cabin

My Aunt Doris Spencer is a wonderful woman who has always had a great sense of humor and a great imagination. When my mom, Collene Byer Spencer married my dad, Allen Spencer, they moved from Casper, Wyoming to Superior, Wisconsin. Dad’s family was from Superior, and most still lived there, so Dad was quite comfortable going home again. Mom was a young bride, who didn’t know anyone there, but found a new sister-in-law and best friend in Aunt Doris. They quickly became inseparable. They lived across the back yard from each other…there was no ally to separate the homes, but rather, just a fence and a gate. It was a great place to raise cousins, their children, together.

I am reminded sometimes, of my aunt and uncle’s cabin at Lake Superior, and all the fun we had there over the years. Everything from time spent in the Lake, to the drive out too the lake. Wonderful memories all. My sister, Cheryl and I were talking about a particularly funny incident the other day. Our Uncle Bill was already at the cabin, and Aunt Doris and my cousin Pam, their daughter, were coming out later. As she drove, probably is a hurry for the weekend at the cabin to begin, she wasn’t really paying close attention to the speed of the car. Before she became aware that she was speeding, she heard sirens coming up behind her. Like most of us the feeling of immediate dread leapt up, but I don’t think Aunt Doris had ever received a ticket in her life. She was really very shook up about it. I’m not sure she even knew how shook up she was, but I’m sure that her daughter knew how shook up she was, because Aunt Doris mentioned later that Pam had said, “Are you afraid of that man, Mommy?”

The police officer, told her she had been speeding, and that he was going to have to give her a ticket. He went back to his car to write the ticket. For her part, Aunt Doris simply drove away. I can only imagine what went through the police officers mind. I’m sure he knew that Aunt Doris wasn’t any kind of a criminal. No one, whether they knew Aunt Doris or not, could possibly have though she could be a criminal. She simply wasn’t the type…couldn’t possibly be the type. So, he didn’t go after the woman who, being shook up, had driven away instead of waiting for her ticket.

Aunt Doris arrived at the cabin, and told Uncle Bill about the police officer and the speeding ticket. I’m sure that it was very clear to him that she was very shook up about the whole incident. After listening to her account of the traffic stop, Uncle Bill said, “Well ok. Let’s see the ticket.” Aunt Doris asked, a bit shocked, “What ticket?” Uncle Bill said, “The ticket he gave you!!” Then the realization came, probably to both of them, that there was no ticket, because she had simply driven away. Of course, my Uncle Bill, being quite mischievous, began to tell her that the police were going to be after her for leaving, and I can just picture my rather innocent aunt “freaking out” at the thought of the police showing up to “haul her off” in handcuffs. Of course, no such arrest ever took place, because the police officer, simply passed the event off as the actions of a woman who had never received a ticket before, and was terribly shook up about it. Besides, just imagine going back to the station and telling the guys that a woman drove away when he was trying to write her a ticket. Would he become the laughingstock, or maybe he did tell them, and they all laughed at the situation, and agreed that he couldn’t give her a ticket now…he just couldn’t!!

Today is my Aunt Doris’ 96th birthday, and while she like most people in the United States is under lockdown, it isn’t because of any arrest, because that arrest never came. She is living quietly, still in Superior, Wisconsin, and doing very well indeed…clear in mind, and healthy in body, for which we are all thankful, Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

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!!

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.

After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.

These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, you meet the love of your life the second time around. That’s how it was for my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely when she met her other half, Brian Cratty. These two are so much alike that they practically finish each other’s sentences. They have the same goals and they are going in the same direction with their lives. They have been a blessing in each other’s lives, and it is a sweet thing to watch.

Brian is rather a quiet guy, with a kind and loving spirit. I think he is most at home seated on his bicycle, weaving back an forth over the mountain trails. Brian and Jennifer have a friend who owned a cabin on Casper Mountain, and then moved away. While he was gone, he asked them to keep an eye on his cabin, and in exchange, they could use it whenever they wanted. They jumped at the chance, and when their friend decided to sell the cabin, he offered it to them, and they were delighted to buy it. Anyone who has owned a cabin on the mountains, know that there is always this or that improvement to do, and so Brian and Jennifer have been doing lots of updates to it so that they and their family can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Casper Mountain. Since they bought the cabin, it is their home away from home…when they aren’t traveling, that is. Brian and Jennifer love to travel to areas of the United States where they can find new trails to hike and bike…as well as seeing the local sights.

Brian is a licensed pilot, but I don’t know how much flying he does these days. I’m sure it is enough to keep his license in place. He was a pilot for the Wyoming Medical Center until his retirement from there, but as any pilot would say, flying is in your blood, and you fly every chance you get. He has done corporate flying, but I think he just likes being retired for the most part. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Moore is one of the most at home in the mountains people I know. He and his wife, my niece, Machelle love sending time in the Big Horn Mountains near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Their favorite thing to do there is to go exploring on new trails or roads, in areas they haven’t explored before. This past summer, while exploring such an area,the came across a cabin. It was in such a beautiful setting, and of course, it heightened their desire to have their own cabin in the mountains, which I truly believe they will have one day. They had seen the road to the cabin before, and that day, they decided to go see where it led them. I think that if anyone I know could live off the grid, it would be Steve and Machelle. Steve is extremely handy when it comes to building things, and living off the land.

Last winter, Steve decided to build a gun. It is a 22 Dasher. Steve has a Labradar Witch, which is a devise that tells you how fast your bullets are going. He can measure the speed, and decide if he wants to add or subtract gun powder for reloading. The gun shoots accurately, and Steve got a couple few Rock-Chucks this summer on the mountain. While it is a great gun, it isn’t one that you want to have to pack very far, because it is pretty heavy. Their youngest son, Easton got to shoot Steve’s 1911 for the first time this summer. their older so Weston is four years older, and so has been shooting or a while now. Their ideal camping sot is one where nobody else is around for miles, so target practice can be done from camp. Another thing Steve likes to do in camp, is experiment with the fire. Of course, he is careful, but he can say for sure that discarded bacon grease will make the flames flair up nicely.

Steve got a chainsaw from a really good friend last year, so firewood is never in short supply. He never has to be asked twice to go to get some firewood for camp, or for his father-in-law, LJ Cook’s garage. In fact they have so much now, that he had to tell us that’s enough…for probably the whole next winter. Te way Steve and Machelle see it, better to have too much, than not enough. Needless to say there is also always enough firewood for camp too! Camping is a way of life for the Moore family, and this summer they tried to go someplace different, instead of always doing the same things, in the same places. They had a great time exploring new roads, hiking around, and just enjoying each others company. It was great while summer lasted, but they said that it sure went fast this year. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

During the week, my nephew, Sean Mortensen is a hard working family man. His loves, and top priorities are his girlfriend, Amanda Reed, and their daughter, Jaydn Mortensen, who arrived 14 years ago, the day before his birthday. She was his early birthday present that year. Sean works hard to make their life great. A few years back,they bought a house, and together, he and Amanda are making it into their dream home. Sean and Amanda encourage their daughter to be active and enjoy a variety of sports, but her favorite is horses for sure,and her parents are happy about that.

When the working day is done, and especially when the weekend rolls around in the summer, Sean takes his family and heads for the lake. They meet up with a group of friends, and the fun begins. Most weekends will find everyone at Seminole Reservoir boating, and their favorite time is when they find themselves alone at the lake…just their group and all that water. All the kids can swim and hang out to their hearts content, and the parents are right there with them. There is never a dull moment…even in the evening. Cabin to me might fight a little Kung Fu fighting, in good fun, of course. It’s also a time to relax and visit with everyone, or laugh about the funny things that happened that day…because there is always something funny that happened.

Sean is a fun loving guy who loves making people laugh. He doesn’t care what it takes, and he isn’t above funny faces and goofy jokes. While Sean sees life as a happy place, he is also a solid kind of guy, who wants the very best for his girls. He loves Amanda and Jaydn very much, and no one is more important to him in this world. They are his whole life, and they are a wonderful family. they are a team. They work together, have great goals in life, and they have fun together…so let the fun begin!! Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law Jennifer Parmely’s partner is a somewhat quiet man, who is very likable. They share so many common interests, the biggest of which is the love of the outdoors. That means hiking, skiing, and of course, Brian’s favorite, bicycling. They love to be in the mountains, and so when the chance came up to buy a cabin on Casper Mountain, they took it. For the past few years, they have been spending time fixing up their little cabin so that it can be a place where they can gather with their family and just enjoy the beauty of the mountain.

Brian is a retired pilot, so he likes those high altitudes, but being on the mountain is much different from flying above it. Still, there is something about being up there. Live is different on the mountain. It’s quieter and more relaxed. The air is fresh and clean, and the trees smell amazing. Who could blame Brian for wanting a cabin up there. The area where their cabin is, has an abundance of trees, and it is very peaceful. The location is perfect for both hiking and bicycling because it is near a trail.

Brian and Jennifer are so good together. They are two people who are happily going in the same direction, and that is always a good thing. Their blended family seems to do well with it too, even though the kids are all grown and living on their own. The thing I think I like best about Brian, however, is his caring nature. He is so good to Jennifer, and that goes a long way when a guy joins a family. Being the new guy on the block is never easy, but when you have a kindness about you, and you don’t force your own way, it gets a whole lot easier. That is exactly the kind of guy Brian is. I remember when I first met him. He wasn’t loud and boisterous, but had a relaxed way, or maybe such a big family was simply overwhelming. Either way, we really think he is a great addition to the family. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian! Have a great day!! We love you!

Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, is just as athletic as she is. They love to hike, ski, snow shoe, and a variety of other activities together. Last September, they hiked the Colorado Trail, which culminated in 14,000 foot peak. Jennifer told me that it was pretty difficult, and since that is quite a bit higher than the highest hike I have made, I can only imagine. From what I understand, Brian did very well with it, however. Maybe the fact that Brian is a pilot has something to do with being able to acclimate to those higher altitudes. Brian is retired now, but he spent a number of years flying for Wyoming Medical Center, where Jennifer is a nurse.

While Jennifer likes hiking more than bicycling, the same cannot be said of Brian. When we decided to take a group hike, Brian went off ahead on his bicycle. He crisscrossed all over the trail we were on, but oddly we only saw him once while we hiked. Brian and Jennifer love to spend time on the mountain, and a while back, they came into a sweet deal. They had been using a friends cabin, in exchange for keeping an eye on it, and since he hadn’t been back to Wyoming to use it in quite some time, and had the need for some money to pay medical bills, he offered to sell the cabin to Brian and Jennifer. And they jumped at the chance. Now they spend as much time as they can, at the cabin, fixing it up and just enjoying it. It is going to be really nice when they get it done.

Jennifer has been so happy since she met Brian, and we are all very happy for her. They really make a great team. He is a kindhearted and compassionate person, and that has been a blessing over the past few years, especially when the family lost their dad, Walt Schulenberg. I don’t know if his compassion has to do with his years of flying Life Flight or not, but I tend to think that he is just a very kind person, and he understands the needs of those around him. It is a wonderful trait to have. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

ChrisimageMy brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has always been a man of many talents. He has always had a love of the outdoors, and one day took up the art of chain saw carving. I’m sure that many of you have seen those carvings in different places around the country. I have to say that it must take a lot of vision, because not everyone can look at a log and see a bear hidden inside its bark, and even if they could, very few people could pick up a chainsaw and carve out that bear they saw inside that log. Now, I have to tell you that while I might be able to envision a bear coming out of a tree trunk, I could not coax it to come out…especially with a chain saw, but my brother-in-law can…in just a few minutes. That has been amazing to me, since he started chain saw carving. How does one simply pick up that craft? He took no classes, he just did it!

A few years ago, my mom had a tree that had broken in a storm. As we were cleaning up her yard, Chris walked up to a tree, and I thought at first that he was just cutting the dead tree down, but he stopped short of completely cutting it dawn, and as we watched, his saw worked back and forth, creating a cute little bear cub standing on top of a dead tree trunk. It was amazing to watch. The whole thing took him maybe 15 minutes. My mom was thrilled. She had seen those around, but never purchased one, and in reality, she wanted one. Suddenly, there it was standing proudly in her back yard. It couldn’t get stolen or lost, because it was rooted in deep in the ground. All she had to do was go out on her deck in the back yard, and there was her little bear.

Chris is a dedicated family man, and his two newest little joys are his grandchildren. Much time is spent with Ethan and Aurora, as well as their parents and aunts and uncles. They love to go up on the mountain to their place up there. There will eventually be a cabin there, Beary Niceimagecomplete with several chain saw bears, I’m sure. And their house is also graced with these Beary Nice friends, and his two little grandchildren just had to have their picture taken with the most un-scary bear they know. Chris’ life is a very happy one that will only grow more happy as new little grandchildren arrive…and maybe a few new bears too. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Grandma and Laura (I think)In years gone by, when it wasn’t as easy to get to your job site as it is today, many people lived as near their work as possible, especially when their work was out in the woods. Jobs in the cities and towns don’t require long drives, but when you travel on a horse, and work from sunrise to sunset; it’s nice to be close to home. Working in the logging industry, like my grandparents did, living in the woods was just part of the job.

I’m told that their little cabin in the woods was near International Falls, Minnesota, where their daughter, my Aunt Laura was born. I would imagine that the winters were very cold there, and the best thing for anyone who could was to stay indoors, but them I seriously doubt that my grandmother was a woman who was afraid of a little but of cold and snow. Still, the cold and snow would really make it hard to work out in the woods…nevertheless, that was the job that had to be done. Maybe that was another good reason to live near your work. You could get home to the nice warm house sooner, and maybe Little Cabineven be able to go home for lunch.

When I look at these pictures, it reminds me of the “Little House on the Prairie” books. Everywhere you look seems to be a new adventure. I can imagine how the Ingalls girls felt living there…the adventures they must have had…the adventures my Aunt Laura must have had there, playing with the children of the other logging families that lived in the woods too. I’m sure there was an abundance of forest animals to see and be in awe of. I love photographing the animals…when I happen to be in the right place at the right time. The pictures can be amazing. I can imagine all the beauty all around the little cabin in the woods.

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