Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ohio River Islands, National Wildlife Refuge, 2019

Welcome sign to the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, near Williamstown, West Virginia

In the past when in Marietta, Ohio, we had not visited this wildlife refuge in nearby Williamstown, West Virginia.  The two younger grandchildren had a field trip to the refuge as part of their summer reading camp and some of the rest of us drove out to pick them up.  There are several trails in the refuge and we selected a short one as well as exploring the visitor center.  

The Visitor Center

The main lobby of the visitor center

Fresh water mussels were harvested for mother of pearl in the manufacturing of buttons before plastic was invented.  There was a small water tank in the center with a number of river mussels.  These mussels are quite a bit larger and a different color than the ones we have here in the Pacific Northwest.  Instead of latching on to a rock or piling these mussels burrow down in the rocky river bed and are very difficult to see because they look so much like the rocks.  The ranger had uncovered a few for the reading camp visit so we were able to see some exposed mussels.  The ranger pointed out others that just had a small part of the shell visible.  

The mussels are somewhat difficult to see in the picture but there are several in this display tank. 

Samples of a variety of different shells of mollusks found in the Ohio River

Examples of the shells that had holes drilled in them to show how the buttons were made

There were also small aquarium tanks with fish and turtles that are common to this part of the Ohio River.  The turtle above is an Eastern Spiny Soft Shell Turtle.  These are aggressive like snapping turtles and can live up to 25 years.  

On one of the bulletin boards was this poster about Lightning Bugs, Fireflies or Glow Worms.  We do not have these in the Pacific Northwest and I am fascinated by them each time I go to Marietta at this time of year.  Around twilight and early dusk these little flying insects come out and there are sparkles of light near the grass all around, like fairy lights.  

Outside along one of the many walking trails was this display of pollinator habitats.  Mostly wooden boxes with holes for the bees to enter and use like a hive.  Because bees have been diminishing in number these habitats are proving to be very important in the pollination process of plants.

The flowers pictured are some that we do not have here in the northwest.  There were other more universally common flowers that can be found probably all over the United States and perhaps even in other countries but these were decidedly different and fun to see.

 Butterfly Weed,  a great bee attraction, the bush was covered in them

Large Pink Daisies

Both the orange Butterfly weed and the Milkweed are host plants for the Monarch butterflies.  Large numbers of Monarch butterflies migrate to areas where these plants grow.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 405, part 2

First day of issue envelope commemorating the 30th anniversary of the installation of the Prospector statue at the Pioneer Home in Sitka, Alaska

My Dad’s friend, Max Lewis, son of the Sculptor, Alonzo Victor Lewis, sent the card together with inserts telling about the statue and the artist.  Although not a postcard it is connected to the Thursday postcard, part 1, and since I often include stamps ithis seemed appropriate to include as a part 2.

The two inserts that arrived with the first day of issue envelope.  The text was written by Max Lewis, the son of the artist, Alonzo Victor Lewis.  To enlarge the cards and read the text click on the image.

 The Prospector with the Sitka Pioneer Home

Front view of the Prospector, with body of George Washington Carmack

The back view showing all the gear he needed and carried--gold pan, pick axe, shovel, coffee pot, pack,  and staff

Side view

Rifle stock with places carved into the wood

Head of Skagway Bill Fonda

Thursday, June 20, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 405, part 1

Sitka, Alaska

The postcard photograph is by Dedman’s Photo Shop, and distributed by I.A.A.C. Inc., Seattle, Washington.  From the informational blurb on the back of the card:  “Sitka, Alask, located on the west side of Baranof Island facing Mt. Edgecombe.  Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska and fur trading center before Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867.  Commercial fishing and the lumber industry are the basis for Sitka’s economy today.”  Mt. Edgecombe is considered an extinct volcano.  The last eruption was approximately 4,000 years ago.

We had a couple errands we hoped to do while in Sitka.  I knew that Adolph Landaas had gone to Alaska in1904 toward the end of the Gold Rush era and had done some prospecting.  He worked as a clerk for one mine and also worked a placer mine for a while.  He lived for several years in Fairbanks but spent his last years at the Pioneer Retirement Home in Sitka and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Sitka.  

Adolph and Sogne Landaas, ca 1910s
[Al Johnson Photographer, Fairbanks, Alaska]

While he was living in Fairbanks, Adolph married Sogne Pedersdatter Bogge.  We do not have the exact date but can place it to between 1907 when Sogne arrived from Norway and 1918 when Adolph registered for the World War I draft and stated he was married.  Al Johnson of Fairbanks took their wedding picture.  Sogne died in 1922.  They did not have any children and Adolph never remarried and remained in Fairbanks until he moved to Sitka in 1948.  We hoped to visit the Pioneer Home and also the cemetery. 

Prospector statue in front of Pioneer Home, Sitka, Alaska

As it turned out there was a free shuttle bus from the dock that dropped us off within a couple of blocks of the Pioneer Home and it was an easy walk from there.   The Pioneer Home was established in the 1930s to provide housing for retired prospectors.  Originally only men resided in the home later quarters were added for women.  Today it is still a retirement home.  

One of our errands in Sitka was to locate the statue of the Prospector that stands in front of the Pioneer Home.  Alonzo Victor Lewis, my friend’s grandfather, made this statue.*  She had found and visited many of the statues he made and although she told us this one was in Sitka, she had not seen it.  We promised to take pictures and email them back to her.  When our dads were young, and the statue was in the process of being built, they climbed up on it and put their initials on the backpack.  When I told the staff at the Home about it they told me not to try and climb up there to see if I could find proof of this family lore.  It is bigger than life size at about 13 feet tall and 3 feet wide and appears even taller because it is on this rocky base.  There was no way I would climb up there but it was funny to think about doing it anyway.  

Hand drawn map with highlighted route to the cemetery from the Pioneer Home

The staff at the Pioneer Home was very friendly and helpful.  We soon knew which section and the approximate row in the cemetery where we should find the marker for Adolph Landaas.  All the markers are the same size and shape and lay flat on the ground.  We were told that it might be necessary to scrape some grass aside to read the stones.  Armed with a hand drawn map and a highlighted route to guide us we started off on a non-touristy path to find the cemetery.  

 This sign was the only indication that we were on the cemetery grounds

Once we reached the end of the road we found the gate we had been instructed to walk past and started climbing up the hill expecting to see a sign “Pioneer Cemetery.”  There was no sign and the cemetery turned out to be meadows within the forest.  The only indication we had that we had reached the cemetery grounds was the blue sign.  Grass and moss had covered the gravestones. 

A few markers had been partially cleared off by volunteers but the section we were looking for had not been touched yet.  The prospect of spending our shore time scraping off multiple stones loomed large.  However, I think Uncle Adolph wanted us to find him because the first stone we could see poking out of the grass had part of the right corner exposed and we could make out the numbers 195.  He died in 1958 so we pushed the grass, dirt and moss off the rest of that corner and found the complete number, 1958.   Suppressing some excitement for fear this could not possibly be the grave we removed more on the left corner to find 1875.  That was the correct birth year.  I turned to Bob and said, “You don’t suppose this is him, do you?”  Bob found a stick and started removing the rest of the debris.  Unbelievably, it was Adolph Landaas.  

Bob clearing off Adolph Landaas’s grave

Another cousin visited in 1994 and the cemetery looked like this at that time.

And, yes, there was enough time left to walk down to the totem poles in the National Historical Park and take some photos, do a little window shopping and small purchasing, get a couple of postcards, and get back to the ship without mishap.

Three of several of the beautiful totem poles at the Sitka National Historical Park are shown in the picture.  There were trails through the forest and poles along the pathways.

The ship waiting for returning passengers

Part 2 of this Thursday postcard will be posted next week.

*  See Thursday postcard 405, part 2

Monday, June 17, 2019

Deception Pass State Park, Rosario Beach, 2019

This past week has been so filled with tears and sadness that nothing much was getting done.  For those who do not know, my son, Q, died suddenly from a heart attack on Tuesday, 11 June.  He was 46 years old and left a wife and 5 children behind.  Since he was one of the administrators of this blog I may eventually have to enlist one of his kids to help out.  I think I would like a grandchild to help and maybe one of them would enjoy it too.

Entry into the parking area

There are several cove type beaches along the trail with easy access.  This one is near the parking area.

 The tide was out so there were a few tide pools

It has been so hot in the city that Bob decided we should go to Deception Pass State Park that is on the water and see if we could cool down and refresh ourselves with the beauties of nature.  What a beautiful day it was.  We have been here a couple of times and enjoy the park.  The sun was out but the breezes from the water made it much cooler and very comfortable.  The scenery, small animals and birds, plus the flowers were just what we needed to soothe our sorrow.

 There were several of these bunnies munching on grass in different areas

Harvest Brodiaea, a lily

Indian maiden statue

Oregon Sunshine

 Cow Parsnip

Indian Paintbrush

 Stonecrop, a type of sedum

 A patch of tiny twin flower

 Wild roses

Grass growing along the edge of a pond

Orange Honeysuckle

Nodding onion


 By the time we started back there were 5 boats tied up to this float

 In addition to these scuba divers we saw kyakers

Deception Pass bridge

Dropping down from the trail it is possible to walk a ways on a beach like this one

Lighthouse Point was the destination

A couple of the sections of the trail had rails along the bluff

 These buildings were originally bath houses for the CCC in the 1930s.  Today they are a free museum with information about the CCC

A couple of samples from the exhibits in the museum

Serenaded by this little wren

This hike was 4 miles round trip with a total of approximately 300 feet elevation gain.  The trail is mostly dirt with a few rocky sections.  There are flush toilet restrooms at the main parking lot and the camp grounds. 

Count for the day: 58 hikers including one baby being carried, 5 dogs.