Away From The Farm

We only had sheep to feed for a few years and that gave me time to do things I couldn't do when we had the cows. That's why I could walk the floor with Beaver when he was sick and I could go fishing in the winter and haul gravel and dig basements in the summer. [285-2]

When we first had the 1946 Dodge car, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit Pa's relatives, going to the Wisconsin Dells on the way there. We took the boat trips both ways. The south trip was in a small, open boat and the pilot pointed out all kinds of things like Paul Bunyan's this and that, but it was all imaginary. That was in the forenoon. [285-4]

In the afternoon, we went on an open deck boat for the north trip. That was more of a trip. They docked some for the passengers to walk back through the rock canyons. One high, narrow, cut was just wide enough for one person at a time. [285-5]

We could have taken the same boat up the river seven miles to the Indian Pageant that night, but we drove the car instead. The pageant was beautiful, with all the colorful lighting and they had real talented Indian singers from all over the United States and Canada and even Alaska, if I remember right. [285-6]

Uncle George, in LaCrosse, was a real kid entertainer and fed the squirrels in his back yard. He had at least one that would sit on his shoulder and eat out of his hand. That was when he gave each of the three kids one of those dancing dolls that you hold by a long wire, which he made himself. [285-7]

I had a country cousin who knew we were coming and he met us at Uncle George's as soon as we got there. We soon found out why. He had gotten hold of a turning lathe and was making ash trays and toothpick holders, etc. out of native walnut. He unpacked a big boxful of the stuff before we had time to visit at all. What he thought was that he could sell a lot of them to us rich relatives from Minnesota. [285-8]

I did buy a few things, because he looked like he expected us to, including his latest pride and joy that he had finished that day and the glue wasn't even dry. We weren't as rich as he thought and I really gave him a bad time, bargaining the prices down. I was sort of burned up because he was in such a hurry to cash in on us. [286-1]

One of the kids heard two of the relatives talking about us and they agreed that they thought we were pretty well fixed. Something like what the people in Norway used to think about everyone in America. [285-9]

We stayed in a motel in La Crosse and Uncle George went with us around the country, as we would never have found the relatives in those hills and winding roads. [286-2]

We came back from that trip through the Root River Valley by Lanesboro and the scenery through there is terrific, even though it was cloudy and misting and all three kids were tired and owly and just like boils. [286-3]

We made a lot of trips to Itasca and to see Paul Bunyan at Brainerd and then over to Mille Lacs Lake to see the Indians dance, etc. I used to tease Kathy about trading her for a cute little Indian girl who sang over there. [286-4]

One year we were curious about whether there was a big black duck at Blackduck, so we drove up there to see, and there was one. [286-5]

One time we saw on the map that the highway apparently ended in the lake up on the Red Lake indian reservation, so we drove up there to find out, and it did! [286-6]

One time when we went to Itasca, Richard (Dub) had made a little sailboat, similar to the one Bobby sent across the bay in Christina Lake. He had his name on it and launched it at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, hoping to see it float merrily down the stream, but it kept running into the rushes along the bank. He and Beaver followed it as far as they could and pushed it back into the stream until it sailed out of sight. A lady standing there said to me, "Do you think it will make the Gulf?" I sort of doubted it, myself. [286-8]

We had talked about trading the gray 1952 Dodge for a newer one, but it was in such good shape we decided to make the 1957 trip to Yellowstone in it and get the mileage on it instead of the newer one. It worked perfectly, though some smart kid talked us into buying a spare fan belt because ours was nearly shot. It was never needed, though. [It probably got traded in with the car --JL] [289-7]

We thought Richard was to young to enjoy the trip, so we left him at home with his grandmother. [290-1]

When I saw the Rocky Mountains ahead of us, sticking way up into the clouds, Twila said, "We will soon be up there!" That scared me so bad that I said, "Let's turn around," and I would have, too, for the slightest reason. [290-2]

Twila just said, "Let me drive!" So we kept on going. I got over being scared as soon as we got started up. [290-3]

That first year we were in Yellowstone, the kids counted 72 bears in two days along the road in the park. They were all begging food and the cars would stop and throw things to them and take pictures. When a lot of cars stopped, they called it a "bear jam." Those people who didn't know better would open their windows and some of the bears would stand up and put their paws right on the door. [290-4]

We soon learned a better way to get them to stand still for pictures. We bought candy gumdrops -- orange slices -- and the bears would stand or sit down and chew on one of them for quite a while. [290-5]

Beaver had his picture taken in the doorway of a little house made of elk and deer horns [antlers] that year. [290-6]

The next year, we decided to take a longer trip, going by way of the Black Hills and Yellowstone again, in the 1955 Dodge we had traded for. [290-7]

We saw everything in the Black Hills, including the beginning of the Crazy Horse monument. Somewhere in Wyoming, we saw a sign that said, "Little Beaver Spring" and he stood by it for a picture. He also had his picture taken in the doorway of the horn house again, but this time Richard was in the picture, too. [290-8]

We went out of Yellowstone by way of the Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and stayed at Massacre Rock in a new motel. In the morning, we stopped at Rupert, Idaho, where Virgin and Lorraine Olson were farming a potato farm that he had gotten in a servicemen's drawing for land that had just been cleared of brush and was all irrigated. [290-9]

It was early in the morning and Lorraine immediately put a whole package of bacon in the pan and served us bacon and eggs like long lost relatives. Virgil took me on a tour of the whole valley. The whole area smelled of fresh-sawed pine lumber. Everything was brand new. [291-1]

From there, we went on to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Jerri laid out most of our itinerary, already practicing for being our tour leader on future trips to New York and Alaska. [291-2]

We drove up to Crater Lake and stayed in a cabin there and took pictures all the way around Crater Lake in the morning. Dub and Beaver snowballed on a big drift, right by the cabin door. Twila baked a store-bought pie on the top of the oil burner that heated the cabin. The fellow in the cabin next door left his door open and lay down for a little rest and a bear walked into his cabin! [291-3]

We drove to the snow line on both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. We went to see a family in Astoria that Jerri had met and they invited us to stay overnight. That was practically the only place we stayed overnight in anybody's house on any of our trips. In the morning, she gave us a big salmon her husband had caught out in the "sound." We fried it in the cabin that we stayed in that night and thought it was the best fish we had ever had. [291-4]

We drove about 40 miles along the Columbia River, on the south side. That has been advertised as the most beautiful 40 mile drive in the world. There are 12 waterfalls in 12 miles. Out there we crossed the Columbia River on a little, open, ferry into Washington and up through the big, rolling, wheat fields. We went through the fruit country next and in the Yakima area, the fruit was at its peak. We ate cherries and peaches by the bucketful, all picked fresh that same day. [291-5]

We saw Boulder Dam that night with all the colored lights beaming on the water going over the dam. Jerri took time exposures with the Pony 135, setting it on a guardrail post. [291-6]

From there, it was through Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes in Canada. Then it was through Calgary and on to Banff and Lake Louise and on up to Jasper. We stayed in a motel 15 miles north of Jasper, going by way of the Athabasca Glacier. That was the first time we saw a glacier with icebergs calving off it. Thus, we saw both ends of the Columbia River in just a space of three or four days. [291-7]

We saw big, tame (but wild) deer all along the road; you could pet them and they would eat out of your hand. We also saw panhandling bears like in Yellowstone [291-8]

Time ran out and we had to get home. Twila got nervous, too; Mitzi was going to be born the next December 29th and it was already August. She didn't know she was expecting and thought something was going wrong at Jasper and we got scared about being too far from home. Nothing did go wrong, though. [292-1]

My mother had died in the spring and I had to be back for an estate hearing the following Monday. We crossed over to the west side of the Continental Divide to come back over a different road, by way of Radium Hot Springs, to see the different scenery, but it wasn't as good as the east side. [292-2]

That night, we stayed in our last motel in the mountains in Crow's Nest Pass. That motel looked like the most perfect place to live that I had ever seen. It was high altitude and the grass and weeds grew only a few inches high. The "Chinook" winds were dependable at clearing the heavy snowfalls almost as soon as the snow fell. The motel office walls were covered with mounted heads of all kinds of big game they had shot right there. They could look right across the valley and see all kinds of big game walking on the sides of the mountains. [292-3]

Richard left his pajamas in the bed there and the lady sent them to us. We sent her a Minnesota Centennial plate and got a nice thank you letter from her. [292-4]

Up there, we crossed a place where a mountain had slid and buried a whole town, with the highway built over the slide. We stopped off in Medicine Hat, where Pa and Raymond Skaar maintained that our blizzards came from. Nobody we asked about that up there had heard anything about that. It was Saturday afternoon by then, and there was no time to kill. We crossed the Canadian prairie and went past Regina, in the dark. We crossed into North Dakota in the dark, at Portal [292-6]

Down in North Dakota, we got so tired we stopped in a farmer's field approach and slept awhile. Twila took some blankets and lay in the wheel track right in front of the front wheel so someone wouldn't run over her. [292-7]

We ate a late breakfast of cereal in individual boxes with powdered milk on the grass at the State Capitol building at Bismarck. We went by Washburn, to see if I could tell where Pa had filed on his ill-fated homestead, but there was no way of knowing. We also went by Garrison Dam, which was still new and dry because it hadn't backed up enough water to flow over the dam. [292-8]

We got home in the afternoon, tired and bedraggled, 1,350 miles since the last motel. It took Webster and Ione a couple of hours to tell us everything that had gone wrong while they were looking after things for us. [Bambi, our pet deer had died; I always hoped he hadn't ended up in a freezer.] [293-1]

When we got home, the ragweeds, etc. had grown eight feet high in the garden while we were gone and I thought longingly of Crow's Nest Pass. [292-5]

At least we made the 10 a.m. Monday deadline. [293-2]

Jerri found out how to apply for a summer job in Yellowstone National Park and got a job there the next year, after graduating from high school. Jerri was on the list of summer workers for Yellowstone and had to take a bus to get there. [It was Dad's idea to apply; it was not an idea that my mother would have endorsed but she figured they only hired college kids and wouldn't give me a job anyway so she didn't stop me from applying. However, I had all the right credentials, including being 18 by the time I graduated from high school, and I got a job contract by return mail. She figured it was already too late to stop me then, but she wasn't happy. She had planned to have me available for her summer help. --JL]

Jerri worked in the cafeteria at Fishing Bridge. Her job was in the salads, right by the door. That was the most interesting job because she was the one all the tourists who stepped through the door saw and they asked for directions to things, especially, how to find the restrooms. [294-2]

Jerri's Yellowstone employment was the excuse for another trip to Yellowstone, for the third year in a row. We had one of the primitive $4 per day cabins. That was the first place Mitzi was old enough to roll off the bed. [294-3]

Richard and Beaver were playing with some kids whose parents were catching trout in Yellowstone Lake and really getting them. Twila worked a deal through the kids to trade some canned ham for some trout. They were tired of eating fish and we couldn't think of anything else. We ate all we could for supper and there was one left. I thought I would warm it up for breakfast and I put it in the oven of the little wood-burning cabin stove on a paper plate. The plate caught fire and the fish was not only warmed but smoked. I thought it tasted better than the ones we had for supper. [294-4]

We were planning to go out through West Yellowstone the next day to see a ghost town in Montana. About 11 o'clock that night, the cabin started to shake. We hadn't gone to bed and Twila started to holler that a grizzly bear was trying to break in. By that time the cabin was just like it was on a bucking horse. I said, "That's no bear; that's an earthquake!" [294-5]

We opened the door and the whole lot was full of excited and scared people, with most of the women in nightgowns. Some o them turned on radios and the radio announcer was trying to minimize it. We got shock after shock, but they weren't as hard as the first ones. We could tell by the light cord, which was only a double, cotton-covered cord, hanging from the ceiling with a bulb at the bottom. it would swing like a pendulum until it almost hit the ceiling and then the cabin would rock and shudder again. [294-6]

Jerri came over, eventually. She had fallen asleep, still dressed, in her two-story, log dormitory and when the quake woke her up she walked out without stopping to pick up her shoes, so she went barefoot that night. [295-1]

Everyone started to worry that the whole park would explode and also that all the roads would be blocked with rocks. The big mountain slide that blocked a canyon and later formed Hebgen Lake was exactly where we were going the next day. With a little different timing we could have been in the campground under the slide. The other entrances were OK, even the narrow rock one coming in from Cody, Wyoming. [295-2]

A good share of the tourists got out of there the next morning, but the park filled right up again with a new bunch of curious vacationers. We went out a couple of days later, through the northeast exit at Red Lodge, Montana. [295-3]

Across the mountains in Montana, we had snowdrifts along the road and the kids got out and snowballed. About dark, we dropped down into Miles City, Montana, and the temperature was 104 degrees! We rented the highest priced cabin of the whole trip there, to get an air conditioner. We couldn't get to any point in the park to see the quake damage, but trucks were coming from everywhere, hauling bulldozers in. [295-4]

Jerri went back to Yellowstone Park to work the next year and met Mic, her "one-of-a-kind," patient, future husband there. [295-8]

We drove out to Rochester, New York, where Jerri was in college in 1964, still driving the blue 1955 Dodge. We circled into Canada, going north of Lake Huron, because it was over the Fourth of July and they don't have the wild Fourth of July traffic the U.S. has. [299-4]

It was lucky we did, because the generator went out on Saturday morning and we stopped at a small garage. They looked it up and found it was very much a "one of a kind" generator, made only one year for only one model of Dodge. They were more accommodating up there than anywhere I have ever been. [299-5]

They called ahead 100 miles to Toronto and located one there. If we didn't waste any time, we could get into the big Dodge garage there on Saturday afternoon. They would pick the generator up somewhere in that big city and have it waiting for us. [299-6]

On the way to Toronto, we saw something we had never seen before. Within many miles of the city, the road ditches and back-slopes were used as recreational grounds, like an endless park. There were picnic tables all along in the ditch. City families could drive into the ditches anywhere and picnic or play catch, baseball, or anything in the space allowed. [299-7]

When we got to Toronto, we could hardly believe how big it was. We found the big Dodge garage and they had picked up the rare generator. They put it on for a very reasonable price. [299-8]

From there, we went to Niagara Falls and on to Rochester. We had trouble finding Mic and Jerrianne's house, which was an old mansion with five families living in it. They didn't really have room for all of us, so Twila and I decided to go to a hotel and rent a room. The kids bedded down on Jerri's floor. [300-1]

When we got to the hotel, we had to pay $11 just to sleep overnight. That seemed to be a small fortune to us then. After all, the total cost average for all our trips had been $30 a day for everything, including gas, kitchenette motels, etc. and $5 of that was camera film each day. [300-2]

When we paid the bill and got the key, a bellhop came running and grabbed our big, apparently heavy suitcase. He almost fell over backward; it only contained our pajamas. At the room door, I gave him 50 cents. I wondered what he thought. I would have been glad to carry it myself. The rest of the time we bedded down on Mic and Jerri's floor with the kids. [300-3]

Mic and Jerri lived so close to the George Eastman House that Kathy and I walked over to see it. It had been turned into a museum of cameras and other old photographic equipment. The most interesting thing to me was where you could walk upstairs and look down through an open rotunda into a big room right inside one side of the house. It had a big door on each end so the carriage driver could drive the team and carriage right into the house and the rich passengers could get in the carriage without going outside. [I'm mystified by this -- there was a roofed area by the front door but not enclosed. --JL] [300-4]

Mic and Jerri had just gotten their first car. Up until then, they only had two bicycles, with a seat on one of them for Kyra. The car was a little Karmann Ghia convertible, which was a Volkswagen engine in an Italian body. [300-5]

We decided to take a trip over into Vermont, driving both cars. It was most interesting to me, because I had been an avid reader of Fur, Fish & Game magazine and an educated trapper wrote articles in it every month about the territory we traveled through in the Tupper Lake region. I sure changed my mind about the East. I could hardly believe how scenic it was. I had imagined nothing but highways and buildings wherever you went. [300-6]

When we were going through one of the cities in New York, Kyra got a temperamental spell and pitched her fuzzy rabbit toy out of the open Karmann Ghia convertible into the busiest intersection in the city. We both had to find parking places so Mic could go out into that traffic and retrieve her bunny. [302-2]

We rented an old summer cabin on the shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont for a night. Mic and Jerri had their little tent along and a couple of the kids slept in that. [300-7]

For supper, Jerri grilled flank steaks on her charcoal grill and cut them thin across the grain to make sandwiches. I can still taste them -- the best sandwiches I have ever eaten. A butcher in Rochester had called Jerri's attention to flank steak. They have a different, better, flavor than other beef. Here, they grind them up in the hamburger. [300-8]

We wanted to see one of Vermont's covered bridges and drove until we found one and then turned back. That is an old country and a lot of prosperous looking farms with well painted buildings. They were still using some of the old rail fences. [301-1]

That night it seemed that all the motels were full and we drove around until we found a vacancy sign. We probably looked a little bedraggled and when we asked for a motel with a kitchenette, the couple that ran the place both came out to look us over. Obviously, we didn't measure up to their high class of customers. They counted us and started a discussion between themselves about whether or not they should let us in, indicating that they thought we were in the "hillbilly" class. [301-2]

They would have known we were if they had seen us at Niagara Falls, carrying our camera equipment in a small Styrofoam cooler that said "Glenco Feed" in big letters on the side of it! [301-3]

It was getting late and they finally decided to let us in rather than have an empty unit. They mentioned that some people didn't leave the motel clean, etc. The kitchen wasn't very clean when we went in and I'm sure it was far cleaner when we left than when we entered. That was the only time we had realized that we were in the lower end of the lower class bracket. And, of course, that was in the snooty area of the East. [301-4]

We stopped at Fort Ticonderoga, which is a tourist attraction. In the parking lot, Kathy laid her Bolsey camera on the hood of the car and went back to the trunk for something. Someone passing by stole the Bolsey off the hood. [301-5]

In the fort, they shot off some of the old cannons. They shot an iron ball the size of a baseball, or possibly a softball, with black powder and used dry grass for wadding. In a baseball game, they bat a ball much farther than those cannonballs went, and in a park, too, we could shoot our slingshots farther than that when we were kids. [301-6]

We came back to Rochester through the Finger Lakes region, which is just up and down from one valley to the other. They raise grapes on those steep hillsides and the whole country is very beautiful. We even saw a boat go by on an old canal, which we were fascinated with. [301-7]

We came through Michigan during the peak of the fruit season and gorged ourselves on dead ripe cherries. We came back across the Mackinac Bridge, and on an old highway across Wisconsin. We were in a hurry to get home, as usual. [302-1]

In 1969, we decided to take a tent camping trip to Colorado to try me out and see if I was a tent camper. We bought a used tent and a one-wheel trailer to haul the baggage in. Beaver left for "boot camp" training for the Minnesota National Guard the same day we went. We were Twila and I and Richard and Mitzi and Kathy and Arg. Kathy and Arg had their own tent, so we put up two tents almost every night. [313-6]

I was used to stopping at motels with kitchenettes and putting up tents after dark in the rain and eating smoked food from a campfire wasn't down my alley! [313-7]

We went through the Black Hills, where I had been several times before, and down into Colorado. The people in the campgrounds fascinated me and I soon decided they were real interesting places to run on account of the interesting people who camped in them, if I could have a cabin to live in, instead of a tent. [313-8]

The first place I fell for was the "Dam Site" store, motel and campground near Boulder, Colorado, on the way into Rocky Mountain National Park. It had just been taken over by a young couple who hadn't been there long enough to be tired of it yet and they had just cleared the brush off the spot we set our tents on. The first thing that impressed me was the sharp little stumps from the newly cut brush that came up through the floor of our tent. [314-1]

There were an awful lot of interesting looking people coming and going from their store on their way to the Park, the same as we were. There was a big dam there that gave the place its name. [314-2]

The mountain roads in Colorado went up through the most rugged places we had ever driven and we went on over the divide and down the other side. It was real cold up on the top and nothing grew over three or four inches high, but we went down the other side to a campground where it wasn't so cold and camped in the same campground for three or four days. [314-3]

Everybody was fishing in the creeks and rivers, so I bought a cheap Zebco rod and reel and license and Richard and I tried fishing. We caught two or three trout about six inches long. That was the size of all the fish we saw there. Evidently, in that high traffic area, they release the little trout in the creeks in the spring and the tourists like us catch them the same summer. [314-4]

Lots of interesting people in the campground to visit with and real looking fishermen told about many vague places where the trout really bit and were much bigger. [314-5]

Richard was 16 that summer and bored with us. One day he walked clear around the lake we were camping by, which was several miles. We didn't see anything very great on that trip, compared to what we had seen on previous trips. I closed the door forever on tent camping and turned my thoughts to campgrounds instead. I decided I would rather just read about other people's hardships of tent camping and how much they enjoyed it! [314-6]

[I can link here to his Alaska trip stories from the newspaper; he never mentioned going to Alaska in his book. --JL]