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December 3, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bellingham, Washington)

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Home at Last

After traveling around America for four and a half months, I pulled into my Dad's driveway in Bellingham, Washington on a stormy afternoon in late October, thus completing my 2001 trip around the U.S.  I always enjoy hitting the road but for several reasons, including the September 11th tragedy, I was glad to be back home (or as much of a home as I've got right now).

 

Each trip that I take around America has a theme.  As you may know, the theme of this trip was researching my family's history, which I'd spent nearly half the trip engaged in.  By visiting the salty villages on the Massachusetts coast, the Civil War battlefields of Mississippi, and the plains of the Dakotas -- and tramping through dozens of cemeteries in the process -- I have a much clearer vision of where I came from, what my ancestors were like, and what they endured.  During my journey around America, I discovered a number of amazing stories about my family -- and some tragic ones, not the least of which is that I'm a distant relative of Benedict Arnold!  And, by visiting the places where my forebears (including the one-armed Civil War sergeant Ransom Myers in Michigan, the colonial weaver Hugh Chaplin in Massachusetts, and the resilient Norwegian homesteader Anna Swang in North Dakota) lived, worked and died, I've come to understand them much better.  

 

After I return from my overseas trip next summer, I'll write down what I've learned and pass this information on to future generations of my family.  I knew this family research would take a long time, and indeed, it was one of the reasons that I decided to take a break from my job.

 

Other than researching my family history, definitely the highlight of my trip was visiting relatives and old friends, as well as making new friends.  I met interesting people almost every day and was, at times, overwhelmed by their generosity.  As I traveled around America, the kindness of strangers never ceased to amaze me.  I've shared many of these stories on this website and hope you've enjoyed meeting these folks, as well. 

 

By the way, here are some statistics of my trip around America:

 

 

Final Statistics of My U.S. Trip

  • Days Traveled:  136  (June 8 - October 22, 2001)

  • States Visited:  34

  • Flat Tires:  1

  • Miles Traveled:  14,247

  • Miles per Day (avg.):  105

  • Photos Taken:  8,272

  • Photos per Day (avg.):  61

  • Bratwurst per Day (avg.):  2.3

 

 

I'll be taking off for my overseas trip on December 7, which is, of course, the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack -- an appropriate day for my invasion of the Pacific, perhaps.   To help pay for this trip, I'll be going down to my stockbroker on December 6 to cash in all that Enron stock that I bought last year at $80 a share.  I figure that stock must have at least doubled in price since I left Portland in June.  

 

I've described my planned world trip and the last few days of my U.S. trip, including the drive from Bismarck, North Dakota to Bellingham in News: December 3, 2001 -- Part 2.  However, before I jump to that page I wanted to pass along a few things.

 

Country Schools

If you read my entries for October, you know that my grandmother Helga taught in a one-room schoolhouse on the North Dakota plains during the early 1900s.  I've done a lot of research on country schools over the past few years and I wanted to share some photos and humorous anecdotes about the way schools used to be, so I added a new page in the "Close-Ups" section describing North Dakota's One-Room Country Schools.  I think you'll be amused by the 1872 "Instructions to Teachers." 

 

Mea Culpa

If you've read Why I'm Responsible for the Current Recession, you know that every time I quit a job, the U.S. economy goes into a recession.  The last time that I quit a job, in the spring of 1990, the U.S. suddenly plunged into a deep recession after years of unbridled economic growth.  According to the economists, though, the recession ended a year later in March of 1991 (which was also when I got my job with Parsons Brinckerhoff and started working again)

 

After working with PB for 10 years, during which our country enjoyed 10 years of prosperity, I quit in March of 2001.  Economists are now saying that our current recession started in -- you guessed it -- March of 2001.  There seems to be a correlation here.

 

If you're anxious about our current recession, you're probably hoping that I go back to work pretty soon.  However, you'll have to wait until next summer because that's when I hope to finish my around-the-world trip and move back to Portland.  I apologize for any inconvenience that I may have caused.  I've sent Alan Greenspan an e-mail, though, describing my travel plans.  

 

Hester's Story, Part 2

One of the highlights of my recent trip around America was meeting a wonderfully spry 87-year old woman named Hester Bailey, who lives in the tiny farming town of Wing, North Dakota, about 30 miles north of Bismarck.  I met Hester in the smoky Chat-and-Chew Cafe while I was doing family research and, since Hester was a long-time resident, I asked if she remembered my grandmother, Helga Swang, who died in 1964.  Hester certainly did remember Helga.  In fact, as it turned out, Hester was one of Helga's pupils in kindergarten in 1921 when Hester was six years old!  Since I never knew my grandmother, I got a real thrill talking to Hester about Helga.  Hester even remembered my mother, who was born in 1924, as a little girl riding in the back seat of her parent's Model T.

 

As we sat in the cafe, I showed Hester several old photos that my grandmother took in 1921 of the Canfield School, where Helga taught and which Hester attended.  I was fascinated when Hester, after studying the photographs, recognized many of the students (though she didn't see any pictures of herself).  When I got back to Bellingham last month, I sent Hester copies of the photos.  About a week ago, I received a 9-page handwritten letter from this delightful woman telling me how much she enjoyed meeting me and telling me what life was like there in the 1920s.  

 

Amazingly enough, Hester even recognized herself in one of the 1921 photos I sent her.  After studying these photos for the past several years in Portland and wondering who these children were and where they lived, I finally got to meet one of them.  And, from what Hester told me, she was probably the only person in those photos who was still alive.  As she put it, talking to me and seeing her picture "really made my day!"   I plan to keep in touch with Hester and hope to see her again the next time I return to North Dakota.

 

    Hester_B.JPG (43561 bytes)

Above left:    Hester Bailey (left), 87, was a six-year-old kindergarten student at the Canfield School in 1921, where my grandmother Helga taught.  For more on "country schools," see my page on North Dakota's One-Room Country Schools.

Above right:   That's six-year-old Hester partly hidden behind the boy with the gun (I believe this was a Memorial Day celebration -- obviously, no metal detectors in this school).  My grandmother Helga took this picture of her students at the Canfield School in 1921.  Until I had visited North Dakota on this trip, though, I didn't know what school this was, where it was, or who the children were.

 

 

For photos and stories about my trip home from Bismarck to Bellingham, see News: December 3, 2001 -- Part 2.

 

 

 

Next News

December 3, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bellingham, Washington)

 

 

Previous News

October 18, 2001 -- Part 3  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 18, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

October 6, 2001  (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001 -- Part 2  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 30, 2001 -- Part 1  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

September 15, 2001  (Bismarck, North Dakota)

August 30, 2001  (Webster, South Dakota)

August 18, 2001  (Watertown South Dakota)

August 17, 2001  (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)

August 14, 2001  (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

August 10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)

August 8, 2001  (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)

August 6, 2001  (Manlius, New York)

July 23, 2001  (Middleton, Massachusetts)

July 22, 2001  (Boston, Massachusetts)

July 20, 2001  (Pomfret, Connecticut)

July 18, 2001  (Denton, Maryland)

July 16, 2001  (Cumberland, Virginia)

July 14, 2001  (Roanoke, Virginia)

July 9, 2001  (Sevierville, Tennessee)

July 8, 2001  (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)

July 5, 2001  (Manchester, Tennessee)

June 30, 2001  (Hohenwald, Tennessee)

June 29, 2001  (Corinth, Mississippi)

June 27, 2001  (Natchez, Mississippi)

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)

June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)   

 

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