A trip to San Fransico and the North West Pacific
I knew it would be three intensive weeks with different aims in three different States. Future posts on some of these following themes will appear on this blog. This one is just giving an overview. I have just come back to Denmark, and my head is full of impressions from one week in each of the following places.
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle, Washington State
- Portland, Oregon
The first week was spent in San Francisco. We were there in the Autumn of 2017, and it was colder this time in July.
I wanted to see some of the sights again and things we hadn’t managed to see last time like the Coit Tower. An eccentric lady who loved to watch the fire brigade extinguish fires donated the tower. I managed to see what was on my list and a lot more like Karl The Fog. That’s the phenomena when the Golden Gate Bridge is invisible because of the fog. I am not sure I will ever be able to go back.
A lasting impression of all three big cities was homeless people in the streets. In Portland, big banners showed information on the Salvation Army. I trust them to do a genuine job in helping with food and shelter. At a famous Farmer’s Market in Portland, a young boy at about ten years’ of age played an electric piano collecting money to the food bank.
Seattle had at least three things for us to explore. Our blogger friend, Paula Pederson’s father, constructed much of Seattle at the beginning of the twenties century and we wanted to see his most famous buildings and create some awareness of his work showing Paula’s book at bookstores and museum shops. Here is a link to Paula’s blog on her father and his most famous buildings. On the same page, you can see her book.
Photos from Hans Pederson’s masterpiece the Arctic Club. Today it is a hotel.
Like Paula’s father, my father’s uncle Valdemar emigrated as a young man. They walked in the same streets and might have known each other. Constructor Hans Pederson in 1886 and my father’s uncle in 1912. We wanted to find out if a few elderly people were still alive to tell us about Uncle Valdemar. Most of his adult life he spent in a pentecostal church in Downtown Seattle where he worked as a janitor.
We managed to find some of the few living people who had known him at his church and at a nursing home outside of Seattle, and they lovingly called him “Holmsie”.
Our travel companion in Seattle had relatives in Ballard, a part of Seattle that was founded by Scandinavian immigrants. Meeting them was a window to how it is today to be an immigrant. We walked from Ballard to Downtown Seattle, passing bridges and a viaduct that could have been built by Paula’s father. Excerpt from Paula’s blog on the lists of her father’s work
the 15th avenue NW (Ballard) bridge and viaduct (1917)
The third thing in Seattle was to trace a late American soldier stationed during WWII in Greenland. His child had never asked about him, and after her mother’s death, the grown daughter of that child wanted to know if she had half-siblings in the States.
During the week in Seattle, my husband and I was travelling with my father’s cousin. She was a close friend with the grandchild of the American soldier. Inuits in Greenland can seldom go so far and wanted her to search for him at his home in Mount Vernon outside of Seattle.
We walked from the soldier’s house to the centre of Mt.Vernon. The cinema could have been a place where he worked after returning from Greenland.
I found the old photos inside the cinema while Henry and my father’s cousin spent hours researching names and addresses at the library and the City Hall of Mt. Vernon.
Henry, my husband has done a lot of research on the three different persons, and my father’s cousin who is one generation closer to Valdemar than I am had been to Seattle in 2011 digging information on Valdemar and met a group of people who knew him.
We spent the last week in Portland and surroundings as we wanted to visit my husband’s third cousin, who is a wine producer in Oregon. Imagine getting to know each other a few years ago via Ancestry search forums and get connected even closer than with many of our family members in Denmark.
One day we made a long trip to Junction City where Henry’s father’s mother’s cousins who were among the people who founded the town and a Danish Church. More info on that trip via my husband’s blog.
Wherever we went the people we met were very interested in our stories and open for helping us in our searches for distant people or means of transportation. Buying train tickets required our passport, and twice the person asked us about Denmark because their mothers came from Denmark. It was new to me that so many Scandinavians have come to the Pacific West. They lived and worked there in farming, gardening, with timber and with other things.
We managed without renting a car. When on our own, we took Uber when no public transportation was possible and in the cities we went by bus or streetcar to save energy for the sights we wanted to see. The busses in San Francisco left us with a memory as a voice always reminded us to keep our head up and our phone down while riding with their bus services.
Our experience with busses in San Fransico and Seattle was unforgettable. On a few distances, we sat with only crazy people. It seemed that no sane American would choose a bus. Five times we took an Amtrak train, and we love the way the customers are treated there. You get help to find your seat, a small piece of cardboard is placed over your head to help the conductor to see how far passengers are going and then the staff in impressive uniform say the funniest things over the loudspeakers like
Before leaving the train you must look over and over for all your items