My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, Brian Cratty is a mountain man…seriously. He loves being on Casper Mountain, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. In the Summer, Brian hikes and mountain bikes for much of the day. He is totally in his element when he is on the mountain. Brian and Jennifer own a cabin on the mountain, and Brian, who is retired, spends as much time as possible there. I’m sure Jennifer will spend more time there as well, now that she has retired too.
Even in the Winter, Brian spends most days at the cabin. When he gets there, he builds a fire in the cabin and then gets to work keeping it shoveled out. The deep accumulations of snow can do so much damage to a cabin that is not kept dug out. A structure can only hold so much snow before damage becomes inevitable. Normally there is a good amount of snow on the mountain, but this winter has been a real challenge. Nevertheless, Brian as worked hard, persevered, and kept it at bay, protecting the cabin. I think we have all been shocked ah the amount of snow on the mountain, and this last storm dumped an additional 48+ inches on the mountain. It looks to me like we might have as much as 10 feet in some places.
Driving to the cabin in the Winter is not possible, so they ski into the cabin in the Winter. Jennifer tells me that it only takes about 35 minutes from the Nordic lodge to get there. They love cross-country skiing, so for them it’s not a burden, but rather an adventure. The mountain might be teeming with activity in the Summer, but the Winter presents a very different atmosphere. There is a deep quiet a lot of the time, and that is part of its charm. Of course, the cabin is near trails too, and there might be snowmobilers around too, but not all the time, so the quiet is the bulk of the day.
Some days, Brian is just not able to get up to the mountain, so on those dreaded “stuck at home” days, Brian likes to work on puzzles. Not everyone has that patience to put puzzles together, but Brian really enjoys it. He also loves to cook, and that is always an advantage for Jennifer, who reaps the benefits of his skill, and he enjoys watching movies, although he probably finds it hard to sit there when he would rather be on the mountain shoveling snow!! Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
From the time she was a Candy Striper at the age of seventeen, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely knew that she wanted to be a nurse…a Labor and Delivery Nurse, to be exact. After graduating from high school, she set out to begin her journey to make that dream happen. She became a nurse and was hired at what is now Banner Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. Jennifer was in her element, and so began a 45-year long career. She continued her education to the point where she could have a supervisory position and teach classes to fellow nurses, but her first love was being there when new babies were born. She was there when each of my grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen were born, as well as many other people I know. My girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were grateful to have their aunt there with them, as was I.
February 28, 2023, marked the end of Jennifer’s career, when she retired from nursing to pursue her other loves, hiking, bicycling, skiing, traveling (mostly to hike), and spending time at the cabin she and her partner, Brian Cratty own on Casper Mountain, and of course, time with her grandchildren, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve Parmely. We couldn’t be happier for Jennifer, but I find myself wondering how Banner Wyoming Medical Center has changed since her departure. Let’s face it, Jennifer was a fixture at that hospital. She worked during deliveries, sometimes even being the one to actually deliver the baby. She took care of babies after their birth, and in the nursery. She took care of the moms after they had given birth. And, inevitably, she was there when some babies didn’t make it. Mostly Labor and Delivery is a happy place, but when moms or babies are lost, it becomes the very saddest of places.
Now, those hands that helped deliver babies have other jobs to pursue…or maybe no jobs at all. She will still get to hold babies, of course, because our family is always growing. In fact, I have two great grandbabies on the way right now. Jennifer will have the opportunity to hold these new little ones, but no more deliveries…unless she comes upon an emergency situation somewhere, that places her back in the position of delivering a baby. Actually, we hope that never happens, because it is traumatic for everyone, but if it did, the mommy and baby would be blessed if Jennifer were the one helping. I’m sure the hospital and all of her co-workers miss her very much, but she is on to new adventures. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For people who live in Casper, Wyoming, the mountain to the south has long been a great recreation area. They are campgrounds and a ski resort, not to mention the trails that dot the mountain top. While the mountain is mostly recreational today, along with a number of people who live on the mountain full-time, that wasn’t always the case. In 1890, a gold strike on Casper Mountain brought a little gold rush to the area…along with many different kinds of people, looking to strike it rich. The mountain was crawling with people from all walks of life, but while they looked until 1895, they didn’t find much gold. The materials found were mostly asbestos and other non-profitable minerals.
Nevertheless, there arose a need for a town and supply stores, so the town of Eadsville was formed. It was located 12 miles due south of Casper on top of Casper Mountain. It was founded by Charles W Eads in 1891 after he had staked a 600-foot x 1,500-foot mining claim around a large spring. The town was named for one Charles W Eads, who was the second person to settle in Casper, following a Mr. Merritt, who was credited with being the first to locate to Casper. Eads appeared in the Natrona County Tribune, May 13, 1908, and was apparently accused of being a horse thief. He would go on to do time in prison.
It was thought that there were large deposits of precious minerals, such as gold, silver, lead, and copper. The town continued to develop, with lots being sold in the town during 1891 – 1892. During that time, about a dozen cabins were built. While the town became a ghost town before very long, the foundations of three cabins still remain today. During the boom years, some 40 to 50 people lived there, all hoping to make their millions in gold and silver. Some traces of gold and silver were found, and copper was also mined, but asbestos and feldspar were the most economical to mined. The “spar” was still being mined after nearly 100 years. It’s no longer being mined, but it could be again, if there was a need.
After a time of trying unsuccessfully to make a living, the miners finally gave up and abandoned the town between 1905 and 1906. The site was rediscovered in the 1980s, and numerous artifacts were uncovered during an archeological excavation that was conducted between 1983 and 1985. At one time it was surveyed as a stamp mill. Eadsville was located on Casper Mountain at an elevation of 7,800 feet and covered an area 20 acres.
My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is totally an outdoorsy girl. She loves to go camping, hiking, and just hanging out by a campfire with her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and their dog Scout. They have camped out many places, but they always seem to head back to the Big Horn Mountains. It’s close to home and that might be the reason they choose the Big Horns or Casper Mountain for their camping and hiking. Their dog loves to go along with them and tries to run the show. Kelli and Barry also like to ride their bicycles on the mountain, as well as on some of the local trails inside the city limits of Casper, and in the local dog park, which is nice for Scout.
While Kelli isn’t a big fan of Winter, she surprises me a little in that she rather likes cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Most of us “Winter Haters” would refuse to go out in snowy weather, at least any more than we absolutely had to. Yes, I’m a “Winter Hater” too, in case you couldn’t tell. Nevertheless, Kelli like to go cross country skiing, and I have to say, “Cudos to you, Kelli!!” Kelli really loves the mountains, and that is very likely the reason that she adds a few wintertime outings to her fitness calendar. She also loves to stay in shape, and the different sports things she does help her do that quite well. A dog, who is always up for an outing helps too. Dog owners tend to get out more in the winter than non-owners.
Of course, a year in the life of Kelli Schulenberg would never be complete without several trips around the nation to take in all the country music concerts she can squeeze in. That part of life for Kelli actually takes in what are quite likely her favorite activities…music and travel. So, every chance they get, Kelli and Barry (and often her mom, Mary Wages too) will hit the road or fly the friendly skies, in search of another travel and music adventure. I’m not sure how many states Kelli has been in, but I would wager that it is probably quite a few. When you have a “hobby” like Kelli’s, it can take you to many very cool places…and it can be a lot of fun too. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
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!!
For 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 there, 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 allow 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?
Saturday 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 amazed 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.