After 10 days spent traveling 1,750 miles along highway 90, through the plains of South Dakota and Montana, over the Rockies, through the flat lands of eastern Washington, and over the Cascades, they were finally here. The only problem was the Cecil didn’t know exactly where HERE was.
They stopped in Seattle first. The air was cool and smelled of fish, salt, and seaweed. Cecil gasped. She had never seen the ocean before. She tried to imagine her parents crossing an ocean with 8 children, all of them cooped up in a small space in a ship. She couldn’t picture it in her head. She was exhausted after 10 days with two boys in their Model A truck.
Merle and Bobby were antsy, pointing and yelling. They wanted to get out of the car and run along the walkway. But, Clarence wanted to get to Burlington before nightfall. He had cousins there who had written to him about good farmland available for homesteading. And, there was a large Norwegian community up there. He turned the truck north along highway 99. It was a new road, built just 7 years ago, and much smoother than highway 90 had been, especially over the mountain passes.
“EEWW, what’s that smell?” Bobby asked as they drove past Everett. There were huge logs floating in the water. They smelled of stagnant water and wet wood.
“Those logs are floating to the lumber mill,” Clarence explained. “You’ll see them in the river. Don’t you boys ever climb on those logs. People are killed, slipping on the logs and going under. The logs roll over and there’s no way to come up for air.”
“Really?” asked Merle? “It doesn’t look that hard to me.”
“Don’t defy me, Merle,” Clarence said sternly. “I was born south of here, in Tacoma. I grew up around these mills. I know what I’m talking about.”
Merle wisely kept quiet after that.
It was just dusk when the dusty Model A carrying the travel weary Swenson family drove into Burlington. Clarence was pleased at the verdant farmland he had seen from the road. “We can make a good living here,” he told Cecil and the boys.
Cecil couldn’t stop staring at the tall peaks of the snow-covered mountains. They were in a valley surrounded by the Cascades to the east and Olympics to the west. To her dying day, Cecil would love those mountains. They spoke to her.