Mother loved to travel. I don’t mean short trips down the Drive to Blomquist’s Market. I mean far away. It was always her, my sister Lorraine and me. My dad didn’t like trips that resulted in no catching of fish, so he didn’t go. It was 1937 now and previous years she had driven us to South Dakota to see the Badlands, Sylvan Lake, the petrified forest and Mount Rushmore, with its huge heads carved in the mountain. There were only two carved when we were there.
But this year she wanted to drive out west and visit some of her North High School girlfriends, one in Montana and one in California. So we packed our summer clothes, picnic basket and thermos, and were on our way. The other things we took were little log books so we could document everything we saw or did along the way, whether important or not.
We started our trip on June 25, 1937. I was 11 years old and Lorraine was 13. The first place we stopped was in St. Cloud to see a giant open pit mine with men working in it. We ate lunch in a nice park, but it was raining and we wound up wet and could hardly eat. Supper was much nicer in Moorhead and we took in a movie after.
June 26. We crossed the Minnesota border and are now in North Dakota. At Valley City, we got out and stretched our legs. Our day’s journey ended at Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. We have a big and convenient cabin in which mother made supper.
June 27. Rode until Minot and chose a big shady trailer camp.
June 28. From Minot we travelled to Dagmar, Montana, a short way from the North Dakota border. This is where one of mother’s friends lives. Her name at school was Anna Bolin, now Mrs. Henry Haaven. They had four kids — two boys and two girls. We ate supper with them, after which we played baseball.
June 29. The Haaven kids were signed up to go to a Farmer’s Union Camp, so Lorraine and I went too. We had ice cream, pop and a lot of fun. They had a big dance at night and we did barn dances, folk dances, the waltz, two-step and others. A big chubby boy asked me to dance and I was so surprised.
June 30. Going swimming today, if you could call it that. Montana has been having a drought for eight years and all the lakes are practically dried up. They are called “alkalai” lakes and smell like rotten eggs–not good!
July l. Leaving the Haavens we stopped at Sidney for a sandwich, cherries at Glendive, pop at Terry and a log cabin at a tourist camp at Miles City.
July 2. We can see the beautiful mountains of Yellowstone Park in the distance. Ate at Billings and stopped at Red Lodge, then visited a zoo. After supper Lorraine and I went horseback riding with a young guide named Bob White. He took us all around and showed us a place where it looked like the water in a river was running uphill.
July 3. From car, seeing lots of beautiful flowers, switchbacks and patches of snow. Had our pictures taken in the snow. Came to entrance of Yellowstone Park–cost $3 to get in. Stayed at Grand Canyon Hotel.
July 4. We are at Mammoth Hot Springs and swimming in a hot springs pool. Brought
firecrackers along but see a sign saying “No fireworks allowed.” A man told us to go ahead and shoot some if we wanted–so we did.
July 5. At Old Faithful Inn. Saw paint pots, geysers, mud volcanoes and Old Faithful erupting three times. Forest Ranger held a camp fire and told stories and sang songs.
July 6. Horseback riding.
July 7. Went swimming in a geyser water pool.
July 9. Left Yellowstone by west entrance and drove to Idaho Falls. Shot off the leftover firecrackers,
July 11. Got up at 3 a.m. to cross a hot desert. It was 400 miles to Reno, Nevada.
July 12. Crossed the California border and arrived at Sacramento. They have beautiful palm trees.
July 13. Now in San Francisco. Saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge. Stayed in a hotel.
July 14. We are at mother’s friend’s house. She is Mariam Bolin Vargas and husband, Charlie. We will be staying for a while. Big problem with sand fleas here and they have to hang their washing from the second story window and use pulleys on a line to the house next door. For supper they were treating us to a Mexican dinner with hot tamales all wrapped in corn husks. It was hot and spicy. When we went upstairs to bed, I barfed it all right up on Mariam’s nice green rug.
July 15. The Vargas’ were very good to us. They took us all around. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park and Chinatown. We had a Japanese dinner called “Suki Yaki.” A Japanese hostess led us to a small room where she cooks the dinner on a stove in the middle of the table. The table is only a foot tall, so you must take off your shoes, walk around on your knees and sit on a pillow–very strange! Oh yes–and eat with chopsticks!
July 28, 1937. We have stayed a long time, saw a lot of things and it is time to leave. Now all we have to do is find our way home.