hiking

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My niece, Jenny Masterson is a woman of many talents. As many people know, she is a natural-born hostess. She loves to entertain. That is a rare talent. Most of us get stressed out when we have to host holidays, birthdays, or parties. It’s not that we don’t enjoy having the party, but rather that some of us are great at it and others of us simply throw it together. In reality, many of us would much rather have Jenny plan and execute the party and let us take the credit for it. Jenny is a natural, and her parties are fun. Jenny’s favorite parties are the holidays with family. That stands to reason, because Jenny is all about family. She loves them all.

Jenny also loves to hike the mountains, and since my niece, her cousin Andrea Beach moved back to Casper from Rawlins, she and Jenny have been doing a lot of hiking, even in the winter. Of course, you can’t hike some of the tougher trails in the winter, but they do what they can, in anticipation of the summer hiking season to come. The truth is that these two girls have really become close. They do a lot of things together, and they spend time talking, and just enjoying each other’s company. It’s been a really good thing for both of them. They are both social people, and it’s always nice to have a “bestie” to share things with. They have both been a blessing to each other. Jenny also loves taking her other hiking buddy along too. Bella the dog is always ready to go with the girls and the famiy on the next hiking adventure.

Of course, Jenny’s main “bestie” is her husband, Steve Spethman. They have been madly in love since the day they met some 22+ years ago. They are perfect for each other. They have like values and like interests. They love to travel and see new things. They love their family and watching their children grow up. They love God, and they love growing in faith every day. They stand by each other in good times and in bad times. Each of them knows that the other is there for them and will support them no matter what. They are totally committed to each other, totally happy, and they are best friends. Life just doesn’t get better than that, does it? Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Gaby Beach is a nurse at the Veteran’s Hospital in Eugene, Oregon. She loves her work. Being a veteran herself, Gaby has a heart for veterans. In her work, she deals various ailments, disabilities, and emotional needs the veterans. I’m sure that any nurse could go in and take care of the needs of the bodies of the veterans in Eugene, Oregon, or any veteran’s hospital, but it occurs to me that a nurse who is also a veteran, would have a unique connection to the needs of the men and women themselves…not just their bodies. I think that is where Gaby is maybe the best nurse they could have at that hospital.

Gaby has a good heart. She loves dogs and has trained them to visit hospitals. The dogs help bring healing through those visits. It’s an emotional thing. Dogs have been known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, promote healing, provide comfort during tests and procedures, and provide companionship and comfort to patients and even to the staff. The thing is that these dogs must be trained to do their work. It isn’t something that comes totally naturally. Yes, the compassion is there, but the mannerisms aren’t. They must be taught how to treat a patient and how to behave in a hospital setting. That was where Gaby and others like her came in. I wonder if the Veteran’s Hospital in Eugene uses dogs as part of the therapy. If they do, it would be almost like coming full circle for Gaby. She loved those dogs. I could see it in her face when she told me about the kind of work she did with the dogs.

These days, Gaby and her husband, my nephew, Allen Beach have their own fur baby…in the form of a cute pup named Oly. Gaby and Allen love to hike and travel. They recently took a trip with Allen’s mom, Caryl Reed, and Stepdad, Mike Reed. They traveled along the Oregon coast, and really enjoyed getting to know the area they now call home. They moved to Oregon from Wyoming a little over a year ago, but when you live in a place, you don’t always do all of the touristy things. They did some hiking in the area, but now, they are looking forward to taking more trips to the places they visited with Allen’s parents. They are settling in well to their new home, and they are very happy there, even if Allen says they lead boring lives. I guess everyone settles into a routine, and it could seem boring, but as long as they are happy, that is all that matters. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since my niece, Jessi Sawdon and her husband, Jason moved from Casper, Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming, those of us still in Casper don’t get to see as much of them. Of course, her parents and siblings go down to see them often, and they come to Casper as often as they can. Jessi’s sister, Lindsay Moore and her husband Shannon live in Laramie, Wyoming, which is only 40 minutes away, so Jessi and Lindsay and their families get together a lot. The sisters love their sister time, and their daughters, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore are very close too. Living so nearby each other is a great blessing for the girls and their families.

Because they live so close to each other, Jessi and Lindsay get together frequently, and they have a lot of fun. They love to go hiking in the nice weather, and they have had the opportunity to go several times this year. Their favorite hiking spots are around Vedauwoo and near the Lincoln Memorial. The whole family loves to go camping. One of their favorite spots is in the Big Horn Mountains, and they got to go there again this year. The times when they go camping are so special, because they get to disconnect from the world and just enjoy the connection with family. They whole family also went 4 wheeling and went down to Tensleep for the 4th of July parade. It was such a peaceful time. They just laid around Meadowlark Lake in the sun and relaxed. They also went camping at Guernsey over Mother’s Day. While they were camping at Guernsey, Jessi picked their dog, Riley up and had him on her lap. Jason made a funny exasperated, but tolerant look on his face! The picture made Jessi’s mom, Allyn Hadlock laugh, and Jessi though it was very funny too!! Jason always makes just the right faces!!

This family loves a good laugh and loves saying things that will make everyone laugh. In fact, when I asked the girls about some story ideas for Jessi, Lindsay said, “Who is Jessi???” And Jessi’s sister-in-law, Chelsea said, “She smells and hates purple!!” I don’t know about the purple, but of course the rest was just joking. Sisters, hahahaha!!! It’s typical sister time fun for these girls. When you are around them, you can’t help but laugh too. I think laughter is the best medicine, and Jessi laughs often. She also works hard. She has been employed by Lum Studio since she graduated from college, and they love her there, as do all of their clients. Someone like Jessi is such an asset to any business, and they are truly blessed to have her there. Today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is one of the all-time greatest country music fans in the world…well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but she certainly is a big fan. Kelli loves going to concerts and I recently found out that she blogs about the concerts she attends and any other little tidbits she finds out about the various bands. Kelli’s blog is called “Thoughts From A Gypsy Soul.” I’m looking forward to reading about her adventures.

Kelli is wife to my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and “fur mommy” to their dog, Scout. They love to go hiking and bicycling as much as possible. Those things aren’t always easy in Wyoming, so in the winter, they like to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. They really love camping in the summertime, and in fact, the mountains could easily be their favorite place in the world…other than at a concert, of course. One of their favorite places to go is the Big Horn Mountains, which is a favorite for most Wyoming campers. Kelli and Barry live in the country, east of Casper, Wyoming, and their place has an incredible view of our own Casper Mountain. Their favorite thing to do, when they can’t be up on Casper Mountain hiking and camping, is to be out in their yard relaxing and looking at Casper Mountain.

Kelli moved to Wyoming from Reading, Michigan, and while she loves summertime in Wyoming, found the winters to be a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, she also found her husband Barry, and that he has turned her into a Wyoming girl, even if she is technically a transplant. She still loves going home for visits, often with her mom, Mary Wages, who divides her time between Casper, and Colorado…with occasional mother/daughter trips back home. Kelli will always consider Michigan to be her home. I think everyone does consider the place of their birth to be home forever, a fact I can attest to. It doesn’t matter how long or how short your time was there…you will always have a place in your heart for the place of your birth. Coming from Wisconsin, I can totally attest to that. For Kelli, Michigan will always be that place in her heart. Today is Kelli birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every year, around the time of my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s birthday and also around the 4th of July, Bob and I take our annual hiking trip to the Black Hills. We aren’t always there on Bob’s birthday, which is six days after the 4th of July, and so doesn’t always fall conveniently in the same week. Nevertheless, we celebrate his birthday too, with time together as a couple, doing one of the activities we both have loved to do for years…hiking. It hasn’t always been easy for either of us to hike some of the more difficult trails, and one year, Bob’s back was so out of place, that even the easiest of trails was more than he could handle. That was a rough year. We went to the Black Hills and spent a lot of time in a motel room.

This year was one of the good years…at least in how Bob felt. We weren’t hiking any of the real difficult trails, especially our favorite…Harney Peak (now Black Elk Peak), but we hiked every day, even though it was cold this year and rained almost every day. This has just been a strange summer, and one I haven’t exactly enjoyed to this point, but since the temperatures are moving up, so are the prospects of summertime fun. Now, getting Bob to take time off to from the work he does from home…that’s not so easy.

Bob is a mechanic, and when he retired, he really didn’t intend to “retire” exactly. He just didn’t want to go to work and be on someone else’s schedule. He loves being a mechanic, but he wants to work on the jobs he wants to, on his schedule, and from his own garage. He likes the idea of just going out there whenever he wants to, and taking a break whenever he wants to. Don’t get me wrong, Bob will take most jobs, provided he has the time and ability to do the job. Also, he will pretty much work a job until it is done, unless it is one that is obviously going to take several days. Still, he just likes being in control of his days, weeks, and life in general. And he is so much happier these days. He feels better, even though some days his back hurts from being bent over a car. And he is able to take some time and just go for an evening walk with me…which I like very much. The life of a semi-retired, self-employed mechanic suits him to a “t” so I’m happy. Today is Bob’s 69th birthday. Wow!! It doesn’t seem he is 69 at all. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! We all love you very much…but especially me!!!

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!!

Because I love to hike, I am always interested when I see something about a trail I’ve never been on. I can’t say that I’ve hiked an extensive number of trails, but most trails interest me anyway. Sometimes it’s just the area of the country, and my imagination kicking into high gear.

The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, located between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin, with most of it located in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, an almost continuous chain of mountain ranges that forms the western “backbone” of the Americas. There are literally miles and miles of trails leading to such famous places as Yosemite Valley, King’s Canyon, and Sequoia. Yosemite is the most famous one, and probably the one I would most like to hike. Pictures of the falls often grace the internet as people love the challenge of the hike to Yosemite Falls.

The Sierra Nevada runs 400 miles north-south and approximately 70 miles east–west. Besides the mountain tops, waterfalls, trails, and rivers, the area also boasts the largest tree in the world by volume, known as General Sherman; Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America; Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet the highest point in the contiguous United States; and of course, Yosemite Valley sculpted by glaciers from one-hundred-million-year-old granite, containing high waterfalls. The 28,000 square mile mountain range is home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas, and two national monuments. These areas include Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Many of these places are not accessible by roads, although many are. Still from a hiker’s standpoint, these places are much more interesting if they are approached by trail.

During the years when people headed west to look for gold, the Sierra Nevada was often the destination of choice. Nevertheless, at that time, traveling across the wild west was very dangerous. Many rich travelers had to hire armed men to protect them on dangerous routes. Thankfully that is not the case today, although, there could be times when we feel the need for armed guards. Nevertheless, I have found that on most trails, people
are friendly and kind. Of course, there are always the wild animals, which I have never come across on a trail…perhaps strangely, but true, nevertheless. The biggest “problem animal” I have ever come across was a few cows, who decided that they didn’t want to get off the trail for these strange creatures to pass them. I finally had to slap my hands together, after which, they decided that I was the dangerous one, and they left. One of these days, maybe I will have the opportunity to hike up to Yosemite Falls. I think I would really enjoy it.

When my niece, Gaby Beach and my nephew, Allen Beach left Wyoming for Eugene, Oregon, it was as close to going home for Gaby, as she has been in years. Gaby’s family also lives in Oregon, although not Eugene. They are about an hour away from what I understand. Still for a number of years while Gaby was in the Navy, and going to college in Wyoming, she was often as far away from her family as it gets, specifically Japan, Wyoming, and Maryland. That made frequent visits to see them a major undertaking, and not a simple hour drive. I know that she missed them, and they missed her. It’s just never easy to live far away from your family. Now, with this move back to Oregon, where, as Gaby puts it, “her heart is,” they get much more frequent visits. I am happy for them, even though that means that we don’t get to see Gaby and Allen as much.

When they made to decision to move, Gaby applied to several places. As a nurse, she accepted a position with the Veteran’s Administration, working in a VA Hospital. As a veteran herself, veterans hold a special place in her heart. Unfortunately, with things the way they are in our nation, there is a bit of a shortage of doctors everywhere, which includes her hospital. That puts more responsibility on the nurses than ever. While they can’t diagnose, they can care for patients who have been diagnosed already. So, upon her arrival, Gaby dove right in and got to work nursing the men and women who had gone through some or more of the same things she had. Gaby understands what they are going through, even if many of them are quite a bit older than she is. There are also many who are younger and have been wounded or who suffer from things like PTSD. Part of Gaby’s job is to schedule vets for appointments and procedures too. They need a lot of care, and like the doctor shortage, there is also a nurse shortage in our nation, making Gaby a very valuable asset to the VA Hospital in Eugene, or anywhere else for that matter.

Being from Oregon, which does have a milder climate than we have here in Wyoming, Gaby is really enjoying that part of returning home. She and Allen love the outdoors and hiking, and Oregon has lots of places for them to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes. Gaby is also a “plant fanatic” and there are lots of different plants there for her to experiment with. They decided to lease an apartment for now, so they could get to know Eugene and thereby, decide where they want to live in the city. I don’t recall ever being there, so I have only seen pictures on Gaby and Allen’s Facebooks. Nevertheless, like them, I love to hike, and it really does look like a beautiful area for lots of long hikes in the wilderness areas there. I know there will also be some great opportunities for my sister and Allen’s mom, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike Reed; as well as Allen’s sister, Andrea Beach and her son Chris Spicer to go and visit too. While we miss Gaby and Allen, it’s all good, as long as they are happy where they are and they seem to be, so we are too. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nieces, Toni Chase and Liz Masterson are sisters, and when they get together…well, it can get hilarious. Last March, Toni had two tickets to go to the Broadway production of “Hamilton” in Denver. Like many men, her husband, Dave Chase was less than enthusiastic about going to a Broadway play, so he offered his ticket to his sister-in-law, Liz, who was thrilled to take it. This was going to be an amazing sister trip, and the girls were very excited about it. They had a great time at the play, but as thrilled as they were, and as fun as the play was, the drive to Denver was…less than thrilling. While they are sisters, these girls are polar opposites!! Liz is a very laid-back person. Toni, on the other hand, is very vivacious, or Liz might call it paranoid!! Of the trip, Liz says, “Going to ‘Hamilton’ with Toni was awesome. It was a major treat for me, and I would not have been able to go if Dave hadn’t given me his ticket. So, it was a lot of fun…except for one thing. Toni is not a good passenger while riding in a big city. She gasped for every little move I made in the car. Imagine grandma reacting to grandpa’s driving and multiply it times 10. Toni is the worst. I don’t know how Dave handles driving with her anywhere.” Hahahaha!! Sisters…right!! They laugh about it too, I’m sure.

Toni is truly all about her family. She is very loving and kindhearted. Her daughter-in-law, Manuela Renville says, “Toni is the best mother-in-law, she is super supportive of us, and James is her little baby forever!” Manuela’s family live far away from here, so having a loving mother-in-law is very important, and Toni loves her very much. Toni is also mommy to her two fur babies, puppies, Biscuit and Cricket. Life is good!!

Normally, Toni and Dave would take a number of trips all over, but this was a Wyoming year. They went to Laramie, up through the Snowy Range, and to Cody. The took numerous trips to his mom’s cabin this summer to visit Dave’s mom, as well as his brother and sister, at different times. They spent some time hiking in the Snowy Range with its beautiful scenery. Toni loves visiting the cabin with her two beloved dogs, and they also love running around the great outdoors. There is just something about that property that restores the soul. It is beautifully laid out and maintained. The minute they arrive, all the tensions of life disappear. It’s a perfect getaway. Today is Toni’s birthday!! Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a number of years, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg’s story has been life as usual, but recently all that has changed. Oh, many things are still the same. Barry still loves to go hiking, bicycle riding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing with his wife of almost 18 years, Kelli Schulenberg. They also enjoy traveling and attending concerts. In addition to that, Barry is a hard-working man, taking care of their place in the country, splitting wood, watering their many trees, and taking care of their dog, Scout…or maybe, Scout takes care of them. Those things haven’t really changed in his life in quite a while.

The big news is that Barry’s work life is changing. Barry has worked for the State of Wyoming for a number of years now, as a field mechanic. That means that Barry goes to the truck that have broken down, instead of the trucks coming to him. That has meant overtime at times, because the truck, especially the snowplow trucks are a vital part of road maintenance in the Winter. Barry has traveled to several towns and sites around the Natrona County area to service the equipment used in these areas. All that is about to come to an end. Barry was recently offered and has accepted a promotion to a supervisory position. His boss is planning to retire soon, and they have asked Barry to replace him.

That said, Barry has been busily training for his new position, as well as training his own replacement who will be taking over when Barry moves up. For Barry, the promotion is with mixed feelings, because he has really enjoyed his job, but looking to the future, he knew that there would come a day when he would really need to come off of field work and have a job that has less travel, less time in the freezing cold, and less heavy physical labor. No, at 44 years old, Barry is not at that point yet but there will come a day, and if he doesn’t take the opportunity currently being offered, he could miss the opportunity all together. Being wise, Barry saw that, and so he decided to take the promotion now. I really couldn’t be happier for him. It will be a different kind of work, but I think he will find it interesting, and he is well like at work, so I know that the other men all wish him well as he moves up the ladder. I’m really excited for the next part of Barry’s future. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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