oil

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock is a very tall man, having taken after his dad, Chris Hadlock who is 6’4″ tall. Ryan isn’t quite as tall as his dad, but at 6’3″ tall, he still towers over most people. Nevertheless, while he teases everybody, and tries to act like a tough guy, Ryan is really a big teddy bear. He is a quiet man, until you get to know him, and then he becomes more talkative. Of course, as his aunt, I have never really known a time when Ryan was shy with me or other family members. That can be a good thing, but it can also make me a target for his teasing, Thankfully, I don’t mind teasing, and I would probably wonder if Ryan was mad at me, if he didn’t tease me. That is par for the course in our family, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We always know that the teasing is done in good fun, and never mean, so we all welcome it. It just adds to the family fun.

Ryan works hard to take care of his family. He has worked at Fleur de Lis Energy for a number of years, where he is a compression operator. I wasn’t really sure what a compression operator does, so I looked it up. I found out that “often natural gas from the wellhead must be compressed to a higher pressure in order to increase it’s pressure enough in order to get it into pipelines for further transportation to market.” So I assume that Ryan’s job is to be the person who knows when and how much to increase the pressure so the natural gas can successfully move to the pipelines for distribution. That’s a pretty important job, because so many people depend on oil and gas products for everyday life. If thing go wrong, shortages occur. Ryan must be very good at his job, because he’s been there for a good long while.

Still, while his job is important to a lot of people, Ryan’s first priority is his family. I will never forget when Ryan met his wife, Chelsea Carroll Hadlock. Chelsea is a beautiful girl, and it took Ryan about 2 seconds to know that she was the girl for him. He never looked at anyone else from that day forward. Ryan and Chelsea were, and are, perfect for each other. They love doing the same things, and both of them are dedicated parents to their children, Ethan and Aurora. When I think of the man Ryan has become, I am very much aware of the amazing blessing he is to Chelsea and the kids. Life for them is just going to get better and better. Today is Ryan’s birthday. happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dependency on foreign oil has long been a problem for the United States, keeping us always at the mercy of foreign oil companies. When we are dependent on foreign oil, we are subject to their prices and their shortages, or their refusal to sell to us. This nation has always needed to be dependent on our own production of oil, and as an oil rich nation, there is no reason for us to look elsewhere for our oil supply. Of course, the environmentalists would disagree with me, and I don’t want oil spills any more than anyone else does. Still, foreign nations have us at a disadvantage, not to mention that oil production in the United States would provide a lot jobs in the United States.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way either. In 1968, a massive oil field was discovered on the north coast of Alaska near Prudhoe Bay, which is north of the Arctic Circle, but the ice-packed waters of the Beaufort Sea are inaccessible to oil tankers. In 1972, the Department of the Interior authorized drilling there, and after the Arab oil embargo of 1973 plans moved quickly to begin construction of a pipeline. The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was formed by a consortium of major oil companies, and in 1974 construction began. The steel pipeline is 48 inches in diameter, and it winds through 800 miles of Alaskan wilderness, crossing three Arctic mountain ranges and hundreds of rivers and streams. Environmentalists fought to prevent its construction, saying it would destroy a pristine ecosystem, but they were ultimately overruled by Congress, who saw it as a way of lessening America’s dependence on foreign oil. The trans-Alaska pipeline was the world’s largest privately funded construction project to that date, costing $8 billion and taking three years to build. The conservation groups argued that the pipeline would destroy caribou habitats in the Arctic, melt the fragile permafrost (which is permanently frozen subsoil), along its route, and pollute the salmon-rich waters of the Prince William Sound at Valdez. Under pressure, Alyeska agreed to extensive environmental precautions, including building 50% of the pipeline above the ground to protect the permafrost from the naturally heated crude oil and to permit passage of caribou underneath.

On June 20, 1977, with the flip of a switch in Prudhoe Bay, crude oil from the nation’s largest oil field began flowing south, down the trans-Alaska pipeline to the ice-free port of Valdez, Alaska. It wasn’t without its glitches, however. Power supply problems, a cracked section of pipe, faulty welds, and an unsuccessful dynamite attack on the pipeline outside of Fairbanks delayed the arrival of oil at Valdez for several weeks. Finally, in August, the first oil tanker left Valdez en route to the lower 48 states. The trans-Alaska pipeline was great for the Alaskan economy. Today, about 800,000 barrels move through the pipeline each day. Altogether, the pipeline has carried more than 14 billion barrels of oil in its lifetime. For its first decade of existence, the pipeline was quietly applauded as an environmental success, much to the chagrin of the environmentalists. Caribou populations in the vicinity of the pipeline actually grew, partly because many of the grizzly bears and wolves were scared off by the pipeline work, and the permafrost remained intact. The only major oil spill on land occurred when an unknown saboteur blew a hole in the pipe near Fairbanks, and 550,000 gallons of oil spilled onto the ground. Then, on March 24, 1989, the worst fears of environmentalists were realized when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the Prince William Sound after filling up at the port of Valdez. Ten million gallons of oil were dumped into the water, devastating hundreds of miles of coastline. In the 1990s, the Alaskan oil enterprise drew further controversy when the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company attempted to cover up electrical and mechanical problems in the aging pipeline.

In 2001, President George W. Bush proposed opening a portion of the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, east of Prudhoe Bay, to oil drilling. The environmental groups immediately opposed the proposal and it was initially defeated. Then, in 2006, the Senate voted 51-49 in favor of a budget resolution that included billions for Arctic drilling. Environmental groups are still fighting the legislation. I think, drilling at home is the best way to protect American jobs, and our economy, and as we all know, it could certainly use a serious boost right now.

Over the years, I can recall that my dad, Allen Lewis Spencer had a number of hammers, of differing handles and sizes…like most men do, but for as long as I can remember, one hammer was always there. It wasn’t that this hammer was made of gold, or even looked fancy. It had a plain handle, but I suspect it is a hardwood, and not a simple pine. The handle is a medium toned wood, but it may have darkened with age and use. It also has a scorch mark about five inches long along one side, that happened when it was laid a little too close to a campfire. Dad rescued it just in the nick of time. He had to save it, you see. It wasn’t just any hammer…it was his dad’s hammer, and with his dad’s passing, the hammer was given to my dad.

Most wooden handled hammers don’t have a long handle life. That is probably the main reason that many, if not most hammers are made of metal these days. This wooden handled hammer is different, however. My grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer was a carpenter for the Great Northern Railway. His job was to build and repair seats, trim, walls, and floors…anything made of wood on the trains of the Great Northern Railway. He also made tables and chairs for his own family, and he did it all with that same hammer that my dad inherited upon his passing. Unfortunately, I never knew my grandfather, because he passed away before my parents were married. That leaves my sisters and me with only the stories we have heard from family and my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history. I do know that while my grandfather’s work might never have been in the caliber of my cousins Gene Fredrick, and his sons, Tim and Shawn, he did make some nice things. What impresses me the most is that any work needing a hammer was done by the same hammer that my dad inherited, and that even after all the use my dad has give the hammer, it is still in amazing shape. Things were just made well in those days.

My dad took great care of that hammer, because it was as much a treasure to him as it is to me. It is so much more than just a hammer, it was my dad’s hammer, and his dad’s hammer. The handle still has the oil from Dad’s hand on it, making that spot darker than the rest of the handle, and I can tell you, that I will not be using the hammer, nor will I clean off that oil, or sand off the scorch mark, or the one little sliver of wood that was torn off of the handle at some point. You see, I think the hammer is just perfect the way it is, and I plan to display it with no changes to it at all, because it was my dad’s hammer, and to me…that makes it priceless.

Ron - militaryOnce a war is over, the people of the world, and especially those who fought in the war never really want to think about it again, but it is, nevertheless, a permanent part of history. It was on this day, January 16, 1991 that America would go to war with Iraq for the first time, and it would be a war that would ultimately draw my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg back into the service from the reserves, which is where every soldier is for a time following their active duty term. Ron had joined the Army during a time when things were relatively quiet around the world, and he also ended his active service during a relative time of peace, but all that would change for him when he was notified that he would have to go back to active duty, and to Iraq.

I can only imagine how Ron felt upon receiving that letter. I know how the rest of us felt. We were very concerned for Ron’s safety. None of us wanted him to go, but this was not up to us. The government, and specifically the Army had spoken, and go he would. I remember talking to him about his time over there, years later. One of the things that most civilians wonder about is things like how they felt about killing someone else, or even just seeing a dead body that had been mutilated by the weapons of warfare. For Ron, one of the Operation Desert Stormstrongest memories was marching from one place to another and seeing all the death that was all around them…and then simply stepping over it, like it was a rock or tree stump. In my mind, that would be almost impossible to do, but I suppose that you simply get used to some things…or as much as anyone can get used to war and death.

The Persian Gulf War…known as Operation Desert Storm, was a short lived war. Saddam Hussein invaded the little country of Kuwait, because of their oil, making Egypt and Saudi Arabia very nervous, so they called on the United States. When Saddam Hussein refused to leave Kuwait, the war began. The biggest anomaly in Operation Desert Storm, was that the Iraqi soldiers were either not well enough equipped, or simply not willing to die for this cause, and so may of them actually came up to the American troops, and surrendered. I’m sure that the initial fighting, and the amount of war dead lying around the desert, made the decision to surrender seem like the best option. Ron told of this anomaly when we talked about his experiences, and it seemed that it was with a continued sense of relief. I can imagine that the thought of having to kill someone was not one that my brother-in-law relished, but something he would have had to do, had it became necessary.
Ron's Army days
Ron returned to us from Operation Desert Storm, and his time in the reserves ended. The Persian Gulf area would continue to become more and more unstable, but by the time America would again find herself at war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, Ron was not required to go. While it is my belief that the second war with Iraq has been far more successful, it has also been filed with far more casualties. I believe that if we had gone in and removed Saddam Hussein during Operation Desert Storm, the world would have been a better place. Would that have prevented the need to go back? I don’t know, but it would have spared many of the lives of the countless people that Saddam Hussein slaughtered during his time in power.

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!!!

My brother-in-law, Lynn is a man who likes to make jokes. Much of his life is about being a comedian. In fact, he might have missed his true calling. He was always trying to bring out the funniness in any given situation, and if there wasn’t anything funny, particularly, then he would simply create it. He might make a face in the middle of an otherwise normal picture, or he might just pick you up and shake you…something he could do since he is 6’6″ tall, and most of the people around him aren’t even close to that, although his girls are pretty tall, as are their husbands, so the grandkids could beat him out if they are lucky.

He is like a big kid, who forgot to grow up. That said, you might find him playing kids games, or playing with kids toys anyway…but then that isn’t so awfully unusual. Most of the men I know are really just big kids anyway…including my father-in-law, who hooked up with Lynn one day and decided to go out sledding…and not just go sledding, but managed to get Lynn to pull him on the sled. Nevermind if the kids wanted to play…the sled was, shall we say, occupied.

But, one of the funniest things Lynn did, was so totally unintentional, and yet ended up being very funny, although, I don’t think my daughter, Amy thought so at the time. Amy was just 2 years old, and she loved being around her daddy, no matter what he was doing. We were living on the same land as my in-laws at that time, while we got our own land ready to move onto. Bob and Lynn were in the garage working on a car, and Amy was wandering around the garage, watching the proceedings. She was wearing a little white dress with red hearts on it. Lynn loved the little kids, and love playing with them, so when he looked down and saw Amy there…a teeny girl, by the way, who only stands 4’11” as an adult…he started talking to her. I had thought that she might have been afraid because he was so tall, but that wasn’t it. It was just that she had to look so far up to see him. As she tried to look up at her uncle, she instinctively backed up, and the next thing she knew she was sitting in a drain pan full of oil. It was so funny, you couldn’t help but laugh. I think Lynn felt bad about that one, but it wasn’t his fault…just an accidental funny moment.

These days, most of Lynn’s funniness has taken on a modern flair, because now he likes to send jokes out via text message. Every few days Bob will get some joke from Lynn. Like I’ve said before…boys just never grow up. Happy birthday Lynn. Today the joke’s on you. Check out these shots. We love you and hope you have a great day!!

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