Thursday, November 28, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 118

Two women skiing at Mt. Baker, 1937

This is a rather silly postcard but it does illustrate the popularity of skiing.  The date is 1937; the place is the Mt. Baker ski area located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest of Whatcom County, Washington.  These two women are wearing regular street clothes with simple straps across their shoes for bindings.  It must have been a warm day as a couple of the men in the background are shirtless and the one woman is carrying a sweater on her arm.  The long, wooden skis seem primitive by today’s standards.  At a guess the ladies are off to do some cross-country skiing rather than downhill racing. 

There has been skiing at Mt. Baker since the 1920s.  Even though it is a distance to travel, 52 miles from Bellingham, the nearest city, it is a popular ski area with an annual average snowfall of 641 inches.  The record snowfall for Mt. Baker was 1,140 inches set during the winter of 1998/1999.  

Today the ski area is comprised of approximately 1,000 acres with 31 ski runs, 8 chairlifts and 2 rope tows.  The range of difficulty goes from about ¼ of the runs in the easy category, almost ½ half listed as more difficult, and about 1/3 as most difficult coded as single or double black diamond runs.  In 1937 the first rope tow was installed and there was something called a “ski escalator” that had been built in 1935/1936.   No mention was made about what the escalator looked like or for how many years it was used.  It was not until 1953 that the first chairlift was constructed.   The original ski lodge at Mt. Baker burned to the ground in 1931 and was not rebuilt; however, there are two private lodges there that were built in the 1940s.  One belongs to the Mountaineers the other one belongs to a church and is used mostly for youth snow activities. 

Mt. Baker has been featured in many still photographs as well as ski and snowboarding films because it is such a beautiful setting. 

For more information, see:

The postcard is a reproduction published by Discover Your Northwest and was available at the Verlot Ranger Station. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Thinking of you today.  Wishing I could call you and say hello, hear your voice, talk about the weather or any other thing.  Missing you, your smile and your laugh, especially on this second anniversary since you left us.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Natural History Museum of Utah

Natural History Museum 

One of the treats of visiting a different city is checking out the museums, galleries, and sometimes even the shopping malls.  The University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City is the new home (2011) of the Natural History Museum of Utah housed in the modern building called the Rio Tinto Center.  The museum has existed since 1963 however it was in another building.  The exhibits have been updated; the interior is spacious and well designed.  The exterior of the modern building is mostly concrete but has what looks like wood siding that is made up of sheets or strips of copper so it is acquiring different colors of patina depending on the alloy. 

Inside there are five stories of exhibits.  We were advised to start at the top and work our way down.  There is a very fine exhibit of Native American art as well as a huge collection of dinosaur bones.  There is even a place to watch the scientists at work on the bones.  There were benches conveniently placed here and there so one could sit now and then.  Many of the displays had interactive screens with videos and audio information buttons too.

The attention to detail in the museum exhibits is amazing.  The small dolls were as elaborately dressed as a real person would be right down to the beaded moccasins and the decorated dresses and trousers. 

This window looked in on the crew working on the dinosaur bones

Could this be what the dinosaur bones would look like with skin and flesh added?
One of many sections of reconstructed dinosaur skeletons, this one contains a Columbian Mammoth, saber toothed tiger and cave bear.

A wall of triceratops skulls

Two sections in the dinosaur exhibit had clear glass floors with bones placed as they were found in the muddy lake bottom.  A video presentation explained the various theories about why so many bones were found in this particular place.  One theory was that there had been a drought and the remaining water had made a deep mud hole in which the animals got stuck and could not get out therefore they died and the carnivores that came to dine on the herbivores also got stuck and died.  Another theory was that the animals died up stream from some unknown cause and were washed down to the mud hole, the bodies bloated and became contaminated with toxins so the carnivores got sick from eating them and died. 

This guy is popping out of the wall to greet visitors to the dinosaur section

For more information, please see:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 117

National costumes of Bretagne, France


Reverse, with shadow image of the women in costume

American friends who are currently living in France sent this postcard above.  The card is a reproduction from of Le Doaré Archives known as Editions Jos. and is a peek into Brittany’s past.  The picture shows the national costume of Bretagne (Breton, Brittany), France.  The reverse of the card has another paler image showing the backs of the women so we get both views.  There were two envelopes, one for the postcard and a second mailing envelope.  The mailing envelope had modern color photographs, see below.  The lower right corner shows how the headdress has changed and is now a very elaborate tall lacey hat as opposed to the small caps shown on the original postcard.  The reverse side of the envelope has additional scenes from Bretagne.

Photos from a modern mailing envelope

Reverse of mailing envelope

The lace cap or bonnet is a triangle of fabric mounted on a base.  During the 19th century the costumes became more colorful and elaborate with the cap resembling a tall sugar loaf.  Today the cap hovers around 30-35 cm or approximately 1 foot in height.  It seems to be all about the hats--the little girls are wearing fancy embroidered caps, the older boy and a couple of the men have wide brimmed hats with a long ribbon or tie that hangs down in the back.  The older man seen sitting has what looks like a scarf on his head and wooden shoes on his feet. 

Brittany is located in the northwest of France bordered by the English Channel on the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Bay of Biscay to the south.  The area has prehistoric origins with humans living here for thousands of years.  The oldest monuments include Cairns and the Carnac stones that are arranged in rows and total 71 standing stones.  Rows of stones like these can be found in several different areas of Brittany.  Unfortunately, in some places these ancient standing stones have been neglected and either removed to make room for modern roads or used for other purposes such as building material. 

Several different groups of people have dwelt here including Celtic tribes who came before the Romans.  Evidence of the Romans can be found in many places in France including Bretagne. 
In the 10th century the Vikings descended and heavily raided the area.  During the middle ages Brittany was divided into three kingdoms.  Today it is part of France with French as the official language.  The Legend of King Arthur has references to Brittany including the Lady of the Lake and a dolmen said to be Merlin’s tomb.  Tristan and Iseult are also said to have lived in Brittany.  

Jos. Le Doaré in Breton costume and posing as photographer

As mentioned above, the pictures on the postcard and the envelope for the card are part of the Editions Jos.  The photographs were taken by three generations of Le Doaré family the entire collection totaling 80,000 to 100,000 pictures.  Jean-Marie Le Doaré was the first to establish the dynasty in 1898, his son, Jos., shown posing as the photographer in the photo above, dressed in the Breton costume and having shoulder length hair was next, his son, Dominque, as the third generation.   Currently Dominque and his brother Jacques are scanning and digitizing thousands of the images to preserve them and the pictorial history they represent.  Many of the images are once again finding their way onto souvenir postcards.

Many thanks to S & M for thinking of me and sending the card.  It is especially appropriate since they are serving a records preservation mission as part of FamilySearch and essentially doing much the same work as Le Doaré Archives only preserving old written records instead of photographs. 

For more information about Brittany, the costumes, and the Le Doaré Archives, please see:

Saturday, November 16, 2013


A recent trip to Utah afforded another opportunity to try and overcome my fear of heights, the photo proves I made it up to the top on the tram.  We stayed at Snowbird, which is primarily a winter skiing resort area although they are open year round and have things to do in the summer.  We were there in between seasons so the summer things were over but the skiing season had not started.

A little snow was on the ground and it was lightly snowing for the first few days we were there.  The resort uses “snow cannons” to increase the natural snowfall.  The cannons blast moist air into the cold and the result is more snow.  I had never seen one in operation before and found it interesting.  There must have been a dozen or more of these cannons spread out on the slopes hard at work.

Snow cannon

Because it is a ski area there are several chair lifts and also one very large aerial tram that goes up 3,000 feet from the lodge at 8,100 feet to Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet.  Several years ago I did go on a gondola to Kellogg Peak in northern Idaho and had to keep my eyes closed the entire way up.  The gondola held probably a maximum of six people, that day there were only three of us in the car, the aerial tram holds close to 100 people.  The gondola swayed precariously and stopped mid way up the route bouncing on the cable and entirely too high off the ground for comfort.  The tram was smooth riding except when going over the cable towers and even then did not sway or bounce much at all.  I could keep my eyes open; hang on to the pole, and peak out the windows to see the beautiful scenery.   The angle of assent was more like a funicular rail line and that helped keep my mind off the fact that we were quite high above the ground.

Here are some pictures of the tram and the views.  We rode up in the red car and down in the blue car.  Usually the wait is about ½ hour between trams but the day we went all proceeds were being donated to a charity so they were running the trams every 15 minutes.  In one photo ski tracks are visible although the snow was not really deep enough, some rocks are still exposed.  

Red tramcar returning to the lower station

Ski tracks

Snowbird Cliff Inn as seen from tram

Salt Lake valley

Looking out from Hidden Peak tram station

The blue tramcar arriving at the upper station

Ski lift at Hidden Peak

View looking up at the mountains from the Inn

Thursday, November 14, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 116

Stavanger Town Square, ca 1915

Located in southwest Norway, Stavanger is today the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country.  The picture on this postcard shows the town square, which also doubled as a market area.  Most of the conveyances are horse drawn but at the lower right there is a motorcar or “gas bus.”  The men are wearing bowler hats; the women have long skirts or dresses putting the picture around 1910-1920. 

The city dates from 1125 when the cathedral was completed but most of the wooden buildings still standing and protected as part of the cultural heritage date from the 18th and 19th centuries.  The name comes from the Old Norse Stafangr the most popular interpretation seems to be that it refers to the inlet now called VågenStafr defined as staff or branch that can mean the high steep mountains.  Therefore the name would suggest that the city is near the mountains and by an inlet.  Most Norwegian place names are descriptive so this does seem plausible. 

The lower right corner of the card has the printed abbreviation of the photographer that looks like “Johns. Floor.”  Next to this is what appears to be a written signature “Flo---“ that is not entirely legible. 

The market or town square was an especially busy, active place during the autumn market held the end of October.  There was probably a market here of sorts even before Stavanger became a city.  Originally made of wood then later (1867) replaced with stone the wharf is sometimes referred to as the Farmer’s Peat Wharf because peat was brought in by boat loads and sold here for fuel.  During the period between 1850 and 1900 the autumn market vendors sold almost anything and everything from produce to crafts, clothing and used farm and household items.  There were flea markets; side shows, drinking in the alleys, huge crowds, and musicians wandering about.  The postcard certainly shows a large crowd of milling people along the edges of the square with many small stalls or wagons set up to sell things.  At the right side of the card is what looks like a temporary theater or side show building with crowds of people entering or clustered by the opening.  There is an amazing amount of detail in the photo including the small boats tied up (lower left side) and the steps leading up to the square from the water so the people could unload their goods and disembark to enter the market area directly from their boat.

Stavanger was also an important point of departure for emigrants.  Many of the records were lost or destroyed however they are being reconstructed from other available sources.  Stavanger is home to the Norwegian Emigration Center that is a division of the regional archives and has much information available for people who are searching out their ancestors.  For more information about the center, please see:

[Note:  Once you get on the Emigration Center web page there is a small British flag at the lower left that when clicked will translate the Norwegian to English.]

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013

Today is Veteran's Day.  More than one generation of Bopa's family served our country.  They were always very patriotic.  Today one of my grandsons helped place flags by the graves of service men and women at a local cemetery. 

I have shared this photo above of Bopa with his brother and father before but it seems especially appropriate to post it again today.  Bopa served in WWII as did his brother.  Their father served in WWI.   His maternal grandfather, pictured below, served in the Spanish American war.

Thank you. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Antelope Island

One of the places we visited on a recent trip to Salt Lake City, Utah was Antelope Island located in the Great Salt Lake.  The lake is too salty to support much beyond brine shrimp, no fish or other sea life.  The island is a State Park, game refuge and sanctuary.  It is 28, 800 acres, connected to the mainland by a man-made causeway and is open year round. We did not see any but the information pamphlet said there are several freshwater streams on the island.

Named for the pronghorn antelope seen first by the original explorers in the 1840s the island also supports a variety of migrating birds, a large herd of American bison (buffalo), mule deer, jackrabbits, bobcats, coyotes, small rodents and bighorn sheep.   The bison were introduced to the island in 1893 and now comprise one of the largest herds in the United States.  When I asked the Ranger how many bison were currently on the island she said at the recent annual roundup they counted 700 but since the island can only support 500 the other 200 would be leaving for new homes within a few days.   Bighorn sheep were brought to the island about 100 years later in the 1990s.   They have also adjusted well to the island.

Although we did not see the sheep or the antelope for which the island is named we did see at least 200 bison traveling in long strings of approximately 20 to 40 animals in each group including babies.  We got close, almost uncomfortably close, to several including this one who crossed the road right in front of us.  The photo below was taken through the windshield of the car, as I was not going to get out to take it.  There was a group of bicyclists coming along from the opposite direction and we watched as a large van acted as shield for the biker who remained hidden from the bison until safely past the animal.  I don’t know if they would actually attack or harm a human but they are very large wild animals and do have horns so caution is certainly advised.

The picture above shows a string of bison on the grassy hillside, the salt flats, the lake, the mainland and mountains.  The city is just barely visible at the foot of the mountains at the upper right.

We also saw this mule deer and a fawn hidden in the grass nearby.

The island made up of wetlands, mountains and grasslands is incredibly beautiful in part because it is in a pristine state with minimal trails, roads, the remains of an original farm and a visitor center being the only evidence of men.  We were getting ready to leave and had just stopped at the visitor center for a quick look when the Ranger said, “Stay a few more minutes and you will see the most spectacular sunset.  I never get tired of it.”  So we stayed and were not disappointed, the Ranger was right it was beautiful.

From the visitor center looking down on the causeway that connects the island to the mainland.  The setting sun making the hills turn pink.

The sky turned a blaze of glory the clouds adding drama to the setting sun.

There were a few Black-eyed Susan daisies still in bloom and several different sagebrush-like plants that I could not identify without a proper plant book.

For more about Antelope Island State Park, please see:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 115

I really enjoyed this new postcard sent by my French friend that combines, at the top; an old view of Bénévent l’Abbaye and the lower portion shows what the street looks like today.   Bénévent l’Abbaye community is located in central France in Creuse department, Limousin region.  

The church looks basically the same in both views but a closer inspection shows that some slight modifications were made to the steeple during the 100 years or so between the photographs.  The clock was removed, as have projections on the steeple sides that I would probably call “dormers.”  The buildings along the street no longer have awnings but the iron balcony is unchanged.  One of the more noticeable differences is the lack of automobiles in the top picture and all the cars parked along the curbs in the bottom photo.

Creuse is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution (1790), is named after the Creuse River and was formerly part of the province of La Marche.  Marche first appeared as a separate fief in the mid 10th century.  It changed hands several times beginning with William III, Duke of Aquitaine gave it to one of his vassals who then took the title of count, through various other families until Philip IV of France seized it in 1308, later in 1327 it passed to the House of Bourbon, then the family of Armagnac and back to the Bourbons.  Still later it was seized again, this time by Francis I and became part of the French crown. 

As trivia notes, Creuse in 1886 became the third town in France to receive public electricity and a few years later the first to have a telephone line.  L'Abbaye is one of those communities along the Way of St. James pilgrimage and is marked by the traditional shell emblem in the pavement.

This region of France is mostly rolling hills and steep valleys with woodlands but no commercial vineyards.  The main farming is beef cattle and sheep.  The Creuse River has several dams that supply water and also hydroelectricity.

The postcard above, also sent by my friend, shows La Creuse with ground fog and gives a little idea of what the countryside looks like.  The photo has been cropped a little because it was a wider than usual postcard.

For more information about L’Abbaye and Creuse, please see:

Thank you to my French friend as always for the cards.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain

Earlier this week it was sunny and inviting so we took a chance and went to Tiger Mountain near Issaquah, Washington located on the way to Snoqualmie Pass, for a walk in the woods.  Tiger, Squawk, and Cougar Mountains (foothills) form what are sometimes called the Issaquah Alps with donated land providing a nice wide green belt with plenty of trails.  New housing fills almost all the other surrounding spaces making this green-forested area more treasured. 

The forest walk has several connecting trails of varying lengths, not much climbing up and down, mostly just a pleasant walk in the woods.  We went on the loop around Tradition Lake including the Big Tree trail and the Swamp trail.  Some discussion ensued about how far we had gone, I thought close to 4 miles but the other opinion was approximately 3 miles or maybe even between 2 and 3 miles.  Much to our surprise there were a few wildflowers still in bloom and too many different mushrooms (toadstools) to count or attempt to identify.  A Discover Pass is required to park in the lot. 

Tradition Lake from the viewpoint along the loop trail

Beautiful trails meander through the woods

The crinkliest mushrooms we saw—some type of morel or false morel

Bright orange and clustered together

Small white buttons with yellowish centers

Large with a variegated brown/tan color and a detached veil

Crinkly and wrinkly, very short stalk and wide top

These were like cups and held each cup had some water inside

The color was a more intense purple than the photo

This mushroom was 9 inches tall by 9½ inches diameter.  We tried to get a spore print but it had a very disagreeable odor, also was housing some nematodes so the project was abandoned and the toadstool ended up in the clean green bin.

Two views, one with a person and one without show just how big this tree has grown.  Long ago the middle of this tree was burned in a fire but the tree did not die, continued to grow and is now huge and old. 

This is another trail system that is family friendly and even has a special section for school groups.