Thanks for joining me in a celebration of blog post number 300!
When I started this blog site in November of 2015, I never thought I’d still be at it nearly six years later. I must admit, the past eighteen months have been challenging. With travel limited, there were weeks I had to scramble to figure out what I was going to post on Sunday at 4:00 PM Central Time. On the other hand, it did force me to dive into my archive of photos to create a post worthy of my readership. For all your likes and comments, a big heartfelt THANK YOU!
Looking back at the three hundred posts, I’ll share a few of my favorites this week and next. Some are places I fell in love with after visiting for the first time and others are places and people that are special to me. Let’s get started.
Edinburgh is one of our favorite cities in the world. After two stays in Edinburgh, my Traveling Partner and I decided we could comfortably live there long term. “Why?” you might ask. It’s the history, the culture, the desserts, and the people. Join me on a short journey through the “Athens of the North” as it’s often called.
There is barely a spot in the city where one can’t see the Edinburgh Castle perched on top of Castle Rock. It’s one of the city’s main tourist destinations with about 2.2 million visitors per year (pre-pandemic of course). Construction began in the 11th century and has been the site of many battles for the control of Scotland.
The Highlands of Scotland consist of many lochs (lakes), munros (mountains between 3000 and 4000 feet), bens (mountains over 4000 feet, example Ben Nevis), and glens (a narrow valley between the hills and mountains). Below is an example of the typical geography of the Highlands. It’s no wonder sheep and cattle were prevalent ways farmers made a living in this hostile landscape.
On one of our trips to Scotland we spent six days in the Western Highlands in the village of Lochcarron. We stayed in the guest house in the middle of the photo below. It was new and very comfortable. The view out of the window overlooked Loch Carron, a sea loch, that rose and fell with the tides.
Scotland is one of our favorite places in the world. We’ve even considered spending several months living in this beautiful country with its super warm and engaging people.
Now a look at a few sentimental posts I published about the area where I grew up in North Dakota.
The Barn, The Country Elevator, and Two Dams
I was raised in a barn. No, not the pejorative; “were you born in the barn?” RAISED in a barn! Oh, we had an old farmhouse where we slept, ate our meals, and watched TV but the barn is where most of the action and income was made on our small dairy farm on the semi arid plains of western North Dakota. Milking cows on our farm took all hands, so Mom would bundle up us kids and off to the barn we went, in the morning if we were awake and almost always in the evening. When we were small, we played with Duke, the dog, and the many gray, orange and calico cats that roamed the barn, always congregating at milking time to wait for their share
When looking back at my youth, I’ve come to appreciate that the country elevator was a critical economic institution on the Northern Great Plains. The elevator was the place where farmers sold grain (mainly wheat, durum, oats, barley and flax in our area), bought seed and fertilizer for planting, purchased feed and supplements for livestock, and even carried a few products for human consumption, more about that later. Elevators were by far the tallest structures in prairie towns. The city water tower might come close but a tall, big elevator or two was an indicator of prosperity
As a kid growing up on the prairies of western North Dakota when someone referred to “The Dam” two places came to mind. The first one is the stock dam located on our farm not far from the farmstead. If I recall the story correctly, this small dam was built in the 1930’s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), the work relief program started by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. This program gave unemployed, unmarried men meaningful work during the height of the Great Depression. Most of the work was done by hand so I can imagine the earthen dam that holds back the small stream was backbreaking work. The face of the 30 foot dam was lined with rocks to keep it from eroding away. The water filling the dam flows through a couple of farms before it reaches our place. Then continues to flow through a couple more farms until it reaches the Missouri River about three or four miles away.
The other dam that came to mind was the big Garrison Dam located about seven or eight miles from our farm. This dam is one of six dams constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Missouri River to control flooding, produce hydroelectric power, and water for municipal use and irrigation of crops. It also provide a way to cross the Missouri River other then by a treacherous ferry or driving 80 miles to Bismarck to cross by bridge. The Garrison Dam was built between 1947 and 1953 and is one of the largest earth rolled dams in the world. It was dedicated in June 1953 by President Dwight Eisenhower. My Mom tells me that I attended that dedication, however I don’t remember, I was barely three years old. She also told me that I got a terrible sunburn that hot day. The photo below was taken on the Lake side, note the various high water marks on the riprap that lines the face of the dam. The year this photo was taken the water was quite low.
One of my favorite posts was about our dear friend Clarice Chase Dunn. I titled the two-part series “Some Notes on the Extraordinary Life of Clarice Dunn.” She was an amazing woman who did so much for others during her 98 1/2 years. Here are a few excerpts.
We met this extraordinary person by chance in 1997, Clarice Chase Dunn. We came to be wowed by some of the interesting and meaningful things she accomplished during her long life. At first Clarice attended a little country school, where she said that if the teacher was good then it was a good place to learn, if the teacher wasn’t very good, little learning took place. She remembered that part of the teachers job was to carry drinking water from the nearest farm and to make sure the school house was warm by stoking the fire in the stove located in the middle of the room. The school was often the center of the community social life, they had basket socials as a fund raiser, talent shows, dances and card parties. Later the family moved to Eagleton, Wisconsin near Chippewa Falls where the school was now two rooms, 1st-4th grades in one room and 5th-8th in the other. This school also had indoor plumbing! No mad dashes to the cold outdoor toilet in the middle of the winter.
At some point during her later school years, Clarice developed corneal ulcers, an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye. These ulcers can either come from an injury to the eyes or from an infection. While she did receive medical care from the limited treatment options available at the time, she temporarily lost most of her sight so had to learn in school by listening to the teacher and have kids read to her from the textbooks. When she was a high school senior, she had to take algebra and geometry, she passed inspite of her disability and was the valedictorian of her graduating class. Clarice told us that three days after her high school graduation, President Franklin Roosevelt declared a bank holiday on March 6, 1933, two days after he was inaugurated. This was the height of the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in history.
After graduation from Teachers College in 1937, Clarice taught high school in Arkansaw and Thorp, Wisconsin. In 1939, she moved to Madison, Wisconsin to pursue a graduate degree in teacher education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, she went to Austin, Minnesota to substitute teach for a semester at the local community college. She did this gig to earn enough money to follow her friends to Washington, DC to work on the war effort. Upon arrival in Washington, she landed a job in a settlement house, similar to a neighborhood center designed for continuing education and socialization. Later a friend suggested that she interview for a job as a teacher in one of the many Japanese Relocation Centers being built in early 1942. She was offered a job at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in north central Wyoming between Cody and Powell. Clarice took the train from Washington, DC to western Wisconsin to visit her family before traveling to Wyoming. It was there that she realized that much of the country was prejudiced against Japanese-Americans. Her family feared for her safety.
Join me next week for Part II of the look back on my favorite posts.
Until next week, happy travels!