Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heart Mountain Japanese Relocation Camp

We have never been to a Japanese Relocation Camp. At the beginning of WWII, the Japanese from the west coast were gathered up and brought to camps like the one near Powell, WY. It was occupied from 1942-1945 by 10767 Japanese Americans. They had their own hospital, fire and police department, judicial system, post office, sewage treatment plant, power station, water system, 2 grade schools, 1 high school, pool, sports teams and more. While there they built 2 miles of irrigation systems that still flow through the area today. They planted 2700 acres of crops. There were barracks that the families were crammed in with little insulation and no privacy. The living conditions were terrible in the beginning and improved some as time went on.
We were told there were death threats made on the Japanese Americans while they lived in California. So, the gov’t decided that for their own benefit they would be relocated to these facilities. I am sure that some of the reason was because they were Japanese. I was also told that they were concerned that some of these people were actually spies and could attack America from within.
This is a very difficult subject to teach my children.
Did locking up these people of Japanese heritage save our country from attacks from within our borders?
Did locking them up save them from beatings and death from other angry Americans?
These are questions we cannot answer. It is always easier to look back in time and make judgements on decisions made by our government. I used to have a Top Secret clearance. I know there is so much we do not know. For our own security the government cannot tell us everything. What did they not tell the American people back then? Did that information justify locking up innocent Americans along with some that might have terrorized our country?
These are the questions I discuss with my children. Whether or not the decision was right, we must remember and always try to learn from history. Maybe in the future we can handle it better, maybe we can learn from mistakes of the past and make better choices down the road.
The only thing I do know for certain is that the facilities should of been better. If there was justification to lock up some of the Japanese Americans and they had to lock up innocents with them, the facilities should have been warm, humane, private. Women and children lived there. Pregnant women and children. They deserved better. Should they have been left in their homes and only their husbands taken?  What would they have done financially with out him?  The women and children deserved better - enemy soldiers do not. Our soldiers know that when we join the military we are willing to risk our lives for our country including being taken captive and held in prison. Soldiers do not expect pools, schools, hospitals. Soldiers can handle it. There is a difference.

 Was our gov't trying to protect these citizens? 

Was it better to keep families and communities together?

Heart Mountain was like a small city. Some even earned wages. It is a tough subject..... with many angles.  I think most Americans have a really hard time understanding this type of profiling.

Such a tough subject to teach my children.  It is such a sad time in history.  I love being able to discuss these difficult questions with them and especially since we cannot answer them.

What do you think?

More info go to

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hard drives, potty stops, Mt St. Helens, I love my hubby!

It sure is cold up here. We are in lovely Oregon. I think I like it here. The people seem friendly. There is no sales tax and they don’t allow you to pump your own gas…it is against the law! The campgrounds are friendly, not so strict that we are afraid to move. We stayed at one in Washington that was ridiculous. It was a state park and they charged us about $36 a night! And, it cost $1. per 3 minutes in the showers! This was in Yakima, WA. The drive over there from Idaho was horrible. We took hwy 90 west from Couer D’ Alene, ID. The dust was terrible. The wind was ferocious! It was the worst drive of my life! I will hopefully never have to drive on that road again!

We had to go for over 4 hours in wind and dust. What a mess. At one point I turned around and saw some air coming out of the tire on the camper Shae was pulling. He saw it too and called me on the walkie talkie. He said, “I have a problem, pulling over.” I told him I would drive ahead to the next exit and find somewhere to park until I heard from him. I didn’t want to pull over on the freeway with a van full of kids while he changed a tire. We have been fortunate enough to have not blown a tire so far on the trip.  I was very concerned about Shae and Cody out on that dusty, windy freeway with semis flying by them. I just started to pray. I found the next exit and pulled off to the side of the on ramp. I have to be careful where I pull because I am not good at backing up. I can get myself in a real pickle if I’m not careful, like I did two days ago, but that is another story! I was getting the kids a snack, changing diapers, and helping Gabriel pee on the side of the road, when Shae and Cody pulled up behind me. Thank goodness the tire hadn’t blown after all. It was a big dust cloud that went around our tire that looked like air coming out. We were all so relieved. I did the usual. I went potty on the side of the road. The kids are always mortified when I do that. I would much rather pee there than on some nasty toilet in a gas station or rest area. Who knows who sat on it before me? I need to write a book, “Peeing on the back roads of America.” By Sheri Smith Ha ha ha ha ha ha

We did go to Mt. St. Helens. It was amazing. We went on the east side, just didn’t have time to go around. With bad weather on the way, we knew we needed to get south and fast. It's freezing up there on the mountain. To see the devastation…astonishing.

 The trees are still laying there on the ground. 

 Spirit Lake has thousands of dead trees floating around it. Shae and Cody hiked down to the lake. It was too cold for the rest of us.  Gabriel enjoyed dressing up like the Lone Ranger.

 It was a really long day. It ended up being a lot longer drive than we thought. It took us about 3 hrs from Yakima. We stopped at a really great veggie and fruit stand on the way. We bought tons of great food that is grown in Yakima. We found a used American Girl doll there. I picked it up for the girls for Christmas. It isn't in the best shape, but they will be happy.

The drive back wasn’t the best. We were all hungry. There was a little grocery story on the way back. I picked up what I could and we ate the best we could. Shae has always liked to drive fast. Now, the last 7 years he has really slowed down. Now when he owned his Evo, it felt like we were taking off at every stop light! He sold that 5 years ago and now we drive an awesomely cool 15 passenger van! He doesn't even complain. I am so proud of him. For him to drive a “van” is a miracle! So, we are winding down these mountain roads leaving Mt. St. Helens. I was getting car sick and so was Gabriel. I didn't feel safe. I know I need to trust my husband. I just don’t trust the roads, mountains, or other drivers. I was dealing with many emotions as we hustled home. I had to pee real bad and was not about to go in the grocery store. After I got the food, we headed out again. I asked Shae to stop at the next side road so I could go potty. I really had to go. Well, all I see is the speedometer at 60 mph and 5 side roads flash by as I attempt to not pee my pants. Oh how I wanted to yell, “If this had been you, you would have stopped a long time ago! Plus, you are making me car sick…slow down!” Well, I have learned over the years that yelling at my spouse does absolutely no good. It would not help me, him, or the situation. So, I prayed. I said, “God, please put it in Shae’s heart that I need to pee. “ No joke, 30 seconds later Shae slowed down and pulled over so I could pee. I got out of the van and went right on the ground next to it. Sure enough, a car drove by. I don’t think they saw me. I was so thankful I didn’t react to Shae’s insensitivity to me. I sat there and thought about the flowers he gave me earlier and how he took the kids up the trail and spent time with them. It is a choice. I chose right this time. I don’t always. I chose to turn to prayer and then think of the good things my husband has done.

Keeping my mouth shut is proving very difficult!

My husband and I have a really great marriage. Oh sure, we have our hard times. But, most of the time it is good. Well, lately we have been disagreeing on a few things. One of them being his driving. If you read an earlier post about his driving at Mt. St. Helens, then you have a clue about what I am talking about. His driving has always been an issue for us. His driving and money are the two main things we have argued about. Of course there have been other topics, but money and driving seem to be the most frequent. Now, I must mention again, we really don't disagree very often.

Well, driving around the mountains can get scary. I was very daring before I had kids. I'll tell those stories another time and some I can't tell because they are illegal. Since I have had kids, I have no desire to die! So, when I see those mountain corners and deep ravines fly by me, even at 45 mph, it freaks me out some. Also, I sit in the back seat with the baby. I nurse him a lot while he is in his car seat. When Shae takes a corner a little fast, my breast feels like it is going to rip off! Now, he would tell you he drives fine. He does not go fast at all and purposely drives slower for me. He really is an excellent driver. He has gotten us out of many potential accidents. I totally trust him, just sometimes I guess I get scared. Now, who is wrong? I guess we both are. I need to trust him more and he needs to be more sensitive to my concern for my feelings.

Now, let me make something clear, he is not a bad driver.  In fact, he is an excellent driver.  I just get a little scared sometimes.

The other day we kind of got in a fuss about this subject. He said he is trying really hard to drive slower for me. He is sick of my griping about his driving. He wants me to keep my negative comments to myself. I feel like I should speak up if I don't feel safe or need him to slow down when I am nursing the baby. He said I just need to say it different. So, I want to change and please my husband. So, I have been silent. Not too silent so I am being a smarty pants, just trying to keep my comments to myself. I have to try to chose my words more carefully. So, yesterday we decided to go to the lake near where we are camping. We were driving down the road and passed at little side road that led to the lake. Now, up ahead there are numerous roads to the lake, but Shae wanted to turn around and go back to this particular one. That is fine, nothing wrong with that. He is driving back the way we came when suddenly he cranks the wheel and we start to race towards a little dirt road. Now to me, all I see is dirt, a ditch, and our van flying off the road. To him, he saw the road and turned the wheel. We made it. It just scared the pants off of me! I yelled, "Shae!" That is it. I didn't say another word. We made it fine. We drove down the rough dirt road for quite a ways when suddenly, the van stopped moving. We were stuck in the dirt. Our big ol' 15 passenger van was stuck in the dirt by the lake. I tried to control the thoughts I was having, like, "He deserves this. He shouldn't of gone down here." I tried to just laugh and hope he could get us out of this mess. Otherwise it would be a long walk back to the camper to get our huge truck to pull us out. He hit the gas and then would stop and put it in reverse. Forward, Reverse, Forward, Reverse. I had Cody get out with the video camera. Shae didn't give up and finally got that van out. We weren't stuck anymore. He said, "I hope we can make it out to the main road!" That was reassuring. We parked it and hiked the rest of the way to the desert beach. It was beautiful. We had a great time. I tried not to laugh or make a negative comment, after all, we were alive and not stuck anymore. Shae drove us out of the sandy road and to the pavement. We made it out with out any damage to us our the vehicle. He is a good driver and I am going to be a better "not griper" while we travel.

Manners at our table...not there!

We went from a really nice 8 seat, wood table to a little, tiny table/bed/couch. It is great compared to the little dinettes that usually come in campers, but still not like a real table. The seats go back pretty far, so our 5 yr old and 2 yr old lay down at the table during dinner all the time. I try so hard to get them to sit up, it just doesn't work. Some people would say, "Just make them obey." It is not that easy.

Not long after we moved into the camper, Gabriel, my 5 yr old, decided to ride the table like a bucking bull. He is a bull rider after all! Well, the table didn't like that and broke. My husband replaced the metal pieces underneath and the table was back in business. About a month later, after numerous meals of little feet pushing on the posts underneath, the table broke again. I asked my husband to please not fix it. It is just going to get broken again! Well, he wanted it fixed, and he was going to get those kids to behave. Well, the table broke again and I think we all realize it is a losing battle. Now, we cope by turning our plates so anything with juice is on the side that leans down, then the juice doesn't go into the other food. Like veggies for example. Sometimes they still have a little water left in them. The juice stays at the bottom of the plate rather than getting all over the bread or meat.
After we got our new washer/dryer rv combo unit, we started it for the first time. When it gets to the spin cycle our whole camper shakes! We laughed so hard as we watched our cups slowly shake to the edge of the table and then fall off. Well, nothing spilled because I require the little ones to use cups with lids.
Our washer/dryer makes a great place to store items on top and a magnet board on the side!

Our cushions on our couch/table are disgusting. I wash them, but food gets spilled on them every meal! I really want to just pull out the whole thing and put a real table and chairs. Maybe even a couple of nice chairs that we can sit in and watch TV in! Shae says it will be too much work, and I am terrible at construction. For those of you who know me, I will give it my best to change the table. I won't do it if Shae really doesn't want me to, but I am hoping we can.

Actually, I would like to build our own camper! We could buy a shell from a manufacturer. Then we could put in all natural insulation, that actually works, not like the camper we have. I think they put newspaper in the walls! It gets pretty chilly. I would put all natural cabinets in and no wallpaper or anything with fumes. I would put in all natural mattresses and a lot of storage drawers. I like to be organized. Well, like the old saying...If wishes were pennies, we'd all be rich! Back to reality.

The other day I told the family that they need to have manners.

 "You need to remember, that just because we live in a camper doesn't mean you can act like you are constantly camping. This is my home and I am a woman. You need to take your shoes off when you come in this home. I want you to have respect and some kind of manners at this table. We are starting a new thing. Two times a month we will have a nice sit down dinner. We will learn to eat with the right silverware and plates, learn to pass the bowl, and learn proper talk."

 Just about then my 5 yr old, who had been working very hard at trying to figure out how to turn his spoon into a catapult, shot a piece of food right up into the air and hit the cabinet above us. I couldn't believe his timing. Everyone started laughing hystarically, and I realized that I had my work cut out for me. Between the farting, burping, the use of the words butt and fart, I don't know how we will ever eat Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's.

We went to a 508 paratrooper reunion last November. They were having a high class banquet for the current 508 officers and the WWII veterans that were there. My grandfather was in WWII, so we came to be with them. We were told there was a banquet and we couldn't bring our little kids. Well, either we all go or no one goes. So, the man in charge said ok. Well, we practiced for weeks. We played banquet in our camper and pretended to eat at the table. I felt we were as ready as we would ever be.

The night came and we all got dressed up in our nicest camper clothing. Mind you, everyone there was dressed to the hilt, and here we come in with our least wrinkled dresses and pants. We didn't look too bad. Every table was to have a soldier sitting at it that had been to Afghanistan or Iraq. When we found our table with our name tags, I about passed out. They had put us in the back, no big surprise, but had put a Colonel with us! That is a high ranking officer! Well, we had practiced, but were not Colonel material! I was in a slight panic. At the time Gabriel was four and Josephine one. My older ones would do fine, I was just very nervous about the little ones. Well, as people got seated, we noticed no one came to our table to sit with us. We figured the Colonel either didn't make it to the banquet or saw all of us sitting there and decided to leave (just kidding)! I was so thankful. I really wasn't up to such a high ranking officer at our table.

They served the meal. It was wonderful, steak, chicken, veggies. They even had made special plates for my 3 younger kids, chicken strips and veggies. I was so blessed! We noticed there were quite a few empty spots at the tables, about eight of them. We thought, we should get the enlisted soldiers that have been driving us around all week to come get these seats and eat this wonderful meal. My husband asked the Sargeant Major if it would be ok. He said yes. When we told the enlisted men, they were shocked! They said there is a pretend glass wall that seperated them from this room with all of the officers. They would only go in if my husband escorted them each to their seats. Here, these were men that had risked their lives for years for us. The least we could do was get them in here for a good meal!

It was nice to eat with them. We felt comfortable and priveleged. Gabriel did good. I looked over once, he was eating his salad like a dog, no silverware. I looked over later and he was drinking his tea like a cat, with is tongue. But, over all he did great, no screaming, whining or pouting. Josephine slept most of the time.

It was a wonderful evening.

We are a little out of practice now. We need to get ready to eat turkey dinner and Christmas dinner with family that is not used to kids. We will start practicing. I told my kids I want them to be able to eat with kings, well, that might not happen, but it will not be because I did not teach them to!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oregon and Northern California

La Pine State Park, Oregon

The kids dug a "Fox Hole" to play in.

Biggest Ponderosa Pine in Oregon near La Pine State Park

We've tried to start cleaning up the garbage at whatever attraction we go to. Shae found a piece of paper and decided to read it! Be careful what you throw on the ground!

We have gone through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and now in Nevada. I haven't blogged for every day or every adventure. It is hard to find the time, but I do try to stay faithful to blogging every few days. So much happens in such a short amount of time, it is hard to write it all down.

Oregon is so beautiful. We didn't get over to the coast at all, but sure enjoyed the east side of the Cascades. It is a little creepy when you think about how you are driving right by all of these active volcanos, but we had to just hope that some scientist somewhere is keeping a close eye on them. I had the same feeling when we were at Yellowstone National Park. Kind of like, "What in the heck are we doing here?" I have never lived around volcanos, just tornados and earthquakes, so this was a new natural disaster to have to deal with. Thank goodness there were no eruptions when we were in Washington or Oregon...ha ha.

Anyways, the rolling hills, the small towns that dotted our way. Then the beautiful forests and rivers that wind through them. Crater Lake National Park was stunning. The drive to it was almost better! The valleys are breath taking.
Our family at Crator Lake National Park, Oregon

We camped at two state parks. They give service connected disabled veterans 10 nights free every month! Can you believe that! What a state! We were so blessed by that! It is nice to know they appreciate their veterans. La Pine State Park was great. The rivers and streams were gorgeous. We hiked to a few of them and then to some water falls. Oh, it was my favorite place, yet. Shae and I loved it. It wasn't that the falls were the most spectacular falls, just the whole setting was perfect. There were tufts of grass on top of soft soil that led down to the clearest water you can imagine. We walked right up to the falls and could even touch them. Oh, it must be wonderful in the summertime. We might even be able to swim to the falls!

We left there and went two hours south to Collier State Park. It wasn't quite as nice as La Pine. There is a river and bridge that goes right next to the campground. Once again, just beautiful.

We went to the Logging Museum there. It was free and well worth the visit.

Logging Museum

Bad weather is on its way. So, we are trying to get south fast! We have had snow numerous times and know one of these days we might not be able to get out of it!

We headed into northern California. There was a check point as we entered the state. They took my avocadoes! I was disappointed. I think they probably took tomatoes from someone, hamburger from someone else, tortillas from another, and lettuce from yet someone else. Late at night they ate tacos! Well, that is my theory anyways. We stayed at a nice campground on the way south, in Likely. Town of 100! It was a nice campground with a beautiful pond and golf course.

Cody found a monster frog!

We are still on the run to get south, the weather hot on our tails or maybe I should say - cold on our tails!

 I better get to bed soon, need to drive tomorrow!

Sleep tight,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lusk, Wyoming

Custer, SD Sturgis Bike Week
We had a great trip in Custer, South Dakota.  Now, our trip took us south west to Lusk, Wyoming.  As we were pulling out of Custer, we squeezed our truck and camper and van and trailer through the streets crowded with motorcycles parked in the sectioned off area in the middle of the street.  It was quite a sight to behold.  I know my sister and brother in law would have loved to have been there for Sturgis Bike Week.

Our camper squeezing down main street during the preparation for Bike Week.
The drive to Lusk brought my first, small mountain pass.  Since this drive, I have done much bigger, but at the time it seemed huge.  I got pretty nervous as we got to the summit.  All went well and we headed down the busy road full of motorcycles on our way to Lusk. We saw all of these fences along the highway. I found out later they are to block the snow. They said the snow blows sideways because of the strong winds.

Shae head of me with the camper and all the motorcycles heading to SD.

Driving over the pass!

The day after we got there, there were three bikers that broke down. He and the two ladies with him were sharing the gospel up at Sturgis. They gave us a bunch of bible literature for bikers. The are with Christian Motorcycle Association.

What a wonderful place. Most people would say I was crazy saying that. I heard more than a few people say Lusk is a nasty little town, there is nothing there, they said they would never live in Lusk. As we drove in that Saturday I thought it was pretty blah. But, I also have learned that the seemingly nothing towns always have something. Every city has a past that is worth learning about. The town was just an average country town, but the people are anything but normal. They are absolutely wonderful.

We went there to volunteer at a church. We wanted to be a blessing to them. I called them and told the pastor all we could do was clean, he said, that is all we need! It is amazing how God works.

View down the hwy in Lusk, WY
The church is a remodel of an old bar and restaurant. It is beautiful inside with a wonderful kitchen and a great youth room. We washed windows, wiped the ceiling, walls, counters, lights, and everything else. There was a layer of drywall dust on everything. Shae and Cody tore apart a furnace and hauled it off. We vacuumed and helped with the sign. It was a great experience for all of us. We were very thankful to get to help out Pastor Dale and Janna.

These are pictures of our family cleaning at the church.  It is always amazing to see how excited even the young ones get to help others.  A spirit of volunteerism is something that needs to be instilled from a very young age.

It seems like whenever we try to do something nice for someone, we get blessed even more than we blessed them. This was the case in Lusk, also. Pastor and Janna took us out to a ranch. It had over 5000 acres! Well, to people in Wyoming that is pretty average. To those of us in Missouri, that is huge! It was hard to even imagine what that much land would be like! We enjoyed riding our ATVs through the dry yet beautiful country. I smiled the entire time I drove, it was so wonderful. They took us to all of the water. Cookie said that water is something special in this part of the country. There were active windmills throughout the property that actually pump water up out of the ground for the cows.

The clouds in Wyoming are astonishing. They tower above us like they are going to produce a horrible storm, yet, very little if anything comes out of them. The first big clouds I saw I told the kids to get in the church, but I was told "You're not in Missouri anymore!"

We were thankful to get to spend time with a wonderful family. They have kids about the same age as ours. Cody and Jesse had a blast with all of the livestock, especially their oxen. They also rode Jesse's racing lawn mower. The kids all went to Jesse's house to get it when some cops showed up wondering if they were a bunch of kids getting into trouble! They talked with them and made things alright.

Jesse pulled back on racing lawn mower to make it do a wheelie.

Cody feeding an oxen.

I wouldn't get any closer than this no matter what anyone said!

The guys had a blast on the lawn mower. It flew! Hanna drove it and about lost control. Jesse ran up to turn it off when Hanna couldn't. I didn't know he was playing a trick on her and made it go faster! She screamed her head off! Shae had to drive it and then I knew something funny would happen. He did not let us down. The guys had been doing wheelies with it, so of course Shae had to top that. The guys leaned on the back to make the front go up when Shae tipped completely over, backwards with the lawnmower landing on top of him. We laughed so hard. Shae loved it of course.

Pastor Dale and Janna are such nice people. Pastor with his cowboy boots and hat was a dream for Gabriel. He followed Pastor everywhere. It was so sweet and very wonderful.

We love Lusk, Wyoming and hope to go back someday.