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.

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge on a day of sunshine

The Golden Gate Bridge on a day of sunshine

Coit Tower close to Lombard St. in San Francisco built in 1933

Coit Memorial Tower was dedicated to firemen who had died in San Francisco’s five major fires paid for by Lillie H. Coit who loved to chase fires in her youth

The skyline of SF seen from the Coit Tower

The skyline of SF seen from the Coit Tower

"The Pink Ladies" a row of Victorian houses is a tourist attraction at Alomo Park  in SF

“The Pink Ladies” a row of Victorian houses is a tourist attraction at Alomo Park in SF. Though hard to find it was worth the effort

A row of houses at Lombard Street in SF

A row of houses at Lombard Street in SF

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.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in the fog also called Karl the Fog

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in the fog also called Karl the Fog.

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.


Smith Tower in Seattle. A landmark from 1914. The oldest skyscraper in the city at the time

Smith Tower in Seattle. A landmark from 1914. The highest skyscraper in the city at the time. Inside is a museum from the time after the great fire in 1889 and the original elevator


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 








  1. Glad you got to see these 3 cities in the U.S. I have been to them and have lived in Portland. I love the Western U.S. You captured some wonderful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have one more of Karl the Fog. I was running towards the bridge and took a picture when I knew I was quite close. I then returned because I couldn’t see the Golden Gate Bridge at all. Thanks for viewing my post and commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you enjoyed the Pacific Northwest. Happy you went to Powell’s, it’s the happiest place on earth for us bookworms (I’m a Portland native who’s also lived in Seattle). The train ride between Portland and Seattle is a lovely one as well!

    PS – Lots of normal folks ride the bus & light rail in all three cities – it’s the cheapest and most eco-friendly way to get around if you can’t walk/bike, and it bums me out that so many people these days choose to pay Uber to get around instead of using public transport (or a legitimate taxi service, as Uber has a horrible record of how they treat women and how many rapes have occurred in their service).


    • Thank you for commenting on this post. I know that I generalise too much in writing about crazy bus rides. Somehow it’s the most extreeme that you remember. In the cities we saw mostly very normal people but from a suburb of Seattle back to Seattle in an evening was like in a madhouse with pee and screaming. We had to take Ubers those places with no other means of transportation. We only met kind drivers and a few without being able to speak English.


  3. I’m coming here from Paol’s blog. 🙂 Isn’t it odd how this sort of old architecture invokes a strange sentimental feeling for a time and place I’ve never been (and I was born in the 80’s)? I wish modern architects would build buildings like these, why do they have to be all pointy, square and shiny?

    Liked by 1 person

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