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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 4 and 5 - Where are my ancestors?

These last three days have been fun for me.  I am a genealogist and I have always wanted to go cemetery hopping - not just checking out the cemeteries but also checking out where my ancestors lived.  We have been able to do just that these last couple of days.  We have been across so many states so quickly.  Here are a couple of interesting things to me.
(We drove across the Mississippi River)

We were stopped along the highway so these trucks carrying these really long things could make a turn.  They stopped the traffic several times.  I finally realized what they were carrying....the pieces for a windmill.  It took several huge and long trucks to carry the parts for one windmill.  This is one of the wands (or whatever you call them).

Tonight we are in Pennsylvania.  We had planned to stay in Greenville, PA but found no motels in Greenville so we are staying in a nearby town.  Yesterday we were in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  So we have been all across the US these last few days and I have found, other than where I live, this to be the prettiest place in this is Pennsylvania - at least Mercer County.  It is quaint and beautiful.  Maybe it is the time of year as everything is so green and lush but I love the well manicured homes, the old awesome buildings, and the is beautiful - that's all I can say.  I forgot to take pictures of the really pretty places that we saw but this is one little farm that I thought was cute.
I love old barns and this was a cool one right across from one of the little country cemeteries.

Yesterday we were hunting for my family in Indiana.  We went right to the cemetery where I knew they were buried.  We looked and looked but could not find them.  I found some distant relatives but not my great grandmother and her brother.  My great grandmother was visiting her daughter and her brother at Hudson Lake near Carlisle, Indiana.  My great grandmother and her brother Noah had been traveling by horse and buggy and crossing a train track.  One train went by and they thought the way was clear so started to cross when another train came the other direction killing them both as well as the horse.  They had a double funeral and I knew they would be buried close to each other....but we could find neither of them.  I was so discouraged.
I saw a couple of ladies with a map of the cemetery and they told me they got it at the town hall but the town hall was closing in 20 minutes.  My husband and I rushed down main street to find the town hall.  I hurried in with a whole 6 minutes to spare only to be told that since it was the end of the month, they were closing down early.  But, the lady seeing me about to break into tears (not really but it sounded good), she did a quick look through some files to see if she could find my ancestors.  I had 4 great grandmother Mary Ann Smith, her brother Noah Zaring, and their parents John and Nancy Zaring.   Unfortunately, she said that they did not keep records at the time of death of my ancestors.  Now she could have found the cemetery plot read out but she needed to know where my ancestors were before she could go through the cemetery plot list.  She did offer to take down the names and do some research for me and would probably have it ready by Monday afternoon.  Since that didn't work, I thanked her and my husband and I headed back to the cemetery to look again.

Again, nothing.  My husband suggested we take a drive to Hudson Lake to see where my family had once lived.  So we reluctantly left the cemetery and headed down the road.  The funny thing was that there was no lake at Hudson least none that we could see.  We turned around and were headed home when my husband asked if I wanted to try one more time.  (We both had walked just about the whole cemetery already).  I started to say no but I was so disappointed at not finding them that I wanted to give it one more try.

Lucky and I were walking through the cemetery checking out all of the older stones more carefully.  Many were very hard even impossible to read.  My husband was talking to our daughter on the phone.  He had asked her to say a prayer for me because he knew how much it meant to me.
Suddenly he called out "There's a Zaring".  I ran across the cemetery and low and behold...there was Noah and his wife Ellen.  I was so excited.  We both began searching everywhere to find my great grandmother.  No luck.   I was happy to have at least found Noah and told my husband it was okay for us to go.  As I looked towards the car, there it was, big as life.  My grandmother's stone.  How we missed it before I do not know.  Her stone was exactly like Noah's but they were facing each other yet were about 30 feet from each other.  I took lots of pictures, gave thanks for prayers answered, and was satisfied to head on to our next destination.

So today we got to Greenville, PA to search for my husband's family.  This time we were not real sure where the cemetery was located.  We believe it is in Mercer County and around Greenville but not exactly sure where.  We are pretty sure it is in a very old cemetery.  We set out to find their grave stones.  We found several old cemeteries but never found the graves of his ancestors.  We did get a wonder experience of seeing where they had lived.  So many of the building were so old that I am sure some of them had to be standing when his family was alive.

I was very saddened by some of the cemeteries.  Some of these really old cemeteries are no longer being cared for.  We saw headstones falling over with grass growing wildly around them.  We spoke to a lady at one cemetery and she said that they had sold the church but the guy that bought it doesn't want to take care of the he hasn't.  It was sad to see.

A couple of the cemeteries were these little country places tucked away in the middle of nothing.  I am sure there are probably thousands of these cemeteries around the world.  It was fun just checking out the dates and names.  We tried to think about how life was when they were living in this area.  I really enjoyed this.  I did learn a few things though.  1st be sure to wear comfortable shoes as many of these cemeteries are on hillsides...very hard walking.  Also, make sure you use the restroom prior to walking the cemetery as there are no restrooms there.  I also learned that it is best to look at cemeteries during the week and during working hours.  If you need to look something up or talk to someone about the cemetery, you will get more help during the week.

Tomorrow we are taking it easy.  We are really tired.  We are heading over to the Buffalo, New York area next.  We have a couple of places to check out on the way - one more cemetery and Lake Erie.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 4 - Moving into the Cities - sort of!

This will be very short tonight.  We started at mid Iowa, went through the state of Illinois, and ended up in Indiana.  We mostly traveled today but did spend quite a long time in a cemetery searching for my ancestors.  After MUCH looking and stopping and starting several times, we did find some of them.  I have pictures but will not post them until tomorrow.

We traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana where we met up with a really good friend that moved here the end of last year and spent the evening out.  We just checked into our motel and we are pooped!  I will write more tomorrow when my head is not hurting so badly and I can think.  It was a great day though.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 3 - More Midwest

We spent the night in Mitchell, SD and could not leave without checking out the Corn Palace.  I saw this when I was 16 but this seemed much different.  I read that they have had 3 different buildings since they started.  I am sure that I saw a different one than this one.  Anyway, it is a little difficult to see but the pictures on this building are made of corn and corn stalks.  It was interesting to look at.  It is used for concerts and such.

We were on I-90 going East but decided to switch to I-80.  Instead of going straight down to 80 from Sioux city to Omaha, we chose to drive on a side road 141.  We wanted to see more of the country and that we did.

We just got started on the "back roads" when we ran into road construction.  We had to stop several times and wait for a lead car to take us through the one lane available.  Lucky thought we were stopping to get out as that was the routine whenever we stopped ...I open my door and she flies out - she runs, plays, goes to the bathroom, then gets back in the car.  So she was getting impatient that I was not opening my door.  She normally is so quiet you never know she's in the car but this time she just kept whining.  She settled down once we actually got to going again.  (This part of the story is more for my little granddaughters as they love Lucky!)
So on we traveled.  My husband made comment that this part of the country looked very much like the Palouse in Moscow - Pullman, Idaho area.  Beautiful farming country.  The country had those soft rolling hills freshly plowed or recently planted.  The farm homes were huge.  I thought this place was someplace I might have wanted to live years ago when I was younger.

We went through several cities on this highway but the one that took our hearts was Mapleton.  We had just gone through Smithland where people were tearing up the streets and doing all kinds of road construction.  As we drove into Mapleton I noticed that this town was also doing construction.  People were everywhere working on the buildings on main street.  I then noticed that one big building looked like it had recently burned.
As we traveled further our mouths dropped as we saw the devastation caused by a recent tornado.  Most of the main street and side streets of town had major damage.  One gas station was no longer there.  Many houses had their roofs ripped off.  Later we had talked to a lady about it and she said the tornado had come through about 2 weeks F3.

We know that there has been much destruction this year with tornadoes, flooding, and fires across the country.  Seeing this destruction brought to life to us a sample of what many are experiencing.  Tonight on the news we heard of more - even worse - tornado destruction in our country.  Our hearts go out to those that have lost loved ones and lost all of their belongings.  Their lives will be changed.  You are all in our prayers.

The next town we stopped in was Denison.  I told my husband that we needed to venture out and do something we never someplace different.  I said we needed to do our own version of Diners, Drive-in's, and Dives.  So we chose Denison as our town to eat lunch.  I had heard Rachael Ray say to ask the locals where they like to we did.  The funny thing is, the man my husband asked was actually from our old hometown in Roseville, CA.  He had moved to Denison to take care of his mother and stayed.  He told us about a place called Cronks...which happened to be right next door to where we were.  So that is where we ate.  I had a Black Russian sandwich (hamburger on black bread with swiss cheese and grilled onions) - yummy!  My husband didn't venture as far.  He had his favorite, a Ruben.  Both were delicious.  I am sure we will try this again.  It is fun being adventuresome but sometimes old dogs have a really hard time changing!

So our destination for today was to go to Perry, IA and then on to Des Moines for the night.  I wanted to do some genealogy work on this trip.  I brought my laptop with my family information and discovered that my great great grandmother Phoebe Smith died and was buried in or near Perry, Iowa.  Since we were going right by there, I had to stop and see if I could find her grave.  This school house was seen on the way...kind of fun old place.

Anyway, we asked a lady how to get to the cemetery as we could not find any record of where it was located.  She led us to the main big cemetery in town but that was not the one we were looking for.  I was hunting for Valley View Cemetery.  My daughter tried to help but the coordinates she gave me wouldn't work right for the GPS.  I then called the Family History Center back home and got more fact, I got the exact location.  How excited I was to find this beautiful little old cemetery.
We had to drive down this little dirt road (Hull Ave) and right by a bee farm.  The guys were out gathering honey and a gazillion bees were flying everywhere.  They attacked our car when we drove by.  I had just closed the back windows and I was so glad that I had because they were trying every way they could to get in.  My husband was ready to turn around but I really wanted to find this cemetery.  It was so exciting when I looked up this hill and saw the words "Valley view".  We found it!

There were not that many graves in this little cemetery on the hill.  Most of them were very old.  Many could not be read because the wording had worn off over the years.

I know that you can do rubbings in hope to read something but most of these older stones had been worn flat...nothing left to rub.

We walked around and checked out each stone but could not find that of my great great grandmother.  I know she is there though and just to be there was touching to me.  I took lots of pictures but none of them can express the feeling I got walking through this quiet little cemetery that probably gets very few visitors over the years.  It was so peaceful.  It was on a hill overlooking a small river.  This ancestor has been a mystery to me for many years.  Only recently have I started discovering some of her family information.  I am so glad that now I can put a place with her name.  She lived not far from here many years ago.  Her family walked this exact ground (in 1885) that I walked today.  Wow!  We are going to a few more cemeteries on this trip.  I love searching for my ancestors and this made it even more real to me.  It was because of them that I am here...that I walked this ground today - that I am who I am.  I am so grateful to my ancestors for all they did so that I could be.

We ended up in Altoona, Iowa for the night.  We got in early enough to finally take a break from all of this driving....we definitely needed it. We ended up with a more expensive motel tonight but what a surprise when we got in.  They had had a huge meeting earlier that day and there was food left over so they were offering it to their guests free.  We got some yummy stuff and called it dinner!  So we saved a meal...actually two as breakfast is served tomorrow maybe worth the extra bucks.  I know the beds are worth it!  All in all, it was a good day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 2 - The Midwest

We headed off with fair weather from Sheridan, Wyoming.  The land was mostly flat with some slight rolling hills.  I mentioned yesterday that we were wondering how the Indians could keep track of where they were going because one hill looks like the next.  I snapped some pictures as we traveled so you can see the flatness.  I found most of Wyoming to look like this.  The most fun thing about this area is that one of our sons served a church mission in much of the area that we traveled today.  We finally got to see where he served.  I remember back to his letters and tried to remember his experiences in each of these towns.

Just west of Gillette, WY we kept seeing these buildings in the middle of nowhere.  I finally called my son and asked what they were.  He said they were natural gas areas.  That whole area has natural gas, coal, and oil.  We saw the oil rigs but weren't sure about these buildings....they were everywhere!

When I was 16, I went around the United States with a group.  It was such a fun experience.  One of the things I remembered were the red roads.  Here in Wyoming we saw those red roads.  This picture does not show it as bright as it was but I think you can get the picture.

Our next stop was Mount Rushmore.  I also went there when I was on that trip at 16.  Today, I was so disappointed.  As we drove up, it started to pour...not just rain but sleet.  It was coming down so hard that you could hardly see your hand in front of your face let alone see the faces on the rock.  My husband didn't want to get out and walk in that stuff but I took my dog (which I later found out that dogs are not allowed) and we went part way into the park.  I turned back also because it was obvious that I would not see any better than what I already saw from the car.  The disappointing thing is that it cost $11.00 just to go into the park (no drive in and out - it was either go in or do not go in at all).  After not being able to see anything, I wish we would have saved our money and taken a picture from the road.  Oh well!

The Mt. Rushmore area has tons of stuff for a family to do but everything looked like it was going to cost you.  We did stop at a little village - stores and souvenirs etc.  The sun came out while we were there.  We thought about going back up to the mountain but we needed to get on with our trip.  By the way, when we paid for our ticket, the gal said we could use it the rest of the year.  I thought one of my kids might want to use it but later I found that it was non transferable and that she had written part of our car license on the ticket to make it that way...ugh!

Can you guess what this is?  Take a look at the next picture and see if that helps.

These are the pinnacles of the Bad Lands in Wyoming.  This is by far worth the money to go to this park. Now the cost to this park is $15.00.  We paid it then my husband saw that they were selling the life time senior passes for National Parks.  I asked how much they were thinking $50 or so.  She said $10.00.  So we handed her back our receipt, she had my husband fill out some papers, she returned $5.00 to us and now we are the proud holders of a lifetime pass to all National Parks in the US.  That really made this tour worth it.

The views in this park are so awesome.  For as far as you can see, you have this awesome view.  The colors were fantastic.  As you can see, the weather helped to make the scene spectacular too.

I don't know if you can see him or not but as we were driving we saw tons of Prairie Dogs scooting all over the place.  Here is one standing up checking us out.  You can see their mounds all over the ground.  As we were leaving the park we also saw a colony of white Prairie cute.  They all scampered to their homes (holes) when I started to get out of the car.

We also saw this herd of deer.  They weren't scared of us at all.  It was funny because Lucky had been watching these deer but as we started to leave, she finally let out a tiny little growl.  Big brave dog!

This park was so much fun.  I hated to leave but on we must go.  We traveled over the same flat country as I started with on this day.  Tonight we are in Mitchell, Wyoming.  We are going to check out the Corn Palace first thing tomorrow then who knows where we will go.  We haven't yet decided.  Such fun!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New York or Bust - Day 1

Well, my husband and I have talked about taking a trip back east for so many years that I can't even begin to explain how excited I am that today our dream has come true.  This morning my husband and I left our home and cats in the hands of our children (who are grown),  packed up the car, the dog, and some food and headed out to destination New York.  Actually, New York has not been our dream but just going back east to see the sites, do some genealogy, and check out some of our church history locations has been the dream. 

So this morning we left North Idaho and headed east.  Our plan is to not have a real plan.  We are winging it!  We know what we want to see but the order we see it and how long we stay at each location will be a surprise to us.  (Believe me, this is really a first for us.)

Here we are at night 1 of day 1.  We started the day with rain then some light snow but we are not discouraged.  Tonight we are in Sheridan, Wyoming and the weather is just fine.  This is a cute little town.  I was impressed with how clean it looks.  We didn't get to see very much as it was starting to get dark when we arrived but what I saw was nice. 

On our way here we stopped by Little Bighorn to check out Custer's last stand.  Unfortunately, we got there a half hour too late.  Instead we checked out a gift shop and I picked out some cards (and rocks) for the grand kids.  The man at the shop was so nice.  He was ready to close but let me come in and look around.  He even told us about some places in Sheridan to eat dinner.  As it was, I had brought some veggies and fruit and we chose to eat in the room tonight.  I am sure we will get our share of eating out before this trip is over.

Here are our notes for Day 1.

As we were driving, I kept picturing the buffalo roaming on the plains.  The land just seems to go on forever and ever.  There are these little hills and valleys but it all pretty much looks the same.  I took some pictures but I didn't get the landscape.  I did see some real buffaloes on a ranch but didn't have my camera ready as we drove by.  My husband made the comment how easy it would have been to get lost in the days of cowboys and Indians as one hill and valley looks the same as the next.  I guess they figured out a way to find their way.  It was easy to imagine how peaceful the land must have felt as the buffalo wandered freely.

My husband wasn't feeling the peace when we were headed up a steep mountain and a truck pulled out right in front of us so he could pass another truck.  That is frustrating. (I know this doesn't look steep but it really was!)

My dog Lucky was feeling the peace though.  She is the best traveler.  We never even know she is there.  She is the sweetest little girl.  (Lucky is a pound puppy.  My husband named her Lucky because it was her lucky day when he went to the pound and got her.  I also call her LuLu so her name is Lucky LuLu.  Actually, we are the lucky ones because she is without a doubt the best little dog and she loves to travel with us.)

Back to the Little Bighorn.  I got these postcards.  Since we didn't actually get to see the battlefield, these helped us to visualize what was there.

When I was at the gift shop, the man showed me this adorable picture.  These babies are from the local area and the picture was taken by someone at the gift shop.  I thought it was just too cute!

So our first day was pretty good.  I am anxious for tomorrow because we are heading through South Dakota.  We are going to Mt. Rushmore, driving through the Bad Lands, and seeing the Corn Palace.  Come back and see how our trip is going!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Senior Hiking #390 - Nordic Trails

33° - 35°

Feb 7, 2011…Nordic Trails…
hike # 390
by Betsy
It was not very cold today so I wasn’t too concerned about wearing all the warmest stuff. However, the Schweitzer website said that wind was high so I had my face mask accessible. I have a runny/stuffy cold this week and wasn’t totally with the program but I’m tough and proceeded anyway. And I thought it might do me good to get out in the fresh air. But I did leave my germs all over the mountain! My nose just wouldn’t stop running.

While initially we planned on going up behind the firehouse, we figured the Nordics would be easier on my compromised health issues. Also if the high wind materialized, the Nordics would also be preferable. So we headed up all the way and parked at the village. Met a former neighbor from our old Baldy Mountain Rd neighborhood in the parking lot and spent some time chatting. Walking into and thru the village the wind was wild, and the strong gusts almost flattened me! We spent some time watching the little kids for a while...I swear one of them was the shortest one we have ever seen.

In trying to decide which trails to do today, Jim thought we could make it easier on me by doing some that we hadn’t done in a few years. HA! It turned out to be much harder, very long and all up! So much for that bit of “thoughtfulness.” From the village we took groomed Overland and hiked it to the end where we picked up Cougar Gulch. Surprise…Cougar Gulch was not groomed. From there we headed to Boomerang…and again, it also was not groomed but it never really is. By now we were plowing thru a foot of new fresh snow and I was glad I wasn’t breaking trail. I thought the end would never come but alas, after much maneuvering thru deep snow and walking around sink holes, the end was in sight. Jim’s snowshoes came off a couple of times, slipping off the heels of his new over boots.

From here we found the nicely groomed Cloudwalker and the choice of which way to turn came easy…continuing on down to Wolf Ridge, which would mean another two or more hours round trip, or head back to the village which would be about an hour…we chose the latter. Four hours out today was enough for my achy body.

There was intermittent snow all day and I was glad I had all my layers on …it was neither too cold nor too warm but my face and butt got cold several times. We saw just a couple of people out today …and we did not meet the “snowshoe patrol lady.”

Left home 10:10
Started up 11:00
Got to truck 3:00
Total miles hiked 8 miles
Total hiking time 4 hours

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Caregivers Are My Heroes

Well, I am finally home.  We went to a funeral the first part of March then my husband dropped me off at my mom's and he went on home and I stayed with her for a few weeks.  It was so strange to be gone for so long.  I can not believe how fast time flies when you are visiting.

My thoughts today are about the caregivers of those approaching their last days of  life.  My husband and I took care of his folks in their last days.  It was a true blessing but at times difficult.  I watched from afar as my mom took care of my step dad in his last days.  Now my cousin is watching her husband prepare for his eternal journey. 

I know there are a lot of people out there in this very situation...their loved ones are close to parting and they are the ones responsible for their care until that time.  I wish to address my thoughts to you caretakers.  I applaud you.  It is the greatest service one can do to take care of someone that is ready to depart to the other side. 

My mother-in-law made me promise that I would not take her to the hospital or Life Care in her last hours.  I was a little nervous about making that promise as I had no idea if she would be in a difficult way for many years or just a short time.  As it was, it was the latter.

There are a variety of situations that seem to arise as you take care of your loved ones.  One thing is that most caregivers forget to take care of themselves.  For some reason, especially with an elderly partner taking care of their spouse, they forget themselves and worry to death about their loved one.  Unfortunately, the caregiver becomes extremely stressed and the stress will do them in. 

My mother insisted that she was the only one that could care for my step dad.  She listened to some of my advise but she was so consumed with stress and grief that she could not think clearly.  I was unable to be with her for any length of time and she didn't want anyone around....a huge mistake.  Everyone could tell she was falling apart physically and mentally but no one could talk to her or she wouldn't listen to anyone.  Now she is watching my cousin go through the same thing and she now sees what we all saw with her.  I have no real idea how to convey to these caregivers that they need to allow others to help them.  They need to take care of themselves.  They are no good to anyone if they will be in the hospital themselves.

The other problem I see is with guilt.  I do not know why we as humans have to feel guilty about everything we do or don't do.  I watched my husband feel guilty about his behavior towards his mother in her last days.  He was impatient with her and sometimes was quick to temper.  He hated the way he acted but could not seem to help himself.  To this day he regrets his feelings in those days. 

I had some guilt too.  I honored my in-laws request and did not take them to the hospital.  I felt that I gave them special loving care at home and the doctor was always consulted but members of the family chastised me for not taking them in so they could be put on IV's and such.  I did get pain meds in them the best I could.  Everything I read said that those in their last days really do not feel pain.  They did not look stressed (neither could talk or even acted like they were with us for a few days before death) so I don't think they were in pain. Many days after they were gone I questioned myself and wondered if I should have gone against their wishes and taken them in to the hospital.  My husband was going through the same feeling as myself but he was determined to honor their wishes.

The next issue is that of asking for help.  I am from a strong willed family.  Ones that think they can do it all by themselves.  The fact is, everyone needs someone.  I was on the phone to my mother several times a day and made sure my step sister was over at my mom's as often as possible.  My mother kept wanting to turn everyone away.  My cousin is wanting family around but she is discouraged because her son and grandchildren are not calling and visiting when time is getting short.  I asked her if they know how bad he is and if she has told them.  She said she hasn't told them but she is disappointed that they don't know.  My comment is that YOU should tell them.  People that are not there and not around do not have a real idea of how bad things might be.  You need to communicate with them.  Do not expect them to know and understand the situation just because you think they should know.  No one knows until you have seen it for yourself.

Caring for those in their last days can wear a person down in every way possible.  Family and friends need to be understanding of the nature of what the caregiver is going through.  This is not a time to bring up controversial subjects or ask more of the caregiver than they can handle.  Step forward and help the best you can but be understanding of the mental state the caregiver is in and do not make their life worse by expecting them to cater to your needs and ideas.  Be loving and understanding to them and most important, be there for them.  A lending ear can be just what they need but a helping hand may give them a moment to step away and take a second breath.

Again I say, hats off to those of you who are taking care of your loved ones in their final days.  Know that there is help available if needed but be willing to let others step in and give you a break sometimes.  Don't play the hero, you need to take care of yourself too.  Taking care of your loved ones in their last days is the greatest service one can do for another.  You are my heroes.

NOTE:  (added April 6, 2011
My cousin has ended his struggles on this side and has gone to be with his family that preceded him in death - his parents and two of his three sons.  He will be missed....We love you Lee!