For Christmas, I gifted my grandson, Josh Petersen and his fiancée, Athena Salazar a Cribbage Board game. Since that time, I have been thinking a lot about my uncle, Bill Spencer, who taught me to play Cribbage when I was a kid. We had so many great times playing Cribbage together. Uncle Bill was a stickler for actually “teaching” me the game, without “giving” me the game. I always appreciated that about him, because I knew that when I won…I really won. Uncle Bill was a fair, and sometimes, as with his family history documents, brutally honest man. He didn’t take credit where it wasn’t due him, and he always gave fair and honest praise. I think I am a lot like him in that way. I like things to be fair, honest, and above board.
It’s hard for me to believe that my Uncle Bill has been in Heaven a little over 2 years now. He passed away on Christmas day, 2020. I didn’t see much of him toward the end, because he had dementia. Still, the times I saw him were such a treasure to me. The fact that he went home to Heaven didn’t really change very much in my life…physically, but it changed so much mentally. I always knew he was there, and while writing him a letter was out of the question, we were able to send him gifts that we knew he would enjoy…even though he wouldn’t know who sent them.
Uncle Bill was my favorite uncle. I loved all my uncles, of course, but Uncle Bill was like me…or, I was like him. I think my dad, Allen Spencer was a lot like his brother too. They were two of a kind…the Spencer boys. Always coming up with some new idea, even if it was a mischievous one. I can practically see God’s, for lack of a better word, reaction to Uncle Bill’s homecoming. My first reaction was, “Hide the dynamite!! The Spencer boys are back together!!” Of course, if there is dynamite in Heaven, it will not be a destructive force, but I have no doubt that it will make a loud noise. The Spencer boys would love it if it did, so I’m sure God would make that arrangement…just for them. Today would have been my Uncle Bill’s 101st birthday. I think he would have loved that he almost made it to 100 years old. The only thing that would have pleased him more than 98, or almost 99 years, would have been 100 years. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. You boys be good and have a great party!! We love and miss you, very much.
It seems like every year, right about Christmastime, I start feeling a longing for the trails and my summertime early morning walks. During the winter, my walking moves from the outdoor trails and particularly the Sage Trail at the end of my block to the now famous (at least for those who know me well) carpet trail that runs through a section of my house. I have a treadmill, but I seldom use it, because it doesn’t feel like a “trail” to me. The Sage Trail is really a walking path nestled between an alley and a creek bed with the Sage Creek, now contained in a blocks-long culvert to keep it mostly in check…unless we get a lot of rain, after which, the Sage Creek overflows its containment through the grates provided for such overflow events.
It is during this time, that my mind turns to trail pictures, trail information, and basically looking for the next trail challenge. The trail that has come to mind this time is the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Of course, we will not be hiking this trail anytime soon, but with tools like Google Earth, you can actually take a “hike” without leaving the comfort of your own home…which is the “hike” I can do at this time of year in Wyoming. My Husband Bob and I, during a visit to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, walked down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail for a very short distance. We weren’t really prepared for a long hike, and especially one that went down into the canyon and then, of course, back up the trail again. The signs warned people, not saying “What goes up, must come down,” but rather that “What goes down, must come up!!!” In other words, if you can’t hike out of the canyon, you had better not hike into the canyon. While we were is good shape, and probably could have hiked down and then back up, we simply didn’t have enough time to hike it. The trail is 8.1 miles…one way, and 8.1 miles back. The downhill version is said to take about 3.5 hours and the uphill version 4.8 hours. I guess that is why most people who hike the trail do it over a two-day timeframe. There is a ranch at the bottom that provides a place to sleep and meals, so it really would be a cool hike to take someday, but I don’t know if we will ever get around to it. Nevertheless, I can always dream, and the virtual views provided by Google Earth make me feel like I’m there…almost.
Summer will be here before I know it, and while most of my hikes will be taken on the Sage Trail, and maybe the nearby Platte River Trail, I know I will feel much better about it all, because while I’m fine with walking the “Carpet Trail,” the scenery leaves something to be desired. While I love my house, it just doesn’t have the classic scenic views of hiking or walking in the great outdoors.
It seems to me that with each Independence Day, the fight for our freedom grows more and more fierce. Our current political situation is not a matter of Republican against Democrat, but rather, Good against Evil. I suppose one might have their own opinion as to which side is which, but those who know me, know exactly where I stand. I am a firm believer in this statement by Thomas Jefferson, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” The good news for the good people of this nation is that we know how to pray, and we know how to fight. What we don’t know how to do is to give up. It may take us a little while, but with God’s help we will prevail…and God is on our side.
Pretty much every year, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I go to the Black Hills for the holiday. The fireworks display in Custer, South Dakota is one of the best we’ve ever seen. The amazing thing is that Custer is a really small town…in fact, it has a population of only about 2,314 people. That said, for them to put on such an amazing fireworks display is really cool. Pageant Hill starts filling up early, so if you are driving up there, you need to go well before dusk. Bob and I would rather walk up there, because it’s easy to find a place to sit when you don’t have a car, and when the show is over, we don’t have to wait for all that traffic to get back to our room. That fireworks display is one of the main highlights of the trip.
Of course, the fireworks display is not the only thing Bob and I like to do in the Black Hills. Our main focus is hiking. There are so many beautiful trails in the area. We take a different one each day that we are there. There is no better way to experience freedom and liberty, than a hike in the woods. It is so peaceful out there, and absolutely beautiful. There are many places that you just can’t see driving down the road. Wildlife, mostly birds, because the bigger animals make themselves scarce…thankfully for the most part. I like seeing deer, but I draw the line at the mountain lions. There are no bears in the Black Hills, except at Bear Country USA, which is a wildlife park, and the bears don’t run free in the Black Hills. Bears don’t run free there, but we definitely do. Happy Independence Day everyone!! Let Freedom Ring!!!
by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg
Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 47 years ago, when she married my brother, Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.
In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a mother and grandma…and in 2018, Caryn became a great grandma. She now has two great grandchildren and another due in October of this year. She loves the time she gets to spend with them.
On October 14, 2018, Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it, but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.
Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.
Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also traveled for bowling tournaments too.
Caryn spends time focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents and work, she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area! Caryn had foot surgery this past year and as you can imagine she did not let that hold her back on the things she likes to do.
In May 2019 Caryn started a new journey…retirement! She loves it. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired finds herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grandchildren, and of course blogging!!!! Caryn has also been able to do some traveling with her sisters to visit family.
Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!
It was 47 years ago that my husband, Bob and I said, “I do.” It’s hard to believe that so many years have come and gone. We were just kids back then. I was only 10 months out of high school. Time goes by so fast, and I don’t know how they could have gone by so fast. Every year, I tend to wonder the same thing, and every year I come to the same conclusion…the grace of God. I believe that God sent Bob to me to be my soulmate. He was Heaven sent to me, as a gift of God. We always feel “right” together. We don’t have to “work” at getting along. We just…get along. It is easy for us. I don’t mean to say that marriage isn’t work, because it really is, but for us a loving marriage is so much easier than we would have ever thought.
Bob and I have so much in common. We love doing the same kinds of things…some of which we have developed over the years, because they were not things that we had ever thought we would enjoy years ago. Still, today they are things we have found that we enjoy very much. It’s not just hiking, but it’s where we like to go to hike. We enjoy going to Thermopolis, the Black Hills, Washington state, the Grand Canyon, areas around our city of Casper. These places give us happiness and joy. We like the same television shows. We tend to be very comfortable at home together…granted, we might be taking a nap in our chairs, but that’s ok too. The point is that we are comfortable and happy together…and we are very blessed.
Eash year I find myself feeling more and more blessed with this man God has given to me. God knew exactly the kind of man I would need to make my life happy, and He couldn’t have picked a better man for me. God knew that we would be compatible and comfortable together. We could not have known that for the long run. We were just kids of 18 and 20 years when we got married. What did we know? He knew that we were both stubborn enough to stick it out together and follow His plan for us and our lives. He blessed us with two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; two sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; four grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen; as well as fiancées Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez; and great grandchildren Cambree and Caysen Petersen and baby Petersen coming in October. Blessings don’t get any better than those. They have all made us so very happy. Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. I love you Bob…and yes, “I still do.”
Whenever I have to say goodbye to someone…no matter what the reason, I find myself thinking about how hard it is to say goodbye. It doesn’t matter if it is because of a death or because of a long parting. It’s just hard. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I spent the last two weeks visiting with our daughter, Amy Royce and her family, and the goodbyes, which started Sunday night and continued to Monday morning, when we actually left to head home we’re tear-filled and full of heartache. You would think that I would be used to these goodbyes, but the fact is that you never get used to the goodbyes. Every goodbye includes a little bit of mourning.
Every time I think of Amy’s family, if feel a little sadness, because there is so much I miss and so much I miss out on. I’m happy that they are happy where they are, but sad for us. I have known that Amy wanted to live near the ocean, from the time she graduated from high school. That was hard, and I’m thankful that they waited until their kids were grown, so that I could be close to Shai and Caalab. Now they all have careers they love, and the girls are even insurance agents, just like I was. My grandson, Caalab has found the love of his life there. We all love Chloe Foster so much. And we couldn’t be happier about their relationship. The whole family is all happy there, and that is what matters. Amy hated the winters here, and sometimes, I can fully understand that. They can be brutal. The climate in western Washington is much milder.
Nevertheless, it is just so hard to say goodbye and leave them there…so far away. We love to go for visits, and we always have such a great time. In Washington, we can do so many things that we can’t do in Wyoming. They have taken us on whale watching tours, and harbor cruises. We like to go to the beaches, and sometimes the cities too, but the congestion in the roads is not so fun. In Wyoming, we have wide open spaces and a beauty of a different kind. We have the ease of life that comes from living in a less populated state. I could go on and on about the differences, pluses, and minuses of each state, but the reality is that half my family is in Washington and half is in Wyoming, and every time the two halves meet, there is a goodbye that follows. It is never easy to say goodbye. In fact it is just so hard to say goodbye, and I really hate goodbyes. I always will, but I love my family, and I will always accept the goodbyes, if it means getting to see them. That’s all that matters. Seeing my kids.
By guest writer: Susan Griffith
I thought it would be nice to write a blog post about my Aunt Caryn for her birthday. In case you’re new here, my Aunt Caryn writes a blog post every single day about someone in her family, or about something that sparks her interest. I wonder if she has ever missed a day since she started. If she has, I’m sure there was an extremely good reason why. There must be thousands and thousands of posts. It’s truly amazing and really shows her passion for writing, her passion for her faith, her family, and her interest in current events. The determination that she has when she sets her mind to something is obvious.
If you’re reading this, and interested in history at all and what Aunt Caryn is up to, I urge you to look on Ansestry.com at the amount of work she has put into her family trees. It’s unbelievable and amazing to me. I can’t even begin to imagine how big Aunt Caryn’s family must be on both sides of her family. Both her and my Uncle Bob come from a family with many siblings, so I can see how her family could be so big after everyone getting married and having families of their own. It’s so special to look on your Facebook page on your birthday and see that someone has taken the time to write a little story about you. Most of the time, it’s surprising to read what she comes up with and you sometimes wonder how she knows what she knows. I know she has her ways of finding things out. I’m so thankful to have someone in my family who cares so much about family that she will take the time to make someone feel good every day.
My Aunt Caryn is married to my Uncle Bob, who’s my mom, Debbie Cook’s brother. Every time I think back to the family gatherings with my mom’s side of the family Aunt Caryn has always been there. She shows up to every important event if she is able to. She was there for all the important milestones of my life…graduation, wedding, baby showers. It’s clear that she loves her family very much, and from what I’ve seen she will do whatever it takes to be involved with her family. If someone is in need and Aunt Caryn can see that she can help with the situation, I guarantee that she will show up and she will do whatever she can to help in the situation. At my wedding reception, I forgot to ask someone to serve cake. Aunt Caryn just stepped in and started doing it without even being asked. I still remember that even after almost 15 years of marriage. I was so thankful to have her that day. It seems like this day in age, people like that are harder and harder to come by. The kind of people who are willing to drop everything that’s going on in their life to help someone else out. You could say Aunt Caryn is altruistic in the best way. I feel truly fortunate to have Aunt Caryn in my life.
A perfect example of Aunt Caryn’s selflessness happened just earlier this year. In January when my Aunt Rachel passed away, Aunt Caryn’s sister-in-law, we really saw how Aunt Caryn could truly step up to the plate. She helped my Uncle Ron considerably to get through one of the hardest times in his life. All of us are so thankful for what she did to help during that time. We know it was hard for her because she was just as upset as everyone else. In our family it seems that if we lose someone, we really come together to comfort each other and help each other out. I am so thankful for that.
One of my earliest memories of my Aunt Caryn was when they lived in the country in a trailer house. It seems like it was just me and Aunt Caryn at the house, everyone else was gone. I had to have been around 4 or 5 years old. Aunt Caryn was doing something in the living room, or the kitchen and she said I could go to my Cousin Amy’s bedroom to play. Amy is a few years older than me, so she had things that big girls had, and stuff that I thought was really cool. It seems like there was a little desk in Amy’s bedroom, and on the desk was a little heart shaped container that may have had jewelry in it. Next to that was some fingernail polish. I can’t even imagine what the heck I was thinking, but I sat there and painted the top of the little heart shaped container with the nail polish. It seems like shortly after I started doing that, Aunt Caryn came in and saw what I was doing. Oh man, was I in trouble. I’m sure I started crying as soon as she saw me. I can remember turning and looking at her and the look on her face wasn’t good. It was a look of shock. I think she just told me to go sit in the living room, and maybe told me I couldn’t be in Amy’s room by myself anymore. I think she was pretty lenient on me. Hopefully, that’s all I did with that fingernail polish. Sorry Amy!
Today is Aunt Caryn’s 65th birthday, which to many of us is a special day because we get to have the chance to spoil her like she spoils everyone around her on their special day. Aunt Caryn, I hope you have a most beautiful birthday. I hope that you get spoiled by all your family and friends, and that you can feel the love by all of us who love you so much. I hope you are able to enjoy your day and do something that makes you feel good. On behalf of all of your family, friends, and followers…We love you Caryn Schulenberg! Happy Birthday!
The other day, I was sitting in my living room, working of a story, when it suddenly dawned on me that it was very quiet in my house. Silence, while not exact, is nice sometimes. It isn’t exact, because the clock was ticking, the birds chirping, an occasional car drove by, or a plane went overhead, and even a gust of wind could be heard; but for the most part, it was truly very quiet. I’m not one of those people who has to have noise around me. In fact, I would rather not have too much noise, most of the time. They quiet can be very reflective and peaceful, but we seldom get it. It seems like there is always some noise going on in the world, demanding our attention. Even the little kids have moments when the noise level is just too much. Even a sibling crying can feel like a lot. I have always been one to like the quiet, so I can think my own thoughts and analyze the things going on around me. I like quiet reflection.
The world’s noise is very demanding. Sometimes it almost screams at us. In stark contrast, the silence is relaxing. It doesn’t force itself on us. It simply lingers patiently in the atmosphere. Maybe that is why the song, “Silence is Golden,” was penned. It is a fleeting moment, like a sunset, and then it is gone, and the family has come home, the television is turned on, the chatter begins, and the silence is shattered. We must enjoy those moments when they show up, because we really never know how long they will last, or when the next one might occur. Silent moments are really a gift of God for those of us who don’t relish the chaotic noise of a normal day, but even we don’t always “notice” them.
Sometimes we are too caught up in our own thoughts to realize that the silence has descended upon us. I wonder how that is possible, but I guess that sometimes our own thoughts can be very noisy. Consider the last time you had trouble falling asleep. What was going on? Well, if you’re like me, your head was filled with thoughts…the cares of the day, that you just couldn’t seem to shut off. What we wouldn’t give to be able to shut off the noise of our thoughts. We can go to an empty place, away from the outside noises, away from family, and turn off the television and radio; but those pesky thoughts in our head are very hard to turn off. Oh…that we could only have a switch for that. Then maybe we could finally get to sleep.
My husband, Bob Schulenberg is truly the love of my life. God blessed me with my husband while I was still in high school. I know I’m not the only person ever to meet their future spouse in high school, High School Sweethearts can be a common term among married couples, and in fact, I personally know a number of just such couples. Our meeting was that type exactly, however. While I was still in high school, Bob wasn’t, and we attended different high schools anyway, so it wouldn’t have been that type of romance exactly…even though the schools were in the same town of Casper, Wyoming, we might never have met even if he was still in high school. No, it was God’s plan…all the way, and that makes it all the more wonderful.
As each year passes, I am more and more amazed at the number of years we have been married. At 18, you can barely consider age 50, much less fathom 46 years of marriage to this 20 year old man to whom you have just said, “I do.” We knew nothing of the world. We were barely past childhood ourselves. In fact, I can’t believe how young we looked back then…like babies. Nevertheless, God blessed me with the perfect man for me. We are largely opposites, but they say that opposites attract. I think that’s true for the most part. There are interests, beliefs, and traits that we have in common, and they are necessary, because to love someone you must also have things in common with them. I feel very blessed to have things in Common with Bob and things where we are different too. We complete each other, and that really is awesome.
Now that we have started a new chapter in our lives, namely, retirement, we have even more option to spread our wings and enjoy our new lives. Retirement is a very different time in a marriage. Many people wonder if they will be able to stand each other, because suddenly they are spending so much time together. I don’t know about other couples, but Bob and I get along very well, even though we are spending a lot more time together. Of course, the truth is we like each other. I mean, we love each other, but we also like each other. We are best friends. If a couple in a marriage aren’t friends, I think they are already in trouble. A great marriage starts out as a good friendship. I am so privileged to be married to my best friend all these years. Happy 46th anniversary to the best husband in the whole world!! I love you Bob!!
Many people use escalators every day. They have become a part of our everyday life, however, it is said that people used to be really frightened of them. When they were first introduced on the London Underground, the executives for the escalator’s manufacturer, Mowlem and Cochrane asked a one-legged man named William Harris to demonstrate how safe the new-fangled contraptions were. The man rode up and down to show that those who took it were unlikely to lose their balance.
While I can say that it is not likely that a person would lose their balance on an escalator, I can also say, from personal experience that losing your balance is not the only way, or even the most likely way for someone to end up on the steps of the escalator on their knees. I suppose that you could say that I have Escalaphobia…or at least did have. It is something I have been able to work through in the almost 56 years since my escalator experience occurred. I was five years old at the time, and people were invited to come into First Interstate Bank and look around. The big story of the day was the escalator. As my mother was preparing to take her daughters down the escalator, I was placed on first, then Mom had to get my sister on and hold the baby. Someone stepped on between me and my sisters and mom. In front of me, an older woman panicked when it came time to get off. She back-stepped, and I fell. As the escalator tore at my dress, knees, elbows, and chin, somehow missing my long hair, I let out a scream that could have been heard all over town. The bank president came running over, saying, “Please don’t sue!! We will buy her a new dress and pay all the medical bills!!” Of course, my mom had no intention of suing them. That didn’t happen much in those days.
My wounds healed, and I got a new dress, but the scars remain to this day, and the mental scars were even worse. Every time I stepped on an escalator, my heart thumped and my knees shook. I always had to make sure I took a second or two to center my foot on the step. I watched as people tried to keep walking as the escalator moved. That would never be me. I was on the step, and I was watching for the point when I would need to step off of it. After many years, I thought I was feeling pretty secure in getting on and off of an escalator, when my niece, Liz Masterson and I went into the Mall of America a few years ago. As I stepped on the escalator, thinking I had squared my foot, but apparently not quite, I stood there, and as the step behind me moved, it scratched my calf, drawing blood. I couldn’t believe it!! I probably felt at ease for the first time…and look what it had gotten me. Once again, an escalator had cut my skin. I can’t say that I truly have Escalaphobia, but if you don’t mind…I’ll take the stairs.