hiking

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In the Black Hills of South Dakota, south-west of Rapid City lies a natural depression in the Earth. Apparently, the depression is a sinkhole that has 700 feet deep cliff walls all around, that prevent wind from reaching the bottom. The windless part of the site is what makes it perfect for balloon launches. The site was noticed by the National Geographic Society and the United States Army Air Corps, who set up what they called Stratocamp in 1934-1935. Stratocamp was a joint effort code named Explorer to launch two manned giant helium high-altitude balloons capable of stratospheric flight. The crash of the Soviet Osoaviakhim-1 after setting a world record flight of 72,178 feet (13.71 miles), the Explorer program set a new goal…to beat that record. The first Explorer balloon was launched on July 28, 1934. The balloon made it 11 miles up before it disintegrated. Thankfully the astronauts onboard had parachutes on, so they survived.

The second balloon was launched in November 11, 1935, and ascended 14 miles up, before landing near White Lake, South Dakota. They had done it. That second flight set a world record that would not be broken until astronauts started flying into space. Astronauts, Air Corps Captain Albert William Stevens, Captain Arson Anderson, and Major William E. Kepner became the first men to view the Earth’s curvature. This exploration helped the Air Force build better planes and helped scientists build satellites.

In the 1950s, Project Manhigh and Project Strato-Lab launches were made from a man-made crater of an iron mining pit near Crosby, Minnesota, and if weather allowed, from Fleming Field in South Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Stratobowl was used as a backup location, if launches could not be made at the Minnesota locations. As it turned out, the Stratobowl was needed for a number of launches. The first such launch was on November 8, 1956, when the Strato-Lab I gondola lifted Malcolm Ross and M L Lewis from the Stratobowl to a world altitude record for manned balloon flight of 76,000 feet. There were also three Stratobowl launches in 1958, and seven in 1959. The most publicized flight was that of Strato-Lab IV, piloted by Malcolm Ross and Charles B Moore, which lifted off from Stratobowl on November 28, 1959. The balloon reached an altitude of 81,000 feet, and landed safely in Kansas after 20 hours in the air. The purpose of the flight was to perform spectrographic analysis of the planet Venus with minimal interference from the Earth’s atmosphere.

These days, the Stratobowl is usually seen from a popular hiking trail that takes you up to the rim…which is how my husband, Bob and I first saw it. You can also drive down to the bottom, and there are festivals during which balloons are launched…to go to normal heights and to take tourists and owners for a normal ride. No records are set to be won, or experiments to be made. Still, looking at the Stratobowl from the top of the trail is very impressive, and while it is not a difficult or a long hike, we enjoyed it very much, and it is a short hike that I very much recommend. It was really interesting, and to think it is a sinkhole.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg is a hard working man. He is retired, but he never slows down. Bob is an excellent mechanic. He works on the vehicle of friends and family, most of whom count on him to keep them going down the road, going to their jobs, and their other daily activities. Mechanics has always been Bob’s niche. Mechanics just clicks in his head making Bob a great mechanic. He comes from a long line of mechanics too. Plus, with a brother, friends, and nephews who are mechanics too, he always has someone he can call when a job requires more than two hands. Of course, there are times when there is no one else to call to help, and it is then that I become a mechanics helper too. It’s funny, because I am not mechanically inclined…not really. I can follow instructions, so I can help and over the years, I have learned a thing or two about mechanics. I guess that there is something to be said for being married to a mechanic for 45 years.

Bob and I have taken up the hobby of hiking over the past 25 years too, really getting started right after our youngest daughter, Amy’s marriage to her husband, Travis Royce. I must say that our first hike was…interesting!! Leave it to us to choose a trail that is 6.4 miles with an elevation gain of 1,499 feet. Now the trail was listed as moderate, but I’m not so sure it’s not more like strenuous. At least it felt like strenuous the next day, when we made the necessary decision to lay around the cabin we were staying in, putting lots of Icy Hot on our leg muscles. Nevertheless…we made it to the top that day, and I have the picture to prove it. Hahahahaha!! They say that some situations that seem so awful at the time, will be a source of laughter years later when you are looking back. They are so very right. Since that time we have hiked that same trail 14 times, and many others in the Black Hills several times too. We have Hiked all 109 miles of the Michelson Train that runs from Edgemont to Deadwood. Hiking has become a way of life for us.

Bob loves comedy. He was the kid who would get up at the crack of dawn to watch the cartoons. After we were married, he often watched “The Three Stooges” and “Laurel and Hardy” every chance he got. It was really funny, because it didn’t matter if he was the only one in the room, he would laugh out loud about a funny scene. Once we were at my parents house. My mom and I were in the kitchen, and suddenly Bob let out a big belly laugh. My mom and I couldn’t help ourselves. We had to laugh too. My mom loved that he could just let go and enjoy the show without any inhibitions. Even out girls know that their dad loved those shows. One of them bought him a full set for Christmas one year. He loved it. Bob’s sense of humor has been a joyful part of our lives for all these years. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Honey!! You are the love of my life!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Few things can be more frustrating when we have decided to get in shape, that to have the gym we joined closed down. These days, in the light of the Coronavirus, and it’s many closures, most people find themselves members of a closed gym…not because the gym went bankrupt, although that could happen if this goes on very long, but rather the gyms are closed for “social distancing” for an undetermined time, leaving most dedicated exercise enthusiasts in the lurch. My niece, Amanda Reed is one of those exercise enthusiasts, who joined the gym a while back, determined to get in shape, only to find herself in limbo.

Thankfully the gym is not the only way that Amanda likes to get her workout in. She has always been an outdoor girl, and even decided to hike up to the mountains where she, her family, and friends have spent many a winter day snowmobiling in the snow. The mountain; like the lake where Amanda and Sean have a mobile home so they can spend summer weekends there; is a place that draws Amanda. For years, she might not have been in the physical shape needed to hike the mountain, but now, that has changed, and she successfully made it to the top with her faithful dog. What a thrill that must have been. The snow was deep in some places, but she didn’t let that keep her from the prize she had set for herself. That is the kind of determination an athlete knows well…no matter how long they have waited to become an athlete. Nevertheless, someone who has worked out to prepare, and then hiked up a mountain, no matter how high or not high it is, has truly become an athlete, and can be proud of the accomplishment.

Amanda and her family are planning a trip to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It may be part of the reason she joined a gym, but then we all need a reason to get started, don’t we? Amanda works at the bank in Rawlins, and like many of us “social distancing” has her working from home part-time. I truly is a different world these days. Amanda…true to her lake-loving self, chose to spend her birthday at their place at the lake cleaning. Spring fever is upon her, and she is feeling the draw of the lake. She just loves it out there. Her partner, Sean is going to take her on a Razor ride over to Miracle Mile while they are out there. Sounds like a great way to spend her birthday weekend. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every year, my husband, Bob and I go to the Black Hills to go hiking and just to enjoy the area. It’s close to our home in Casper, Wyoming, and it just never gets old. Our favorite tourist site there is Mount Rushmore, and we try to stop in there every year. Mount Rushmore is such a special place, filled with patriotism and honor, but there are things I didn’t know about this, my favorite monument.

Gutzon Borglum was an amazing man. He designed and built Mount Rushmore between the years of 1927 and 1941. During the years of work, no one was ever killed, a credit to the safety measures put in place by Borglum. Originally the monument was planned as a tribute to the wild west, but Borglum had other ideas. Personally I like his ideas much better. A tribute to patriotism and honor is a much more fitting idea. The presidents Borglum chose were representative of specific aspects of history. His original plan was to carve the figures of these four men from head to waist, but with Borglum’s March 6, 1941 passing, came the beginning of the end of the monuments carving. Borglum’s son took over the carving, and at first it continued as normal, but the beginning of World War II greatly hampered things, and the monument was declared finished on October 31, 1941. Not only were the bodies of the presidents never finished, but Lincoln’s ear was also never finished. Somehow, Lincoln’s missing ear was something I never really noticed.

About 90% of the monument’s carving was done with dynamite. The dynamite stripped off the rough outer layers of stone, and then the minute details were finished by hand. In all, the workers blasted away more that 450,000 tons of rock. If you look below some of the viewing areas at the base of the mountain, you can still see the drill holes in the rock that was blasted away. It’s quite interesting to see how it was done. In all there were about 400 works who carved the mountain, being paid a modest wage of 45 to 75 cents an hour, for their extraordinary efforts. These days he probably couldn’t have hired any workers for that wage, but those were very different times. These men worked very hard doing grueling work and didn’t complain. I believe they could see the vision of their boss, and I think most were proud to be a part of such an amazing project. In many ways, I wish the project could have been finished. I think the final design would have been an amazing work of art. Nevertheless, I love the mountain monument, finished or not.

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg has a list of things she likes that might make many people feel very tired, but Kelli is someone who is on the go a lot. In her own words, Kelli likes “Music, traveling, fitness, animals, and the outdoors. Fresh air, trees, blue skies, summer, and hiking.” Anyone who knows her, know that truer words were never spoken. Kelli likes to stay active, and doesn’t like to waste a moment of her free time. If there’s a concert nearby, Kelli and her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg might jump in the pickup and head for wherever it is being held. They both really enjoy going to concerts.

If there isn’t a concert, Kelli and Barry might be found on Casper Mountain, cross country skiing in the winter, or hiking in the summer. Anyone who knows Kelli very well, knows that she prefers Summer over Winter…every time. And there are a lot of us who totally agree with her whole heartedly on that one. For Kelli, as for many of us, Winter brings with it, a little bit of…depression, for lack of a better word. It’s not that she is depressed, but that the weather is depressing. Because Kelli likes to hike, she feels sad when the winter months hit. For a hiker, cross country skiing really can’t compare to hiking. At least, that’s the way I feel about it.

Kelli loves animals, and her dog, Scout is her current “baby.” Scout can be a trial for Kelli, always wanting to be lazy, when she wants to be active. Nevertheless, he makes up for it with his goofy ways. There is a lot to be said for a dog making his masters laugh. Scout refuses to “adult,” as Kelli would say, so his goofiness is always inspiring laughter in his masters. Scout came to live with Kelli and Barry as a puppy, after their long time dog, Dakota passed away. Scout has lots of potential, but lets face it…right now Scout is no Dakota. I know that Kelli and Barry still miss Dakota very much.

Kelli and Barry have a place out east of Casper, Wyoming. It’s home, but Kelli would love to have a couple of donkeys on it. They are one of her favorite animals. Still, she loves most animals. She has a real heart for them. She loves their antics, their cuddles, and yes, even their naughtiness. I hope that someday Kelli gets her donkeys. I think that would be very cool. Today is Kelli’s birthday Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When a person travels for business, they find that they really understand the importance of home. My niece, Susan Griffith is one of the many people who travel as part of their job. Susan works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, as a Client Development Executive, basically she is a health insurance agent. She travels to Cheyenne about twice a year around the time people have to update their insurance…open enrollment. She has to go for training. She has to travel around the Bighorn Basin for getting different companies signed up for Blue Cross. Because Susan has to travel for work, she knows how it feels to have to spend that time away from family. Everyone I have talked to about traveling for work has told me that they had little tricks to make a hotel room feel more like home. I don’t know if Susan has a way that helps her or not, but I do know that her home and her family are the most important things in her life. Nevertheless, travel time aside, Susan loves her job!!

Susan and her husband, Josh Griffith love to go camping in the mountains. They, like other members of her family, would live in the mountains, if it weren’t for jobs or school for their girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith. They go camping every chance they get. They love to hike, and this year, they hiked Heart Mountain, which is relatively near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Heart Mountain gained world fame in World War II, when it was used as a concentration camp to hold Japanese-American citizen, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people weren’t sure where Japanese-American loyalties lay, so the didn’t take a chance, and moved the people to camps. It was a sad, but understandable time. Susan’s family also hiked to Copper Lake in the Beartooth Mountains, but they don’t think they will try that one again, because in Susan’s own words, “It was crazy hard!!” This past year, they did something a little different too. San Diego can’t exactly be considered camping in the mountains. Nevertheless, they had a great time. They went to Sea World, and all the other great attractions of the area, including the ocean.

With all her traveling nearby, and far away, Susan somehow still finds time to grow a garden. This year, she had a good crop of onions and asparagus…just to name a couple. When she isn’t traveling or camping/hiking, Susan likes to be home. She enjoys nesting, and being with her family. In all, Susan lives a well rounded life, and finds herself very happy in it. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Emma Gatewood was a survivor. When I read the first few lines about her, I thought her story was remarkable, but as I read the whole story, I realized just how remarkable she really was. Emma’s married life was pure torture, with the exception of her children, whom she dearly loved. Emma married her husband, Perry Clayton Gatewood, a 26 year old school teacher, turned farmer, when she was just 19 years old. He was a horrible man, who immediately put her to work building fences, burning tobacco beds, and mixing cement, in addition to her household chores. Three months after their wedding, he started to beat her, a practice he continued until, one day in 1939, he broke her teeth, cracked one of her ribs and bloodied her face. Women didn’t have as many options back then, so Emma was stuck. Because Emma threw a sack of flour at him, the police came and arrested her, not him, and put her in jail. The next day, when the mayor saw her battered face, he took her to his own home, where she remained under his protection until she got back on her feet.

Emma and Perry had 11 children, and unfortunately, the treatment of their mother was not hidden from them. Nevertheless, the story of Emma’s abuse at the hands of her husband went untold for more than a 50 years. In 2014, a newspaper reporter named Ben Montgomery, Emma’s great grand nephew, told her story in his book, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” Emma Rowena (Caldwell) Gatewood passed away on June 04, 1973 in Gallipolis, Ohio, of an apparent heart attack, at the grand old age of 85, having accomplished much since her birth on October 25, 1887, in Gallia County, Ohio. Her father, Hugh Caldwell, a farmer, had lost a leg after being wounded in the Civil War and in his depression, turned to a life of drinking and gambling. Her mother, Evelyn (Trowbridge) Caldwell, raised the couple’s 15 children, who slept four to a bed in the family’s log cabin.

In an interview with her children, Montgomery, who worked for The Tampa Bay Times in Florida. In his research for the book, her surviving children spoke with him and entrusted him with her journals, letters, and scrapbooks. In that material he found stark references to what she had withheld from news interviewers: that her husband had nearly pummeled her to death several times. During one beating, she wrote, he broke a broom over her head. Her children told Montgomery that their father’s sexual hunger had been insatiable and that he forced himself on their mother several times a day. He made their lives a nightmare for years.

The woods became a place of solace and safety for Emma, who would often escape to them amid her husband’s rants. She came to view the wilderness as protective and restorative. In 1937 she left him and moved in with relatives in California. She was forced to leave behind two daughters, ages 9 and 11, who were still at home. Emma knew her husband would not beat the girls, and she could not afford to take them with her. She wrote to the girls to explain it to them, making sure not to leave a return address. In the letter, she wrote, “I have suffered enough at his hands to last me for the next hundred years.” Nevertheless, Emma couldn’t stand to be away from her girls any longer, so she returned after a few months. Her life became a prison after that. Her husband would not let her out of his sight. She later wrote that in 1938, he beat her “beyond recognition” 10 times. “For a lot of people the trail is a refuge,” Brian B. King, a publisher of guidebooks and maps for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, said in a telephone interview. “But seldom is it a refuge for something as bad as that.” A short time later, her husband left for good, filed for divorce, which was granted in 1941, and he was out of her life.

Emma’s hiking became a saving grace for her…she loved it. In 1949, she came across a National Geographic magazine article about the Appalachian Trail and became intrigued to learn in reading it that no woman had ever hiked it solo. In 1954, in her first attempt at hiking the Appalachian Trail, she started out in Maine, but broke her glasses, got lost, and was rescued by rangers, who told her to go home. Undaunted, she tried again in 1955, starting from Georgia this time. She was 67 years old, a mother of 11, a grandmother and even a great-grandmother when she became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail by herself in one season. She would go on to repeat the feat 2 more times. Soon everyone was calling her “America’s most celebrated pedestrian.” In 1959, Emma went on to conquer the 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail, trekking alone from Independence, Missouri to Portland, Oregon.

Sometimes, you meet the love of your life the second time around. That’s how it was for my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely when she met her other half, Brian Cratty. These two are so much alike that they practically finish each other’s sentences. They have the same goals and they are going in the same direction with their lives. They have been a blessing in each other’s lives, and it is a sweet thing to watch.

Brian is rather a quiet guy, with a kind and loving spirit. I think he is most at home seated on his bicycle, weaving back an forth over the mountain trails. Brian and Jennifer have a friend who owned a cabin on Casper Mountain, and then moved away. While he was gone, he asked them to keep an eye on his cabin, and in exchange, they could use it whenever they wanted. They jumped at the chance, and when their friend decided to sell the cabin, he offered it to them, and they were delighted to buy it. Anyone who has owned a cabin on the mountains, know that there is always this or that improvement to do, and so Brian and Jennifer have been doing lots of updates to it so that they and their family can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Casper Mountain. Since they bought the cabin, it is their home away from home…when they aren’t traveling, that is. Brian and Jennifer love to travel to areas of the United States where they can find new trails to hike and bike…as well as seeing the local sights.

Brian is a licensed pilot, but I don’t know how much flying he does these days. I’m sure it is enough to keep his license in place. He was a pilot for the Wyoming Medical Center until his retirement from there, but as any pilot would say, flying is in your blood, and you fly every chance you get. He has done corporate flying, but I think he just likes being retired for the most part. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Barry Schulenberg has always been a hard worker. From the time he was a little boy, he worked hard to help his grandpa, Walt Schulenberg with anything he was working on. It didn’t matter what his grandpa was doing, Barry wanted to do it too. In fact, Barry once told his mom, Jennifer Parmely that he was going to quit school so he could help his grandpa. He was going to work on and drive trucks. The reality is that Barry did grow up to drive and work on trucks. His own vehicles are pickups, and he works on the trucks for the State of Wyoming. He hasn’t changed a bit since he was a little boy.

Barry has always been the kind of guy that you can count on.He helps his brothers and his uncles with projects they are working on. They have a great network of assistants, and that makes for a very good team of people. This year Barry has been helping his Uncle Ron Schulenberg in cutting and splitting the mountain of wood it takes to heat their home for the winter. Barry has also been working on insulating his garage. As a mechanic, Barry spends a lot of time in his garage, and staying warm while working is vital.

While Barry is hard working man, he is not all about work. He and his wife Kelli love to travel and they have gone on many trips. They like to attend concerts, and to go hiking. They also like snow shoeing and skiing. A favorite place to go camping is in the Big Horn Mountains, but they also enjoy a number of spots in Colorado. This pas summer, they took a vacation to Yellowstone National Park and several areas of Montana, took in a concert and had a great time relaxing.

A year ago, after losing their beloved Black Labrador, Dakota, Barry and Kelli decided to take the plunge and get another dog. They went to see what was available, and came up with a male Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix that they named Scout. When a dog is a puppy, you don’t always know how they will turn out, but Scout and Barry are best buddies. Scout loves Kelli too, but he likes hanging out with Barry a lot. They “work” together on whatever Barry is doing, because Scout is a little bit like his owner. He just wants to hangout and ride in trucks. He would probably work on them too…if he knew how. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Like most adults, my niece, Machelle Moore has struggled with her weight over the years. It’s a tough place to be, and one that many people can fully understand. Then she discovered Keto, which is a high fat, medium protein, low carbohydrate diet. Many people think it is a new or fad diet, but it really isn’t. Keto is the correct way to eat Carbohydrates, especially sugar are not necessary to our diets, and sugar rally isn’t good for us. The body works much better when it burns fat for fuel, and not carbs.

Keto is unique diet, in that each person can adapt it to their own style and tastes. Machelle used protein shakes for breakfast and lunch, and limited her carbs. Machelle just went quietly along, not telling anyone what she was doing, and since she lives in Powell, Wyoming and most of the rest of the family lives in Casper, Wyoming, she was able to pull off an amazing transformation, while remaining almost hidden for view. As of August, she lost 60 pounds,and she looks absolutely stunning.

No diet is ever totally easy, but I think that Keto comes very close to that place. There is such a good variety of foods that work with it, and the necessary exercise can be fairly minimal. Machelle and her family love going camping and rock hunting, so hiking through the mountain is largely what she does. The nice thing about Keto is that it works well with exercise. Your energy levels are well sustained, and you can go longer before needing the next meal. Machelle has worked hard and stayed with her plan, becoming more active as she went along, and now, she looks absolutely fabulous.

There is really nothing quite like taking back your life and feeling good about yourself again. She is able to hold her head up and be comfortable standing next to her husband again. Machelle’s husband, Steve has always been slender, so I know that it felt uncomfortable, because I have been there myself, and I know how it feels to stand next to your slim husband, when you are not. Now that Machelle is slim too, she and her husband can look forward to lots of great camping and hiking trips. I know that it is a great feeling for her, and I am so proud of all her hard work. Today is Machelle’s birthday…a great beginning to the next chapter of her life. Keep it up girl. You rock!! Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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