hiking

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Because I love to hike, I am always interested when I see something about a trail I’ve never been on. I can’t say that I’ve hiked an extensive number of trails, but most trails interest me anyway. Sometimes it’s just the area of the country, and my imagination kicking into high gear.

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, located between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin, with most of it located in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, an almost continuous chain of mountain ranges that forms the western “backbone” of the Americas. There are literally miles and miles of trails leading to such famous places as Yosemite Valley, King’s Canyon, and Sequoia. Yosemite is the most famous one, and probably the one I would most like to hike. Pictures of the falls often grace the internet as people love the challenge of the hike to Yosemite Falls.

The Sierra Nevada runs 400 miles north-south and approximately 70 miles east–west. Besides the mountain tops, waterfalls, trails, and rivers, the area also boasts the largest tree in the world by volume, known as General Sherman; Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet the highest point in the contiguous United States; and of course, Yosemite Valley sculpted by glaciers from one-hundred-million-year-old granite, containing high waterfalls. The 28,000 square mile mountain range is home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas, and two national monuments. These areas include Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Many of these places are not accessible by roads, although many are. Still from a hiker’s standpoint, these places are much more interesting if they are approached by trail.

During the years when people headed west to look for gold, the Sierra Nevada was often the destination of choice. Nevertheless, at that time, traveling across the wild west was very dangerous. Many rich travelers had to hire armed men to protect them on dangerous routes. Thankfully that is not the case today, although, there could be times when we feel the need for armed guards. Nevertheless, I have found that on most trails, people
are friendly and kind. Of course, there are always the wild animals, which I have never come across on a trail…perhaps strangely, but true, nevertheless. The biggest “problem animal” I have ever come across was a few cows, who decided that they didn’t want to get off the trail for these strange creatures to pass them. I finally had to slap my hands together, after which, they decided that I was the dangerous one, and they left. One of these days, maybe I will have the opportunity to hike up to Yosemite Falls. I think I would really enjoy it.

When my niece, Gaby Beach and my nephew, Allen Beach left Wyoming for Eugene, Oregon, it was as close to going home for Gaby, as she has been in years. Gaby’s family also lives in Oregon, although not Eugene. They are about an hour away from what I understand. Still for a number of years while Gaby was in the Navy, and going to college in Wyoming, she was often as far away from her family as it gets, specifically Japan, Wyoming, and Maryland. That made frequent visits to see them a major undertaking, and not a simple hour drive. I know that she missed them, and they missed her. It’s just never easy to live far away from your family. Now, with this move back to Oregon, where, as Gaby puts it, “her heart is,” they get much more frequent visits. I am happy for them, even though that means that we don’t get to see Gaby and Allen as much.

When they made to decision to move, Gaby applied to several places. As a nurse, she accepted a position with the Veteran’s Administration, working in a VA Hospital. As a veteran herself, veterans hold a special place in her heart. Unfortunately, with things the way they are in our nation, there is a bit of a shortage of doctors everywhere, which includes her hospital. That puts more responsibility on the nurses than ever. While they can’t diagnose, they can care for patients who have been diagnosed already. So, upon her arrival, Gaby dove right in and got to work nursing the men and women who had gone through some or more of the same things she had. Gaby understands what they are going through, even if many of them are quite a bit older than she is. There are also many who are younger and have been wounded or who suffer from things like PTSD. Part of Gaby’s job is to schedule vets for appointments and procedures too. They need a lot of care, and like the doctor shortage, there is also a nurse shortage in our nation, making Gaby a very valuable asset to the VA Hospital in Eugene, or anywhere else for that matter.

Being from Oregon, which does have a milder climate than we have here in Wyoming, Gaby is really enjoying that part of returning home. She and Allen love the outdoors and hiking, and Oregon has lots of places for them to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes. Gaby is also a “plant fanatic” and there are lots of different plants there for her to experiment with. They decided to lease an apartment for now, so they could get to know Eugene and thereby, decide where they want to live in the city. I don’t recall ever being there, so I have only seen pictures on Gaby and Allen’s Facebooks. Nevertheless, like them, I love to hike, and it really does look like a beautiful area for lots of long hikes in the wilderness areas there. I know there will also be some great opportunities for my sister and Allen’s mom, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike Reed; as well as Allen’s sister, Andrea Beach and her son Chris Spicer to go and visit too. While we miss Gaby and Allen, it’s all good, as long as they are happy where they are and they seem to be, so we are too. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nieces, Toni Chase and Liz Masterson are sisters, and when they get together…well, it can get hilarious. Last March, Toni had two tickets to go to the Broadway production of “Hamilton” in Denver. Like many men, her husband, Dave Chase was less than enthusiastic about going to a Broadway play, so he offered his ticket to his sister-in-law, Liz, who was thrilled to take it. This was going to be an amazing sister trip, and the girls were very excited about it. They had a great time at the play, but as thrilled as they were, and as fun as the play was, the drive to Denver was…less than thrilling. While they are sisters, these girls are polar opposites!! Liz is a very laid-back person. Toni, on the other hand, is very vivacious, or Liz might call it paranoid!! Of the trip, Liz says, “Going to ‘Hamilton’ with Toni was awesome. It was a major treat for me, and I would not have been able to go if Dave hadn’t given me his ticket. So, it was a lot of fun…except for one thing. Toni is not a good passenger while riding in a big city. She gasped for every little move I made in the car. Imagine grandma reacting to grandpa’s driving and multiply it times 10. Toni is the worst. I don’t know how Dave handles driving with her anywhere.” Hahahaha!! Sisters…right!! They laugh about it too, I’m sure.

Toni is truly all about her family. She is very loving and kindhearted. Her daughter-in-law, Manuela Renville says, “Toni is the best mother-in-law, she is super supportive of us, and James is her little baby forever!” Manuela’s family live far away from here, so having a loving mother-in-law is very important, and Toni loves her very much. Toni is also mommy to her two fur babies, puppies, Biscuit and Cricket. Life is good!!

Normally, Toni and Dave would take a number of trips all over, but this was a Wyoming year. They went to Laramie, up through the Snowy Range, and to Cody. The took numerous trips to his mom’s cabin this summer to visit Dave’s mom, as well as his brother and sister, at different times. They spent some time hiking in the Snowy Range with its beautiful scenery. Toni loves visiting the cabin with her two beloved dogs, and they also love running around the great outdoors. There is just something about that property that restores the soul. It is beautifully laid out and maintained. The minute they arrive, all the tensions of life disappear. It’s a perfect getaway. Today is Toni’s birthday!! Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a number of years, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg’s story has been life as usual, but recently all that has changed. Oh, many things are still the same. Barry still loves to go hiking, bicycle riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing with his wife of almost 18 years, Kelli Schulenberg. They also enjoy traveling and attending concerts. In addition to that, Barry is a hard-working man, taking care of their place in the country, splitting wood, watering their many trees, and taking care of their dog, Scout…or maybe, Scout takes care of them. Those things haven’t really changed in his life in quite a while.

The big news is that Barry’s work life is changing. Barry has worked for the State of Wyoming for a number of years now, as a field mechanic. That means that Barry goes to the truck that have broken down, instead of the trucks coming to him. That has meant overtime at times, because the truck, especially the snowplow trucks are a vital part of road maintenance in the Winter. Barry has traveled to several towns and sites around the Natrona County area to service the equipment used in these areas. All that is about to come to an end. Barry was recently offered and has accepted a promotion to a supervisory position. His boss is planning to retire soon, and they have asked Barry to replace him.

That said, Barry has been busily training for his new position, as well as training his own replacement who will be taking over when Barry moves up. For Barry, the promotion is with mixed feelings, because he has really enjoyed his job, but looking to the future, he knew that there would come a day when he would really need to come off of field work and have a job that has less travel, less time in the freezing cold, and less heavy physical labor. No, at 44 years old, Barry is not at that point yet but there will come a day, and if he doesn’t take the opportunity currently being offered, he could miss the opportunity all together. Being wise, Barry saw that, and so he decided to take the promotion now. I really couldn’t be happier for him. It will be a different kind of work, but I think he will find it interesting, and he is well like at work, so I know that the other men all wish him well as he moves up the ladder. I’m really excited for the next part of Barry’s future. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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.

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is totally an outdoorsy girl. She loves to go camping, hiking, and just hanging out by a campfire with her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and their dog Scout. They have camped out many places, but they always seem to head back to the Big Horn Mountains. It’s close to home and that might be the reason they choose the Big Horns or Casper Mountain for their camping and hiking. Their dog loves to go along with them and tries to run the show. Kelli and Barry also like to ride their bicycles on the mountain, as well as on some of the local trails inside the city limits of Casper, and in the local dog park, which is nice for Scout.

While Kelli isn’t a big fan of Winter, she surprises me a little in that she rather likes cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Most of us “Winter Haters” would refuse to go out in snowy weather, at least any more than we absolutely had to. Yes, I’m a “Winter Hater” too, in case you couldn’t tell. Nevertheless, Kelli like to go cross country skiing, and I have to say, “Cudos to you, Kelli!!” Kelli really loves the mountains, and that is very likely the reason that she adds a few wintertime outings to her fitness calendar. She also loves to stay in shape, and the different sports things she does help her do that quite well. A dog, who is always up for an outing helps too. Dog owners tend to get out more in the winter than non-owners.

Of course, a year in the life of Kelli Schulenberg would never be complete without several trips around the nation to take in all the country music concerts she can squeeze in. That part of life for Kelli actually takes in what are quite likely her favorite activities…music and travel. So, every chance they get, Kelli and Barry (and often her mom, Mary Wages too) will hit the road or fly the friendly skies, in search of another travel and music adventure. I’m not sure how many states Kelli has been in, but I would wager that it is probably quite a few. When you have a “hobby” like Kelli’s, it can take you to many very cool places…and it can be a lot of fun too. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jolene Thompson is my niece, Kellie Hadlock’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson’s daughter, and she is such a little sweetheart. She always has a smile on her face, and she is totally fearless. She is a totally tough little girl. She is an amazing big sister to her siblings, and helps take care of them, but this summer, she got to spend with her dad, and they had the best summer. Jolene is in 1st grade this year, and she spent the summer learning to ride her bike and learning how to swim. She excelled at both new skills and can’t get enough of them. Her dad is a great teacher, and he guided his little girl to the level of expert in no time. She even jumped off of the high dive in Thermopolis without hesitation…multiple times!! She is totally fearless in all aspects of her life.

Jolene loves to draw and color. She has that creative gene, I think. She also loves to brush and style Kellie’s hair, which if you know my family at all, is like the greatest blessing ever. Some people hate to have their hair touched, but our family…can’t get enough of having our hair brushed, styles, or just touched. Some people might call that weird, but if you like having your hair brushed and such…well, you just know what I mean. With Kellie, Jolene gets to do all the girly things that she doesn’t get to do normally, because at home, either with her dad or her mom, there is no doing the girly things. Not everyone likes the dress-up, fix the hair, girly things. That is a blessing for both Jolene and Kellie. They are best friends, and they love each other very much.

During her summer with her dad, Jolene got to do a lot of camping, hiking, and shooting. She also got to go fishing, and of course bicycling and swimming. She had a totally blissful summer. Her and her dad had a great summer…and they did all the things!! They went to a rock-climbing wall place, and Jolene climbed like an expert there too. She also showed off her climbing skills on the trees in the campgrounds she and her dad stayed in. Jolene got her first bow this year too and learned archery. Tim is a total outdoorsman, and Jolene wants to do everything her dad does, so she is eager to learn and to reach expert level. Today is Jolene’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Jolene!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Siara Olsen met Chris Kirk in early September of 2021, when she boldly went up to him in the local Loaf and Jug convenience store in Casper, and told him that she liked his freckles. She started calling him her “Loaf and Jug Boyfriend” that very day. How could he resist that?? The year prior had been the hardest year Siara had ever faced, and when she met Chris, her joy returned. She once again became the happy girl we had always known and missed very much. I won’t go into the sadness of the prior year, because this story has a happy ending, and I will focus on that. Chris has the ability to put a smile on my grandniece’s face, and in my book that makes him a great guy. Chris fits well into Siara’s family, and she fits well into his. Theirs is going to be a wonderful and exciting future.

Siara and Chris have so much in common. They are both very athletic, and love doing te same activities. The first pictures I saw of them together, believe it or not, they were doing a couple’s workout, and it was obvious that they were “head over heels” in love with each other. You never saw a picture of them where they weren’t smiling…unless they were making a face for the camera. They love to joke around, and their happiness just flows out of both of them.

Siara has long been a fitness buff, and Chris either is too, or he has become one since meeting her. They like to go hiking with Siara’s brother, Jake Harman, his wife, Melanie, and their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jax. A favorite spot is the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. I like to say that families should work toward staying fit together, because it makes for a long and happy life. Hiking and hanging out with her brother’s family also gave everyone a chance to get to know Chris, and they all liked him too. Siara is close to her brother and his family, so that was important.

Chris surprised Siara when she had her back to him and he dropped to one knee, just as she turned around. His proposal was sweet and beautiful, and Siara was swept off her feet. I couldn’t say it better than she did, in her own words, “Turning around to you down on one knee asking me if I trust you with my life and my heart it was so easily a yes, but you asking me if I would marry you was the easiest yes of all! Our souls are so deeply connected through God already, but this makes it mean so much more. I love you more than anything, Chris Kirk!” It makes everyone in Siara’s family so happy to see these two tie the knot today. I wish you both all the love and happiness in the world. Congratulations Siara and Chris!! We love you both!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I love to hike the Black Hills, and with Independence Day and Bob’s birthday on July 10th, it is always a perfect time for us to go and spend a week in one of the places we love the most. We aren’t always able to hike our favorite trail, up to Harney Peak (now called Black Elk Peak), because sometimes, one or the other of us isn’t in shape for it. We always miss that hike when we are unable to go there and look forward to getting “back in the saddle” again, so to speak. It’s not that we ride the trails on horseback, but it might be one way to get up there in a pinch. I think I might have to consider that option, if it is too many years before we can get back up there.

After being together for more than 48 years, married for just over 47 years, we are comfortable in our life. We are one of the forever marriages, and that means that we must like doing many of the same things. It stands to reason, and we find ourselves thinking and acting alike. The same activities are fun for both of us, and yes…we can finish each other’s sentences. It is almost impossible not to. That’s what long term married couples do. They just know each other, and how their mate would react to things. That is the case with my husband and me. We are soulmates, and that is perfectly ok with us.

Bob spends much of his free time working on vehicles, for us and his friends. Thats a good thing, because he would probably go just a little crazy without his favorite pastime to keep him busy. Bob loves working on cars, and he is very good at it. He has a knack for finding out what is wrong with a vehicle and then fixing it. What would drive someone else crazy, keeps his mind sharp and on track. Mechanics is like a puzzle for him. Every piece has its proper place and finding that proper place is his passion…and the people whose vehicles he works on, reap the benefits. And they consider themselves blessed. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! You are the love of my life, and I am so blessed to be your wife. Have a great day!! We love you!!

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!!!

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