Caryn

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My niece, Dustie Masterson works as a shift manager at Walgreen’s in Casper, Wyoming, and in the time she has been there, she has become an indispensable asset to the store. You never know were you will find her when you walk in, because she seems to be everywhere at once, and the places she isn’t will be calling for her help before you know it. It’s not that the store is out of control, but rather that under Dustie’s leadership, it is a well-oiled machine. She seems to be everywhere at once, because Dustie is a mover and a shaker. A mover and a shaker is defined as “a powerful person who initiates events and influences people” and that is much like what Dustie is. She stays busy, helps out where needed, and keeps things running smoothly, but she also inspires the people she works with to excel in their jobs too.

Dustie is just as much an inspiration in her home. She inspires her kids to do well in school and her husband, Rob Masterson to do well in his job too. Being managers is something they share, although at different places. I think that the leadership qualities that Dustie and Rob have are already showing up in their children. Some things are inherited too, and these kids will do well in life.

Dustie is a great leader, but that is not all that Dustie is about. Dustie has a great sense of humor, and she likes being very silly, especially with her kids. She shows them that they don’t have to spend their whole life working feverishly, or being serious as the contemplate their lives, or even hidden away with their noses in a book. Of course, those things are necessary at the proper times, but there is also a time to be…silly, and to laugh about their silliness. Life can sometimes get far too serious, and like the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” Dustie loves the Bible, and I love that she does, and that she knows there is a time to laugh. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My Aunt Sandy Pattan is the family history guru in the Byer family. As a child, she was sickly, and so spent a lot of time in bed. Being home from school, just Aunt Sandy and her mom, my grandma, Hattie Byer, gave them much time to sit and talk. Remember that while television did exist, it was not common in most homes, and I don’t believe that my grandparents had one when the kids were growing up. There were too many other things that the family needed in the home, like food, for example. Video games were not invented yet, so Aunt Sandy was left with books, and Grandma’s stories to entertain her through the hours over recuperating from this cold or that flu, which seemed to attack her often.

My grandmother grew up in the early 1900s, and by the time Aunt Sandy came along in 1945, Grandma and Grandpa had eight other children. Aunt Sandy would be their last child. While Grandma and Grandpa disagreed on her name, Grandpa honored their decision to let the older kids decide between Sonya and Sandra. He was an honorable man. Grandma told her youngest child about a time when the Indians being around, wasn’t all that unusual. Many of her stories might have come from her parents and in-laws tales, but she remembered them all, and passed them on to her daughter, who absorbed them like a sponge. I recall my history classes in school, filled with dry boring date memorization, but when history is told like the story it is, it is amazingly interesting. That’s how Aunt Sandy got to learn history…or shall I say really learn history. When you think about an Indian who spends hours sitting on his horse looking at the wife of a respected friend, because he thought she was beautiful, and still never disrespecting her, because she was the wife of his friend, and you know that the woman was your grandmother, you can begin to relate to history as a story.

Aunt Sandy has never lost her love of history, and especially family history. Her parents came from large families and then went on to have a large family, so there was a lot of interesting activities. From the days of gunslingers to the first planes, cars, television, and so many other inventions, her parents had seen it all…or at least heard all about it. The events of history are so amazing, that the current days seem to pale in comparison. I now that my Aunt Sandy loved hearing all the family stories as they were passed down from mother to daughter, and I’m sure that she thought her family was the most amazing on in history, but the reality is that they were probably just a normal, every day, run of the mill families, living their life in the normal way for the times. It’s just that to the hearer of the story of history, it is so far back in time, and so unusual compared to today’s world, that it seems almost far-fetched, except that it isn’t. It’s the true story of history, and like Aunt Sandy, I will always be grateful to be the one the stories are told to. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg has had a rough year, due to the loss of his mother, Rachel Schulenberg on January 19, 2021. Still, Tucker is a good boy, who always made his parents proud. He has a good heart and a loving way about him. When the family gets together for our monthly dinners, Tucker is always willing to hang out and play with his girl cousins, and his boy cousin too. They are all much younger than he is, but that doesn’t make any difference. He never shuns them.

Tucker has his own ideas on most things, and he doesn’t mind telling what they are, but he is also ok with other people having other ideas, something that is somewhat rare in these days of everyone getting offended so easily. Tucker is a Conservative, and he doesn’t mind telling you so. He has a mind of his own, and he makes sure he is informed about the things going on around him. Now, I call that one wise kid.

Tucker came to our family at two years old, when his mom married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg. Tucker had a. pretty much, absent dad, and he knew that Ron, who was his step-dad then, was going to be a better dad to him. It was Tucker who approached the adoption idea with Ron. Ron was so pleased, because he wanted nothing more than to truly be Tucker’s daddy. That couldn’t happen until Tucker’s real dad decided to allow his parental rights to be terminated. It took a while, but finally the day came, when he said ok. They all went straight to the court house, and signed the paperwork to get everything started. Soon after, on June 27, 2019, it was official, and Tucker was so happy, as were his parents. As it turned out, that adoption was so much more important than any one could have known. Tucker would really need his daddy just 19 months later. Tucker and his dad are doing better these days, but they went through some really hard times. There have been a few things that helped Tucker, mainly the grief camp he went to this past summer. The day camp involved horses, and Tucker, like most of the other campers, really thrived under the program. Tucker even thinks he might want to have a horse of his own. While they are pricey, I think his mom would love that idea. Time will tell if it can be done, but I think someday, he might just make that dream come true. No matter what, things will get better. Today is Tucker’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is in the third grade, but she has a very different kind of school day from the kind when I was a kid in the third grade. Reagan and her sister, Hattie are homeschooled, so their day is structured quite differently from a public school. They spend pretty much the same amount of time in class and studies as the public school, but the recess and lunch breaks are very different. I don’t know of any public school where the students can go out for recess and jump on the trampoline, ride a horse, or play with the kittens and baby goats. Nevertheless, that is the kind of things that Reagan and Hattie can do. They also might spend part of their classroom breaks doing a few chores, like feeding the animals or mucking out the stalls and beds of the animals.

When Reagan’s mom, Ashley Parmely decided to homeschool her children, I thought it might be fun to have a play on words with the kids. I asked them, “How do you like your teacher this year?” After giving my an odd look, Reagan and Hattie (who is in 1st grade) have both said, “My mom is my teacher.” That opened up a conversation. I told them I knew that, so how did they like her. Well, they were still confused, because, of course, they “love” her. They said that she was good, and I said that I figured they liked her. They began to catch on, and then laughed a bit. As I said, their schooling is different from pubic school, and it is, in more ways than one. What public school allows the children to hug their teacher, much less tell their teacher they “love” her these days. It is just not done anymore, because everyone is afraid of a lawsuit. I find that really sad.

Life on a farm, being homeschooled has been really good for Reagan and her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. They love the freedom they have to relax in the schooling situation, and even to sleep in, because if they had to catch a bus for school, they would have to get up much earlier. The kids are also getting an education that is much more expanded than other children. Growing up around animals, watching them give birth, learning to milk a cow or a goat, and even learning about death, because that happens on the farm too. Some animals are raised for food, and that is just a part of life. Reagan is growing up so fast. In so many ways, she is wise beyond her years. She is a good big sister, a good farm girl, and we are all very proud of her. Today is Reagan’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely joined our family when she married my nephew, Eric Parmely in 2011. Since that time, much has changed in Eric’s life, as well as the entire family. Eric and Ashley have three daughters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve; and a son, Bowen. Ashley is almost half way through her second year of homeschooling her two oldest daughters, Reagan and Hattie. Bowen attends the Montessori School for pre-school, where he will attend for one more year. Maeve will start there next year for two years. After that, Ashley plans to homeschool all four of their children. I think she is doing an amazing job as the teacher, and I think the whole family is very proud of her for sticking to it.

Hard work is not something that is new to Ashley. As a farm girl, she has many jobs. She not only takes care of her home and children and homeschools the children, she also feeds and cares for the farm animals, milks the cow and goats, collects the eggs, helps her husband and dad, Albert Eighmy unload and stack hay for their farm animals. I can’t imagine everything that goes into having farm animals, but I know that you have to clean up after them, and feed them, and those that have to be milked, must be milked twice a day. It means early mornings and sometimes late evenings. When babies arrive, they don’t always come at the perfect time, and sometimes they need help, so sometimes she is up all night with the animals. Don’t get me wrong, Eric helps too, but Ashley works very hard, nevertheless. It is really beyond what I can imagine doing every day, but for Ashley, it’s just another day in paradise.

There are fun times too. Ashley loves to take pictures, and so she plans events so that she can document the events. Her photography is excellent. She really has an eye for just how to set up a shot, and also for seeing the shot in a spontaneous situation. We have all enjoyed watching her family grow up in the pictures she posts on Facebook. We have all enjoyed spending time with them too, at the monthly family dinners that Ashley suggested to bring our family closer together. They have been such a blessing, and we have been able to get to know their kids better. Even little Maeve, who is rather bashful, is growing more comfortable around all of us. She was a baby of the Covid era, so she was not used to being around people. These dinners have been good for her…for all of us.

Ashley has been a wonderful part of our family. She has such a good imagination and we have all enjoyed her great ideas. Ashley’s personality is all about happiness and family. We all knew Ashley was a perfect fit in our family from the moment we met her, and we were not wrong. We look forward to many more years together. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is not a place that most of us living in the United States would have heard of, unless we are a world traveler or an avid travel reader, that is. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, or playa, at over 3,900 square miles in area. A playa is defined as a the flat-floored bottom of an undrained desert basin that becomes at times a shallow lake. Salar de Uyuni is in the Daniel Campos Province in Potosí in southwest Bolivia, probable the main reason we may not have heard of it before. Salar is near the crest of the Andes at an elevation of 11,995 feet above sea level.

The Salar de Uyuni is a strange, sometimes lake/sometimes desert that was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes that existed around forty thousand years ago, but had all evaporated over time. The area has a large salt content, creating a flat that is now covered by a few meters of salt crust. The area is amazingly flat with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar de Uyuni ideal for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. After it rains in the area, a thin layer of dead calm water transforms the flat into the world’s largest mirror, 80 miles across. Many people have photographed its amazing picturesque views.

The Salar is a prime breeding ground for several species of Flamingos, and also serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano. Salar de Uyuni is also a climatological transitional zone since the towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the salt flat during the summer cannot permeate beyond its drier western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert. During the dry season, the water on the playa dries up, and forms crystalline formations as the salt dries out. During the wet season it becomes a shallow lake that reflects the sky beautifully.

“Salar means salt flat in Spanish. Uyuni originates from the Aymara language and means a pen (enclosure); Uyuni is a surname and the name of a town that serves as a gateway for tourists visiting the Salar. Thus Salar de Uyuni can be loosely translated as a salt flat with enclosures, the latter possibly referring to the “islands” of the Salar; or as “salt-flat at Uyuni (the town named ‘pen for animals’)”.

On the morning of October 21, 1966, a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip occurred on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil. A spoil tip, also called a boney pile, culm bank, gob pile, waste tip, or…in Scotland, bing, is a pile built of accumulated spoil…waste material removed during mining. These waste materials are typically composed of shale, but they also contain smaller quantities of carboniferous sandstone and other residues. Spoil tips are not formed of slag, but in some areas, such as England and Wales, they are referred to as slag heaps. The area near Aberfan overlaid a natural spring, and a period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry. The disaster killed 116 children and 28 adults, as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and a row of houses. The accident left just five survivors and wiped out half the town’s youth. The Aberfan disaster became one of the United Kingdom’s worst coal mining accidents, but strangely it isn’t anything like a normal coal mining accident.

The colliery spoil tip was the responsibility of the National Coal Board (NCB), and the inquiry into the disaster placed the blame on the organization, also naming nine employees. When everything broke loose, the resulting landslide sent 140,000 cubic yards of coal waste in a tidal wave 40-feet high hurtling down the mountainside where Merthyr Vale Colliery stood. The slide destroyed farmhouses, cottages, houses, and part of the neighboring County Secondary School. The avalanche is thought to have been the result of shoddy construction and a build-up of water in one of the colliery’s spoil tips…piles of waste material removed during mining.

Like many countries and areas, Wales was known for coal mining during the Industrial Revolution. Aberfan’s colliery opened in 1869. It didn’t take long for it to run out of space for waste, and by 1916 the space on the mountain valley floor was full. At that point, the colliery started “tipping” on the mountainside above the town. In 1966 it amassed seven tips containing 2.7 million cubic yards of colliery spoil.

Aberfan’s town council had contacted the National Coal Board to express concerns over the spoil tips years before the incident, following a non-lethal accident on the colliery. Unfortunately, they took no action at that time, and the issue was never addressed. The tip that fell on October 21 covered material that previously slipped. The disaster received widespread national attention. Queen Elizabeth II did not visit the site until eight days after the accident, and she admitted later that not going sooner was one of her biggest regrets. Once the disaster happened, little can be done to fix the matter, but the Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act was passed in 1969 to add provisions when using mining tips, among other things. Sadly it was too late for those lost, but it was good news for future miners and the surrounding towns.

When a ship sinks, we expect to be able to find it, or at least find out where it went down. With radios, making it possible to receive a “May Day” call, we expect to be able to pinpoint the location of the floundering ship. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, no matter how hard we search for the ship, plane, and even car, but the search seems to be in vain. I think it is more common to have a search without success when it comes to a ship or even a plane in the ocean. It is so hard to see something that is so far below the surface. Still, it seems like after a century or more, there should be some breakthrough…shouldn’t there.

A 550-foot-long naval ship, USS Cyclops debuted in 1910. The ship was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak…at least in it’s early days. It moved coal around the seas, as well as providing aid to refugees. Then, during World War I, USS Cyclops became a naval transporter. In 1918, the Cyclops, with it’s crew of 306 people and 11,000 tons of manganese, sailed from Brazil. The ship made a stop in Barbados and then sailed on toward Baltimore. Somewhere along the way, it disappeared. Strangely, there was no SOS made. It was as if the ocean had swallowed the ship up. Now one knew exactly where to look for it, because it had sailed quite a ways from its last known location. Maybe if there had been a distress call of any kind, they could have had a general location. Without that, they didn’t know if it had gone off course, or how fast it was traveling, so there was no way to be sure. It was thought that the Cyclops may have gone down in the Puerto Rico Trench. The waters there run very deep, which would have made it very difficult to located the ship in 1918. Still, there was another hazardous area…the Bermuda Triangle, and some people thought that might be to blame.

The US Navy calls the tragedy of Cyclops, “The disappearance of this ship has been one of the most baffling mysteries in the annals of the Navy. All attempts to locate her have proved unsuccessful.” To this day, the original Cyclops has never been found. Many other ships that were lost at sea have been found, many that were lost before Cyclops, but there has been no sign of Cyclops. The mystery of Cyclops might never be solved, and considering the lives lost, that is very sad indeed.

My uncle, Jim Richards has always been there when people need help. I’m sure it started when he was just a boy. When his dad passed away, Uncle Jim stepped up and helped out around the house and with the family finances and anything else his mom needed. He was a good son, and a great blessing to his mom, who needed that support after losing her husband. People don’t really expect a boy to fill the shoes of his dad, but they couldn’t have stopped Uncle Jim if they had tried. He was one determined little boy.

As Uncle Jim grew up, the same determination followed him. He and his brothers were excellent athletes, and and they were respected at school. Like any other high school group, there were parties to got to, but one friend of Uncle Jim’s later told him that when he was a little drunk after a party, he would follow Uncle Jim home, because he knew he would get there safely. I don’t think Uncle Jim had any idea just how many people he had influenced as a kid.

When Uncle Jim fell in love with my Aunt Dixie Byer, it was a forever kind of love. He wanted nothing more than to go wherever she was going. If she had a project to work on, she could count on him to lend a hand if needed. When it was their family’s turn to host the annual Byer Family Christmas party, he was there to help, even if all the creativity came from the girls. Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie had three children, Jeannie, Jim, and Raelynn, and all were talented, but Aunt Dixie and the girls were very crafty. Aunt Dixie says the craft ideas were all Jeannie’s, and maybe they were, but they all did the work. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, so when I see it, I am just a little bit in awe. As for Uncle Jim and Jimmy Ray’s part…well, they were the heavy lifters, even if the stuff they were lifting wasn’t all that heavy. Like every family in the Byer clan, when it was their turn the Richards family planned the Christmas party. The party under the Richard’s crew was filled with crafts. I think their family makes a good team.

Over the years, through think and thin, for better or worse, the Richards family has stood by each other, and helped their parents with anything they needed. It is a blessing to many of us to see the kids and grandkids helping Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie with anything they needed. While there have been losses, they have all stuck together, and it is a beautiful thing to see. Today is Uncle Jim’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have lived in Wyoming since I was three years old, and so sometimes it’s easy for me to forget some of the places that have great historical value, but they are not as well known as some of the other places, like Yellowstone National Park. Register Cliff is one such landmark that I don’t often think about, although I have been there, and it really is a cool place.

Register Cliff is a sandstone cliff, that is located on the Oregon Trail. The cliff is a soft, chalky, limestone wall rising more than 100 feet above the North Platte River. When my sisters and I were kids, our parents would take us on trips, and point out every (and I mean every) Oregon Trail marker that we passed. In Wyoming, that is a lot of markers. As the emigrants made their way on the Oregon Trail, searching for a better life in the west, they came upon this cliff and chiseled the names of their families on the soft stones of the cliff. It was one of the key checkpoint landmarks for parties heading west along the Platte River valley west of Fort John, Wyoming which allowed travelers to verify they were on the correct path up to South Pass and not moving into impassable mountain terrains. Geographically, it is on the eastern ascent of the Continental divide leading upward out of the great plains in the eastern part of Wyoming.

As more and more people “registered” on the cliff, word started to get around about this notable historic landmark. People quickly began to see the value of the cliff. Besides knowing that they were going the right direction, the emigrants realized that they were a part of history. Their names would forever be carved in the stone of the cliff, stating that they were among the brave people who moved to the west to settle the land.

The practice soon became the custom of the day, and the other northern Emigrant Trails that split off farther west such as the California Trail and Mormon Trail began to follow the custom too, inscribing their names on its rocks during the western migrations of the 19th century. It is estimated that 500,000 emigrants used these trails from 1843–1869. Unfortunately, up to one-tenth of the emigrants died along the way, usually due to disease and other hazards. Nevertheless, those who made it this far were forever known to those who stop by. Register Cliff is the easternmost of the three prominent emigrant “recording areas” located within Wyoming. The other two are Independence Rock and Names Hill. The site was where emigrants camped on their first night west of Fort Laramie. The property was donated by Henry Frederick to the state of Wyoming, to be preserved. Register Cliff was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

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