November 10, 2009

Visiting in Oregon and Washington

Press HERE to see a slideshow
from Oregon and Washington.

Vernon and Richard Miller with Bill

Vernon and Richard Miller with Bill
Bjorn and Annika
Bjorn and Annika
Bill, Judah and Betty
Bill, Judah and Betty
Jess, Betty, Jerimiah and Brooke
Jessica and Jerimiah Ham, Brooke and Betty

Mike Miller, Laurel Stuart and Bill

Mike Miller, Laurel Stuart and Bill
Bill with Lester and Lois Miller
Bill with Lester and Lois Miller
Donnelly Cousins with Betty
Rose and James Donnelly with Betty
Aunt Vonnie and Me
Lavonne Brinker and Bill

As soon as we left California, the sun disappeared and the rain began to fall. It rained most of Monday, the 26th day of October. The plan was to see downtown Eugene before doubling back to Roseburg, OR. We discovered that my great-uncle Vernon Miller was living with his son and daughter-in-law - Richard and Carol, just one hour south of Eugene. We arrived mid-morning and spent a long time talking. I learned some things about Vernon. After a successful career as an insurance agent, he decided to become a bit of a pioneer in the 1970's. He moved to Alberta and then British Columbia He tried his had at ranching in some pretty desolate regions. Neither location was all that successful, but he was soon starting all over again in the far north of Alberta in the area around Grande Prairie. In the end this opportunity was very fruitful. His son Richard joined him in these endeavors. We continued taking and eating lunch until sometime in the afternoon. Vernon is 91 years old. My grandmother, his sister, was ten years older - but she passed more than 30 years ago.

After the visit we drove more than three hours north to Portland. The rain let up in the afternoon, so travel was easy - except for the 45-minute delay as we waited for an accident on I5 to clear. We arrived at my nephew Bjorn's home just as the sun was setting. Bjorn and his 8-year old daughter Annika live a couple of miles south of central Portland on the west side of the Willamette River. There is a spectacular view of the river and its valley from the deck of their home.

We just took it easy at Bjorn's house. Betty likes to cook a nice evening meal for them. So the food was great the first couple of days that we were there. On Wednesday we visited my other nephew Shelby and his 14-month old boy Judah. They have a nice little house on the other side of the river. We had not seen him for a couple of years, so spent the afternoon visiting and catching up. He really likes Portland, and I can see why. It is a lovely town with lots of things to do and see. We were sorry to have missed his wife Kate, who was at work. She is a midwife at a local hospital.

Like I said, we did not do much. As the weekend neared both Bjorn and Annie came down with the flu. I cannot say if it was the swine flu or not, but almost no one has been getting the seasonal flu. We tried to stay clear of them, and we were successful in avoiding the illness.

On Sunday we drove to Seattle to have lunch with the adult children my cousin Pat. We had not seen Jessica or Jerimiah in several years. Here they were. Both are happy and working hard at life. Jessica and her partner Stephen Heitman bought their first home together last year. It sounded like a gem of a place, which we hope to see on our next visit. Jerimiah returned to Seattle after having lived and worked many years in the south bay area near San Jose, CA. He took the career layoff to reorient his life toward his dream of being a professional musician. He joined a rock band that has already had a bit of success. The band, Jupiter Crash, is planning on relocating to Las Vegas where they already have some notoriety. With any luck they will not only be playing gigs in Seattle, but also Vegas, Los Angeles and the rest of California. You might want to check out the band's MySpace page and take a listen to one of their tunes. Jerimiah was looking great: thin as a rail, riding an old - but great - motorcycle and in the company of a beautiful paramour, Brooke. I have to say they really seemed to like each other. We had a long lunch catching on our lives.

After lunch we drove to the home of Patty and Mike Miller. Mike Miller is my mother's cousin. We are both in our 60's and I cannot say that we had ever met before. We had called them and arranged to spend the night with them. We spent a long time talking about our families and interests. In the early evening another of my mother's cousins, Laurel Stuart and her husband Daryl, joined us for an early evening desert. The conversation stretched on as we got to know Laurel and Daryl. All in all it was a wonderful evening.

On Monday morning we left Seattle for Monroe, which is about 50 minutes from Mike's house. We went to Monroe to visit with my great-uncle Lester. Lester turned 100-years old last March. There was a big party for him with two or more hundred people who came to pay their respects. Unfortunately Betty and I were out of the country and could not return for the party. So, here we were. I had not seen Lester in 40 years and cannot remember that first meeting. I will never forget the grand old man. He has had a long and fascinating life. We also got to meet is wife Lois of the eight years. After the passing of their spouses they found each other and have been true help mates to each other. We spent about fours with Lester and Lois before returning to the road south that would lead us back to Portland.

We had planned to visit with my good friend Lenin Jimenez on Tuesday night. We were sorry when he had to cancel. He just opened a second insurance agency, and found that there were many new customers putting demands on his time. This is great for him but not for us. He has promised to see us during his Christmas visit to the Twin Cities. We hope he and Kelly will make the time.

We left on Wednesday morning. We were going to visit Betty's second cousin James Donnelly in Pendleton, OR. Then we wanted to continue on to Idaho or Montana. The visit with James and Rose Donnelly was great. None of us had met before, but we had a lot to talk about. We ate lunch with them and shared information about the family. They were kind enough to lend us some photos to copy, which I will be mailing back to them. After lunch we headed north toward Spokane. It was well after dark when we passed through Spokane. We drove on another 50 miles to Coeur d'Alene, ID. I had driven about ten hours.

Thursday the 5th of November, we had a similar plan: drive, visit a relative and drive some more. We drove about 4 hours to Choteau. We had come to visit my aunt, Vonnie. Vonnie had been married to my mom's brother, Glenn. After six children she divorced Glen in 1974. She finished a college degree and some years later moved to the Big Sky Country, where she has spent 30 happy years. I had not talked with her since she left Minnesota and had only recently got reacquainted on FaceBook. It was good to see her again. We caught up with each other in her living room and later over lunch at a local cafe. After leaving Choteau I drove another seven hours to stop in Glendive, MT. I had driven another eleven hours.

Friday was our last day on the road. We drove to the Twin Cities. I drove all day through North Dakota and down to the cities. When it was all over I had driven another ten hours. I was totally exhausted. The driving finally caught up with me; I was asleep before nine in the evening.

We will be enjoying the holidays with our family in Minnesota.
In January we will head south, visiting family in Mississippi and Texas. Then we were be headed for Mexico until the spring.

Posted by bill at 12:44 PM | Comments (3)