Monthly Archives: July 2014

Mud TruckI’m not really sure what the draw is, to getting down and dirty, but there are certainly a lot of people who like to take part in the muddy things of life…like mud trucks, mud wrestling, and muddy 4-wheeling. Maybe it is just the uninhibited, totally down and dirty experience they like, and maybe once you try it, it becomes easy to get hooked on, but I simply can’t imagine it. There are, however, several people in my family, and possibly lots more that I don’t know about, who really love to get in the mud and get dirty.

My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen and my grandsons, Chris and Josh Petersen, loved it when he had a mud truck. They would enter it in the local and even some in other areas of the state, mud truck competitions. The idea here, as you probably know, is to try to drive your truck as far through a mucky mud hole as you can. Obviously, the truck that goes the furthest is deemed the winner. Kevin loved doing that. Winning the competition here isn’t the whole idea, although it is a big part. Nevertheless, even if he didn’t win, he had a great muddy time trying. You see…to me that simply meant having to bring your truck home and wash all that mud off again, but that didn’t matter to Kevin. It was all about the mud and getting down and dirty. If your truck wasn’t covered in mud when you were done, you didn’t try hard enough.Muddy Face

For some like my grand nephew, Brian Kountz, it was all about 4-wheeling. If there was a mud puddle in his way, he didn’t go around it, although when 4-wheeling, he could have. No, he had to go through it, and if he got stuck, then it was time to get out and dig through the mud in an effort the free the very stuck truck. Brian never backed down from that battle. It was man against mud, and while the mud often won, it was not for a lack of fighting it on Brian’s part. That is probably why his Bronco didn’t really stand a chance in life. Broncos were made for 4-wheeling and mudding, as far as Brian was concerned, and that was how he intended to use his. My husband, Bob used to say, “That kid is gonna kill that Bronco someday.” And Brian did, in the end, but he had an awesome time doing so.

As for my Uncle Bill Spencer…well, who needed a car or truck to get down and dirty? One time during World War II, he and some friends were taking a break from the shipyard war work they did, to go on a picnic and do a little swimming. Needless to say, that picnic turned into a mud fight…boys and girls too. No one was safe in that battle either. If the girls thought they weren’t going to be pulled into the mud, they were real wrong. Uncle Bill says that by the time they were done, they were covered in black, slimy mud from head to toe. He wanted to get a picture of everyone, but most of them decided that they didn’t really want to save that moment, only to be haunted by their childishness every time those pictures were brought out. Uncle Bill didn’t care. The rest washed off, and got in the picture with a muddy Uncle Bill, so he could at least document the players.Mud Fight

I guess getting down and dirty isn’t such an odd thing to do. In reality, everyone needs a good way to de-stress sometimes, and something as unconventional as a mud fight or even a food fight might just do the trick…provided I don’t have to clean it up. For many people, it is a way of letting off steam, and doing something that is totally hilarious and even a little crazy. To those people, I say “more power to ya.” I’m not sure I would ever like dong that, but then I haven’t done everything in life yet, so…who knows, maybe I’d like it too. Time will tell, I guess.

Homestake MineAs Bob and I were on our walk on the Mickelson Trail last week, we came across an informational sign on the Homestake Mine. I was really quite surprised as some of the information it contained. Of course, I had read about the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota…who hadn’t. The exact date of the discovery is unknown, but the discovery brought many people to the Black Hills…which was in direct violation of the treaty with the Lakota and Cheyenne Sioux Indians. That discovery also brought about the Great Sioux War of 1876…also known as the Black Hills War. Most people will remember that it was during this war, that George Armstrong Custer made his last stand at The Battle of The Little Big Horn.

The Homestake Mine, near Lead, South Dakota, was founded in 1876 and while it changed hands several times, it was in operation until all the gold mines were mandatorily shut down to encourage the miners to work in more important fields to help with the war effort in World War II. The thing that surprised me the most was that most of the gold mines did not reopen after the war was over. Gold is such a valuable metal, so why would the mines not reopen? One thought comes to mind. Gold was mined underground, sometimes deep underground, as in the case of the Homestake Mine. Underground mining is dangerous as we have seen over the years, with cave-ins and blasts from the gases that can be found there. I have to wonder if the men decided that the new skills they had learned during World War II were a better way to make money and maybe, stay alive.

Nevertheless, the Homestake mine was one that reopened after the war, and then went on to continue to be a successful mine until their last production of ore in 2001. The Homestake Mine ceased production at the end of 2001, due to low gold prices, poor ore quality, and high costs. The Homestake Mine Company had merged with The Barrick Gold Corporation and they were dewatering the mine as DUSEL negotiations continued. This was a slow process and very expensive at $250,000 per month. The mining company was having great difficulty justifying the cost, and the process ceased on June 10, 2003 and the mine was closed completely.
Homestake Mine, South Dakota, 1900
These days, there are a number of operating gold mines around the country, but the state with the largest production of gold is Nevada. The need and desire for gold did not cease after World War II, it was probably just more that a lot of mines didn’t produce the quality or quantity that was really needed to be successful. It almost seems as if the closure of the mines in World War II had a greater impact than anyone would have ever expected. Whatever her end was, the Homestake was not a casualty of the World Wars, and went on to become the longest continuously operating gold mine in the world.

Uncle Larry and Aunt JeanetteMarrying someone that you grew up with is not something most of us really expect to do, but that is what my Aunt Jeanette did, when she married my mom’s brother, my Uncle Larry. Mom said it was strange to have someone that had been an acquaintance suddenly become her sister-in-law…especially a high school acquaintance, because we just never really think those people will be in our lives much after graduation. Nevertheless, it does and did happen.

Over the years, Aunt Jeanette has become such a special part of this family. I love her laugh, and her special way with people. Until more recently though, I didn’t realize that she also shares her birthday with my husband, Bob. As our family grows and grows, that is becoming increasingly more common.

Aunt Jeanette joined our family as it hit a pretty major growth spurt. There were five or six of the kids who were having children at the same time. I was born into that bunch, having three male cousins born in close proximity to my birthday…Elmer was born in March of 1956, I was born in April of 1956, Forrest was born in July of 1956, and Larry was born in February of 1957. I’m not sure how I managed not to be a serious tomboy being surrounded by all of those boys, but somehow I really wasn’t so much.

When the Texaco Refinery closed and Uncle Larry decided to take the transfer to New Orleans, Louisiana, we were all very sad to see them go. It had been a number of years since any of Grandma and Grandpa’s kids had lived outside Wyoming, and it just seem like it was going to Virginia Beadle, Janette Byer, Forrest Beadle, Larry Wayne Byer, Ellen Johnson, Elmer Johnson, Deloris Johnsonbe forever, even though they assured us that it was just until his retirement. I just remember thinking that it was really sad, because they would be gone a long time. I’m many ways it was good for Grandma and for my family, because both went down to Louisiana to visit them, and had a very nice time.

Finally they returned to Wyoming for good, and Bob and I loved running into them every once in a while. It always seemed to be in someplace like Home Depot or Menard’s or something like that, but that’s ok too. When you have a big family, that is sometimes the best way to see each other. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

BobCaryn and Bob share a laughNot everyone is so blessed, as I am, to be married to the love of their life…and I have been for nearly 40 years now. Bob and I met when I was still in high school, and married in March after I had graduated. He stole my heart the day I met him, and he didn’t even know it for a while. That’s how Bob is though. He really doesn’t know what a great guy he is. There is no conceit in him at all. That’s ok though, I know how great he is, so I’ll take care of that part for both of us. Bob has always been a hard working man, who never was one to act proud or arrogant. I suppose that is a big part of his charm.

As a dad, Bob was so sweet, but he was a little out of his league when it came to discipline with the girls…in reality, it is a well known fact that the girls had him wrapped around their little finger…at least a little bit. No, a lot. A little batting their eyelashes, and a little “I love you Daddy” and he was in a lot of trouble. Thankfully, I was a pretty strict disciplinarian, and I think it might have been easier for me to discipline the girls than for him. Maybe if they had been boys he could have done better. I’m not so sure. He is pretty soft hearted…but really, that is a big part of his charm too. I suppose some people might not think it is charming for him to be a softy, but to me it is.

As our family has grown up and moved into their own homes, Bob and I find ourselves in the couple time of our life again, but that doesn’t mean that we are without responsibilities. We take care of parents, and that is a big job, but it is one I would not want to tackle without the love and support of my man. There are times that I have to go to the hospital in the middle of the evening, and I’m there most of the night. Bob is so understanding about this situation. It frees me up to do the things I need to do to care for our moms.
Bob in the Black HillsBob with Corrie, Caryn with Amy - July 30, 1976
I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful man than Bob. The last 40 years have been amazing. I look forward to each new day with him, because it just gets better and better. Today is Bob’s 60th birthday. Bob it has been such an amazing life. I am so happy that we have taken this journey together. Happy birthday Sweetie!! I hope yours is a wonderful day!! I love you with all my heart!!

ChrisimageMy brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has always been a man of many talents. He has always had a love of the outdoors, and one day took up the art of chain saw carving. I’m sure that many of you have seen those carvings in different places around the country. I have to say that it must take a lot of vision, because not everyone can look at a log and see a bear hidden inside its bark, and even if they could, very few people could pick up a chainsaw and carve out that bear they saw inside that log. Now, I have to tell you that while I might be able to envision a bear coming out of a tree trunk, I could not coax it to come out…especially with a chain saw, but my brother-in-law can…in just a few minutes. That has been amazing to me, since he started chain saw carving. How does one simply pick up that craft? He took no classes, he just did it!

A few years ago, my mom had a tree that had broken in a storm. As we were cleaning up her yard, Chris walked up to a tree, and I thought at first that he was just cutting the dead tree down, but he stopped short of completely cutting it dawn, and as we watched, his saw worked back and forth, creating a cute little bear cub standing on top of a dead tree trunk. It was amazing to watch. The whole thing took him maybe 15 minutes. My mom was thrilled. She had seen those around, but never purchased one, and in reality, she wanted one. Suddenly, there it was standing proudly in her back yard. It couldn’t get stolen or lost, because it was rooted in deep in the ground. All she had to do was go out on her deck in the back yard, and there was her little bear.

Chris is a dedicated family man, and his two newest little joys are his grandchildren. Much time is spent with Ethan and Aurora, as well as their parents and aunts and uncles. They love to go up on the mountain to their place up there. There will eventually be a cabin there, Beary Niceimagecomplete with several chain saw bears, I’m sure. And their house is also graced with these Beary Nice friends, and his two little grandchildren just had to have their picture taken with the most un-scary bear they know. Chris’ life is a very happy one that will only grow more happy as new little grandchildren arrive…and maybe a few new bears too. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Beautiful MarlyceKids have a tendency to pick on the child who is most bothered by it…especially siblings. In Bob’s family, the child most bothered by it was, none other than Marlyce. She was the oldest child, but with her developmental disabilities, she would never really be the oldest child mentally. Nevertheless, she was able to do most things for herself, and she excelled at knitting and cookie baking. While Marlyce was great at these things, she did not respond well to the normal teasing that kids do with their siblings. That didn’t stop her three sisters and two brothers from teasing her anyway. In fact, for as long as I knew Marlyce, they picked on her rather unmercifully. They weren’t mean about it, but she was sensitive, so she took it wrong. In reality, much of the teasing was funny, and I think especially for the younger siblings, it was all done in pure fun.
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When she wasn’t being teased, Marlyce was very loving to her siblings, and if someone else was picking on them… look out, because Marlyce was their biggest protector. In reality, Marlyce had a very soft heart. Not only did she not like to be teased, but in her opinion, it was simply not right to pick on her siblings either. She might get really mad at them, but she loved each of them dearly.

Another part of Marlyce’s life that held high importance to her was her nieces and nephews. In her opinion they could do almost no wrong…except for that pesky teasing that they embarked on every now and then too. Funny thing though, the nieces and nephews got away with a little bit more when it came to teasing than the rest of the siblings.

Amy with MarlyceAs for me, well normally, I am really into teasing too, but somehow, with Marlyce, I didn’t have the heart for it much. Don’t get me wrong, I could see the humor in the teasing that was done, but I somehow ended up being her protector, I guess. Marlyce was one of the most special people in my life, and I loved her very much. There never was a kinder, sweeter, more loving person on earth. She has been gone from us now for almost 25 years, but in my memory files, I can picture her so vividly telling me that she made her wonderful chocolate chip cookies. I miss her very much, and I look forward to seeing her again. Today would have been Marlyce’s 64th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love you.

Casper Fire Department July 4, 1891While I am not a real Casper native, I have lived here since I was 3 years old. In a city that is 125 years old, that means that I have lived here for 44% of the years that Casper has existed. During my years here, I have learned that Casper was named after the fort that had existed here, called Fort Casper. Fort Casper was named after Lieutenant Caspar Collins, who was killed by Indians near the fort in 1865, but the Army misspelled his name. For anyone who has lived here very long…or at least attended public school here, that was common knowledge, as well as a school field trip most of us took. That fact was one of the first things a young student in Casper should know.

When the people of Casper first decided to incorporate, this was a pretty wild town. It was filled with mostly saloons, dancing girls, and prostitutes. That was really quite typical of most early wild west towns. The residents Casper asked the officials of Carbon County, where Casper was located until Natrona County split from Carbon County, if they could incorporate the town of Casper. The request was approved on July 8, 1889…125 years ago today, and Casper was born. Of course, the citizens of Casper knew that things would have to change because there Pioneer Drug Store 1892were things that made a town a proper town, and things that made it a lawless hangout. A proper town needed water, streets, schools, a fire department, a library, and a government to assure its stability. The people of Casper elected George Mitchell as mayor, and Robert White, Peter Demorest, Alexander McKinney and John Adams as councilmen. Before long Casper would be home to three county courthouses. The first one on David Street built in 1895, the second in the middle of North Center at A Street built in 1908, and the present county building on Center between A and B Streets was built in 1940.

In the early years cattle and sheep ranching was the main source of Casper’s wealth, and the most successful ranchers built the fine houses in Casper’s mansion district located south of the downtown area. Soon, however the wealth shifted more to oil, when the Salt Creek Field, 40 miles north of Casper, a rich source of oil, was discovered. Soon refineries went up, and Casper became a boom town. Much has changed over the years, and I’m sure that very little about Casper is like it used to be. I suppose that if the city founders could see it now, they would be amazed…or maybe they could see that potential all along. Casper 1As for me, I can recall many changes too. I remember when Walsh Drive was the edge of town. Kelly Walsh High School was almost on the prairie. I also remember when Kmart was being built…at the current Hobby Lobby location, and when it was built in its current location. I remember when the Texaco Refinery closed, and a lot of its workers, including my Uncle Larry took the transfer that would move him and my Aunt Jeanette to Louisiana for a number of years. Many businesses have come and gone over the years, as have people, but Casper has remained and thrived. Today is Casper’s 125th birthday. Happy birthday Casper!!!

Toothless GirlWhen we knew Audrianna Masterson was due around July 7, 2007, we never expected that she would manage to arrive on that special day of that year. Audrianna is the youngest daughter of my nephew Rob Masterson and his wife, Dustie, and she is my sister, Cheryl’s granddaughter. We were so surprised when little Audrianna…Anna, as she has been nicknamed…arrived on that very special date…07-07-07. Audrianna was a quiet, soft hearted little girl, and has remained so for all of her life…to this point, anyway. She is very soft spoken, especially around those she doesn’t know well. I think that a lot of time, Anna is the type of person who is listening and thinking things through, before she opens up to a certain person or situation. Don’t get the wrong idea about little Anna though, because she has quite the sense of humor, and loves to joke and goof off with her siblings. She has an amazing smile and a great laugh. She brings a sparkle to any The Sister Thingsituation, when she laughs.

Being the youngest of four children in the family, Audrianna has a lot of people to look to for leadership, moral support, and of course, any mischief. She loves spending sister time with her sister, Raelynn, doing all the girly things that sisters do, but she also loves all the rough and tumble play that her brother, Matthew likes to do. I think there is a little bit of girly, and a little bit of tomboy in Miss Anna. That may or may not last, but I can see her as always being the kind of girl who can keep up with the boys, but still clean up into a really pretty girl, who will take their breath away. Audrianna has these soft pretty eyes, that the guys could lose themselves in quite easily, and she has a soft heart to match, but I still think she won’t let herself be pushed around either. These days find Anna looking a little toothless, but it wasn’t due to fights. She lost them the same way most of us do, and then waited for the tooth fairy, of course. I’m sure her real plan in this first picture was to show everyone that they were missing, because that is always a cool thing to do. It makes those kids feel so Jumping Jacksgrown up, because they have watched their siblings lose teeth before them. It makes them feel like they are getting big like their brother or sister…and they are, whether we like it or not.

This particular birthday is a special one for Audrianna, because it is her Golden Birthday. That is when you are the same age as the date you were born on. Since Anna was born on July 7, and is 7 years old this year, she definitely qualifies. For her, I think this one is even more special, because it is exactly 7 years after her 07-07-07 birthday. How cool is that? So, today is Anna’s 7th birthday. Happy Golden Birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Harney Peak TowerSometimes, something we want can be almost within our grasp, but still slightly beyond our reach. That is such a frustrating place to be. Yesterday, Bob and I planned to hike Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and we did…in a way. The hike is 3.4 miles each way, and a lot of it takes you up some serious hills. We have not hiked like we used to in a couple of years, because we were very busy taking care of Bob’s parents, my mom, and Bob’s sister. We have been trying to get ready for hiking in the Black Hills this year, but we haven’t really reached a place where we feel like we are ready.

We hiked two really long sections of the Mickelson Trail the first two days of our trip, and yesterday was for Harney Peak. I think we both knew we weren’t really ready, but we thought we could do it…even if it took us a bit longer. Believe me, a bit was not even close to reality. We probably stopped triple the amount of times as normal. And breathing for me was…well, let’s just say I was gasping for air at times. I couldn’t believe I was that out of shape. But, the last time we dared take on Harney Peak was in 2011.

Nevertheless, we headed out…still tired from the day before, but hopeful that the day would bring success our way. It was a really tough go. I knew we were out of shape, but hoped that I was wrong about how bad it really was. As we walked and struggled, the truth was obvious. The one thing I can say, is that it was one of the hottest days here, so far this summer…but that is really the only excuse I have…and the one Bob agreed on and said we should use.
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We did technically hike up Harney Peak, but when it came time to go up the 300 stairs, I has no more “up” in me. Bob could have made it, but he would not go without me. I was so hot and so tired that is wasn’t sure, at that moment, that I could make it back to the car, but I had to…there was no other way back, aside from life flight, and I wasn’t going there. We headed back and while it took us a while, we did make it back. We both agreed that we probably shouldn’t have attempted it, but in the end it was a successful failure. We did technically make it, we just didn’t go up the stairs to the very top. Does that make me feel better…no, but it is all I have.

Deadwood TrailheadFor a number of years now, Bob and I have walked the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Most is the time the trail seems like just that…a trail, but when it travels through an old cut where the trains went through a hillside, without having to go over it, I am reminded again that it really was a railroad. As we walk through those cuts, I can almost imagine a train coming through there. Bob can too, because he jokingly asked if we should watch out for the train. It is like we can see the trains, like a ghost train or an echo train.

It’s strange to walk where only trains have traveled prior, but with the Rails to Trails program, Where trains have traveledmany more people are doing just that. Since the trains are no longer using those tracks, it has become a great way to reclaim the space, and for people to be able to see the countryside on a trail that is a little easier that some of the backwoods trails that seasoned hikers take. Bob and I love our backwoods trails too, but trails like the Mickelson Trail and the neighborhood trail that we walk at home make for a good place to get some exercise without having to go to the gym, and neither of us likes going to the gym anyway.

The cuts in the Mickelson remind me a lot of our travels on the 1880 Train, between Hill City, South Dakota and Keystone, South Dakota. That train goes through a lot of those same cuts, and maybe that is why we can both Ghost Trainalmost hear and see the echo trains. It’s a place we have been before…a lot. We love to ride the 1880 Train. It is usually the highlight of our annual trip to the Black Hills…other than our hike up Harney Peak, which is our favorite hike of all the hiking we do.

As we move on past the cut in the Mickelson Trail, my thoughts move back into the reverie I always feel when I am out on the trail…any trail. There is such peacefulness there, and it’s so quiet most of the time. I can just lose myself in thought, which is probably why we don’t talk much on the trail. We are simply enjoying the scenery, and going where trains have traveled.