfather was perhaps buried in that cemetery. The person that responded to my query went to the trouble of finding an obituary for his death in 1930 and pointed me to another cemetery. With the cemetery name, I found a website for that cemetery and sent them a query about my grandfather. They responded that he was indeed buried there and gave me the burial location. So when we stopped for a few days in the Minneapolis area, we visited the cemetery and found his grave again after my previous visit 48 years earlier.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Good luck in Luck

My father was born near a small town in northwestern Wisconsin named Luck. He was actually born on the farm of his parents near a community of Danish immigrants called West Denmark. I had only been here once before in 1960 when my family came back here to visit. We camped that summer on the farm of a long time friend of my father named Kris.

Before we left on this trip, we mentioned our travel plans to a fellow resident of Solvang whose husband's family had also come from Luck. She was very excited and told us that her husband had several cousins back here and that several members of the Danish Lutheran Church have traditionally organized an event for the 4th of July and that we should try to attend.

Since we wanted to spend the 4th in a small town environment, we managed to arrive in Luck, Wisconsin on July 3rd. From some previous genealogy research, I knew that my grandfather's second wife was buried in the West Denmark Cemetery (my grandmother was his third wife). I was also sure I had determined the location of the farm my father was born on. So on the morning of July 4th we set off to see what we could find.

The first stop was the West Denmark Church to find the cemetery. On the way, I pointed out to Barbara the farm where we had camped, and wondered if it was still owned by anyone in that family. Finding nobody at the church, we drove back to the parish hall we had passed on the way to the church where we had seen some people. The first person we asked didn't know the location of the cemetery, but said "Ask that tall fellow over there. He'll know!". That tall fellow was one of the cousins our friend back in Solvang had talked about. I asked if he knew Kris and Doris. He said that he sure did, and they should be at the potluck happening there a little later and invited us to join them. We told him we'd be back and headed off to visit the cemetery.

The grave we were looking for is unmarked, and all we had was a listing of the graves near the one we wanted. We are sure we found the right part of the cemetery, we just are not sure of the exact location of the grave.

The next stop was to find the farm where my father was born. We drove to where I expected to find it, but did not see the house I had pictures of from 1960. We parked and walked up to the house that was there, talked to a young man working in the yard, and explained why we were there. We then went to the house to talk to his father, who it turned out had been born in the old house that we were looking for. He had torn it down a few years earlier and had built the current one. Recently the local bank had cleaned out their files and sent him a document which listed every change in title to the property since it was a homestead. After his wife located the document, we read through the pages looking at the history of my grandfather's ownership of the property. They offered to make copies and mail them to us, and we offered to send them copies of old photos of the place from when my father was a child.

House my father was born in.
Photo taken in early 1900s.

Time to head back to the potluck and see if we could find Kris and Doris. Not only did we find them, but also found a number of people who remembered my father. We also talked to many people who had visited or lived in Solvang. Others were related to the friends in Solvang who had told us about this same event and encouraged us to visit.

Kris and Doris invited us to go back to their home to talk, but we first stopped at their farm where my family had camped in 1960. Their oldest son and family now live on the farm and Kris and Doris have retired to a small house in town. We talked for a couple of hours and showed each other old photos. We hope we will be as sharp as they are when we get to our 80s.

Here are Kris, Barbara and Doris where my family camped on the farm during our 1960 visit. My father built a canvas walled privy in the trees. We had an advertising sign reading "Trees of Mystery" that we had from stopping in a tourist stop in the Northern California redwoods. My father decided that would be appropriate over the doorway to the privy!

By the end of our visit, we felt that we had had extremely good luck in Luck!