Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Family Vacation Day 1- July 4th

At the beginning of July we went to Idaho for a week to attend the Wheeler Family Reunion. All of Ken's Siblings and parents were able to attend as well as all but the 3 oldest grandchildren. If I remember correctly there were 48 people packed into two good sized cabins in Island Park. It was a very loud and very fun week. We packed up the back with everything we would need for a week and headed north.
About 90 minutes into our drive, a large chunk of someones blown tire was kicked up by the car in front of us. Ken did his best to swerve and avoid the tire but couldn't quite get out of the way- it got us right on the headlight, breaking the plastic casing and the bulb. Later in the day, as I read stories from my Grandfather, Wayne Chapman Dowdle's, personal history I laughed a little, because one of the stories was about going to Yellowstone (which we planned to do a few times during our trip) in a car that only had one working headlight.
We have learned to take full advantage of "rest stops" it's either that or deprive our children of any type of liquid for a few days before a trip. Since we are loving parents, we choose to avail ourselves of the well placed public restrooms. This one was located on an old Lava Flow and the boys enjoyed seeing and climbing on the volcanic rocks.
We left for the reunion a day early so that we would have time to locate the home that my Great Grandfather, Robert Hazen Dowdle built, where my Grandfather was born and spent the majority of his youth. I decided that I wanted to make this little trip- to Rigby, Idaho- last year when I read my Grandfather's personal history. We were visiting Ken's brothers family in Meridian Idaho and I realized that my Sister in Law was from Rigby. My Grandfather had not given his address, rather he said that he had grown up in a home that was just west of the cemetery on what is now called the Ririe Highway. I asked Tiffany if she knew where that was and she said that she most certainly did. It was decided that in some future year around the 4th of July (because Tiffany's father always puts on an amazing fireworks show) we would visit Rigby and try to locate the house.

With the Wheeler Reunion/Yellowstone plans starting on July 5th we knew that tracking down Grandpa's old haunts was meant to be, and so we found a place to stay on the 4th of July and I went to work trying to figure out exactly where to go. As I said before, I didn't have an address, but I knew it was near a cemetery on a highway. Luckily for me, that location was pretty easy to find. Thanks Google Maps! From that point though I was a little lost for a while. I got online and tried to see if I could find an address. Census Records I thought, I was wrong. I found lots of census records for the family but they didn't list the street address. I looked at lots of pictures that people have posted on the Family Search website and one of them was of "the old family home" I wondered if that was the home I was looking for. I went back to my Grandfather's history. he said that the home was "just west of the Rigby Cemetery" and so I returned to google maps, at the cemetery I switched the map to street view, I then inched down the road looking at each home. Sure enough, not too far down the road I saw the home from the picture. It felt to me like a MIRACLE, like I had been led to the picture and then to the street view map that would help me feel very secure in the fact that I knew where we needed to go.

We dropped off our luggage at the home of a friends brother and then headed out to find the old family home. It was easy! There were people sitting on the front porch- it was the 4th of July after all and apparently the family who lives there was having a BBQ. I approached and told them that I didn't want to bother them but that I am the Great Granddaughter of the man who built the home and I was wondering if we could wander around the property. I was directed to the owner of the house and she told us YES! She told me that she and her husband purchased the home 30 years ago and that we were not the first group of Dowdles who had visited. This made me very happy.

The current family owns the home and 2 acres of land. According to my grandfathers history, his father owned 14 acres. Grandpa grew up in this home and the home next door was owned by his Aunt and Uncle. His Aunt happened to be his Father's Sister and his Uncle was his Mother's Brother- which made his Cousins, Double Cousins, about as closely related as cousins could be- considering that they shared BOTH sets of Grandparents (the Dowdles and the Chapmans, descendants of these double cousins still get together every year for a reunion). 

The stories my Grandpa told about his childhood were awesome, he spoke about an irrigation canal that ran right behind their houses- AND LOOK! Here it is!!!!!
There were several large trees on the edge of the irrigation canal, you could tell that many children had played in and on those trees. I am sure those trees are old enough that my grandfather would have also played on them, and now my children have too! 

There was an old bridge across the canal, we dipped our feet, it was VERY cold!
See that thistle? I wanted a picture of the Thistle because grandpa told a story about how he would rid the field of Thistle.......it involved firecrackers! When I saw the thistle I couldn't help but smile.
This is the view from the end of the current property, and my grandfather told lots of stories about building tree houses and playing near the "swale" which was part of a nearby river that was also the boundary line between their property and the property/home of my grandfathers childhood friend. Those trees are near the river. My grandpa might have played in those trees!

One of the stories that the boys LOVED was of "Treasure Island" apparently while my grandfather was growing up there was an island in the river and he, his brother Harold and their friend Seymour (who lived on the other side of the river) collected lots of treasures and buried them on the island- thus the name "Treasure Island" we were able to get to the river and walk down the bank a bit but I don't think the island exists anymore. this was a very, very sad thing for my boys. If J could, he would have spent as long as it took, and walked as far as he could down that river in order to find that island. This made me happy, because it means that a story from his families history had excited him!

We then went and found some dinner and a park to play at for a while. Then we made our way over to the Snowder's house. Sadly our Sister in Law's father passed away recently, the family decided to continue on with his tradition of an awesomely large fireworks show. All the kids were very excited about  the fireworks.

Did I mention that the traditional fireworks are paired with lots and lots of home made Ice Cream? This is what Ken was most excited about. (Thus, the picture) It was very, very, VERY Good!

J with a giant Sparkler
Me with my sweet baby who was up WAY PAST BEDTIME. Don't let the picture fool you, she was not one bit scared of the booms, in fact, she slept through 75% of the show.
One of the larger aerials was lit upside down.....it made for a very "different" explosion AND created a large crater.
Our family got to bed at about 11pm on the 4th of July, that's the latest our little kiddies have ever stayed up. The boys loved it and no one was really worse for wear the next day. All in all it was a wonderful day.

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