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Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Vacation at the Farm

barn on farm

Recently, my family and I spent almost two weeks in Missouri at my father-in-law’s farm. Mornings of clear blue skies over acres and acres of corn and soybean fields with a nice cool breeze blowing the tree leaves. Some days the wind whipped the tree branches, and I gave up thinking I could just hairspray my hair to stay out of my face! Besides the sounds of birds singing, an occasional car or truck churning up the gravel roads, were the train whistles. About 70 trains a day run close to where we were – far enough I didn’t see one from the house – but with no other environmental or man-made noise – I could hear that mournful sound. We would wake with a general purpose for the day. With my mother-in-law’s passing just over a month ago, my father-in-law was learning a new path in life that didn’t include his beloved wife of almost 65 years. He grew up in a time when men in that part of the country took care of the business end of the farm – and the home – and the women took care of the rest – cooking, cleaning, gardening, and nurturing. We knew he was looking forward to someone else besides just him roaming around the large home. So each morning – even though it was vacation – we set our alarm in order to get up and have breakfast on the table by 7 a.m. My husband and I took turns fixing breakfast. Most days, not only did I cook the evening meal but I fixed a decent sized lunch – smoked sausages, a beef roast, or stew. Sometimes my husband and grandson grilled burgers or steaks. My sister-in-law deep fried catfish one evening and ordered pizzas another night. Besides the meals, there was the washing, dusting and vacuuming. My husband and grandson spent time helping my father-in-law clear brush and vines as well as mowing the grass. There were electrical issues in the shop to take care of and accompanying his father on two long drives (over two hours each way) while we were there. Our days were filled with “helping work” but not so packed that we didn’t have time to enjoy ourselves. For the first few days, I helped my sister-in-law in her quest to put together three scrapbooks of photos. After church services on Father’s Day, my father-in-law treated us to a delicious lunch at a nearby (eleven miles!) restaurant. He is a visitor and talker so as we ate, several folks dropped by the table (you know you are in “small town America” when that happens!) to chat. Unfortunately for him, by the time he was done talking with the two or three folks who stopped by, only half his lunch had been eaten and it had gotten cold. Before we left, he made the rounds of other tables.  It was good to see him out and about and chatting with folks. A few days after we arrived, all of us piled into his mini-van and set out on a cemetery tour.  Since it’s a rural area, there were miles and miles between one cemetery and another so we spent the better part of four hours in the car. However, unlike the last time we had done this (many years ago), we did stop several times and get out so I could take pictures of the gravestones belonging to my husband’s great-grandparents, great-uncles, and various other family members. My grandson was able to stroll down to south pond (the farm boasts two stocked ponds except one now has a herd of cattle – mainly bulls – on that section of land) to do some fishing. Each evening ended with the daily television show on their local PBS station – “Cook’s Country”, then “The Doctors”, and then the 9:00 news from Kansas City. About halfway through that, my father-in-law would head to bed, and the rest of us would watch my grandson’s new favorite “old” show “That 70s show”(!), followed by Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” (yes, we saw the episode with a young David McCallum before he was NCIS’ Ducky and a young David Carradine). Then the next morning we began all over again. I took my grandson on some fascinating excursions for two consecutive days before we left (but that’s for other blog posts). It was very difficult – especially for my husband – to leave knowing that his dad would be alone as my sister-in-law (who lives across the street) was out of state for over another week. Now we are home again and standing out on the front porch here is just not the same as being able to see miles and miles in the distance with the train whistles the only loud sound to break the silence.

 

(Photo above: barn on the farm, photographed by Wendy Littrell, June 2013)

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So sorry that there has been a bit of a lag between Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. This should be the final chapter of what I call “My Trip Out West” – or as the title suggests – “Over the Rainbow.”  After all, I was only four years old – almost five. So everything about this trek from Ohio to the Pacific Ocean and back was magical!

In the last installment, Mom, Dad, and I were finishing up our time at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Marine Land in California. From there we drove to Victorville, California which sits on the edge of the Mojave Desert in San Bernadino County.

We spent September 21 and 22 at the home of Captain and Mrs. H.B. Alexander, friends of my parents. September 21 was my mother’s birthday. I thoroughly believed my mom was 29 because as is common, once she passed a “certain” birthday milestone, she always said she was only 29. Wow – imagine my surprise a couple of years later when I realized that she was much older than 29!  I was also confused when I realized my grandparents were also in the area!  They were on a tour of the western United States as well and it was probably by design that they were able to celebrate their daughter’s birthday.

     

Leaving the Alexander home, we traveled to the Grand Canyon. Breathtaking, beautiful, scenic, awesome are only a few words to describe what a magnificent wonder it is. When we had left California, the temperature was over 100 but as we got to the rim of the Canyon, the temperature had a drop of over 40 degrees. I remember wearing a sweater as we stood gazing out over such a majestic sight.

Leaving the Grand Canyon, we drove northeast toward Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. We stayed with the R.G. Schuster family and toured the Academy.

  

While there we saw 1800 cadets marching in formation and the beautiful Chapel. It is one building I will never forget being inside. On September 26 our western trip was complete and we began the drive back to Ohio, arriving on September 28.

There are many things I remember very well about the trip – items that weren’t part of a tour or a national park or a wonder of the world. Mom had packed a hot plate because even though we were able to stay in the homes of so many family and friends, we were also in a lot of motels!  The hot plate enabled her to heat up oatmeal for breakfast or a can of soup for lunch.

A lot of my breakfasts (when not at a home or in a restaurant)   were Keebler Cinnamon Graham Crackers and milk (hey, I loved it and still eat it!!). I can remember restaurants we ate at or purchased food to go from: Jerry’s (I think it was like Denny’s), Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it went by it’s initials!), and Howard Johnson’s (which is a hotel chain but we’d eat at the restaurant). I remember laundry mats – and oh goodness, there were many laundry mats that Mom and I were at washing clothes. Well, she washed and dried, and I sat and watched. I believe a lot of them were a dime. Mom would always need dimes. I remember lying across the backseat of the Pontiac either sleeping or trying not to give in to my car sickness. Every once in awhile, Dad would rouse me so I could “see the sights” – something he knew that I just had to see!  Except for the accident. I don’t know where it was but we were bumper to bumper on the road.  As we got closer, and my parents saw the ambulance (back then, they looked like a hearse) and the emergency vehicles, my Dad realized that whatever it was – was very, very bad. He told me to keep lying down and not to look.  I think later after I was older, Mom told me that it was a fatality and there was lots of blood. I also remember the little Wet Naps we always got – especially at KFC. And guess what I thought those little sudsy napkins were for? Cleaning the car windows!!  That was a big mistake!  Those windows I so carefully “cleaned” were loaded with streaks and probably were dirtier than when I started!

Oh – and going over the rainbow? Yes, I feel as if I certainly did!  At one point, after my mother could not stand to listen to me asking if we were in Kansas and where was Dorothy’s house, she pointed to a run down farm house and said – “That’s Dorothy’s house!” I spent many years believing that I saw the actual house!  (Ok, then I thought that maybe it was the “actual” house from the film until Mom told me she just could not stand to hear me ask that question one more time!)  So I don’t know if we were in Kansas (which would have been on the way back to Ohio – so I think we were probably in Montana or Idaho when she did that!).  I was young enough to see Disneyland as a child would but old enough to be able to remember quite a bit about that trip. And I have tons of pictures to help me remember!

I hope you have enjoyed my Travel Thursday series of Over the Rainbow!  I hope to begin a new series soon!

Sources: 

Personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Wikipedia Article online for “Victorville California”, 27 July 2012.

Photo of Cinnamon Graham Crackers: Keebler.com, 2012. Kellogg.

Photo of Rainbow: Rainbow in the sky by Jonathon Coombes (Public Domain)

All Other Photos taken by Gene or Mary Amore, digital or original slide/print owned by Wendy J Littrell, address for private use. 

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog

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This is the third installment on my “Travel Thursday” series of “Over the Rainbow” and our journey from Ohio to California and back in 1966. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

It was mid-September, and Mom, Dad, and I had just finished visiting their friends, the Manning family, and my great-aunt, Nellie Lilly, in Washington state. We were on our way south toward California. Next stop was Crater Lake National Park in Klamath County, Oregon.  The lake was formed from a massive volcanic eruption about 5700 B.C. (according to Wikipedia). We arrived just before the snow covered everything, and the view was breathtaking . . . 

. . . even to a four year old child.

       

We checked out the view, took lots of photos, and encountered local wildlife. It seemed the chipmunks had no fear – especially if they were fed – and the deer was injured, but didn’t get too close to us.

As we drove through Oregon toward California, we encountered logging operations.

On toward Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. According to the newspaper article, trees at Sequoia were over 3500 years old with the General Sherman being the tallest at a little over 270 feet high with a circumference of a little over 100 feet.

     

   

We were in awe at the size of those trees!  One hollowed out tree was on its side, and I thought it was really neat how people walked into the tree without having to duck! It was that big around!

And as we traveled on toward southern California, we saw these sights:

Olive trees and citrus trees – along with trucks taking fruit to wherever they needed to go in order to be processed and shipped.  We saw grapes going to wineries.  Some of this I remember and some I don’t.  Mainly we saw long stretches of highway!

But the journey is only beginning for me – soon we will be “Over the Rainbow”! Stay tuned for the next installment!

Sources: personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Photos: Photographer on all photos – Gene Amore; all photos – print, slide, digital in the possession of Wendy Littrell to be used as needed.  No reprints without permission.

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog.

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This is a continuation of Part 1, posted on January 12, 2012.  Please read the beginning of this journey before continuing.

As we stood in southern Idaho gazing at the Craters of the Moon, I remember thinking that this was what the moon’s surface was like (well, not in those exact words – remember I wasn’t even five yet!).  Man had not set foot on the moon yet – it would be another few years – but in my young mind, I figured someone knew what it looked like and had made this place to resemble it. Little did I realize that the Craters of the Moon was formed from lava flow.

We left Idaho and began our trek northwest toward Ellensburg, Washington.  We were going to the Gingko Petrified Forest before visiting friends and family.

And we have arrived!  Mom and I in front of the tourist center.  Notice how I’m always squinting or trying to cock my head at just the right angle to get the sun out of my eyes? I don’t know why Mom wasn’t looking at the camera – she was probably people watching (a favorite past time of her’s!). 

      

And a look at the information inside the tourist center. I thought it was really neat because the “petrified” trees looked like pretty rocks (which I collected and loved!).  I do seem to remember something about my parents telling me that I couldn’t pick up and keep anything on the ground because it was part of the “forest.”

The Washington State Park website explains that the unusual “forest” was discovered in the 1930s when highway construction unearthed the petrified trees.

And a last look at the waters off of the Wanapum Recreational Area.

On September 10th our family arrived in Seattle.  Mom and Dad knew a family who resided there from their time in Japan when they were all stationed there with the Army Air Corps (and then Air Force).

Darreld and Marilyn Manning and son with Mom, Dad and I. Check out the head scarf I am wearing – apparently it was rather windy at the top of the Space Needle.  Their daughter (also a red head as is their son) isn’t in this picture. I don’t remember why – maybe she was afraid to go outside for pictures. While we were at their house, we enjoyed a home cooked (or grilled) meal and a fairy boat ride to Victoria, British Columbia complete with a sightseeing tour of the area (pictures below).

       

All too soon it was time to leave the Manning family and head to our next stop – my grandmother’s sister’s home in Puget Sound.  John and Nellie Lilly had been living in the area for many years.  Nellie was almost four years younger than my grandmother and had been living “out west” since she was a teen due to her asthma.  Nellie and John had raised a son and a daughter and were enjoying their “golden” years and grandchildren.  My Aunt Nellie was especially proud of her flowers!  They had a beautiful home with a spectacular view. I remember my parents telling me not to get too close to the edge because it was a long drop to the water.

       

It was time to head south into Oregon.  What would we see there? And how much longer until we get to Disneyland?

Stay tuned for the next installment of our journey “Over the Rainbow”.

Sources: personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.

Photos: Photographer on all photos – Gene Amore**; all photos – print, slide, digital in the possession of Wendy Littrell to be used as needed.  No reprints without permission. (**Photograph of family at Space Needle taken by Unknown with camera owned by Gene Amore to be used by him.)

Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog.

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Somehow these other gnomes have found me! 

    

I think this is Missouri Gnome welcoming us to the Farm and his cousin, Hunter Gnome, waiting for Goose season to start!

Background: These interesting little guys decorate the flower beds at my in-laws’ farm in Missouri.  The gun is a play cap gun which yours truly thought would make an interesting picture used as a prop for the little guy.  When the Genea-blogger Gnome came to visit me, I remembered that I had a few of my own “gnome” pictures taken three years ago on our yearly summer vacation. 

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My family really doesn’t take vacations to exotic or even genealogical places.  We go where family is located – the places we called home at one time.  However, along the way we have periodically stopped to see a historical site or be tourists for awhile.

In the summer of 1994, I took a little over three weeks’ vacation back to my mom’s and a few days at my in-laws.  Just me and four kids!  On the way from Ohio back to Missouri, we stopped at Billie Creek Village located in Parke County, Indiana. If you enjoy stepping back into time and covered bridges, this is a wonderful place to see. Motoring on toward Missouri, we stopped in Hannibal (as we normally do to fill up with gas) and decided to see some Mark Twain historical sights. We toured the Haunted House on Hill Street Wax Museum, sort of. The Wax museum part of it was okay for four young children but as soon as we started into the Haunted area, with chains rattling and screams emanating from the dark, three of the four tore out of there. We walked down the street and took pictures of Samuel Clemens’ boyhood home and the Becky Thatcher House among others.

Two years ago when we reached Hannibal, we stopped so the youngest daughter (not so young any more) could go through the Haunted House.  During the Fourth of July Riverfest in Hannibal, the streets are packed with cars and the closest place to park would have been several blocks away.  With a dog traveling with us, one person would have to stay behind with her.  That’s when we stopped to turn around at a service station and noticed the Molly Brown Birthplace and Museum. (Molly Brown was a Titanic survivor.)  Daughter decided that was just as good as the Haunted House.  The home, as expected wasn’t much, but I learned a lot more than I ever thought I could learn about this woman.  We spent at least twenty minutes lingering over all the news clippings, studying the furnishings and listening to the guide explain how the small rooms were used by the family.

On the way from Missouri to Ohio recently, we passed through Springfield, Illinois.  I mentioned to my husband that “sometime we’ll have to stop to see Lincoln’s home”.  Then I began wondering where he was actually buried.  As a Lincoln history buff, I would surely have remembered!  So as we returned from Ohio retracing our path back to Missouri, as we got closer to Springfield, I asked my husband if we could just see how far the house was off the highway.  So we detoured into Springfield through the old part, following the signs until we got there.  Once again, we had the dog with us so our daughter volunteered to stay with her while the rest of us went into the Visitor’s Center to get the information we needed about walking through the house.  It’s a free tour, but not self-guided.  The tour didn’t start for 30 minutes, and I didn’t feel we should take that long with the daughter waiting on us.  The parking is $2 (basically on the honor system) which is a deal when you consider so many historical sights now charge for tours.  So we inquired about the tomb.  It wasn’t that far away – however, it was closed for three days while they did some cement work.  We were allowed to walk to the house, walk around the house, and see two other houses (inside too) that had been restored to their original condition.  It appears that the historical society is restoring several of the surrounding homes and buildings in that area.  You can go to Lincoln Home and Lincoln’s Tomb for more information.

The moral of the story is . . . if you even think you might get to stop at a historic sight or even a courthouse or cemetery on your genealogical quest – call, write or email to make sure it is open when you will be there, if there are any fees for parking or tours, hours of operation, what type of parking you can expect, and if there are any other festivals happening at the same time.

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