bicycle

My grand-nephew Jaxon Killinger is a sweet little boy, who is shy and timid…until he gets to know you, then he is very outgoing and very silly. He is like my niece, Lacey Stevens in that way. Jax loves to make Lacey and his dad, Chris Killinger laugh by dancing and being goofy, and I’m sure he has great success in his endeavors. Lacey first met this sweet little guy when she began dating his daddy, and she fell in love almost immediately with him and his big sister, Brooklyn Killinger.

This has been an exciting summer for Jax, because it is the first summer he has been able to ride his bicycle without training wheels. He is so excited!! It is a new-found form of freedom, even if he isn’t allowed to go very far just yet. Jax and Brooklyn finally talked their dad into letting them ride around the block, and while Chris was nervous about it, they did great and now they want to go for bike rides around the block all the time. They keep asking to ride further and further too. Typical for kids when they start to spread their wings a little bit. I’m sure that his daddy will have bigger worries, because its obvious to me that little Jaxon is looking to drive soon…at least in boats!!

The family has been doing some camping this summer too. Jax and Brooklyn totally love it especially is their cousin, Elliott is going along. Elliott is Lacey’s brother Garrett and his wife, Kayla Stevens’ daughter, and Elliott is totally taken with Jax. I can’t say that I’m surprised about that, Jax is a little cutie. Elliott just turned three, and had a big party. Jax and Brooklyn were there with their daddy and Lacey, and Elliott wanted Jax’s total attention. She didn’t think that he should be paying attention to anyone or anything but her. Even at three, Elliott has good taste, because Jaxon is a handsome little boy, and while he is three years older than Elliott, that doesn’t matter to her one bit. In her opinion, he is her cousin, and hers alone, hahahaha!! Can’t wait to see what shenanigans these two will get into in the future. Today is Jaxon’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Jaxon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

After ill health in multiple forms caught up with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg eight years ago, she set out on the journey that would forever change her life…getting healthy again, and staying that way. The journey was long and hard, but Brenda just kept plugging along, until one day, she found herself of the top of that hill, looking over at the lush green grass on the other side of the rainbow…so to speak. While the metaphor paints a beautiful picture, the real beauty of the picturesque journey Brenda took, as been the views seen from the seat of her bicycle. Brenda struggled with her weight all her life, and riding a bicycle wasn’t something she ever did very much, but when she finally got her weight down to a healthy level, she decided that she wanted to rider a bicycle. She bought a purple bicycle…yes it had to be purple, because Brenda is all about purple…and set out to discover the world of bicycle trails. She doesn’t go on the dirt trails that some people ride on, but there are so many nice paved trails her in Casper, Wyoming, as in many other places too, that she in never hard pressed to find a place to ride.

If I said that Brenda isn’t fanatical, I would be lying. She will get up at 3:30 in the morning just to be ready for work with enough time to hit the trail for a sunrise bicycle ride, before heading into her job in Human Resources at Hilltop National Bank. Lunchtime rides are not out of the question either, if the weather permits. That topping of the hill just to see the other side, is really sort of a motto to Brenda. Brenda has many hilltops under her belt…and many in her future. Brenda has no intention of a backward slide in her health, in fact, she holds a yearly party to remind herself of just how far she has come, and to remind herself to keep plugging along, so she never goes back there again.

While there was a time when food was addictive for Brenda, she is always working to keep that kind of addiction at bay. These days, however, there is an addiction that Brenda still struggles with…shopping. Of course, she doesn’t consider that an addiction that bothers her. Brenda was never really able to buy new clothes, because there was only so much that she could wear, and that was downright depressing, so she shopped from a catalog. These days, however, stuff fits…cute stuff!! Brenda doesn’t have to worry about going to her closet, hoping there is something in it that she can wear. She can wear all of it, and buying new stuff is fun!! Who wouldn’t want to go shopping? If Brenda finds herself going on a road trip, you might as well understand that there will be a mall in the mix. If you are going with her, you should be prepared to hit a few stores. I think her trips are as much planned around the stores and malls, as the city or town she is actually going to visit. From one fanaticism to another, but hey, this one’s healthy. Nothing wrong with a good shopping trip. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It seems that no one is exempt from the effects of Covid-19. My grand nephew, Easton Moore is no exception. While he turned 16 a year ago, he didn’t get his driver’s license until July. Things just got put on hold. With the stay at home orders and such, having 50 daytime and 10 nighttime driving times. Then Easton just didn’t really let it bother him. Then, when he got a job at McDonald’s and found out that riding his bicycle to work all the time wasn’t so much fun. So, he made the decision, and before long he had his license.

Easton was at McDonald’s for about a month before he had saved up enough money to buy a car from a friend. He very quickly began to enjoy having his car so he could really express himself. At “Red, White, and Blue Day,” Easton went out and bought a flag to show his patriotism. That is how many people feel about their car. It is an extension of themselves. It displays their personality and values. I’m proud of Easton’s patriotism, as I know his parents are too. These days, he is saving money to get a better car. That’s a good goal. Most kids start out with a “beater” to drive at first. A “beater” isn’t necessarily a “piece of junk” car, but rather just an older car that doesn’t need full coverage, because it’s not worth very much.

Easton is very good at “techy” things, which is common in his generation. Recently, some of the batteries on a few of the family phones needed to be replaced. Easton went on YouTube and quickly learned how to do that. The first one he replaced was his mom, my niece Machelle Moore’s; then came Easton’s phone; then his dad, Steve’s. First mine then his then his dads. It didn’t take him long to get real good at it. It took him ten minutes to replace the second battery on his mom’s phone, plus she needed a new ear piece and Easton was able to do that at the same time. Now, she can hear when someone calls…it’s a nice perk.

Easton comes from a tall family. His dad is 6’2″ tall; his dad’s brother is 6’8″ tall; and his grandpa, LJ Cook, Machelle’s dad, is 6’6″ tall. Easton really can’t wait to be taller than his dad. It’s a fun goal for him, and he has a real possibility of making that goal. Time will tell, of course, but Easton is already close to that goal, if he hasn’t passed it already, and since he will be growing for a few years yet, I have no doubt of his success. Today is Easton’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is an outdoorsy girl who loves pretty much everything about nature. She is very into sports like hiking, skiing, biking, snowshoeing, and camping. She and my nephew, Barry Schulenberg have been doing a lot of camping, taking trips to the Big Horn Mountains, the Black Hills, and Alcova Lake, where they enjoy boating too. They take their bikes and do a lot of trail riding or hiking the trails in the area. Their dog, Scout rounds out their hiking and biking group most of the time, although, Kelli’s mom, Mary Wages joins them sometimes as well…especially this year, when Mary was forced to evacuate her summer camping site in Colorado, due to the wildfires there. Kelli and Barry were relieved that she was safe here with them. Having a parent in harm’s way would be an awful situation.

All that exercise can make the downtime very important. Some people have a hot tub, but Kelli and Barry decided to buy a dry sauna for their house last winter. Winter isn’t Kelli’s favorite time of year, so having a dry sauna at the house must be just like Heaven to her. Kelli has already used it a few times this year. I think I’m jealous. Kelli and Barry have a place in the country, and it is their sanctuary. In the summer of 2019, Barry put up a sun shade at their house, and bought a hammock to hang from the sun shade frame. Kelli has been enjoying both a lot. The hammock is a great place to read a book or just relax. Kelli works hard and plays hard, so being able to relax is a really important part of life.

Recently, Kelli’s bicycle met with an unfortunate end, when it fell over in the garage and made its last brave stand against the wheel of Kelli’s vehicle, which was too tall for her to see the bicycle laying in her path. It was a really sad day for Kelli, because she loves to ride her bicycle. Barry felt so bad for her, but it gave him and his mother, Jennifer Parmely a great idea for Kelli’s birthday gift, so they looked them over and picked out a pretty blue bicycle for Kelli, which she was given this morning. She loves the new bike, and has already taken it for a spin, thanks to our having no snow at the moment. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In 2013, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg’s life turned completely around when she lost over 300 pounds, after a near-death, but in her case reversible set of conditions. It was going to be a long road ad would take almost unheard-of willpower to get Brenda to a place of health. She wasn’t sure she could do it, but she knew she must. So began Brenda’s long journey to health. Brenda had never really exercised, at least not for very long, but she knew that had to change, if she was going to survive for very long.

Most people who find themselves in such a grave position, try for a short time, and then give up, thinking that the process is simply beyond their ability. It is just too hard to do, too much to stick to, and too depressing for many people to stick to it. I have watched so many people over the years, who have given up the fight, and ended up losing the battle with weight, and the ensuing health issues. When Brenda began her journey, there were no guarantees. She was going to have to do this, because no one could make her do it. She was really scared. She told me that she had no idea how she was ever going to get where she needed to be. I told her that she was going to do it one step at a time. I think it was at that point, during that talk, that Brenda saw her life in front of her, and the two directions it could go; and she made a choice.

Unlike many other people, Brenda never looked back. She followed Weight Watchers, and she started walking. Sometimes it was all she could do to walk a short distance…with her walker. Brenda persevered, before long, she was walking further, and dreaming of riding a bicycle again. Before long her dream of riding a bicycle came true and now she rides 20 miles or more a day, sometimes even in rain or snow, if it’s not too icy. These days many people would call Brenda an exercise fanatic, and they would be right, but if you ask her, she will say that she would rather be an exercise fanatic, than some of the other harmful things she used to be. I agree with her there, but the thing that I am most proud of is the fact that Brenda has never gained the weight back. That is an almost unheard of feat. All the weight loss programs tell you they are going to teach you to keep it off, but if you aren’t willing to fight for this new you, by living an active lifestyle, no amount of dieting will keep that weight off. Exercise is a must…no matter what they tell you. Brenda got that part figured out right away, and that made all the difference. She is now 7 years into her healthy life journey, and the trip is far from over. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely met her partner, Brian Cratty, I remember thinking about how quiet he was. I suppose it isn’t surprising to have someone be a little quiet when meeting a large family like ours is. It takes a brave person to walk into a big family for the first time. I know, because I’ve been there. So when Jennifer brought Brian to meet the family I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s sort of like standing before a crowd of hundreds of people to give your first public speech, and you’re 13 years old. Once you get to know Brian, you can see the gentle, kind man that Jennifer fell in love with.

Brian and Jennifer are soulmates. They have the same interests, and are going in the same direction. They love spending time on the mountain, and the time of year doesn’t matter a bit. For them, Summer is no different than Winter, when it comes to how much they like it that is. I personally don’t care for Winter…in any location. I love the mountains, but in the Summer, when I can hike. Brian and Jennifer, and most of their family, love to ski, so the mountain in the Winter is great for them too. Brian likes to ski, and hike, but one of his favorite activities in mountain biking. He gets on his bicycle and hits the trails around their cabin on the mountain. She might not see him for an hour at a time, because he is out there in his own world.

Brian has been such a blessing to Jennifer’s family, and to the rest of our family. The little kids love him, and he is very good to them. He fits in well with all of us, and while he is a quiet man, he can carry on a great conversation with the best of ’em. We all love having him around, and he is a great partner to Jennifer, and grandpa to the babies. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Shortly after my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg lost a large amount of weight, she decided that she wanted to do something that she didn’t really get to do as a kid…ride a bicycle. Because her knees wouldn’t really allow her to work the pedals at that time, she looked into various kinds of bicycles. She considered the recumbent bicycle, but that didn’t work very well, because while she could sit in a chair-like position, the pedals still needed to be brought back toward her, meaning that her knees needed to bend quite a little bit.

Finally, she settled on a strider. It was an idea she got from our nephew and niece, Eric and Ashley Parmely. When their kids were too little to pedal a bicycle, they got them a strider, which is a pedal-less bicycle. The child basically sits on the seat, but runs the bicycle along using their feet for power. The seat is low enough to allow the child to have control, so they don’t fall over. It was a perfect idea for Brenda as well, because it let her be on a bicycle, but not have to pedal, which her knees would not allow at that time. These days, with her excess weight all gone, Brenda has put the pedals back on her bicycle and she can ride it normally.

Someone else apparently thought the pedal-less bicycle was a good idea too, but in my opinion, their “bicycle” idea pretty much defeats the purpose. The invention is called the Foot Powered Bike, but to me it looks like the “rider” is carrying the bike around. The bike basically wraps around the “rider” and there is no seat at all. There are handlebars, but no pedals, seat, or bicycle chain. In the matter of the chain, I guess that you couldn’t get your clothes caught in something that isn’t there, but in looking at the way the “rider” must maneuver the bike, it seems to me that the contraption would be very easy to trip the “rider” up. In running along, the “riders” legs must straddle the back wheel. That is where the dangerous part comes in…in my mind anyway. Walking, or running, with a wheel between your legs is awkward, to say the least. I think most people would find their legs tangled up in that wheel, and any thought of “riding” this contraption would be lost, but the strangest part of this is calling it a bike at all. No seat, no pedals, and no chain…yep, I call that defeating the purpose.

Every family struggles to find ways to do things together…not to mention the time to do so. Kids have their own activities, such as sports, dance, and other club and school activities. Parents work, kids have school, and then there are things that need to be done around the house. By the time dinner is cooked and eaten, and the table cleared, who feels like doing more activities. Plus, there is homework to be done. It seems like there isn’t time for anything more than a television show before bed.

Most of us think this is just something that has come with modern day families, where they barely have time to eat dinner together…if that. In reality, it is a problem that has been around for a lot longer. Kids just naturally grow up and become more independent, and parents get busier too. Something had to be done, so in 1939, so Charles Steinlauf stepped up. He didn’t build his bicycle for a record, because there wasn’t such a thing then. The Guinness book of records didn’t begin until the early 1950’s. Nevertheless, he was some “inventor” to use the word lightly. His was an interesting bicycle, and apparently it held something for everyone…I guess. As odd as it was, the bicycle really did work. The top rider, namely Charles steered the bicycle with an automobile steering wheel. His wife sat below operating a sewing machine. Their son was in back and their daughter sat on handle bars in front. When they stopped, the legs of the sewing machine kept the two story Goofybike, as it was called, from falling over. I don’t know any other way to safely stop it.

It might have been one of the strangest inventions in history, but, it did get his family out and about in Chicago, Illinois, and I’m certain it also brought them quite a bit of notoriety. I’m sure that there were lots of people who that of Steinlauf as that “weird inventor,” and to be honest, it looks like he just hooked a bunch of odds and ends together. It was, however, a little more technical than that, after all, just hooking a bunch of things together, does not a bicycle make. It has to be able to be ridden in order to really qualify as a bicycle, weird or not. And the Goofybike could be and was ridden by the whole Steinlauf family.

Today it would be worth about $4750. Would you pay that much for a bicycle? I don’t think I would, but then I don’t suppose I would be buying a bicycle called the Spacelander. Still, if I was, $4750 would be the asking price, or something close to that number. The Spacelander was created by Benjamin Bowden, who was born June 3, 1906. He was a British industrial designer, whose specialty was automobiles and bicycles. He received violin training at Guildhall, and completed a course in engineering at Regent. Bowden designed the coachwork of Healey’s Elliott, an influential British sports car.

In 1925 Bowden began working as an automobile designer for the Rootes Group. By the late 1930s, Bowden was the chief body engineer for the Humber car factory in Coventry. During World War II, his design of an armored car was used by Winston Churchill and George VI for their protection. In 1945, he left the Rootes Group, and with partner John Allen, formed his own design company in Leamington Spa. The studio was one of the first such design firms in Britain. Bowden designed the body of Healey’s Elliott in 1947. It was the first British car to break the 100 mile per hour barrier. Working with Achille Sampietro who created the chassis, Bowden drew the initial design for the auto directly onto the walls of his house. Unusual…yes, but it worked for him, I guess. Shortly before his departure to the United States Bowden penned a sketch design for a two-seater sports racing prototype, the Zethrin Rennsport, being developed by Val Zethrin. This used the same wheelbase as the short-chassis Squire Sports, and was dressed in a contemporary, streamlined body. This design theme was carried through to his future work on the early Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Thunderbird.

He went on to design the Spacelander in 1946. It was a space-age looking bicycle, that was ahead of its time, since space travel wouldn’t occur for two decades. It’s not that the Spacelander would ever be used in space, but rather the design that seemed space-like. Bowden called the bicycle the Classic. In the early or mid 1950s, Bowden moved to Michigan, in the United States. While in Muskegon, Michigan in 1959, he met with Joe Kaskie, of the George Morrell Corporation, a custom molding company. Kaskie suggested molding the bicycle in fiberglass instead of aluminum, but the fiberglass frame was relatively fragile, and its unusual nature made it difficult to market to established bicycle distributors. Although he retained the futuristic appearance of the Classic, Bowden abandoned the hub dynamo, and replaced the drive-train with a more common sprocket-chain assembly. The new name, Spacelander, was chosen to capitalize on interest in the Space Race. Financial troubles from the distributor forced Bowden to rush development of the Spacelander, which was released in 1960 in five colors: Charcoal Black, Cliffs of Dover White, Meadow Green, Outer Space Blue, and Stop Sign Red. The bicycle was priced at $89.50, which made it one of the more expensive bicycles on the market. Only 522 Spacelander bicycles were shipped before production was stopped, although more complete sets of parts were manufactured. In more recent years, the Spacelander has become a collector’s item…hence the price tag.

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg became quite ill a number of years ago, and finally had to face the fact that her weight was slowly killing her. I suppose some people might think that statement is harsh, but they don’t know my sister-in-law. Those were fighting words for her, or at least a call to action. When she found out that her weight had caused sleep apnea and congestive heart failure, she decided that she was not going to let her weight win. From that day forward, the world would see a new Brenda…a determined Brenda.

The road was long, and filled with hard work. Brenda doggedly walked in the cold early morning hours, rain or shine, and even in snow. She bought a bicycle, and fought hard to master that skill again, even with knees that had to be retrained to bent enough to work the pedals. In fact, when she started, Brenda had to take the pedals off and strider the bike (basically run while seated on a bicycle). It was work, but she wanted to ride a bicycle again, and determination goes a long way toward success. These days Brenda can be found riding her bicycle most days at some point in the day. She loves the Platte River Trail, and often rides its entire length.

Not only has Brenda continued to follow her own health and fitness plan, but she has chosen to mentor others. She has made several trips to attend meetings in other towns to talk to their weight loss groups, even if they are not on Weight Watchers, like she is. She has put her name out there as someone who will buddy up with people who are struggling to lose weight to see if she can be on any encouragement or assistance. She is willing to go out and walk with them or ride bicycles with them too. She is so adamant about health, that she doesn’t want anyone to struggle with their health. I guess that since she has been on the unhealthy side of life, and the healthy side of life, and has chosen the healthy side of life, she wants others to be able to experience just how great it feels to be healthy…and she wants to help them to achieve their own health and fitness goals that have seemed so impossible to them. It is a noble calling. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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