Friday, December 4, 2020

Summer Winter in California

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org

The great writer, Mark Twain, once remarked that the coldest winter he had ever experienced was the summer he spent in San Francisco. Having visited San Francisco in the summer many times, I can personally confirm Twain’s statement! A few weeks ago, my wife Cindy and I finally found the time to get away for a few days and San Francisco is where we landed.

We have had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco a couple of times a year for the past 14 years and throughout these many years, we have made many good friends out there.

There is just something very special about northern California and that region of the state is completely different than southern California. The people, the architecture, the landscape, it’s completely different than anywhere else I have visited in this country.

This great state and some of my very extended family members once met at an intersection in our family’s history. John Cousar Kirk, (grandfather of my great aunt, Elizabeth Kirk Thomas who helped rear me), left his home in South Carolina and found gold in California during the gold rush of 1849. Due to the illness of his brother who had accompanied him on that trip, Kirk left California with his brother trying to return home.

His brother died aboard their ship just in sight on New Orleans. While in New Orleans, for some reason, Kirk made his way up the Mississippi river on another boat and got off in the old town of Prentiss near Rosedale. Just north of these small settlements he found a piece of farm land on the river and purchased it with the gold he had discovered in California.

My great aunt, Aunte (pronounced Aun-tee), told me this story over and over when I was growing up. She would always attach an additional side-bar story of the time her father took her entire family on an Alaskan cruise when she was a young girl around 1915. Not long before she died in 1986, she showed me several old photos of that trip and a postcard from the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco where the family stayed for almost a month on that trip to Alaska.

Just before Cindy and I left for our trip to California a few weeks ago, I ran across one of these old photos of that hotel and I made it a point while in San Francisco to visit this great landmark. What an amazing hotel with so much history – the kings, queens, presidents, and other notable historic figures who have stayed there and the many historic meetings that have been held there that helped shape our country’s history.

There is far more to northern California than just wine. Aunte, thank you for all of those stories you told me when I was growing up as they have added much to my trips to California helping to bring a little family tie-in to that great state!