hiking

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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!!

Jolene Thompson is my niece, Kellie Hadlock’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson’s daughter, and she is such a little sweetheart. She always has a smile on her face, and she is totally fearless. She is a totally tough little girl. She is an amazing big sister to her siblings, and helps take care of them, but this summer, she got to spend with her dad, and they had the best summer. Jolene is in 1st grade this year, and she spent the summer learning to ride her bike and learning how to swim. She excelled at both new skills and can’t get enough of them. Her dad is a great teacher, and he guided his little girl to the level of expert in no time. She even jumped off of the high dive in Thermopolis without hesitation…multiple times!! She is totally fearless in all aspects of her life.

Jolene loves to draw and color. She has that creative gene, I think. She also loves to brush and style Kellie’s hair, which if you know my family at all, is like the greatest blessing ever. Some people hate to have their hair touched, but our family…can’t get enough of having our hair brushed, styles, or just touched. Some people might call that weird, but if you like having your hair brushed and such…well, you just know what I mean. With Kellie, Jolene gets to do all the girly things that she doesn’t get to do normally, because at home, either with her dad or her mom, there is no doing the girly things. Not everyone likes the dress-up, fix the hair, girly things. That is a blessing for both Jolene and Kellie. They are best friends, and they love each other very much.

During her summer with her dad, Jolene got to do a lot of camping, hiking, and shooting. She also got to go fishing, and of course bicycling and swimming. She had a totally blissful summer. Her and her dad had a great summer…and they did all the things!! They went to a rock-climbing wall place, and Jolene climbed like an expert there too. She also showed off her climbing skills on the trees in the campgrounds she and her dad stayed in. Jolene got her first bow this year too and learned archery. Tim is a total outdoorsman, and Jolene wants to do everything her dad does, so she is eager to learn and to reach expert level. Today is Jolene’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Jolene!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Siara Olsen met Chris Kirk in early September of 2021, when she boldly went up to him in the local Loaf and Jug convenience store in Casper, and told him that she liked his freckles. She started calling him her “Loaf and Jug Boyfriend” that very day. How could he resist that?? The year prior had been the hardest year Siara had ever faced, and when she met Chris, her joy returned. She once again became the happy girl we had always known and missed very much. I won’t go into the sadness of the prior year, because this story has a happy ending, and I will focus on that. Chris has the ability to put a smile on my grandniece’s face, and in my book that makes him a great guy. Chris fits well into Siara’s family, and she fits well into his. Theirs is going to be a wonderful and exciting future.

Siara and Chris have so much in common. They are both very athletic, and love doing te same activities. The first pictures I saw of them together, believe it or not, they were doing a couple’s workout, and it was obvious that they were “head over heels” in love with each other. You never saw a picture of them where they weren’t smiling…unless they were making a face for the camera. They love to joke around, and their happiness just flows out of both of them.

Siara has long been a fitness buff, and Chris either is too, or he has become one since meeting her. They like to go hiking with Siara’s brother, Jake Harman, his wife, Melanie, and their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jax. A favorite spot is the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. I like to say that families should work toward staying fit together, because it makes for a long and happy life. Hiking and hanging out with her brother’s family also gave everyone a chance to get to know Chris, and they all liked him too. Siara is close to her brother and his family, so that was important.

Chris surprised Siara when she had her back to him and he dropped to one knee, just as she turned around. His proposal was sweet and beautiful, and Siara was swept off her feet. I couldn’t say it better than she did, in her own words, “Turning around to you down on one knee asking me if I trust you with my life and my heart it was so easily a yes, but you asking me if I would marry you was the easiest yes of all! Our souls are so deeply connected through God already, but this makes it mean so much more. I love you more than anything, Chris Kirk!” It makes everyone in Siara’s family so happy to see these two tie the knot today. I wish you both all the love and happiness in the world. Congratulations Siara and Chris!! We love you both!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I love to hike the Black Hills, and with Independence Day and Bob’s birthday on July 10th, it is always a perfect time for us to go and spend a week in one of the places we love the most. We aren’t always able to hike our favorite trail, up to Harney Peak (now called Black Elk Peak), because sometimes, one or the other of us isn’t in shape for it. We always miss that hike when we are unable to go there and look forward to getting “back in the saddle” again, so to speak. It’s not that we ride the trails on horseback, but it might be one way to get up there in a pinch. I think I might have to consider that option, if it is too many years before we can get back up there.

After being together for more than 48 years, married for just over 47 years, we are comfortable in our life. We are one of the forever marriages, and that means that we must like doing many of the same things. It stands to reason, and we find ourselves thinking and acting alike. The same activities are fun for both of us, and yes…we can finish each other’s sentences. It is almost impossible not to. That’s what long term married couples do. They just know each other, and how their mate would react to things. That is the case with my husband and me. We are soulmates, and that is perfectly ok with us.

Bob spends much of his free time working on vehicles, for us and his friends. Thats a good thing, because he would probably go just a little crazy without his favorite pastime to keep him busy. Bob loves working on cars, and he is very good at it. He has a knack for finding out what is wrong with a vehicle and then fixing it. What would drive someone else crazy, keeps his mind sharp and on track. Mechanics is like a puzzle for him. Every piece has its proper place and finding that proper place is his passion…and the people whose vehicles he works on, reap the benefits. And they consider themselves blessed. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! You are the love of my life, and I am so blessed to be your wife. Have a great day!! We love you!!

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 grandson, Caalab Royce has been making a few changes in himself lately. Most people have a tendency to let life get in the way of taking care of ourselves sometimes. It’s easy to do. Caalab has decided to get back in shape, so he’s been working out and getting buff. His sister, Shai Royce says he looks like he’s 19 again. I’m not sure if he would call that a compliment or not. Guys his age don’t want to look younger, hahaha!! Being an exercise enthusiast myself, I think he looks great. Caalab has always been a bit like me when it comes to our love of the outdoors and long walks. When he moved to Washington state with his family, though, he got to where he could outwalk me by quite a way. I was amazed at how far he walked. We both love being able to get out in nature and walk, while enjoying the beautiful scenes around us. Of course, these days, I think I have more time for it than Caalab does. Retirement does that.

Caalab and his dad, Travis Royce have long been playing guitar together. They don’t play professionally, and you can call me biased, but I think they are really very good. These days, Caalab and Travis and a couple of friends get together every Wednesday for band practice. It is really fun to sit in the “audience” during practice sessions. It’s always nice to have that talent in your own family.

With Caalab turning 25 years old, Amy and Travis are taking him to Vegas with their friends Burt and Amy and their kids. It’s going to be a great time. Caalab went to Vegas when he was 21, and they all enjoy going, so it will be fun to go again. They have been planning this for a while now, but Covid stopped it until now. They tend to do well on the slots, so I hope they will win and have a great time. Of course, there is lots to do in Vegas, besides gambling, so I know they will have plenty to do.

Caalab has always been such a happy kid. Always full of smiles, and mischief. He loves a good joke and never forgets the punchline. He is a teaser from way back, something his sister had to learn to accept, and finally agree was funny. Caalab loved being the “funny man” and never missed a chance to make people laugh. He has grown to be a wonderful man, but sometimes I miss the little boy he was, and since he lives far away from me, I miss having him around too. Today is Caalab’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson is an amazing dad, and a wonderful boyfriend to Kellie. She tells me that he is definitely her “far more than I could ask, imagine, or think” blessing! They make such a great couple and family that it is so sweet to watch. It’s almost as if they have always been a family. Jolene loves Kellie as if she were her own mom, and Kellie loves Jolene the same as if she was her own child. Whenever you blend a family, even if one half of the couple doesn’t have kids yet, it is a big step, and they are all navigating the journey together in love. Tim has been so good to Kellie, and in my book that makes him a great guy. I have really never seen Kellie so happy…and that’s saying a lot, because Kellie is one of the happiest people I have ever met.

Tim is an avid outdoorsman. He is really into shooting his bow right now and practicing for hunting season! Tim loves to go hunting, and he has even managed to get Kellie into hunting (something I never expected). He also loves hiking, camping, or even just hanging out in Casper or Shoshoni with his girls, Jo and Kellie. He is a hardworking man, and every time he has days off, he is doing something for the girls. He lives and works in Gillette, Jolene lives in Riverton, and Kellie in Casper, so that means a lot of driving to see his girls. Nevertheless, he does it happily, because they are the most important part of his life. One day soon, I hope they can all live in the same place, because it is hard to carry-on long-distance relationships, be it boyfriend/girlfriend or daddy/daughter. Kellie tells me that Tim makes her a better person, but I’d bet that Tim would say that Kellie makes him a better person. That is what makes them a great couple. Tim is aways doing things for the girls, and just being there for them every day. In Kellie’s words, “He shows up for us every day and I couldn’t have asked for a better man!” The very best part of a great relationship is being there for each other..

I really believe that Tim and Kellie are a match made in Heaven. Their Christian beliefs, and those of their families, are the same, and that puts them both on the same spiritual path. God knew the right person for each of them, and when that happens, it is a great match. I find that our family is very blessed with many matches made in Heaven, and I’m so happy that Tim and Kellie are another one of those. I know that life is going to bring them many wonderful blessings and wonderful adventures. Today is Tim’s birthday. Happy birthday Tim!! 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 sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a busy person in just about every way. Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse who is close to retirement. I sometimes find myself amazed that she can possible have been helping to deliver babies for about 40 years now. She has assisted in the delivery of more babies than I’m sure even she knows or could count. It’s a lot of years of deliveries, some of which were her own grandnieces and grandnephews. I know that my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were both very thankful to have their aunt in the room with them when they gave birth, and so was I. It’s hard to watch your kids go through so much pain, and it is comforting to know that their aunt, who was a delivery room nurse, and who cared about my kids, was there with them during one of the hardest times in their lives, even if they were also the happiest moments of their lives. Jennfer has been that blessing to so many people, friends, family, and strangers, and all of them are so thankful.

Jennifer is also an athlete. She hikes, skis, rides bicycles, and also does many indoor forms of exercise there is. Jennifer and her partner, Brian Cratty have a cabin on Casper Mountain, so they can be closer to the mountain and activities they love. For them, Casper Mountain is their “happy place.” Jennifer and Brian have hiked many places, including to heights as high as 14,473 feet when they climbed Mount Elbert in Colorado, called a 14er. She has also hiked in Vermont, Maine, and New Zealand…yes, New Zealand. That is a dedicated hiker, and I thought I was. Not nearly as much as Jennifer. I think when Jennifer retires, she will wonder how she had time to work with all of her athletic passions.

While being a nurse, an athlete, as well as mom of three boys, Barry Schulenberg (married to Kellie), JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely (married to Ashley), keeps Jennifer quite busy, her latest blessings are her grandchildren. Jennifer has three granddaughters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve Parmely, and grandson Bowen Parmely…these are the children on her son Eric and his wife Ashley. Jennifer loves to do special things for the kids, like their own special cake for their birthday, taking them on a special shopping trip for their birthdays, and taking turns spending the night with their grandparents. She works hard to make things special for each of them. Jennifer goes by Oma to the kids, which is German for Grandma…a fitting name for a woman of German descent (along with a lot of English). For Jennifer, life is good. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is a country girl, through and through. She loves living in the country and would love to raise donkeys. Unfortunately, right now, she and my nephew Barry Schulenberg don’t have any donkeys, but I think it would be cool if they got some. I know that every little kid in the family would love to ride a donkey or even just feed them. Donkeys can be so sweet. Of course, they can also be stubborn. They are a bit like kids that way, I guess. It’s just par for the course.

Kelli loves country music, and attends as many concerts as she can each year. That said, I guess you know that she has seen lots of country music stars in her lifetime. I’m not sure who her favorite star is and maybe that’s because she has so many favorites that no single singer exactly stands out…at least not to me anyway.

Kelli has two “men” in her life. My nephew Barry, who she married on January 31, 2004, and their dog, Scout…who she calls Sheriff Scout, because he is always on duty and ready to pounce. Of course, about the only thing Scout will ever need to “pounce” on would be a rabbit who is brave (of foolish) enough to get to close, or enter the yard, in general. Scout rules the roost, and Kelli will confirm that story for sure. Scout has tons of toys, and “needs” them all out at the same time…apparently. Scout is a source of joy and laughter to Kellie and Barry.

Kelli loves the outdoors and especially hiking and bicycling, which go hand in hand with the fact that she loves Summer the best. In fact, if it weren’t for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, Kelli would have absolutely no use for Winter at all…and as to the wonderful Wyoming wind…well, she’s definitely not a fan…but they, how many of us really are. Kelli loves the mountains and camping, which is no fun in the winter either, Spring, Summer, and Fall, with a heavy emphasis on Summer is right up her alley. Kelli and Barry go camping as much as they can in the Summer. They especially love camping in the Big Horns, but they also like Colorado for camping places. Kelli is an outdoor girl who loves lots of fun outdoor activities, and all things country. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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