casper mountain

My brother-in-law, Brian Cratty has been my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner since July 25, 2011, and theirs has been really a wonderful relationship. They love doing the same things, like skiing, hiking, bicycling, snowshoeing, and hanging out at their cabin on Casper Mountain. They met at Wyoming Medical Center, where they both worked…she as a labor and delivery nurse, and he as a life flight pilot. Brian is retired now, and Jennifer soon will be, so their real adventures are coming up very quickly.

Brian has been there for Jenifer in so many ways. He has been there for the low points in her life like when her parents passed away; and he has been there for the high points, like hiking Mount Elbert’s 14,473-foot summit. You don’t get more “lows and highs” than that. Through every part of their relationship, Brian has been there to love and support Jennifer, and the rest of the family too. We have all grown to love him very much, and look to him as a brother, uncle, grandpa, and dad.

With their birthdays being so close together, Jennifer took this past week off, and the two of them made a trip to Colorado to have some fun…probably skiing, since Colorado had some new snow last week. They really do quite a bit of outdoor activities in Colorado, and I can understand why, because the Rocky Mountains have lots to do…for this fun loving, outdoor couple, even more to do than most people. While traveling is fun, I still think that their favorite place to be is on Casper Mountain at their cabin. It was pretty rustic when they bought it from a friend who, for health reasons, was unable to go there again, and moved to a warmer climate. When they bought it, the cabin was little more than a glorified tent. The interior needed lots of work. Brian and Jennifer have worked really hard to make it into the getaway they want, and I can say that it looks a lot better now. The land around it is much better too, and when they are at the cabin, they are close to some of the trails they love. Brian is probably more of a bicycler than Jennifer is, even though she loves to ride too. He will ride for hours on the mountain trails. Sometimes when the rest of the family are hiking, they cross paths with Brian on his bicycle.

Brian is a licensed pilot, and I sometimes wonder if he misses that part of his life. I know he could fly planes for people if he wanted to, but that would put him on someone else’s timeline again, and that is something most of us retired people don’t want to do. So, Brian spends his time doing the things he loves, and that suits him just fine. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grandniece, Izabella Harman is a spunky little girl, with a sparkling personality. She is the middle child of my grandnephew, Jake Harman and his wife Melanie Harman. Belle, as she is called, loves life, and is excited to be alive. This past summer, her family went hiking on Casper Mountain with her aunt, Siara Olsen and her partner, Chris Kirk. They hiked the Bridle Trail, which I can tell you is not an easy trail. Nevertheless, they made it all the way around the trail. I think often the trail is easier for the kids, because they are more energetic, stronger, and more resilient than adults who may not hike a lot. Nevertheless, everyone made the hike, including Belle’s little brother Jaxx. I love to hike, and I know that trail. I even managed to break my shoulder in a slip and fall on that trail, so I am very proud of their accomplishment.

Bell is currently in kindergarten in school. She is a smart little girl, who loves learning. Like most kindergarteners, she is very close to losing all of her front teeth. She is also a good big sister to her little brother, and a great little sister to her big sister, Alice Green. They love to play and roughhouse. These kids are best friends and very rough and tumble. They don’t whine and cry, but rather they are always full of giggles. It is such a pleasure to hear these kids laughing and playing. In fact, it is a source of entertainment for their parents. There is nothing better than a house full of laughter.

Belle enjoys working out with her grandma, Chantel Balcerzak, and her Aunty Siara. She is a very strong girl, and they are very proud of her abilities. For her birthday, her grandma and aunt took Belle to get her ears pierced. The lady asked her which earrings she wanted, and she picked the biggest “diamonds” on the board. Now, if you know Chantel and Siara, you will know that they love their bling, and it appears that Belle is a diva too. Siara says that she is her mini-me, and since Belle’s middle name is Siara, it makes perfect sense. She is very much a girly girl. I’m told that Belle was so very brave. She didn’t even flinch when she got her ears pierced. Everyone was so proud of her, and now she has her new bling. Today is Belle’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Belle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Brian Cratty is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner and soulmate. Their relationship has blossomed and grown over the years, and Brian has become an important part of our family. He is there in the good times and in the bad, always lending a helping hand, wherever it is needed. That really falls right in line with several aspects of Brian’s character. Brian is a nature lover and spends a lot of time at the cabin he and Jennifer purchased on Casper Mountain. He loves to mountain bike and cross country ski off trail. For this reason, the cabin is where Brian likes to spend much of his time…year round. He like to wander around on the mountain, and in the summer, Brian and Jennifer can often be found cleaning up the forest. When I first heard that, I was surprised, but when you think about it, the wind blows all kinds of trash around, and the forest doesn’t somehow miss out on all that junk. If you want to be able to enjoy nature in the future, you have to help keep the place clean…right?

Brian is also a very good cook. It is a pastime he very much enjoys, and Jennifer doesn’t mind that either. Brian is retired, and Jennifer isn’t yet, so it’s nice that he can cook meals to be ready when she gets home. Brian is also a big movie buff. I’m not sure what his favorite movies are, but for many people, a nice dinner and a movie night make up the perfect date night. And, after a busy day at work or taking care of other things at the house and cabin, you are ready to relax and enjoy a quiet evening. Brian also likes to puzzle in the winter and always has one going at their house. Puzzles are not my thing, but Brian finds puzzles to be very relaxing.

Brian not only loves nature and the outdoors, but he loves bringing nature indoors too. Brian has a room that has been dubbed the “Plant Room,” and it is literally full of Brian’s plants. He has a true green thumb, and maybe I should have him stop by an touch my plants for me. I think they might perk up with the help of someone with a green thumb. He is one with nature.

As our family has been embracing family time once a month, with a family dinner, I have had a chance to see another side of Brian. Brian is a strategist, and he enjoys playing games. He and their oldest grandchild, 8 year old Reagan Parmely, have been playing games after dinner. Some of these games, like chess, are quite complicated, and Brian (who reminds me of my Uncle Bill Spencer, when we played Cribbage) patiently teaches Reagan the game, but doesn’t give her the game. I don’t care what anyone says, when my Uncle Bill taught me to play Cribbage and didn’t give me the game, I was thankful, because when I did finally beat him…I did it honestly. The victory was real. There is just something to be said for teaching someone the game, versus giving them the game. I really respect that. Today is Brian’s birthday, Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Jason Sawdon, is a decorated patrolman for the Wyoming Highway Patrol. It is a position to be very proud of, and while he would never say that he is proud of himself, because he is not that kind of man, we are all proud of him and his work. Still, it is not his position as a patrolman that has endeared Jason to his family.

Jason is a wonderful husband to my niece, Jessi and an amazing daddy to their daughter, Adelaide. He has such a soft heart when it comes to his girls, and he would gladly give them the moon…if he could reach it. I love seeing him with his girls, because the love he feels for them is evidenced on his face. There is a look that you see on a man’s face when he has found that his life’s dream is sitting right there beside him. It’s as if he almost can’t believe how very blessed his life has become. Of course, his girls feel the same way about Jason. They know that when God gave them Jason, He gave them the best He had. That’s how a match made in Heaven works. God gives each party the person that is the very best for them.

Jason has a great sense of humor and brings much fun and laughter into their home. And of course, his good nature and that of my niece, have made their little Adelaide into a bit of a comic in her own right, With parents like hers, what else would she be. She has learned from two of the best comics I know.

All humor aside though, I can honestly say that Jason and Jessi are two people who I feel very blessed to know. They are hard working, talented people, who live life to the fullest. They are involved with their community, and work to make it a better place to live. They aren’t afraid of hard work, and they have made their home a sweet place to raise their family. They love to go camping and hang out with family and friends…especially at the Hadlock place on Casper Mountain. And they love to head back to Michigan to visit Jason’s family there, because family is what it’s all about. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageFor most of her life, my granddaughter, Shai Royce made it very clear that she was not into exercise, and most definitely not into outdoor exercise. As she grew up, she would consider going to the gym…but only if there was no other way to stay in shape. Then, she got into Zumba, and going to the gym started to be fun, instead of a lot of work. Still, outdoor sports were just not it for her…even though I tried to get her to join her grandpa and me on the walking path we often walk on.

One day, when the water at Pathfinder Reservoir was so high that it was overflowing the dam, we invited her to go out with us to see it. There was a bit of a walk to get imagethere, but that wasn’t what affected my granddaughter. It was what was at the end of that walk that grabbed her attention. The falls were stunning, no doubt about that. Shai and several friends made repeated trips back out to Pathfinder Reservoir and the falls.

Then, we told her we were going to hike the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. Shai decided that she wanted to go along, but I was skeptical. I remembered her telling me that she didn’t like this sort of thing. I told her I wasn’t sure she was up for it…even thought she had walked the Platte River Trail with us a week before. I’m not sure if Shai was offended or determined, but she informed me that she could do it. So, we made the hike. Shai did amazing…better than I did actually. She liked it so much that she and I went again, two days later. She wanted to go again, but time didn’t imageimageallow it. Before I knew it, Shai was moving to Washington to join the rest of her family, but she left here a different girl…an outdoorsy girl, in fact.

Shai has been in Washington just a little more than a month now. She and her brother, Caalab met a girl named Heidi, and Heidi likes to hike. She took them on what Shai deemed the hardest hike she had ever been on, last week. The hike took them to Winchester Mountain. She texted me pictures, and I must say that I need to hike it too. What a magnificent place it is. Shai has come a long way over this past year, and finally my girly girl, who hated the outdoors, has become an outdoorsy girl!! Who would have thought that would happen?

cheryl236Dad and MomSaturday afternoon, after hiking the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain, Bob and I went up to hike the Braille Trail with our daughter, Corrie Petersen, her husband Kevin and her son, Josh. Black out glasses were provided to give a sighted person an idea of what it is like to travel through life blind. Josh and I decided to hike that way, and what an experience that was. I must say that Blind Man’s Bluff will not prepare you for the reality of going through life blind. I have a lot of respect for any blind person who gets out and lives their life on their own terms. It would take a lot of courage. Of course, since I cannot read Braille, we took off the glasses at each sign that told about the area. It was very interesting to hear about the rocks, trees, the creek, and plant life we were seeing around us.

Then, we read the sign about the tornado that had torn through the Braille Trail in 1978. My memory files immediately took me back to July 20, 1978 at 6:40pm. No, I didn’t know that July 20th was the exact date or that 6:40pm was the exact time, but I’m quite sure it was. My Aunt Ruth Wolfe and her family had come to town to celebrate my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary, which was July 18, 1978. The memory was so vivid in my memory files that I can clearly see my Aunt Ruth standing in my parents’ kitchen. Suddenly, she stopped talking and almost ran to the back door. She said, “There’s a tornado somewhere!” She was so serious, but I was still skeptical…until we heard that there had indeed been a tornado on Casper Mountain at that exact time. I was stunned. How could she have known that? I was a young mother of two girls then, and had never been around a tornado. Casper doesn’t get a lot of them, even though we have had warnings, and even tornadoes in the area. Casper Mountain gets even fewer tornadoes than the main Casper area. Still, my aunt, who had been around a few of them, knew the atmospheric changes that precede a tornado, and she was certain that one had struck somewhere in our immediate area.

Now, over 38 years later, while walking a trail on the mountain, that whole scene replayed in my mind. Life is strange that way. Sometimes, memories come in and out of your life like you are watching a movie. It seemed so real that I felt like I could have walked across the room and touched my aunt. I remembered always being imageamazed at the wisdom she had concerning tornadoes. In reality, all of my parents siblings were that way. They had the wisdom that comes with their years on the earth. That was how Aunt Ruth got her wisdom too…living life. It was a great memory of her. As to the Braille Trail, since it had the dedication of the Lions Club and the community, the people came together, cleaned it up, and repaired the damage. The Braille Trail has been damaged a total of three times over the years of its existence…the 1978 tornado, the 1985 flood, and the 1995 winter storms, each time the damaged trees were removed, and the trail areas rebuilt, so that the trail could continue to serve the visually impaired and the community at large. I know I will definitely go back again.

10676136_10203963098216709_6950743894931229963_nAfter her divorce, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Schulenberg Parmely met a man named Brian Cratty. Brian is a pilot and for many years his work was as a pilot for the Life Flight team. Brian and Jennifer are well suited to each other in many ways…such as their work in the medical field. They have spent their lives meeting the medical needs of others, but in very different ways. Jennifer as an Obstetrics nurse, and Brian as a Life Flight pilot. Brian has since retired from his job as a Life Flight pilot, and now is a private pilot, who still flies for others occasionally.

Brian and Jennifer are really good friends. They both enjoy the same things. They hike, ski, run, and they love to travel. They also spend quite a bit of time at their cabin on Casper Mountain. In fact, the mountain is such a big part of their lives that they had a house built a while back that is in the foothills of Casper Mountain. That way, they can go for a hike before the get going on their day, and they don’t have to go very far to do it. In fact it was the love of hiking that we all share, that placed so many of the right people with me when I fell on the Bridle Trail and broke my shoulder. Each one of those people played their part, and I will be forever grateful. Brian and I also have something else in common…physical therapy. He recently had to have Rotator Cuff surgery done, and was taking IMG_1234physical therapy too…something that neither of us wanted to have in common…ever, but there it is. I have since been released, and I’m sure he has too, and I hope his shoulder is doing as well as mine is, because the shoulder is more important than we realize sometimes.

Brian is rather a quiet man, and tries not to be intrusive on family matters, but I think I speak for everyone, when I say that we all consider him an important part of this family. I suppose that the longer he is in this family, the less an outsider he will feel…or maybe, like many people, he will always be a quiet man. I am often that way, so I can completely relate to it. I think some people are just listeners. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Mountain TornadoYesterday’s rare tornado on Casper Mountain while not scary, because I didn’t know about it until it was over, did take me back a in time a bit, however. A number of years ago, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim Wolfe were at my mom’s house visiting, we were under a tornado watch. No one was worried about it because it was only a watch, and we didn’t expect anything to come of it. I think we were under the mistaken assumption that we would never have a tornado here…at least I think I was. I’m sure the adults knew that a tornado could happen anywhere, but I was a kid, and I still wanted that cushion of protection. It’s a lot more comfortable to a child to think that these bad things can never come here, and you don’t want your dream world shattered. All too soon you reach an age where you know that storms like these are possible anywhere, and you become watchful, just like my Aunt Ruth was.

As we were visiting, no one was really paying attention to the weather. Suddenly, my Aunt Ruth jumped up and ran to the back door. She looked out the window and said, “There is a tornado somewhere!!” I remember thinking, “No way!! We don’t get those here!!” She insisted that there had been one, but with no way to confirm it right then, they went back to their conversation. I, on the other hand felt a little apprehensive for the rest of the evening. I kept thinking, “Tornados don’t happen here, do they…or do they? Is it save to be here? Should we be going somewhere to hide r something?” Still the adults didn’t seem too concerned, so I went back to what I was doing too, but the memory of that moment has really never left me. I can still vividly see my Aunt Ruth standing at the back door, looking at the sky for clues as to the location of the tornado. I can still hear her voice, clearly saying that there was a tornado somewhere. She was so sure of it

Later that night, as we were watching the news, the weather man said that there had been a tornado on the mountain. I was a little shaken up by that report. The memory of that moment has lived in my memory files for all those years. I don’t know exactly how she knew it that day, but she did. I think I was a little bit in awe of her knowledge of storm systems. I suppose that was because she had been right about it. Now, of course we have things like radar, and Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruthrotation patterns to tell us ahead of time that something is coming, but I am here to tell you that those systems don’t always do exactly what they are supposed to do. Yesterday’s tornado on Casper Mountain did not set of any of the warning systems. I wondered how that could be, until I found out that the tornado was called a Land Spout Tornado, and apparently those don’t show a rotation pattern that can be picked up by radar. So even with all the warning systems we have, no system is fool proof, and there can be the rogue storm the goes against everything known to man concerning storms. Still, they happen. I suppose that then the only warning system is a person to can feel the  weather, like Aunt Ruth.

My parents have always loved the mountains much more than the lakes. Lakes are beautiful too, but in the summertime, they are hot, unless you spend every minute in the water, and the sun beats down on you all day long. On the other hand, the mountains are cooler because of the altitude and the many trees, and there is a feeling of peaceful relaxation that you just can’t get at the lake. The love of the mountains is something I share with my parents. I could hike through the trees for hours and never get tired of it.

Early in their marriage, Mom and Dad went up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and took the opportunity to ride the ski lift to the top of the ski area in the summertime. Bob and I have done that too, so I know how beautiful it is up there. The view of the Tetons, standing majestically in the distance is a view that many people have captured on film, simply because it is so breathtaking. You can see the beauty of the view, even in the black and white photos they had back then. Mom and Dad looked like they were having a wonderful time. If you have never taken a ride on a ski lift in the summertime, it is something I highly recommend, because you get a totally different picture of things without all the snow. And for me, no snow is a good thing.

Mom and Dad shared, with my sisters and me, the beauty that can be found in nature, and in my opinion, the mountains are one of the most beautiful places on earth. So many wonderful family outings have been spent right here on Casper Mountain. My parents felt like the mountains were so magestic, whether it was the towering peaks of the Tetons or the rolling hills of Casper Mountain or The Black Hills. Each one had a beauty all its own…a beauty that was worth seeking out. The mountains have a magesty all their own, and I will always love to go and drink in the peacful beauty that resides there

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