It’s a Family Affair- West Coast Swing 2015 – Part 3

Hi everyone,

After several posts about recent travels and excursions, I’m reverting back to our 2015 trip out to the West Coast. In this article, I’ll introduce you to our Washington Miller side of the family, take you to Mt. Rainer National Park, and on to the Portland, Oregon area.

As in previous posts from our West Coast Swing, I’m lifting quotes from the nine emails that I sent (without photos) over a period of six weeks of travel to family and friends. The following is a snippet from the email titled with the song “It’s a Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone.

“My great grandfather, John Miller, immigrated to the US in 1886 and settled in North Dakota. In the late nineteen teens, he left North Dakota to homestead again in Washington State near Dryden/Cashmere located about 15 miles west of Wenatchee. My grandfather, Henry, and two of his brothers stayed in ND to farm the land they acquired while their younger siblings moved with the family to WA. In Washington, John established a small orchard that gradually expanded to what is now several large pear orchards that are still in the family today. A number of John’s descendants are involved in the fruit business in this area.” One evening Donna and I searched the Cashmere cemetery to find John Miller’s grave site. Since it was late in the day, there wasn’t anyone around to point us in the right direction but we finally found it along with other distant relatives.img_1726

The email continues: “Dad’s cousin, Sherel Miller, a farmer now somewhat retired, and his wife Nita took us on a tour of the orchards as well as the local co-op packing, sorting and shipping facility where they sell their pears. It was very fascinating, we have a new appreciation for what it takes to get fresh fruit to the market. We also toured Aplet and Cotlet, a maker of fruit candies that are shipped and sold all over the world. And in between we met and visited with some distant relatives, some who I’d never met before. So those family connections at this time in our lives are very precious.” Here are some photos from our tour.

Sherel with his son and grandson in the pear orchard
Some of the Miller pears ready for harvest
The sorting line
Packing pears
A candy maker at the Aplet and Cotlet factory
Sherel and I ready for the tour of Aplet and Cotlet

The following are a few photos from our connecting with the Washington Miller relatives, several that I had never met before.img_1629img_1636

Sherel and Nita with Great Grandpa Miller’s 1960 Dodge

From a distance, we could see the plumes of a fire about 60 miles north of the Dryden/Cashmere area. Fortunately, the breeze was from the west so no smoke on this day.img_1723

Here’s a photo of the full moon the last night of our stay in Cashmere, the photo doesn’t do justice to the beautiful evening.west-coast-swing-3-2777

After our time with family, we headed over to Mount Rainer National Park. We stayed in a private campground in the small town of Packwood, Washington. Here’s an excerpt about Mt. Rainer: “This past Saturday we visited Mt. Rainer National Park during intermittent rain followed by ocassional light drizzle and a few periods of no rain! Regardless of the rain (it’s dry so they really need it), it was still nice to see and experience the park again. We were especially awed by the huge trees in the Grove of the Patriarchs. We didn’t see the peak but we saw it the last time we were in the Park in 2001 so have to recall that memory. The rainy day reminded me of when I was in Army basic training back in the spring of 1970 at Ft. Lewis near Tacoma, WA. When we were rousted out of bed in the morning, stood for reveille and could see Mt. Rainer, we knew it was going to be a nice, sunny day. On the last day of basic and our graduation before being shipped out to our next duty station, the sun was bright and we could see Mt. Rainer as clear as ever. Hope that was an omen for what was to come.” Here are a few photos from our visit to Mt. Rainer National Park.west-coast-swing-3-2841west-coast-swing-3-2831west-coast-swing-3-2812west-coast-swing-3-2-2img_1745

I have to tell you about an encounter at one of the Park visitor centers. It was cold and windy, not a very nice day to be outside. We were wandering around the visitors center looking at the exhibit when a guy approached us. Here’s what he said: “Where are you from?” I was wearing something that identified me either as a Wisconsin Badger or Packers fan. We replied: “Madison, Wisconsin.” His reply was that Madison is a communist town! (He was originally from Appleton). Wow, how wrong and inappropriate. He doesn’t know us or our town, ok it’s a little quirky to some but a great place to live and be from. When I shared this in my email, my neighbor started referring to me as “comrade!” Funny things happen when traveling.

In the campground there was a resident herd of elk that would wonder around, here’s a close up of one of the bulls that came kind of close to us with the back of our trailer in the background.img_1734

One very interesting thing we saw in Packwood was the local liquor store and the quilt shop were in the same building connected by a doorway. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo but imagine shopping for fabric and paying for it in the liquor store. I thought it was nice concept, maybe it will catch on as a way for quilters to encourage their husbands to drive them to the quilt shop. Just an idea!

From Mount Rainer, we headed for Portland, Oregon for a couple of days to visit our former neighbors, the Wilson’s and my classmate, Rachel Sandeen Coughlin. Here’s the excerpt from the email about our visit to Portland. “Just after I wrote the last edition while staying near Portland, we had a fun visit with our former neighbors, the Wilson family, well Claudine and Maddie anyway, Geoff was hiking in Glacier and Gemma was in Denver getting for school to start. The next day we also had lunch with a high school classmate, Rachel Sandeen Coughlin, she suggested the Island Cafe on the Riverfront located on the Columbia River, a fun place to visit and enjoy the company. We also visited Camera World in downtown Portland for some photography related supplies. We planned to go to the downtown Powell’s bookstore but the traffic was horrible and there was no parking for our big boy truck. So had to settle for a visit to their store in Beaverton, best bookstores anywhere folks, plan your trip around Powell’s.” Here are a couple of photos to document our visit.

Donna and I with Claudine and Maddie Wilson
Classmates from Hazen High School 1968

That will do it for this week, join me next week for our stay on the Oregon Coast.

Until then, take care.


2 thoughts on “It’s a Family Affair- West Coast Swing 2015 – Part 3

  1. Tom–hope I did not talk too much the other night. It is because I feel strongly that you should keep focused on what you want to say and do. I have been noodeling about and came to the conclusion that regardless of the downsides, the web is the future…I am also thinking that on the web you can use copy and copy alone is not good enough — most photos can’t stand alone too long either. The strength of the web is that you can do both economically–or at least cheaper than exhibit8ing and you really can’t use copy that well. Reading is still an intellectual solitary experience ill fitted to reading anything of length on a wall next to a photo.

    So whatever happens you have all your thoughts organized and when you do that you can see where they might fit in other places and blaBlah. But good luck–an exciting project . I think it will change and grow plus prepare you for using these stories in other places—for instance, an educational trade magazine–you have most of the work done—all it would need would be some tweaking to fit the new application. Personally, in short, you are on the right track–or maybe it is because I want to do something similar! all BEST Tom–JS

    1. Jim,
      Oh no, I didn’t think you talked too much. I appreciate the comments and suggestions, your thoughts helped me to focus.
      Since I started writing this blog, I’ve surprised myself that I could sustain it this long! I’m one to start something then lose interest and move on to something else that is more interesting or challenging. The 4-6 hours I spend each week writing, researching, and finding photos is energizing. Maybe this provides me a purpose, if only to write for myself, family and a few friends. While I do have a number of followers I’ve discovered thats not who I’m doing this for, I’m doing for myself. I wished I would have discovered purpose earlier in life but I’ve found it now so now is when it’s important.
      I also like that this blog provides an outlet for my photography. In the last several months, I find that when I’m shooting, I’m thinking how can I work this into an article or make a story out of it, whatever it is! By the way, I sold a photo to New York Magazine that did a search for photos related to a topic and my blog site came up in one of their searches. So it has other purposes too.
      Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I appreciate your friendship and thoughtfulness.

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