November 4, 2016

A Beautiful Farewell Journey - Part 1

Evelyn Morey Stevenson lived for 106 incredible years. ♥  In the photo here, she was riding in a carriage in her town’s  annual 4th of July parade.  She was 97, and the Grand Marshall. :) This October, we made the journey back to Iowa to attend her funeral and say our last goodbyes.  My grandmother was a truly marvelous lady.  She lived in Clearfield , IA for 102 of her 106 years.  Can you imagine?!  She was a quiet, sincere, talented, intelligent, hardworking, resourceful, content, and loving woman.  My Dad once said that he was sure his mother never made an enemy in her life.  She holds a very special place in my heart, and I have many precious memories of spending time with her each summer and Thanksgiving as a kid.  Later in life, my husband, daughter, and I would move back to Iowa for about 6 years, and one of the nicest benefits was making more memories with Grandma.  I’m so grateful to have had that extra time with her.  Her quiet smile and the twinkle in her eyes will live in my memory forever.

My husband and I made the choice to drive out to Iowa rather than flying, since it was such a beautiful time of year to see all that countryside.  We couldn’t have had more perfect weather and roads.  Our goal was to see a number of National Parks, Monuments, and Forests, plus get some stamps in my National Park Passport books.  If you’ve never heard of that program, I encourage you to check it out at -   It’s a lot of fun and you’ll find out about a number of sites you might never hear of otherwise. This year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and there were special stamps at the “cancellation stations” to commemorate it.  A bonus for a passport geek.  As we enjoyed the miles of scenery, we also enjoyed listening to podcasts, picking up cowboy radio stations, and playing some old CD’s we found at home with classic radio station productions.  We kept our cooler full of good food and that allowed us to stop for picnics in some awesome spots.  There was also a lot of pulling over in somewhat precarious spots to get “that picture” that was just too perfect to pass by. All in all, it was a classic road trip.

Our departure was slightly delayed by a refinance closing on our house, which of course was scheduled for the day we wanted to hit the road.  Fortunately our closer got the message that we wanted to hurry along and miraculously we were out the door in 12 minutes!  With our lovely chicken/duck sitter lined up, our car organized to the hilt, and maps in hand, we launched the journey. We hadn't expected to see much fall color since it was a little late in the season, but from the very first miles we were treated to inspiring view after view.  As we drove south into OR, we started seeing Larch trees in beautiful yellow and gold colors.  A Larch is an interesting cross between conifer and deciduous trees and we had never seen any in the fall.  They were stunning!  Our first night was spent in Mitchell, OR so that we could get up bright and early to see the Painted Hills.

This park is part of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and is called one of Oregon’s 7 Wonders.  I’m anxious to know what the other six are now!  We got there and had our breakfast while watching the sunrise over these wondrous hills.  The layers of color are made up of ash, minerals, and vegetative materials.  The colors were also affected by how much moisture was around in the formation period of each layer.  These hills and layers contain a treasure trove of fossils as well.  One interesting side note is that this Nat’l Monument is gearing up for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  They are anticipating huge crowds!  Apparently this site will give an extended view of the eclipse and they expect a two minute total black out.  Look at this link to see just how big this event will be for them -   And btw, I think I really need the poster on this link ;)

 The sights on the way out of Painted Hills were fascinating too.  We just loved the columns formed on that hillside, and a quirkier site was this "shoe tree" - hee hee!  The sign near the bottom says "Here lies some old soles".  People are so playful. This picture was worth a quick u-turn!

Our next stop was a sobering one.

Minidoka National Historic Site, in Hagerman, ID  is one of 10 Japanese relocation camps developed during WWII.  This one has a tie to our home.  On Bainbridge Island, Wa is a memorial that is part of this National Historic Site.  The very first 200 Japanese were forced from their homes on Bainbridge after the enactment of Roosevelt’s Executive Order.  Soon, 7,000 people from Seattle, 2,300 from Oregon, and 200 from Alaska would join them at Minidoka.  This was a 33,000-acre site, with 600 buildings crowded onto 946 acres of that total.  At its peak population, it was the 7th largest “city” in Idaho.  It’s hard to fathom what these families experienced in this upheaval, but there is plenty to commend the way they chose to react – planting gardens for food and beauty, publishing a newspaper for the camp, holding dances and other social functions in the recreation hall, organizing churches, and even volunteering their labor in the community when vital crops were at risk.  I kept wondering if my response would have been this valiant.  The pictures are of the recreation hall and a root cellar they constructed in order to keep their food cooperative well stocked.  The memories of this strange and sad chapter in US history seemed to hang in the air and were quite surreal out in this desolate part of ID.

Part 2 of the journey below. :)


  1. Dear Jill,
    So fun to read your blog again. What a wonderful adventure you are on! Sending prayers of comfort for the recent passing of your sweet grandmother. What a heritage of faith! Hope the reunion was joyful. Miss you all! David and Lynn Kumpe

    1. Hi Lynn! So nice to hear from you. Yes, the reunion was joyful. :) We miss you too!! Can we lure you to the PNW one of these days?