Thursday, February 27, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 131

Statute of Sakakawea, Bismarck, North Dakota

This week's card was published by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.  My neighbor kindly brought it back for me when she returned from a trip there.  The bronze statue is of Sakakawea (also spelled Sacagawea, Sacajawea) and her son, Jean-Baptiste (Little Pomp or Pompy), and is found on the grounds of the State capitol in Bismarck, North Dakota. 

In 1804 Sakakawea and her husband, a French Canadian trader named Toussaint (sometimes referred to as Pierre) Charbonneau, accompanied the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they traveled across the United States from the Dakotas to the Pacific coast.  A replica of this statue can also be found in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. 

Born about 1788 not much is known of her early years except that she was a Lemhi Shoshone captured by a Hidatsa war party when she was close to 12 years old.  The Hidatsa took her and several other girls from their home in Lemhi County, Idaho to Knife River, North Dakota where they were living in earth lodges.   The Hidatsa people eventually adopted her.  When Sakakawea was about 13 years old she was taken as a wife by Toussiant Charbonneau who was a trapper from Quebec living in the Hidatsa village.  He took another young Shoshone named Otter Woman as his wife about the same time.  Sakakawea’s name means Bird Woman in English. 

Lewis and Clark hired Charbonneau to be the guide for their expedition west.  Sakakawea accompanied her husband providing useful service to the exploration party by acting as interpreter with the native people they encountered on the journey.  Pregnant with her first child in 1804 she traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean with the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 to 1806.   The National American Woman Suffrage Association chose her in the early 1900s as a symbol of women’s worth and independence.   The United States Mint began issuing a dollar coin in her honor in 2000.  The image on the coin is modeled after a modern Shoshone-Bannock woman since no image of Sakakawea exists. 

Dollar coin honoring Sakakawea, 2001

After they returned from the expedition west, William Clark who was very fond of the little boy “Pompy,” offered to take care of him, Charbonneau and Sakakawea whom he called “Janey” arranging for them to live in St. Louis, Missouri.   The Charbonneau family stayed with the Hidatsa in North Dakota for three years but in 1809 they left to accept Clark’s offer. 

There is some dispute about when Sakakawea died.  It is known that she had another child, a daughter named Lizette.  Most historians agree that Sakakawea died of an illness in 1812 while others suggest that she left Charbonneau and went west where she died in 1884 after joining the Shoshone in Wyoming.  However,
there are adoption records dated 1813 that show William Clark became the guardian of a boy, Toussaint Charbonneau about 10 years of age and Lizette Charbonneau about 1 year old.  It seems doubtful that she would leave her children so I am inclined to believe that she did die in 1812.  Also, in his notes about the expedition written in 1825-1826 Clark lists the members and their last known whereabouts.  Next to Sakakawea’s name he wrote:  Dead. 

It is believed that her daughter, Lizette, died as a child.  Her son, Jean-Baptiste, lived an adventurous life, learned several languages, lived in Europe, returned to America and became a Western frontiersman, a gold miner, led pioneers west, even became a magistrate for the San Luis Rey Mission in California.  He died from pneumonia near Danner, Oregon in 1866.

For more information, please see:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Big Four Mountain in the snow

Last October we took a hike in the Big Four Mountain area near Granite Falls, Washington on the Mountain Loop Highway to see the ice caves.  We went again last week as part of the requirements to complete the cross-country skiing course. In the winter the road from the nearest community, Silverton, is only plowed a short distance past the town limit with the rest of the road open for snowshoes, skis, hiking in the snow, dog walking, and snowmobiles—watch out, they go fast.  We came upon five older women who were celebrating a birthday by taking a day trip on snowshoes. They looked like they were having a wonderful time.

In the fall I took a few pictures (see previous posts:  Big Four Mountain & Ice Caves, 18 Oct 2013 [] and the Thursday postcard #113, 24 Oct 2013 []) so it is possible to compare the way it looked in October with how it looks now in the winter.  What a difference.  The mountain was entirely clouded in by falling snow and the snow on the ground was almost up to the top of the sign.

February 2014

The Mountain Inn chimney remains, no view of the mountain

October 2013

Inn chimney remains from a slightly different angle with a view of the mountain

Part of the requirement for the cross-country skiing class that I took through the Mountaineers was an additional trip beyond the lectures and practice sessions.  We had been watching the posting of proposed trips looking for an N1 classification, the easiest possible trip.  Even so I was not entirely sure I would be able to go the distance of 8K or 5 miles and might have to turn back before reaching the end.  Finally an N1 trip was posted and we signed up right away—Big Four Mountain here we come again this time on skis.  My instructor, G, and her husband were leading this trip and M, one of the class members that I knew, was also going.  Altogether there were 8 of us—two leaders and 6 followers. 

It was just at freezing with falling snow all day.  With little or no wind the snow was fun and pretty instead of wet, stinging and super cold.  This was another ungroomed trail and although there were lots of people using the roadway there were not many clear tracks for skiing.  In some places there were deep holes where a boot had gone through the upper layer of crusty snow and created a possible hazard for skis.  A couple of snowmobiles came along managing to do an unplanned mini grooming that aided the skiing very much as they evened the holes out and made the snow softer hence the tracks by the lead skier were nice and defined like the snow cats produce. 

Big Four picnic area

The plan was to proceed from the gate at the end of the plowed road to the Big Four picnic area approximately 2.5 miles down the road for a 5 mile or 8K round trip. There is a gradual incline that rises about 250 feet from the starting point to the destination.  We would eat lunch at the covered picnic area and those who wanted to ski a little farther after lunch would go on with one of the leaders.  At 1,800 feet elevation it was snowing hard by the time we got under the shelter.  I made it all the way, no falls, had lunch and was ready to start back to the parking area because I knew even though it was downhill on the return trip I was pretty tired and needed to quit before I got over tired.  G said she would go with Bob and I then the others could catch up when they were ready to turn around. 

Most of our group decided to ski a little farther before returning to the parking area.  The picnic shelter is just on the other side of the big fir tree.  The tree was covered with moss that was dusted with snow and had lots of lower branches.  Those lower branches are somewhat unusual for a fir tree but since no other trees were growing near it the tree was able to spread out lower down the trunk as seen in the photo above. 

In addition to the snowshoes and snowmobiles we saw families with little children.  One couple had put skis on a bike trailer and the mom and dad, wearing snowshoes, were taking turns pulling it up the road.   I asked if I could take their picture and they said yes.

Bike trailer converted with skis

Baby is inside, nice and cozy

Another couple was carrying a baby.  They stopped and built a tiny snowman with sticks for hair.

Tiny snowman about 1 foot tall

A couple with a little corgi dog wearing boots on his feet passed us at one point.  His legs were so short that he was nearly up to his tummy and his “pantaloons” had a dusting of snow.  The picture below shows that he was long past us before I could get my camera out of the inside pocket to take a picture so his little boots do not show up.  It became apparent early on that the camera had to be kept warm inside my vest because it was too cold for it to work otherwise.  It was snowing hard and I did not take as many pictures because it required removing gloves, holding poles, balancing on skis and unsnapping part of the pack to get at the camera. 

The scenery was beautiful.  Here are a few photos from the day some taken by Bob, G & me.

Not cold enough for the pond to freeze over

South fork of the Stillaguamish River with one of our group, S, & G, our leader. on skis

Streams that feed into the river

"Wait, wait, till I take off my dark glasses . . ."

Speed limit 45 mph . . .  

Some skiers do go that fast but not I at least not until I learn how to slow down and stop better! The Mountaineers do such a good job explaining with lectures about safety and equipment then following that up with practical field trips.  I am still a beginner but the course made me feel confident that with more practice I will be a skier for a long time to come.  I cannot say thank you enough to all the volunteers who help with this program especially to my all personal instructors,  they were and are terrific.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Skiing without falls . . .

 Cabin Creek Nordic ski area

This lovely wooded scene is from the Cabin Creek Nordic ski area near Hyak on Snoqualmie Pass.  Notice the nice cross-country ski tracks in the snow.  We were fortunate to arrive and start our day shortly after the grooming machine completed its cycle through the trails.   A couple of big storms came through recently and dumped lots of new snow in the mountains.  The temperature was just around freezing; there was light snowfall, and not many people on the trail.   As a beginner I feel a little like a menace to the more experienced skiers but with so few people it was perfect. 

There were a couple of snow cats at work.  This one was idle and Bob went over to get a better look at it.

The next photo shows the falling snow—all over him!

Cabin Creek is a very good place for beginners because it has an extensive “green” trail system as well as intermediate and more advanced areas.  The map at one intersection outlined the courses and pointed out where we were located on it.

The green routes are easiest; the blue/purple next in difficulty, and the red and black runs the most difficult.  We went about 3K, had a snack of cookies and water, and then returned.  I did not fall even once!  Wonderful.  The new Silver Fir Lodge at the alpine area had just opened so we stopped there to have our lunch before driving home. 

Lots more people and not just skiing but snowboarding too.  Even very little children were outfitted with boots and skis or snowboards.  There is a separate area for tubing and sledding. 

Only one more outing with the Mountaineers and I will have completed the cross-country ski class.  The easy green trails will be all I will try for quite a while yet.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 130

Rainier beer truck, 1905
Not originally a postcard this is an old photograph that has been turned into a card and found at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle.  It shows a motor driven delivery truck for the Rainier Beer & Malting Company and is dated 1905.  The brewery was established in the 1880s and used horse drawn vehicles until 1905.  This would have been one of the first motor delivery trucks for the company.  The workmen are wearing typical leather overalls of the early 1900s to protect their clothing and work gloves on their hands.  Some of the work they performed would be done with a forklift today.  Extra crates containing beer bottles are stacked on top of the truck roof.  The running board and exterior rails look like that was how they rode on the side of the truck and jumped off to make quick deliveries.

Other nice features of this card include the gentleman standing on the street in a suit and hat of that time period and the dress in the store window showing the women’s style of 1905.   Notice the solid rubber tires on the van and the wheels that look more like wagon wheels than automobile wheels.  The engine is under the carriage.  The front of the van resembles a horse drawn coach.  Even the storage space on top is similar to that used to transport extra luggage on a stagecoach. 

Rainier was a popular brand of beer in the Pacific Northwest with beer produced beginning in 1878 and officially founded in 1884 by Edward Sweeney who established the Claussen-Sweeny Brewing Company.  In 1893 Sweeney’s company merged with two other breweries.  Prohibition began in Washington State in 1916 and by 1920 was nationwide.  All breweries had to cease production of alcoholic beverages in the United States but some moved their operations to Canada.  After the repeal of Prohibition in 1935 the company was purchased by Fritz and Emil Sick of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and began brewing beer in Seattle again changing names a few times until finally becoming the Rainier Brewing Company.   A second brewery for Rainier beer was located in Spokane, Washington but that one closed in 1962.   Rainier won several awards for the quality of the beer especially the "pale lite" variety.  Beginning in 1977 the company changed ownership several times and eventually the Seattle brewery moved to the Olympia beer brewing facility in Tumwater, Washington, then ceased brewing beer locally in 2003.  Today a type of Rainier beer is brewed in California. 

Several advertising campaigns and souvenir items for the company became sort of pop culture with jubilee cans and Christmas cans, the reindeer cans and hundreds of other designs with some that are considered very collectible and rare especially the Christmas cans.  One example of this type of advertising is the beer tray shown in the photo below that was issued in 1913 and is known as the “Lady and the Bear. “ Rainier beer with the iconic “R” symbol that appeared on the roof of the brewery building is at the top of the tray, Strength and Purity on the sides, and the name of the company at the bottom.   Except for a couple of spills and a glass ring to mar the tray it is still in pretty good condition even after 100 years. 

The large red “R” that stood atop the brewery and became a landmark was removed when Tully’s coffee leased the building in 2000 and can now be found in the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.   A large green “T” for Tully’s coffee that was brewed in the Rainier facility replaced the “R” for a few years.  In 2013 a replica of the original “R” replaced the “T” and once again the city has the recognizable Rainier landmark. 

For more interesting historical information about the Rainier company see:

Rainier beer tray, "The Lady and the Bear," 1913

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Conservatory flowers

 Volunteer Park Conservatory

It has been a little more than two years since I visited the Conservatory at Volunteer Park.  Last time I went it was still one of the few free places to visit in the city.  Now, however, there is an entrance fee of $4.00 per adult, children $2.00.  At this time of year there are lots flowers in bloom and the admission fee was worth it.  Donations alone were no longer enough to take care of the plants, repairs, and upkeep.  Many of the flowers in the greenhouse will bloom outdoors here in gardens but not until probably April or perhaps May.  In addition to garden flowers the Conservatory is well known for showy displays of orchids.  Since I love orchids and have several plants of my own growing happily in the kitchen I was looking forward to seeing the ones here.  It was hard to limit the number of flower pictures but I took so many that not all of them could be included.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Just inside the door to the greenhouse was this grouping of Lady Slipper orchids.  This type of orchid usually only blooms once a year and has one stem per new plant so there were several plants in this display. 

Close up of another Lady Slipper orchid

The Lady Slippers came in a variety of colors and sizes.  Here are two yellow ones.  Note the support hook holding the stem straight.

I liked this delicate pale pink one with the tiny darker spots on the petals.

Here is another one with spots on the petals.  It is easy to see the shoe shape on this one. 

This huge display is of phalaenopsis or moth orchids the most common type grown in homes.

A closer view of one of the clusters of blooms

These are cymbidiums.  More difficult to grow at home they are thriving in this moist greenhouse environment.



 Blue and pink hydrangea


There were several different bromeliads including this bright red variety

This may be another bromeliad but I couldn’t find the nametag in all the foliage

Another bromeliad

Then there were some strange plants like this chenille 

This one is often called a peace flower and its red cousin below is an anthurium

Some plants were more notable for the leaves than the flowers

 Then there were the cactus plants including several different agaves

This one is just starting to bloom, see the strange brown sticker trees growing out of the soft puffy center?


This strange plant catches small insects for food.

In the midst of all the flowers was this quiet pool with running water and ferns

An oasis of calm and quiet in center of the bustling city.