This is a report of my short trip to Vancouver, WA to visit my son, daughter–in-law and grandson for my grandson’s 1-year birthday. This would be a car trip and to make it up there and back in the time I got off work would require a marathon drive, about 17 hours each way. Well off I went leaving about 5AM from SoCal to miss the traffic. Glad I did because I got all the way through LA doing at least the speed limit. The only stops along the way would be for food, gas and nature breaks.
One important stop would be at Redding, CA for the last In-N-Out burger stand in California where I picked up 2 double doubles and a chocolate shake. Please note one of the burgers went into the cooler to give to my son when I arrived as he misses In-N-Out so much since he moved to Washington.
I finally arrived at 9:45PM exhausted. I unpacked only what I had to, talked a little while and fell into bed hoping to get some well deserved sleep.
Sleeping somewhat peacefully I still awoke at 5:30 the next morning and got up and went into the living room to check my email and wait for everyone to get up. I was especially excited to see my grandson as I have only seen him at his birth and at 6 months old. Living this far away is tough as I get to see my other 2 grandchildren about 3-4 times a week.
Waiting I hear rustling coming down the hall and my son comes around the corner alone. A little while later here comes my daughter being lead by the rambunctious youth. He passes at first then hears dad and heads for the living room startled by seeing a stranger this early in the morning he hightails it back to the security of mom.
Dad walks into the kitchen, picks him up and brings him in for our first introduction in 6 months. At first he does not know what to think but I start talking and he begins to recognize me from the Skype calls and phone calls I have at least once a week with my son.
I let him go at his own pace so he can warm up to me and thank goodness it doesn’t take long. We have a wonderful breakfast that morning and have planned a visit to an old Hudson Bay Company fur trading post along the Columbia River in Vancouver then a late lunch after our exploration.
We arrive about 10:30 to Fort Vancouver to be greeted by 3 busloads of elementary school children on a field trip. No worries as they are in groups and even though the fort is not that large we have all morning to dodge the groups as they make their way through the buildings.
Paying our entrance fee we enter the gates and start enjoying the old buildings and learning the history of the fort.
Located on the north bank of the Columbia River this fort has a very historic past. Founded by the Hudson Bay Company in 1824-1825 as a fur-trading post and supply depot, Fort Vancouver was the headquarters in the Pacific Northwest, from San Francisco Bay to the Russian outposts in Alaska west of the Rocky Mountains. From the fort supplies went out to the many interior posts, for the fur brigades that ranged as far as Utah and California, and for the vessels and forts along coastal trade route. Here the furs of the entire western trade area were gathered for shipment to England.
Fort Vancouver was established as the first of the series of great farms that the Hudson Bay Company and its subsidiary, the Puget’s Sound Agricultural Company, maintained at several posts in Oregon and Washington. Thus it was here that large-scale agriculture in the Northwest had its beginnings.
This full-scale replica of the fort, with internal buildings, has been reconstructed and is open to the public as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. The site was picked because of its location along the river and the access to fertile farmland nearby. The fort was designed to be self-sufficient, as food was costly to ship. In time the fort produced an over abundance of food that was used to provision other out posts and some was even exported for sale in Hawaii and Russian Alaska.
The fort was substantial. The walls protecting it were 750 feet (230 m) long, 450 feet (140 m) wide and about 20 feet (6.1 m) high. Inside there were 40 buildings, including housing, warehouses, a school, a library, a pharmacy, a chapel, a blacksmith, plus a large manufacturing facility. Outside the fort there was additional housing, as well as fields, gardens, fruit orchards, a shipyard, a distillery, a tannery, a sawmill, and a dairy. The people of the fort and the surrounding area were mostly French Canadians, English, Scots, Irish, Hawaiians and a large variety of Native Americans. The common language spoken at the fort was Canadian French however trading and relations with the surrounding community were done in Chinook, Nootka, Chehalis, English, French, Hawaiian and other languages. The company records and official journals were kept in English and English was used at the head table. At its pinnacle, Fort Vancouver watched over 34 outposts, 24 ports, six ships, and 600 employees.
Notable buildings of the restored Fort Vancouver include the Bake House – showing bakery and techniques,
the Blacksmith Shop – showing the art of blacksmithing,
the Carpenter Shop – showing carpentry skills,
the Kitchen – where cooking and meals were prepared (which was closed this day),
the trading post-medical facility and
the officers quarters.
Admission is Adults $5.00; Children (15 and under) $0.00 is good for a week and I think well worth the cost to see this important part of our rich northwestern cultural heritage.
Our next stop and a short walk from the fort, was the Pearson Air Museum. In the early years of the 20th century, Fort Vancouver was a central place for aviation enthusiasts to gather and try out their aircraft. During these early years the civilian aviators wowed crowds with their aerial acrobatics and feats.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the polo field became the site of the Spruce Production Division’s Spruce Cut-Up Mill; spruce logged from the forests of the Pacific Northwest was manufactured into aviation-grade lumber. The lumber produced by the Spruce Mill was used to construct Curtiss JN-4 aircraft for pilots in training, and De Havilland DH-4 aircraft for combat overseas.
In the early 1920s, the Spruce Mill was demolished, and the field once again became an airfield, first known as the “Vancouver Barracks Aerodrome,” and christened “Pearson Air Field,” after Lt. Alexander Pearson, in 1925. Beginning in 1923, the field was home to the 321st Observation Squadron, 96th Division, commanded by Lt. Oakley Kelly from 1924-1929, and by Lt. Carlton Bond from 1929-1933 and 1938-1940.
Among the more notable aviation achievements tied to Pearson Field is the landing of the Douglas World Cruisers, on their way to achieving the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe in 1924.
Another highlight of Pearson Field occurred in June 1937, when the Soviet Union launched the first trans-polar flight from Moscow. After over three days of flying while en route to San Francisco, the ANT-25 aircraft touched down at Pearson Field due to an engine oil leak. The event put Pearson Field, and Vancouver, Washington, on the front page of newspapers around the world.
The Army Air Corps decommissioned Pearson Field at the end of World War II, but it remains in service as a municipal airfield.
We were hungry after our morning adventure so we went to Big Al’s, a bowling alley, sports bar, and arcade for a lunch of good burgers. After a leisurely lunch we head back home to rest and to get ready of the birthday party in the morning.
The next morning when my grandson sees me he comes running over to give me a hug then run off to have breakfast, that felt so good.
After breakfast my son and I set up the patio for the party as his wife gets all the decorations ready in the house and finishes the cupcakes for the party that starts at 1PM.
The party consists of family and 1 friend of the family and goes very well. Opening presents then the good stuff, cupcakes. My grandson likes to play in his personal cake rather than eat it, while everyone else is enjoying the delicious cupcakes made by my daughter-in law.
Party over we clean up what is required then we put together some of the toys that require assembly as my grandson supervises our work.
The next morning we finish cleaning up and the water play set he received is put to good use after mom and grandson put it together.
We then go out to go lunch with the in-laws and her brother for a wonderful lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We have a table outside right on the Columbia River’s edge on a wonderfully sunny day. Resting for the remainder of the day I pack for an early departure in the morning.
I leave the next morning about 4:45AM for a five-hour drive to Eureka, CA to visit an old friend that I have known since 1960 (kindergarten), yep 56 years. He is like a brother to me and we visit for 90 minutes until I need to get back on the road where I finish the marathon drive at 10PM pulling into the garage closing the door. I’ll unpack the cooler now and the leave rest for in the morning. Walking upstairs I fall into bed for a needed rest.
Such a fun trip it was so nice visiting family I do not get to see very often. Next trip is scheduled in the middle of June with a seven day Alaskan cruise with these same family members I enjoyed this trip.