Wyoming

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My grand-niece, Katy Balcerzak’s fiancé, Dylan Herr is co-owner, with his dad, Robert Herr, of Red Wing Shoes. They have stores in Casper, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Brighton, Colorado. Recently Dylan, Katy, and their precious son, Max moved from Brighton to Casper to run the new store here. The only bad thing about that is that, at least for now, Dylan is working 7 days a week, and periodically traveling to Cheyenne and Brighton to check on things there. The Herr family has owned a Red Wing Shoe Stores franchise for three generations. They continue to expand and grow in sales.

Dylan and Katy recently bought their first house here in Casper, and he has become quite the handyman. He put together a swing set for Max, which as we all know, is not the easiest of projects. He has also completely transformed the yard at the house, which needed a lot of work to take it from dead weeds to green grass. Being a homeowner is, as most of us know or find out quickly, a rather large and never ending job. Houses, while wonderful to have, are always in need of some kind of work. Dylan seems to have a knack for that kind of thing, so I’m sure those little projects are really rather fun. It’s always exciting to put your own stamp on your new home, and to show your unique style. Dylan and Katy have been doing just that since they moved back to Casper. 

Dylan is a very patient and kind person. That is truly what made Katy love him so, and why Max thinks he is the greatest daddy on Earth. Having moved to Casper, Dylan misses his parents, Robert and Dee Dee Herr, and his brother Tyler Herr and his wife, Amber, and they miss him, Katy, and Max very much. They are all a close family, including the grandparents, and that makes a move hard. It’s always hard to live far from your kids…especially when the grandchildren begin to show up. Dylan’s parent and brother are all very close to Dylan’s little family, and it makes it hard, but thankfully it isn’t too far away. they can get up for weekends and such once in a while, and that helps a lot. Dylan and Katy are starting this new adventure in her home town, and we are very happy for them. Today is Dylan’s birthday. Happy birthday Dylan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, James Renville met the love of his life, Manuela Ortiz a couple of years ago, and from that point forward, they knew that it was love. Theirs was not the easiest of courtships, because Manuela worked in New Jersey, and James lives in Casper, Wyoming. That was not a deterrent for James, however, because when it comes to the perfect one…love will find a way. The good news is that James loves to travel, so traveling to see this girl who has captured his heart was no hardship at all. The only hardship was leaving her to come back home.

James and Manuela longed for the day when they would no longer have to be separated by the miles between their jobs. When love is real, you never want to be so far apart. Your hearts are as one, and you know that it is time to begin to build your own life together. That is exactly how James and Manuela felt. While their relationship began with distance making things difficult, it did not stop love from growing, and now they can put those miles behind them, and go forward as one. Their families are so excited for them to become man and wife.

A short time ago, in October, James popped the question, and Manuela said yes. With that one little word, James’ life suddenly felt complete. Manuela was the girl of his dreams, and the one his mother had been praying for to complete her son. In fact, Manuela is so sweet, that our whole family loves her dearly, and we can’t wait to make her a part of our family. Well, today is that day. James and Manuela have chosen Bear Trap Meadow as the site for their wedding, and they really couldn’t have picked a prettier site. The excitement is building, and we can’t wait to watch this beautiful wedding take place. Love is truly in the air, and love has found a way for these two precious people. Congratulations as you go forward in marriage, James and Manuela. We love you both very much, and wish for you two, the greatest blessings that God has to give.

Moving away from family is both exciting and hard. Sometimes the people you thought would never move are the ones that end up moving, and with that move comes a bit of a shock for the family left behind. That is the situation, my sister, Allyn Hadlock and her husband, Chris, and their family, find themselves in today. After knowing it was coming for several months, their daughter, Jessi Sawdon; her husband Jason; daughter, Adelaide; and their dog, Daisy; are moving from Casper, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming today. It isn’t a great distance, just a little over two hours away, but our hearts still feel like that is so far away. the good news is te Jessi and Jason will now be just 52 minutes from doorstep to doorstep from her sister, Lindsay Moore, her husband, Shannon, and daughter, Mackenzie. It has been many years since anyon lived that close to Lindsay and Shannon.

Jessi and Jason would not be moving, but Jason has been promoted to a Sergeant’s position within the Wyoming Highway Patrol!! This is a wonderful event in their lives. Not only is Jason being promoted, but with his new rank, comes a new position. It also bring a change to no more shift work. Jason will work days, and have nights, weekends, and holidays off. What a wonderful change for them. Jessi works from home, so this will be an amazing change for their family, and while we will miss them, we are very, very happy for them.

This has been just as bittersweet for Jessi and Jason as it has for the rest of the family. They loved living in Casper and they love their house here. God has been dealing with their hearts, to encourage them to explore Cheyenne and the surrounding area. Jessi said, “I believe we will find many exciting places to explore there.” One of the big things is Cheyenne Frontier Days, which several of our family members love to attend. Now they will also be able to spend time with Jessi, Jason, and Adelaide too. When Jessi mentioned that they plan to explore the area, I decided to see what there is to explore there. I was rather surprised at just how much there is. When I have got through Cheyenne, it is usually the pit stop between Casper and Denver. Among the things I found in Cheyenne, I found the Wyoming State Museum and the Cheyenne Depot Museum, the Terry Bison Ranch (they also raise camels), the Curt Gowdy State Park (which has a number of hiking trails, lakes, and even play areas for Adelaide), Big Boy Steam Engine (Old Number 4004, which has been retired), Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, the famous Cheyenne Big Boots (giant Cowboy boots), the Historic Governors’ Mansion (which you can tour), Happy Jack Drive (a scenic drive), the Wyoming National Guard Museum, and many more exciting places. I am excited for the Sawdon family, because it looks like there is something for each of them.

It is Jessi and Jason’s intentions to come back to Casper at some point. They are keeping their house in Casper, so that one day, they can return. They really love that house too, and it is where they want to be. They love their neighbors and the house, and are not ready to sell…yet. I suppose that could change if they find that they love Cheyenne more, and it could happen. There would be nothing wrong with that, except that the family would love to have them back home. I am glad they didn’t move far away, and I know we will see tham as often as they can make it. Plus, when we go to Denver now, we can stop for lundh with them, so that will be cool too. Jessi, Jason, Adelaide, and Daisy, we love you all, we will miss you, but we wish you the very best in this wonderful new adventure.

How does love grow? Sometimes people start out not liking each other, and later, things change. Other people like my Aunt Dixie Richards and the love of her life, my Uncle Jim Richards, it was pretty much love at first sight. Uncle Jim lost his dad at the young age of seven years, and when his family moved from Bassett, Nebraska to Casper, Wyoming, following the job search, Jim found himself befriending the Byer family. Because Jim had lost his dad, my grandpa George Byer became a father figure to Uncle Jim, who had never really had a dad in his life.

When Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim fell in love, it was settled in their minds. The were married on June 3, 1961 and they never looked back. Over the years they helped many family members when they needed a hand or a place to stay. No one was ever turned away. Uncle Jim’s mother lived with them until she passed away. They always had extra mouths to feed, but God always made sure there was enough food to go around. He does that for those with a generous heart…and they definitely had generous hearts. I think that when two people are of like mind, and agree to be generous, helpful caregivers, they will be blessed. During the time when they were taking care of Uncle Jim’s family, they were also taking care of her parents whenever that was needed too. In reality they were lifelong caregivers, and that is a hard job that brings great blessings.

All during the years that they were helping so many people, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim were also raising their own family. They have three children Jeannie Liegman, James Richards (who passed away on February 16, 2021), and Raylynn Williams. They also have 6 grandchildren, Jacob Liegman, Gabriel Williams, Gideon Williams, Noah Williams, Jonah Williams (who passed away at birth), and their lone granddaughter, Mayme Williams. Their life has been greatly blessed, especially in that their children all live very close to them and they see them every day. Their children have always been there for them and to help with any other family members that needed their help too. Their children learned their loving and caring ways from their parents.

Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim have lived quite a life, but there has never been a day that they thought it was all a mistake. They loved each other then and they love each other now. They saw each other all those years ago, and they never had eyes for anyone else. Sixty years is a long time to be married to someone. Many marriages don’t make it that long and those that stay together, often don’t live long enough to be married sixty years. It is a rarity. Today is my Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim’s 60th anniversary. Happy anniversary Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Andrea Beach is a single mom to her son, Topher Spicer. The two of them are very close, as often happens in these types of circumstances. She is very proud of Topher. Andrea works as a chef at the Turnbuckle Tavern in Rawlins, Wyoming. She has been there for a long time, and they depend on her heavily. Andrea has wanted to be a chef for some time, and in a way, this is a dream come true. Rawlins is a small town, and jobs there are scarce, so the fact that she get to do something she likes is really great.

Andrea is starting to look forward to summer, like so many others of us. She enjoys going to the Black Hills in South Dakota, a place that is very special to our entire family. It’s not too far from where we all live, and there is lots to do. I don’t think Andrea hikes, like my husband and I do, but that’s the beauty of the Black Hills…something for everybody. There’s lots of shopping and tourist attractions, as well as beautiful drives and scenery.

Andrea also likes to paint. There seem to be a number of artists in our family, but I definitely am not one of them. Andrea seems to have inherited that artistic gene, as have several other members of my family. As for the rest of us…those who are not artistic, we will just have to enjoy the work of the ones who are artistic.

Of course, the most important thing in Andrea’s life will always be her son. Topher has had a number of interests through the years…soccer, drama, and broadcasting. Every child has to try new things before they settle on what they want to do. It takes good parents to allow their child to explore new ideas and phases, being supportive all the way. That is how Andrea is. Topher is able to explore new interests, and Andrea is right there with him. Some day, he will settle on what he wants to do, and she will be right there to support him all the way. That is a good mom. I think she learned from her mom. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a good day!! We love you!!

Tucked away in a sleepy area of Wyoming, lies an Old West outlaw hideout. It is located in a remote pass in the Big Horn Mountains of Johnson County, Wyoming. It’s called Hole-In-The-Wall, and in reality, it is anything, but a hole in a wall. The nearest town is Kaycee, Wyoming, population of 274. It is 24.9 miles away, but it will take you 53 minutes to get there by car.

The hideout gets its name from the fact that there is a large break in an otherwise full wall of red sandstone. I suppose you could call it a hole in the wall, but it’s rather large to be called a hole. When I think of a hole in a wall, I picture a small hole…man-sized where a person could sneak in, and possibly even hide the hole with a tumbleweed, but that is not it at all. The remoteness of the area, and the wall made it almost impossible for lawmen to get to the hideout without being seen. The hideout was used in the late 19th century by the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, a group of cattle rustlers and other outlaws that included the Logan brothers, Kid Curry, Black Jack Ketchum, and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and other desperados met at a log cabin in the Hole-in-the-Wall country. The cabin was built in 1883 by a man named Alexander Ghent.

The lawmen tried a number of way to learn more about the site, including the one Pinkerton National Detective Agency detective, Charlie Siringo wrote about, “I started for the Big Horn Basin in the vicinity of the Hole-in-the-Wall in northern Wyoming. I had received instructions from Assistant Superintendent Curran to go up there and get in with the friends of the ‘Wild Bunch’, and learn their secrets.” He like so many more was unsuccessful. No lawmen ever successfully entered the Hole-In-The-Wall to capture outlaws during its more than fifty years of active existence, nor were any lawmen attempting to infiltrate it by use of undercover techniques successful.

The area was remote and secluded, easily defended because of its narrow passes, and impossible for lawmen to approach without alerting the outlaws. From the late 1860s to around 1910, the pass was used frequently by numerous outlaw gangs. At its height, it featured several cabins that gangs used to lie up during the harsh Wyoming winters, and it had a livery stable, corral, livestock, and supplies, with each gang contributing to the upkeep of the site. While several gangs were there at any given time, they were able to keep their plans and schemes to their own gang. I suppose the was some honor among thieves after all. Eventually, the use of this site faded into history, with gangs using it less frequently. Of course, now it is just another historic site, but some of the buildings are still there.

While many people had a terrible 2020, my niece, Toni Chace and her husband, Dave continued to work, and really ended the year in good shape. They didn’t get Covid-19, like so many in the family and hope they don’t. Normally they would do a lot of traveling, but like most people, that was curtailed this year. The only trip they took was to Centennial, Wyoming, to visit Dave’s parents, Jim and Nancy Chase. The trip was a blessing to all, and like most of us, much needed to keep us from getting cabin fever…no pun intended, because they were in Dave’s parents cabin, in Centennial. I’m sure it all felt rather confining for them, but sometimes, a nice quiet vacation can be very nice too.

As I have talked to Toni’s family members, I am told that she loves her dogs. In fact I’m told that in her family, the dogs, Biscuit and Cricket, are her first loves, with Dave, and her son, James coming in second and third. According to Dave he is the third position. I can’t really decide how “true” that statement is, because I know that Toni dearly loves her husband and son, but in the interest of telling the story as it was told to me, I’ll say that Toni really loves her dogs. James says that his mom loves her dogs more than him and Dave combined. As happens in most owner/pet relationship sources, especially when there are multiple people in the family, pets often choose one owner as their “own” human. That is the case with Biscuit and Toni. Biscuit loves his human…Toni. In fact, Biscuit actually gets separation anxiety when Toni is gone for work. Toni’s sister, Liz Masterson figures that Biscuit sits at the window all day, until Toni gets home. Life (for Biscuit) begins again when Toni (his human) gets home. While loving her dogs more than her husband and son, is a funny thought, it does go to show Toni’s heart for her pets and her family. She also love buying them treats and toys. I think maybe her dogs just like being treated like babies.

While her home is filled with mostly men (Cricked is a girl), her son, James brought home a girl who is in the United States on a work visa, named Manuela. She is from Columbia, and Toni likes her very much. The whole family does. She is bubbly and fun, and most of all, she loves Toni’s pride and joy…her son. Time will tell where that is going, but they are enjoying the journey. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little great grand niece, Hallie Joy Moore came into this world on December 19, 2020 at 5:00am, in Laramie, Wyoming. Her family had excitedly anticipated her arrival, and she was already so loved, but she arrived two months early, and her time on Earth was not to be long. Hallie, who’s name means “Praise the Lord,” tried very hard to stay, but then she went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The doctors and nurses who tried so hard to help Hallie stay, will never forget this sweet little girl who stole their hearts immediately. In the end, she was just too early. Hallie went home at 5:37am, just 37 minutes after her birth.

Hallie Joy wasn’t here very long, but for those who knew her, in the womb during the months before her birth, in the moments after her arrival and passing, and in the hopes and dreams for her planned future, her impact was everlasting. This sweet little girl captured the hearts of all who had the honor of being there with her, in life and even after. Her spirit and strength will live on in all of her family members. We all feel like we knew her even though we didn’t get to “meet” her in person, because her spirit lives on in our hearts…and we will get to meet her when we go to Heaven.

Hallie is the second daughter of her parents, Lindsay and Shannon Moore. She has a sister named Mackenzie, with whom Hallie bears a strong resemblance. That in itself will be a blessing to her parents, because as Mackenzie grows, they will be able to see the shadow of her little sister Hallie Joy. Every time they say her name, Hallie, they will be saying, “Praise the Lord,” and they will also know that their little girl was a joy to all who knew her, and to all who know of her. She will always be a Joy to her parents hearts whenever they think of her. A child has a deeper impact than just the ones who got to meet them. Her extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so many more loved this little girl before we ever knew that she was a little girl. We knew Lindsay and Shannon were having a second baby and we were all excited about it. We couldn’t wait to meet this baby, and that has not changed. We are all looking forward to meeting Hallie, who is with the Lord, and yes, still praising Him right now. That is the beauty of Hallie’s current life. She has had the opportunity to meet her grandparents, cousin, and many others who have gone home before her. She has been held in the arms of our Lord Jesus, and she has seen the face of God. Her life is not sad. It is glorious, happy, and beautiful. She is perfect, not weak or sick, just perfect. That is the greatest physical part of Heaven. Of course, the truly greatest part is knowing God…knowing Jesus…knowing Holy Spirit, and being always happy. One day she will know her big sister, when the Moore girls are together in Heaven. They will have so much fun, laughing and playing. There are no tears in Heaven…just eternal joy!!

My husband’s Uncle Eddie Hein was a man of integrity. He worked hard in everything he did. When he decided to take on a job, schooling, family and family projects, or anything he did for other people…he did it with integrity. People always knew they could count on Eddie to be there to help them out of any jam, or just when they need a little bit of assistance. Eddie built the additions to the family home, that gave it enough room for all of them.

Eddie lived most of his life in Forsyth, Montana, with the exception of the years he spent in Casper, Wyoming working at Rocky Mountain Pack and going to night classes at Casper College to get his degree in mechanics; and the years when he was in the US Army, where he served his country during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1966. That was when he met his future wife, Pearl Krueger. They got married on July 15, 1967…the happiest day of their lives. Their marriage was blessed with two children, Larry Hein and Kim Arani. They also had three grandchildren, one of whom, Destiny Hein, was born on Eddie’s birthday, giving them a very special bond. They were best friends.

Eddie worked at the Forsyth Standard Station until he was hired at Peabody Coal on May 4th, 1970. He worked for Peabody Coal until 2005, then he went to work for Western Energy Coal Company, retiring in 2010. Eddie was a respected worker at all of his jobs, and I’m sure they were sorry to see him move on to other jobs. Uncle Eddie had a presence that made people feel good. He had a smile that made you smile too. Uncle Eddie was always a working man, and I know it was very hard when he had the stroke that really slowed him down. It was hard on him, Aunt Pearl, their kids, and grandkids. They worried about him and wondered if he was going to come out of this, but he did come out of it. He did walk again, and he was able to walk Kim down the “isle” on the beach, when she and her husband, Mike Arani were married. I suppose that it was his strength to come back from the stroke that made his heart attack, and subsequent passing on October 16, 2019, so hard to believe. I still can’t believe he is gone. Today would have been Uncle Eddie’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Eddie. We love and miss you very much.

Rain…most often a welcome sight, especially during the hot summer months, and sometimes early fall months too. The Casper, Wyoming area is not one to get a lot of rain, however. Nevertheless, the rain had been coming down heavily for a week, that late September of 1923. In fact there had been three straight days of downpour. The railroad personnel were keeping a close eye on the rivers, creeks, and bridges. They were concerned, but did not expect the volatile, and possibly catastrophic situation that could be heading their way. Cole Creek was reported to have less than 16 inches of rainwater in its bed and by 8pm on September 27th, and the bridge was believed secure. Hours later, the water level would reportedly rise two feet in half an hour.

On September 27, 1923, The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Number 30 passenger train left Casper for Denver at approximately 8:30pm with approximately 60-70 passengers on board. the exact number is unknown. The train reached Cole Creek by 9:15pm and approached the Cole Creek bridge shortly after. Unexpectedly, Number 30 attempted to slow, and eventually braked upon realizing the usually dry gully below was now a torrent of rushing water and vision was severely limited. It is unknown if the rushing water was unnerving or if they saw something of the impending disaster through the rain, but they did attempt to slow down. Unfortunately, the bridge’s trestle had already been washed out or badly weakened. The realization of the situation came too late for the crew of CBQ number 30.

The 100-ton locomotive engine and first five, of seven train cars plummeted into the sand and water below. Most of the passengers were in two of these cars. Ans the cars hit, metal crunched, windows and doors burst under flood of water, steam from the engine scalded passengers and worse, and it would take more than an hour for help to arrive, especially when the first call to the Casper dispatcher’s office didn’t come for 45 minutes. From that point, the city sprang into action. Emergency news alerts calling for doctors and volunteers flashed across movie screens in town. The residents first thought it was a refinery disaster…which was much more expected here than a train wreck. Instead, however, they were faced with the greatest train wreck in Wyoming’s history, as it would come to be known.

Try as they might, rescue crews could do very little until the following morning. At first, bodies were found washed down the North Platte River for hundreds of yards, but they would eventually reach miles down the river. The massive recovery efforts would continue for weeks. The cleanup ended October 15, still daily reports were provided by local newspapers and radio. There were still people missing, but winter was upon them, and anyone who lives near the Platte River, or it’s tributaries, knows that once the ice sets in, bodies remain hidden beneath the surface.

The body of the train’s conductor, Guy Goff, was found seven months later, in May 1924, washed down the North Platte. Engineer, Ed Spangler, was discovered in January of the following year. In all, the cost of the wreck totaled close to a million dollars and 31 deaths are reported, although the final number remains uncertain because of the discrepancy in passenger numbers. The day after the wreck, a nine-year-old boy was seen searching for days for his father at the wreck site. No confirmation was received that the man was ever found.

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