Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunsets Good Here, But Wish I Were In Anchorage With The Pres - Plus Notes From Harding's Visit In 1923

The Santa Monica pier as the sun sets.

I'm spending my days going through closets and drawers, calling government agencies and companies, and trying to get an evening beach bike ride.  Well, it's been so hot that around sunset is the only time it's reasonably comfortable to go ride.  And last night the sunset and the balmy cool air almost made up for not being home.

It was Sunday, so there were lots and lots of people on bikes, foot, skateboards, segways, and something I noticed for the first time today, a segway like vehicle that looks like a skateboard moving sideways, just feet, no handle.  (I just checked - it's an IO Hawk, you can see a German video of it at the link.)

Palms at Venice Beach

But I'm sorry I'm missing the big day when a US president comes to Alaska for a meeting on the Arctic.  I won't miss the street closures, but given his gift to Alaska  - renaming Mt. McKinley to Denali - and all the attention to climate change, this first visit to Alaska of a sitting President since 1923 is a pretty big deal.

Obama's trip compared to Harding's
But President Obama's trip to Alaska is going to be a whirlwind three day tour whereas Harding took a leisurely two week vacation in Alaska after a cross-country speaking tour to San Francisco.  From SitNews, July 23, 2003:
"So the Hardings set off on the rail trip to San Francisco, where they would board the U.S. Navy transport the S.S. Henderson. It was smooth sailing en route north, with card games for the men, jerky silent movies enjoyed by everyone, books to read and plenty to eat and drink, in spite of Prohibition.

The first port of call was Metlakatla where Florence [Harding] was startled by accomplished Native Alaskan musicians in their bare feet playing for the presidential couple! They visited the grave of the world famous Anglican missionary, Father William Duncan. (Future President) Herbert Hoover, Harding's Secretary of Commerce, was personally interested in the call at Metlakatla. Hoover's uncle, the man who had raised him after the death of both his parents, had been an Oregon Indian agent who later traveled to Metlakatla to study Father Duncan's unique methods with the Tsimshian people. The widower uncle, John Minthorn, had married a Metlakatla woman.
Mrs. Harding was also given a salmon in Metlakatla on July 8.  They also visited Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, and Skagway.  They got to Seward on July 13 and took the train to Anchorage.
"From Wasilla to Willow the President himself drove the train while the First Lady sat in the fireman's seat.
The President drove in the golden spike to ceremonially complete the Alaska Railroad in Tenana and then to Fairbanks to open the agricultural school.  I'd add that the party spent the night in Talkeetna. 

They returned to Seward and this time stopped in Cordova and then a stop at Sitka on July 23.   And ate the shellfish that some say caused Harding's death barely a week later in San Francisco.

Photo of Harding in Valdez - from White House History
There was also a stop in Valdez according to White House History where the above picture was taken.

You might also find this link interesting:  LaVern Keys recalls President Harding's visit to the new college on July 16, 1923.

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