Archive | September, 2014

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 3 – The National Park Inn

30 Sep

Day 1 continued – We arrived at the National Park Inn


As promised it had a great view of the Mount Rainier peak, with thousands of feet of glaciers well above the tree line.


The staff gave us a warm welcome. There was a bear in the lobby.


The front porch was cozy. We toasted to the start of our joint second honeymoon


The food in the restaurant was delicious


We took a hike the next morning on the Trail of Shadows.




Then we packed up to continue our journey on the road to Paradise.

See also:

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere)

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

29 Sep

Day 1 – We traveled from Northern Virginia to longtime, Mount Rainier National Park.

Excited we got on an early morning flight at Washington Reagan National Airport, changed planes in Denver and we were on our way.
About 50 miles from the airport my wife points out of the airplane window. There it was – Mount Rainier in its snow-capped 14,410 foot glory.



We landed at the airport, picked up our rental car, checked our directions and started driving towards Mount Rainier. Even 30 miles away we would see house development campgrounds and even a winery named for Mount Rainier. It dominates the landscape for many miles in many directions as well as providing the source for a dozen rivers and the primary water source for Seattle and many other parts of Washington State.

We stopped in a small town about 10 miles from the park entrance to buy a few groceries and a case of water. Drinking water is great prevention from getting altitude sickness once we get into the park and especially as we prepare to hike and explore the mountain.

We saw railroad themed murals…


A “Caboose Hotel”…


And a railcar pizzeria…


We were tempted by beautiful lakes, and intrigued by signs warning that the water level could rapidly go up or down 25 feet due to flooding from the mountain run-off. “Look out for floating logs and submerged stumps!”


We continued on, entered Mount Rainier National Park and immediately noticed the old growth forest and huge trees, and something like Spanish moss covering the ancient evergreen trees.



We passed the park road repair crews but luckily we were only delayed a few minutes since it was late in the day. Finally we come upon a clearing and there we found our first destination the National Park Inn in Longmire, Mt. Rainier National Park.

See also:

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

Our Trip to Paradise Part 3 – The National Park Inn

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere) (New)

Our Trip to Paradise – took 25 years

29 Sep

By Bruce Summers, Summoose Tales, Personal Historian

It took us 25 years to finally get on the long beautiful winding road to Paradise. My brother Mike and I married Jackie and Mary respectively in 1989. Originally, we planned on taking our wives on a joint fifth year wedding anniversary trip to Rio de Janeiro.

This was a great plan until we each had our first children during years 4 and 5 of our marriages. We later each had second children. Our lives got complicated with school, sports, Scouts, extracurricular activities, volunteering, busy careers and more.

Finally this winter, we compared notes Mary and I would be “empty nesters” after June. We would each be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year. Three of the four children would be in college this fall and the fourth lived in the same town as his aunt and grandparents. He perhaps could stay with one of them for a week. We could finally align schedules, but where should we go?

We all enjoy wine tasting so we narrowed our choices to Napa/Sonoma Valleys in California or Washington State wine country. Luckily we chose Washington State, since the day before we departed on our trip there was a strong earthquake in Napa County, CA. Surely this was a sign that we had chosen wisely.

Well Washington State has a lot to offer, we decided to save the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle for another trip and head to the Yakima Valley. On the way we would stop over at Mount Rainier National Park. None of us had ever been to Mount Rainier. The more we researched the park the better it sounded. It was 14,410 foot tall and covered with large glaciers. It had historic lodges, hiking trails and the alpine wild flowers would be at their peak blooming while we were there.

So we booked our flights, arranged our lodging, and every night I would read a bit more about Mount Rainier, the glaciers, potential road construction (not more than a 30 minute delay), and the wild flowers were coming along nicely. They kept describing one of the places we were visiting as Paradise! A 2nd honeymoon in Paradise had a nice ring to it.

Note: this is the first in a series of blogs with photos and descriptions of our trip to Paradise. The scenery, glaciers, and the wildflowers were indeed lovely.  I hope you will enjoy our trip, and perhaps even plan your own trip to Paradise in the near future.

See also:

Our Trip To Paradise Part 2 – Northern Virginia to Longmire

Our Trip to Paradise Part 3 – The National Park Inn

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 4 – The Road to Paradise

Our Trip to Paradise – Part 5 – Arrival in Paradise (Wildflowers were everywhere) (New)

Save your photos (and stories) – what’s your plan?

19 Sep


 By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales

See also…

Save Your Photos Day – September 27, 2014


Association of Personal Historians – Save Your Photos Day Blog

If there is a Disaster?

Have you digitized and save a copy of those old original photographs?

10470996_790404720990480_8366463479178371138_n Robert Cogliati shows preserved images from Aunt Viola's photo album during Show and Tell10556411_790399767657642_307878364499328536_n Jane Summers at Show and Tell - Karen
As you/we get Older?

Who knows the stories, that provide captions and preserves the memories of loved ones long since deceased?

Have you  recorded the stories as digital voice recordings

Charles G. Summers, president 1865-1923

As our parents and friends Age?

Have you spent a few hours talking about lessons they have learned and

wisdom they can pass down from generations before them?

Mom and Bruce 2010

As our kids head off to College?

Do we know where to find those pre-school photos?

Katey's Birthday 2 032000
As technology and media for storing photos Evolve?

Have we preserved those old black and white photos, the 16 millimeter movies, the Korean War slides,

the old videos that can only be played in with a VCR?

IMG_2737IMG_4016 Korea Slides
Where and when did we go on that Vacation?

Remember the morning we got up to watch the sun rise?

20140827_07133120140827_065859 20140827_070949

What were those alpine wild flowers like?

Remember all the waterfalls we saw, and hiking up to the snow line?

20140826_135622 - Copy - Copy 20140826_135650 Wildflower Garden, Mount Ranier 20140826_144438 Wildflowers, Mount Ranier 20140826_144508 - Copy - Copy 20140826_120102 20140826_145338 20140827_071354 20140827_071405 20140827_071416 20140827_071434 20140827_071441

When our kids and grand kids ask us Questions?

When you want to know what is was like…

For your Dad or Mom growing up in their Hometown?
For your Dad or Mom during the War?

Thomas Stran Summers, president 1945-1951
For the relative who served in the Peace Corps?
To have friends on ships being bombed during World War II?

IMG_3231 Japanese planes attac HMAS Australia
For your Grandparents and Great-grandparents, Great-Aunts and Great-Great Uncles?

Charles G. Summers, Jr., president 1923-1945

I would love to hear more about how you are saving photos and memories? If you haven’t got a plan, today is a good day to start.


Save Your Photos Day – September 27, 2014

12 Sep

Save Your Photos Day – September 27, 2014.

Save Your Photos Day – September 27, 2014

12 Sep

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales

I recently learned about Save Your Photos Day – This concept resonated with me. Please share this link with friend, families, and colleagues.

As a Personal Historian I interview clients and help them write and share their personal histories and life stories. I often find/discover photos in drawers, in boxes, perhaps on a wall, in a trunk, in an album, maybe on a CD, or a computer file (with no back-up).

They are often singular records of a moment in time. As families grow and succeeding generations disperse these photos are often at risk.

  • They may be lost in transition, during a rushed move, a down-sizing, or during a disaster such as a flood or a house fire.
  • Will the photo and its context be lost after the client dies. Will it become just a great photo with no story, no history, and no memories connected?

Case 1: Two of my early personal history clients had a combined total of almost 200 years of memories when they died. The good news, I had already interviewed them. I had audio tapes and hundreds of pages of transcripts with their memories and stories. The even better news was that I had re-shot or scanned, edited and digitized over 300 of their photos. The words, from the audio tapes, provided personal and historical context to the photos. The photos animated my clients’ stories and reflections. The photos made my clients’ personal history and memories come alive.

  IMG_3146 Snow in July 2013-07-14 19.50.32 Dinner Bell - Ships Bell - from Mostom house, Jim has it now 7.14.13 IMG_1120 Lloyd as Viking Toddler

I converted these photos into a PowerPoint presentation for use at the couple’s memorial service after they both died last fall. Their daughter used some of the pictures for a photo display at the service. The others were featured as looped slide show next to the display.

As the family personal historian I stood and watched the photos cycle through. A grandson in his 20s watched and asked questions.  His uncle commented, “I have never seen a lot of these”. I could provide context from my interviews and from captions I included in the manuscript of the couple’s personal history.

A few lessons learned:

  • Before the couple died, while they were living in a senior community in nursing care, their family needed to quickly clear out one floor of their home so it could be rented to a friend. Framed photos came down, drawers were emptied, boxes and albums were removed from locations were they had resided for 30 to 50 years. Challenges: the photos could have been lost in transition and in context. The good news: I had already preserved many of them digitally, with their original context and stories.
  • The family had several albums with a year by year history in photos from their father’s 100th birthday celebration. Challenges: there is only one copy and the family is disbursed across the United States and in Australia. The good news: we have over 300 photos that have been digitized and can be shared in context with the extended family.

Case 2: Another client made over 300 quilts after she retired from teaching. Her stories and memories of quilt making came alive as we looked through her album of intricately designed and beautifully crafted quilts. Most of these have been given away to family and friends or donated for good causes. We also recorded her memories of travel and vacations with her now deceased husband. Again the photos animated the stories making these memories come alive.

IMG_4227 Quilt Example IMG_4241 Quilted Sunflowers IMG_4222 Quilt example

A few lessons:

  •  Artists should take photos of their portfolio, organize them, store and share them. Challenge: my client only owns a handful of the quilts she spent thousands of hours crafting, she had a portfolio of pictures but had not shared the stories and details about their creation. The good news: during my interview we digitized and reviewed her portfolio of pictures of many of these quilts. The interview transcripts combined with the pictures provided tremendous insights into this client’s passion and artistic gifts. Looking at the pictures, she was able to recall and share rich details about why and how she created a unique design tailored for each quilt recipient.

Case 3: Making your own personal history come alive. I have recorded over a hundred hours of personal history digital audio tape with my parents, and more recently as part of a Family Reunion Show and Tell. As I start to share these personal history stories I feel compelled to include photos. The good news is that I have started taking more photos when I am in my home town, while I walk around my parent’s home, and as I explore photos and relics in my parents’ basement. The bad news is that most of my parent’s photos are not digitized, many of the older family photo albums have not always been put into context. This photographs are at risk of becoming lost memories and forgotten stories. More good news though my cousins, aunts and uncles brought photo albums to the family reunion including albums collected by their parents, we heard dozens of new stories, collectively we could identify “lost relatives”.  We now know who great-great-uncle William was, the one who died during aunt Margaret’s childhood visit to her grandmother’s house 80 years ago. We also know the same aunt Margaret stole my aunt Joan’s boyfriend. This was all revealed as part of the Family Reunion Show and Tell sessions that I facilitated.

Show and Tell for Family Reunion

Show and Tell for Family Reunion

Charles G. Summers, Jr. Inc. Plant and Office 1925

Charles G. Summers, Jr. Inc. Plant and Office 1929

IMG_4015 Superfine Limagrands


A few lessons:

  •  Take lots of digital photos of friends, family, of trips, the seasons of the year, of sunrises, and sunsets, and of important objects that you or loved ones have collected. Re-shoot or scan, edit and file older family photos, connect them with context, stories and memories. Challenges: create a master list of photos that you want to preserve, or that illustrate and provide context or captions to personal history and life stories that you have recorded. Taking the time to do this is often a challenge. Digital photos are easy to take, one trip may yield 200 or more digital pictures and we often forget to go through them and organize or curate the ones we want to preserve and share. The good news is that professional photo organizers and personal historians can help.

September 11, 2014 started as a cloudy day

11 Sep

It was cloudy today as I walked to work down 18th Street in NW Washington, DC. There was an incredibly brilliant blue sky when I walked down the same street 13 years ago the morning of September 11.

I was working at the American Red Cross in the Volunteers, Youth and Nursing Department. I was talking with Mary Etta Boesl a colleague and my counterpart in the Communications and Marketing Department.

As we were chatting she glanced up at a TV over her desk, paused and said, “Bruce a plane just flew into the World Trade Center building, (in New York City)!”

I hurried around to my Vice President’s office to let him know, he had been a director of disaster services, he turned on his TV and we watched the coverage of the hole and the smoke coming out of the Tower speculating…

It was a large plane, not a random occurrence we suspected terrorism then we watched as a second plane flew into the other tower!!

We calculated how many 10’s of thousands of people could work in this complex. We were concerned but New York was 200 miles away…

Then we learned that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon, just across the Potomac river a couple of miles at the most, in our neighborhood!!! The disaster became real and present directly in our lives.

I tried to call my wife, but the phones were jammed with calls, finally she got through to one of my colleagues. Her government agency was being evacuated. We were worried what would happen next. We were worried about our young children 17 miles away in their elementary school.

My colleagues and I, those who had young children, left to be prepared to evacuate our kids to a safer place if needed. My wife left to drive her car across town to pick me up.

I walked out the door a pickup truck was in front of my building. The federal agency employees headquartered around Red Cross Square flooded the sidewalks as they were evacuated. After all the White House was one and half blocks away diagonal across the street.

Traffic stopped, the pickup never moved. Traffic backed up. I ran down the street several blocks to meet my wife hoping to get to her before she got snarled in the traffic jam.

As we drove out of Washington we passed the Chemical Response Fire Truck coming in I 66 to the Pentagon from National Airport. We got to our tree-lined suburban neighborhood, our adrenaline still pumping. It look normal. We got to the elementary school. All was quiet. We asked at the office. The staff said they had not announced anything to the students, afraid some may have parents impacted by the Pentagon crash.

We drove home, my wife left to donated blood at the Red Cross Blood Center. I called into my office to get an update. The pick-up truck had not moved for over an hour. The plan was coming together. Get some rest they shared we are going to be busy tomorrow!!!!

9.12.01 was a new day but a very different day. I had to enter Red Cross Square through the 18th Street entrance because the rest of the block was quarantined with yellow police tape. We did not know what would happen next. A local radio station had a broadcast truck in front of the building where we set up an emergency blood collection station in a large ballroom. The crowd of volunteer blood donors queued up, quickly filling the building.

I became the designated greeter at the end of the line, thanking people, letting them know it would be a 2, then a 3, then a 4 hour or more wait to donate blood. You are welcome to stay in line and wait, or fill out this slip and we will call you to come down to donate when there is less of a wait. I repeated this welcome hundreds of times as the line grew and went around the block. The goodwill of the American people, foreign visitors, people given the day off to donate blood, stranded pilots and flight attendants, pipe-fitters, young and old, waiting in line for many hours, doing what they could do to help.

We finally announced around 6:30 PM that we were not accepting any more people in line, the Blood Service technicians could not work past 10:30. Some people left, but one woman stayed, “I am going to wait and be the last one to donate, no matter what!!!!!” And so she was.

It is amazing the difference a day can make. It is amazing the difference a volunteer can make.

See also…

9/11 – Red Cross memories – 10 years later # 1

9/11 Memories – Red Cross Blood Drive – 10 Years later # 2

Red Cross Stories

Blood Drives planned in Remembrance of 9.11

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