Black Hills

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It seems to me that with each Independence Day, the fight for our freedom grows more and more fierce. Our current political situation is not a matter of Republican against Democrat, but rather, Good against Evil. I suppose one might have their own opinion as to which side is which, but those who know me, know exactly where I stand. I am a firm believer in this statement by Thomas Jefferson, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” The good news for the good people of this nation is that we know how to pray, and we know how to fight. What we don’t know how to do is to give up. It may take us a little while, but with God’s help we will prevail…and God is on our side.

Pretty much every year, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I go to the Black Hills for the holiday. The fireworks display in Custer, South Dakota is one of the best we’ve ever seen. The amazing thing is that Custer is a really small town…in fact, it has a population of only about 2,314 people. That said, for them to put on such an amazing fireworks display is really cool. Pageant Hill starts filling up early, so if you are driving up there, you need to go well before dusk. Bob and I would rather walk up there, because it’s easy to find a place to sit when you don’t have a car, and when the show is over, we don’t have to wait for all that traffic to get back to our room. That fireworks display is one of the main highlights of the trip.

Of course, the fireworks display is not the only thing Bob and I like to do in the Black Hills. Our main focus is hiking. There are so many beautiful trails in the area. We take a different one each day that we are there. There is no better way to experience freedom and liberty, than a hike in the woods. It is so peaceful out there, and absolutely beautiful. There are many places that you just can’t see driving down the road. Wildlife, mostly birds, because the bigger animals make themselves scarce…thankfully for the most part. I like seeing deer, but I draw the line at the mountain lions. There are no bears in the Black Hills, except at Bear Country USA, which is a wildlife park, and the bears don’t run free in the Black Hills. Bears don’t run free there, but we definitely do. Happy Independence Day everyone!! Let Freedom Ring!!!

My grandnephew, Topher, who I understand goes by Chris with most of his friends these days, is getting ready to start his senior year in high school this coming year. His first job, at the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum is behind him now, and he recently started working at Ace Hardware, where his mom, my niece, Andrea Beach also works. He really likes his new job. The job he had at the museum was a great first job, but it was time for a change.

Topher is saving money for school and a car. He is thinking of studying Phlebotomy at Casper College. He hasn’t decided if he will go further, or if this will be a stand-alone career. I know that with that type of skill under his belt, he could get hired at any hospital. There is always the need for an IV or bloodwork, so Phlebotomists are always in demand. It looks like Phlebotomy is a one to two semester course, so Topher could be working quickly. While I don’t think this is a job I would enjoy doing, it is one that is in demand, so kudos to Topher for making that move.

Topher and his mom and grandma, my sister Caryl Reed are currently in the Black Hills for their third annual three generation summer trip. They had intended to take their trip to Yellowstone National Park this year, because they have gone to the Black Hills for the past two trips, but as we all know, Yellowstone had major flooding a week ago, and the northern part of the park is closed. That was such a bummer for them, as well as for many people all over the nation, and possibly beyond. They had planned to stay in Cooke City, Montana, and that is right up there in the bad flooding area. For them, there is always next year, but many people who had to travel a long distance, just to be evacuated, this was once in a lifetime, and will be difficult to duplicate. Still, there is no sense in going up there, just to find out that you can’t see most of the park. I’m sorry it worked out that way, but I’m glad they weren’t there when it happened…and I know they will have a great time in the Black Hills. Today is Topher’s birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is growing up so fast. The coming school year will find her in her last year of elementary school, and Aurora has decided that she wants to play volleyball this year. I loved watching my girls play volleyball. Aurora is going to have a great time, and so will her parents, Chelsea and Ryan Hadlock, when they get to watch her games. I loved going to those games. Aurora is very active in many things. She is in her third year of Lego Robotics, and has really enjoyed building the Lego robots. Aurora is a good student and a very smart girl. She is also very social.

She loves to go camping. The family has gone camping at Aurora’s grandparents Casper mountain land, where the family dog, Titan is buried. Aurora loved that dog, who was a part of the family before she was even born. Bringing flowers to put on Titan’s grave is their way of showing Titan that he is never going to be forgotten. This year too, the family went camping in the Black Hills. They drove through the Wildlife Loop in the Custer State Park, and for those who don’t know, toward the end of the Wildlife Loop, there is a herd of donkeys. They are friendly little beggars, and Aurora got to feed a donkey a carrot. She loved that it came right up to her. She thought it was very cool. There is so much to do in the Black Hills, and at least 50% of the wonder of the area is driving around looking at the beautiful scenery. Aurora gets that. She totally loves having her face in the sun and fresh air when the family was driving through US Route 16A. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the Black Hills, although there are lots of beautiful drives. It’s no wonder Aurora love to put her face out the window, watch the beautiful scenery, and feel the sunshine on her face.

As Summer came to a close, Aurora, her brother, Ethan, and her cousins, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore all gathered in Laramie, Wyoming, where Mackenzie lives with her parents. The cousins all attended Vacation Bible School together. They have been getting a lot of quality time together, and having a great time just hanging out. Aurora is the unofficial leader of the pack…always keeping the little ones busy and having fun. She has a very giving heart…just like her mom, and she wants to be just like her. She is even growing her hair out so she can be just like her mom. Very sweet. Today is Aurora’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob and I love the Black Hills. We go over every year for the Independence Day celebration, which also happens to be right around Bob’s birthday. It is a kind of double celebration for us. Bob and I love to hike, and we have a number of favorite trails in the Black Hills. Some trails we take every year, some only in years that we are in tip top condition, and we try to find a new trail once in a while. There is so much of the Black Hills that most people never see. The back country of the Black Hills, deep in the forest, is just stunning. These Independence Day trips are such a sweet retreat for Bob and me. We especially love the ride on the 1880 Train, as the grand finale. That ride is so relaxing, and it really never gets old.

Bob is such a hard worker. Even in Retirement, he spends a lot of time working on cars for people. There are people who totally depend of his knowledge and ability to keep their vehicles running, and I don’t know what he would do with himself if he didn’t work on the vehicles of all his friends and family members. Since his retirement, he has kept busy and has thoroughly enjoyed the work he does…plus the fact that he is his own boss. All the years he spent working for the City of Casper were great, but there is nothing quite like being your own boss. You work at your own pace and take only the jobs you want to take, and since Bob is such a social person, there is the added benefit of meeting people and making friends.

Bob is such a kind and thoughtful person, who always has something nice to say about everyone. Its a wonderful trait to be able to find the good in people, and that is just what Bob does. I don’t think he has ever met someone he didn’t like. That is something I love about Bob…his easy manner with people. It makes people comfortable with him. From adults to little kids. Everybody likes Bob. His nieces and nephews are all very fond of him, and love to spend time with him. They love to tease him and make him laugh, and he feels the same about them. Little kids are the best ones to watch. They can usually tell if a person is someone they would like, and Bob always falls into the “we like you” category. I have to agree with them. I like him too. He’s a pretty great guy. I liked him from the moment I met him…and I still do. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

How could a food become a problem in a war? I mean its something you eat, not fight with. Nevertheless, during World War I, the Germans were so hated and the Third Reich was so evil, that no one among the Allies wanted anything to do with them. They didn’t even want to be associated with anything that even remotely sounded like it was German. With that in mind, the word “hamburger” came to mind. It was decided that the “hamburger” was just a little too German to be allowed to continue being served with that name. You might think that people would get mad about that, but the people were very loyal to our nation and to the cause. They couldn’t tolerate the horrific crimes against humanity they saw in front of themselves. The Germans made it very clear to the world that they were, at least will Hitler was in charge, the most horrific nation on Earth.

Because of the conflict between Germany and the rest of the world, menus were changed to purge the names of German foods from restaurant menus. The name sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” and hamburgers became “liberty steaks.” Frankfurters, a very German name, was also deemed unacceptable during World War I, and in some places the name was switched to “liberty sausages,” but that was one new name that didn’t quite stick…especially when someone tried the term “hot dog.” It seems almost laughable now, because why should food play such a big part in the feelings of people, but then again, in this day and age, we are facing a situation that is much the same…the current “war” against China, Italy, and Germany (once again). This war may not be one of dropping bombs and killing people, but it is a war nevertheless…and it is just as dangerous, if not more so.

After World War II, and after the disdain against the Germans faded, the hamburger reemerged. During that time, the invention claims also emerged. It is thought that the hamburger was invented between 1885 and 1904, but it is clearly the product of the early 20th century. The origin is under dispute. Some say it was invented in the United States and some say that it was invented in Germany. During the following 100 years, the hamburger spread throughout the world, and continued on until World War I when it became just a little too German.

My sister, Caryl Reed has lived a number of places in her adult life like San Diego, California; Oak Harbor, Washington; Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Rawlins, Wyoming. Now that she is retired, and her husband, Mike Reed is getting close to retiring, they have realized another of their dreams…a ranch outside of Casper, Wyoming. For Caryl, that is coming full circle in life. Caryl was born in Casper, and our family is almost all still here. Even Caryl’s son and daughter-in-law, Allen and Gaby Beach are living in Casper now. Her daughter, Andrea and grandson Topher live in Rawlins, but will likely relocate to Casper when Caryl and Mike do. Mike’s daughter, Amanda, and her family, will likely stay in Rawlins, because their lives are there, but it’s only a couple of hours to drive. Still, they will miss them when they move. The whole family, and indeed our whole family loves to go out to Caryl and Mike’s ranch for parties, because it is a beautiful area, and so roomy.

Every year, Caryl; her daughter, Andrea; and grandson, Topher take a trip to the Black Hills together…just the three of them. It is a time for the three of them to reconnect and have a good time together. The Black Hills is such a great vacation spot, and has something for everyone. The trip means so much to Andrea and Topher. They look forward to it every year. I get that, because there are a number of those in our family who go to the Black Hills every year. It has been a family favorite since I was a little girl…the tradition continues.

Caryl is my little sister, born three years after I was. We did lots of things together as kids, among them, sharing a room. That was not difficult…most of the time, but Caryl is an early riser…like 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, even during our school years. I, on the other hand was the girl who screamed out of bed, hustled around getting ready, and screamed out the door just in time to get to school without being late. That caused a “few,” ok a lot of morning issues. You just can’t get dressed and do makeup in the dark, so Caryl turned on the light, and was often introduced to the “roaring lion” with whom she shared a room… sorry Caryl. As a now early riser, 6:30 in the morning setting an alarm even now…after two years of retirement, I can say that I have finally grasped the wonders of the rising sun, the chirping birds, and the lack of wasted hours in bed. You were right, and I was wrong. Don’t get used to that…you won’t hear it again…trust me. Never again!!! Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday my dear sister. 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!!

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock is a Compression Operator at Fleur de Lis (FDL), which used to be Anadarko, where his Uncle Mike Stevens also works. They have enjoyed working together, even though they are in different areas of the company. Ryan works on the natural gas side, and I believe Mike is on the oil side. Ryan’s job is to maintain the compressors, making sure they work right, Fixing them when they don’t, taking readings, etc. Ryan enjoys his job, and even picks up extra shifts once in a while. His job has been good to him, and has afforded them the money they need to live the life they want to.

Ryan has always been an outdoorsman. He and his dad, Chris have gone fishing, and camping, and they both love sports of all kinds too. Ryan and his wife, Chelsea decided to buy a new fifth-wheel trailer this year, and since then, they have gone camping crazy. Most weekends find them and their kids, Ethan and Aurora on the road headed somewhere to go camping. They have taken several great trips this past summer, and my husband, Bob and I got to meet up with them in the Black Hills for the Custer Fireworks Display. We joined them and Ryan’s sister, Jessi her husband, Jason, and their daughter, Adelaide too. Ryan, Chelsea, and the kids also made trips around Wyoming and into Colorado. They all had a wonderful time, and we felt honored to get to join them for part of it.

Ryan is a happy guy…mostly I’m sure, because her is happily married and has the family he always wanted. He keeps things lively with is jokes and teasing, and his kids are learning to joke and tease. Ryan and Chelsea find it hard to believe that Ethan is in 8th grade and Aurora is in 4th grade. Where have all the years gone. Time flies when you are having fun, and the Hadlock family is definitely having fun.

Ryan and Chelsea have been doing home Bible studies with their kids this summer, and the whole family is really growing spiritually. The study is designed to make a relationship with God, a personal thing for each of them, and it has been very successful. The kids have been telling my sister, Allyn Hadlock, who is their grandma, just how much they have learned. This has been an especially enlightening study for Ethan and Aurora, who have been telling their grandma all about how good God is. It is always an important thing for the husband in a family to take the spiritual lead, and Ryan has done that very well. We are very proud of him in this endeavor. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Reed has been having a very busy summer. In addition to working as Area Manager for Sinclair Oil Corporation, he and my sister, Caryl are working on getting their retirement home ready outside of Casper. Their new home is complete, and now they have been working on the property. They have been planting grass, trees, and flowers, as well as decorating with some bronze statues of several animals, like elk and antelope. The yard looks really nice. Mike has worked really hard at fixing their place up. From putting in a road, to fencing, to planting grass, and now to becoming an oat farmer with the full on irrigation system necessary to make that successful. These are just a few of the projects Mike has turned into reality. He still has a number of future plans that will turn their ranch into a wonderful place for them to live.

This year, Mike and Caryl decided to grow oats on their land, after talking to a neighbor who wants to buy the oats from them. It’s a really cool thing, because they crop is already sold, and all they have to do is water it and harvest it for the neighbor. Their plan has always been to have a working ranch, so they will have an income when Mike retires. Caryl retired a couple of years ago. They has boarded horses on their place, but they don’t own any horses right now. I think that might be a plan for the future, because Caryl has always loved horses. I think Mike does too.

Mike has worked for Sinclair Oil Corporation for long time now, and so has good vacation time available each year. This year, they decided to go to the Black Hills for a few days, riding the trike Mike got Caryl for her birthday. They had a blast!! In fact they had so much fun that they decided to head up through Beartooth pass, Red Lodge, and Cook City in northwestern Wyoming. They are really enjoying that trip. For this one, they trailered the trike, because of the mountain roads, and cool weather in Beartooth pass. I know this is just two of many future trip for both of them. Once Mike retires, they will have lots of free time to travel, entertain at their ranch, and reconnect with the family that lives here a little more often. We all look forward to that. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, south-west of Rapid City lies a natural depression in the Earth. Apparently, the depression is a sinkhole that has 700 feet deep cliff walls all around, that prevent wind from reaching the bottom. The windless part of the site is what makes it perfect for balloon launches. The site was noticed by the National Geographic Society and the United States Army Air Corps, who set up what they called Stratocamp in 1934-1935. Stratocamp was a joint effort code named Explorer to launch two manned giant helium high-altitude balloons capable of stratospheric flight. The crash of the Soviet Osoaviakhim-1 after setting a world record flight of 72,178 feet (13.71 miles), the Explorer program set a new goal…to beat that record. The first Explorer balloon was launched on July 28, 1934. The balloon made it 11 miles up before it disintegrated. Thankfully the astronauts onboard had parachutes on, so they survived.

The second balloon was launched in November 11, 1935, and ascended 14 miles up, before landing near White Lake, South Dakota. They had done it. That second flight set a world record that would not be broken until astronauts started flying into space. Astronauts, Air Corps Captain Albert William Stevens, Captain Arson Anderson, and Major William E. Kepner became the first men to view the Earth’s curvature. This exploration helped the Air Force build better planes and helped scientists build satellites.

In the 1950s, Project Manhigh and Project Strato-Lab launches were made from a man-made crater of an iron mining pit near Crosby, Minnesota, and if weather allowed, from Fleming Field in South Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Stratobowl was used as a backup location, if launches could not be made at the Minnesota locations. As it turned out, the Stratobowl was needed for a number of launches. The first such launch was on November 8, 1956, when the Strato-Lab I gondola lifted Malcolm Ross and M L Lewis from the Stratobowl to a world altitude record for manned balloon flight of 76,000 feet. There were also three Stratobowl launches in 1958, and seven in 1959. The most publicized flight was that of Strato-Lab IV, piloted by Malcolm Ross and Charles B Moore, which lifted off from Stratobowl on November 28, 1959. The balloon reached an altitude of 81,000 feet, and landed safely in Kansas after 20 hours in the air. The purpose of the flight was to perform spectrographic analysis of the planet Venus with minimal interference from the Earth’s atmosphere.

These days, the Stratobowl is usually seen from a popular hiking trail that takes you up to the rim…which is how my husband, Bob and I first saw it. You can also drive down to the bottom, and there are festivals during which balloons are launched…to go to normal heights and to take tourists and owners for a normal ride. No records are set to be won, or experiments to be made. Still, looking at the Stratobowl from the top of the trail is very impressive, and while it is not a difficult or a long hike, we enjoyed it very much, and it is a short hike that I very much recommend. It was really interesting, and to think it is a sinkhole.

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