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Written by guest author, Cheryl Masterson

My sister, Caryn Schulenberg is a woman of many characteristics, interests, and capabilities. I will tell you a tiny little bit about her.

For one, she is the most determined and self-disciplined woman I know! When she makes her mind up to do something, she does it, and she does it well! She can stay on a diet like a world champion! She never lets her weight get very far out of hand, and when she goes over a ways, she goes on a diet, and there is nothing that will get her off that diet until she has reached her goal! She walks, hikes and stays in shape. She’s such a good example that her husband, Bob, has joined her in this determination and self-discipline over the years just to keep up with her!

She can write, and she is a good writer! She decided to start this blog many years ago, and she never fails to write something every single day of every single year! That’s determination, and self-discipline! She finds something that interests her, and she writes about it! She has many, many followers on her blog! Some of her stories are funny, some are sad, some are just good information to know, but all are interesting and keep her followers entertained and informed. Her writing also satisfies the need in her “to know.” She likes to know about so many things!

Caryn is unendingly compassionate, giving, caring, and very protective of her family, friends and loved ones! She will help anyone with anything they ask her for help with, and I do mean, anything. She will do her best, and give you all she has to give, even if she doesn’t know anything about what you have asked her to do! She will find out how to do it, and then, go do it! If she says she will do it, she will! She is a woman who can be counted on, and she never gripes, moans, or complains about anything that is asked of her, either. She just does it, or gives it. That’s it!

One of the times her compassion and understanding of, and for, her sisters and her Mother, and her protectiveness toward us, strongly came to her aid and helped her to take on a task the rest of us absolutely cringed from taking on because it was so devastating for our entire family. That happened when our Dad, Allen Spencer, was sick and in the hospital for 4 months! So sick they told us he would die! Any of you who know us very well, know about that time in our lives, because Caryn wrote about it quite a bit after it was over. But from my point of view, this is how Caryn handled that situation, and I, for one, will be forever grateful! We each have our strong points, but Caryn took on the most hated, and horrible task I can think of during that time, and she did it for all of us! She dealt with the doctors! My sisters, our Mother and I all had, and have, the same faith in God Caryn has. Meaning we all believe the same way, and we are all strong in that faith. But I know, for myself, the emotional battering and harsh blows dealt to us by those well-meaning physicians as they reported to us several times a day, was far more than I could stand to receive first-hand! Those reports were truly aggressive and like physical blows in the beginning, and for quite a while! When none of us could bear to face their battering and horrifying, day to day reports, Caryn faced them, and most often, alone! And after she listened to them, and discussed their reports with them, she would then come and talk with us, and she always softened each horrifying report she received from them as much as she could, into a report we could better handle, softened with her faith in God, and pulling from us, our faith in God. Her ability to “run interference” between them and us, gave us the time we needed to compose ourselves, and get our minds on the Word of God, which is the most important thing we can do in our family, in a crisis! Her protective nature in the matter of the doctors sheltered us, and helped us all to continue to hope and pray in faith for our Dad and for his recovery! And he did recover! And he lived two more years in relatively good health, for which we are all so grateful to God! And I’ll tell you, Caryn not only listened to those doctors often horrifying reports, she told them she understood what they were saying, BUT . . . and then she would proceed to tell them what we believed, and gradually she turned every single one of those doctors and nurses to our side. Until they started to say the same things she was saying to them, and gradually, things began to change, and Dad recovered. Every one of those doctors and nurses remember her well, respect her, and always speak with her when they see her even yet today, 15 years later!

Caryn is a wonderful sister, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother! She is always in your corner! She attends every event anyone invites her to if it’s at all possible. Birthdays, school performances, graduations, showers, weddings, births, funerals, parties, or whatever else is going on. She is there for her family and for her friends. She hates to disappoint anyone in any way! As I said before, she can be counted on even when no one else can.

These are only a few of the zillion things I can think of to say about my sister, Caryn, but there isn’t enough room to put it all down on paper! This, at the very least, gives you a little insight into the kind of person she is, in case you didn’t already know! She is a blessing in every way to all who know and love her! Today is Caryn’s birthday, and I wish her the most wonderful kind of day, and a coming year that is blessed and happy beyond measure! Happy birthday, Caryn! I love you! We all love you! Have a great day!

“Every state has ghost towns. Eastern and Midwestern States are no exception. At one time or another you may have driven your car right by a ghost town, not aware of it. If you are a hiker, backpacker, or a hunter, you may have walked past or through a ghost town not knowing one was there.” I read that statement on a web site I was using to research stories for my blog. I had read many stories about ghost towns, but this one intrigued me. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I have hiked many of the trails in the Black Hills, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times we have walked past old abandoned, crumbling, falling down buildings. To us, they seemed like just an abandoned farmhouse and out buildings, but now I am beginning to wonder if we have been one of those hikers who have walked right through a ghost town, and didn’t even know it. In fact, I’ll bet we have walked right through many a ghost town during our many hikes.

I love photographing old buildings, and often find myself wondering how long they had been there, and why they were left to rot. Of course, the Black Hills is rich in gold rush history, so a ghost town or tow makes perfect sense. We have driven through, and by some of them, and even passed through some while riding he 1880 Train, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that some of the old buildings we have hiked by could have been part of a ghost town, but looking back now, it makes perfect sense. I have often found myself wondering who lived there and what their lives might have been like back when the house was newly built. Still, it didn’t occur to me that it might be part of a ghost town. I guess that is because I always thought that all the ghost towns would be well documented with signs alerting the tourists to the site. In reality, those signs would be placed by the town’s owner, who was trying to make a buck by romanticizing the site…and that’s ok too, but that doesn’t mean that every ghost town was so well documented. In reality, it’s the ghost towns that are less documented that hold the most intrigue, because much less is known about them.

I think that the next time we hike and find ourselves passing by an old rotting building, that I will feel much different about the place than I did in the past. I think I will still wonder about who lived there, but also about whether or not it was a ghost town that once sprung up, and prospered, only to be choked out when hard times hit and the people who lived there moved on in search of a better life. That was, after all, the fate of every ghost town. It was a town that sprung up with the promise of becoming a bustling city, but it was in the wrong place, and life could not be sustained there, so eventually it withered and died off, leaving only the buildings to tell of its presence, and then only to those who happened to pass by.

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