mountains

My niece, Amanda Reed is a non-stop girl. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, she and her family go, go, go!! Of course, they work and do all the other normal things, but on the weekends, they are so active that it would make most people exhausted, and I am a really active person, so for me to say that, is really saying something. I don’t like Winter, however, so most of my Winter activity is indoors. Amanda…well, she doesn’t mind the snow. She is out there hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, four-wheeling…you name it. Nothing slows this family down. The like to live life to the fullest. Its a great way to be.

Amanda works at a bank in Rawlins, Wyoming, as a BSA Agent. For any who don’t know, that is an agent who keeps records and files reports that are highly useful in criminal, tax, and regulatory matters. The documents she files under the BSA requirements are heavily used by law enforcement agencies, both domestic and international to identify, detect, and deter money laundering, whether it is in furtherance of a criminal enterprise, terrorism, tax evasion, or other unlawful activity. That is to say that she protects the bank, and the rest of us from thieves who would destroy our economy by the introduction of fake money with no value.

The two most important people in Amanda’s life, are her partner, Sean Mortenson and her daughter Jadyn Mortensen. Amanda is a horse girl’s mom, and is there to encourage Jadyn every step of the way. f course, it doesn’t take much encouragement, because Jadyn loves her horse, and riding is something she would rather do over just about anything in the world. Still, there are good days and bad days in any sport, and Amanda is one of Jadyn’s biggest cheerleaders. She also is a sports daughter, encouraging her mom, Deb Lucero in her hiking. They recently went on a winter snowshoe hike in the mountains, and had a great time. They have a lot more gumption than I do. The cold/snow part of that would be a big problem to me, but not for these girls or for Debbie Morgan-Fall, who went along.

When she is not working at her very serious job, Amanda, her family, and friends like to kick back, and be hilariously funny. In fact, they are among the funniest people I know of. These people have no problem with acting goofy, dressing funny, or funny comments. They love to laugh and make each other laugh, and that’s what it’s all about. This group of friends love to get together and have a great time. They go to the lake, the mountain, or just hang out at someone’s house. They love time together, and refuse social distancing…like most of us. Togetherness, yep that’s it. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Chris Iverson is an avid outdoorsman. He loves camping, fishing, and guns. That is pretty typical of people who live in Wyoming. If Chris and my niece, Cassie could live totally off the grid, I think they would, and if the someday move off the grid, I won’t be one bit surprised. Sometimes, living in town just gets to bee too much for them, and they will load up their camper trailer, and head for the mountains. It is wonderful for their kids, Lucas and Zoey too. They love being in the mountains, especially with family and friends.

When Chris and Cassie had Lucas, there were some challenges. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, and many parents would have considered other possible avenues of dealing with a known birth defect, but for Chris and Cassie, that was not an option. Lucas with their precious baby, and he was who he was. They loved him and cherished him, and he has grown into a wonderful little boy. Chris and Cassie, are great parents, and they have trained both of their children to be wonderful, caring children who love and respect their siblings

Chris loves his family with all his heart, and always tries to do whatever he can to life better for them. He has the ability to fix his cars, so that saves him money, that can be better used in support of his family. Life isn’t always easy for the Iverson family. Medical bills have plagued them from time to time, but they have continued to persevere, and I know they will do so in the future. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Anyone who finds Winter and the shortened nights depressing, can understand how a person can crave the sun. There is even a condition known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that comes out of the limited or even lack of sunlight. People in Alaska and other areas near the pole regions often suffer from it in the dark winter days. The polar regions aren’t the only ones with the problem, however.

There is a tiny town in Norway, called Rjukan. For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of this tiny Norwegian town went without direct sunlight for almost half the year. It’s not because this town is situated near the North Pole, because it isn’t. Nevertheless, the place Rjukan is situated is the problem. Rjukan is wedged at the bottom of a steep east-west valley in southern Norway’s Telemark region. It’s surrounded by mountains, including the 6,178-foot-high Gaustatoppen.

Rjukan is a company town, founded for the employees of Norsk Hydro, an aluminum powerhouse that is still going strong today. At first the town built an aerial tramway, Krossobanen, to give employees and their families access to the winter sunshine. Sam Eyde, the founder of the town, began to consider building sun mirrors on the mountain as far back as 1913, but the tramway was built first. It was the first such system in northern Europe, and still functions today. The tramway served a purpose, but really didn’t solve the problem.

Still, the desire for the kind of direct sunlight first shared by Eyde never went away. Then, more than 90 years later, a local resident and artist, Martin Andersen took up the idea from the history books. He began to think that maybe the idea was a good one. So, on October 30, 2013, almost 100 years to the day when the idea was first presented, the Rjukan sun mirror officially opened. For the first time in the town’s history, the sun actually shown on the town in the winter months. The people were elated. At first, not everyone was on board with Andersen’s plans. Many locals criticized the $750,000 project, believing the money could be better spent elsewhere, but when they saw how excited everyone was with the day, it was hard to continue to be negative. The people put on sunglasses, and basked in the sun’s light and warmth. It was like a big party. The sun mirrors continue to be a big hit in the town, oddly in the summer, as well as the winter.

Local residents now enjoy an approximately 6,500 square foot ellipse-shaped beam of sunlight into the town square. Between 80% and 100% of the sun’s light is transferred down into the town. The mirror system has helped the tourism industry. It’s said, “This summer there were several tourists who turned their backs on the real sun, and sat instead with their faces to the sun mirror.” Locals and tourists can even hike to the mirrors. As unusual as it may seem, Rjukan’s sun mirror system is not a world first. The small town of Viganella, in Italy’s steep Antrona Valley, celebrated its own day of the light in December 2006, as a sheet of steel was installed to reflect sunlight into the town square from November to February. The system in Rjukan is significantly more advanced, however. Each of the three 182 square foot mirrors are controlled computer-driven motors called heliostats. They track the movement of the sun across the horizon and constantly reposition the mirrors to keep the reflected light as consistent as possible. What a cool idea for a town and its people who can’t get easy access to the sun.

When we think of 2020 and the Covid-19 Pandemic, our thoughts often go to the schools, students, and especially the seniors. For them, graduation became vastly different, or non-existent. They may have simply received their diploma and a possibly a letter stating that the school system regrets the lack of ceremony, and they hope the student has a good life. That is sad, but sometimes we forget about another important group of students…the juniors in high school. That is where my grand niece, Jala Satterwhite enters the mix.

Jala was looking forward to so many things during her junior year. She had purchased her beautiful prom dress, only to have prom cancelled. She was very disappointed, but when summer arrived, and the time for her senior pictures arrived, Jala picked up the pieces of her junior year, and decided that the dress needed to be worn…somewhere. In the end, Jala decided to wear the dress for her senior pictures, possibly a way of transforming shattered dreams into hopes for the future. I especially liked the the water pictures, because it reminded me of water under the bridge. The picture on the horse however, sneaks a peek at the equestrian that is Jala.

Jala loves horses, and when she saw the 307 Renegade Riders at the Cody Stampede rodeo last year she knew she wanted to be a part of the group. We went to a meeting in January and she got in. Practice started in April for the rodeo that started late this year in June because of Covid-19. As the new girl, she does the sponsor flags at most rodeos. Occasionally she will do the drill with the team, if they are short handed. Her mother, Susan Griffith says, “It’s quite the rush to watch her, knowing if one move is wrong she could end up on the ground, and hopefully not get stepped on.” Jala was in a couple parades this year with Lily, her paint horse. She does the Cody night rodeo 1 or 2 nights a week. The other nights she’s been working.

While Jala’s parents are sure she was born to live in the mountains, she hasn’t gotten to go much this year because of the rodeo sponsor flags, drill team, and her job. Hopefully she’ll get to go soon, because she is so happy when she can ride her horse on the trails in the mountains, or pack in to the back country with Josh Griffith, her step-dad. Jala is Josh’s horse riding buddy. Her mom and sister, Kaytlyn have gotten to the point that they aren’t into the horse rides as much as Josh and Jala are. They are planning to take the horses hunting this year. It takes a lot of riding to get the horses ready for hunting. Jala’s horse will be in shape, since she rides her so much, but the other horses still need to get in shape, so they will be working to get them ready.

Susan tells me that she totally can’t believe Jala is 18! Jala is looking to the future, and her dream of becoming a professional horse trainer. Susan is hoping she stays home after graduation and goes to school at Northwest College in Powell. She may not be home a lot because of her schedule and work, but the family would miss her terrible. Powell is the perfect part of the country for her live her dream, and she can go to school for it there too. Today is Jala’s 18th birthday, and her mom wishes time would slow down a bit. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Periodically over the past few years, the subject of the Yellowstone Volcano has come up. When I think of a volcano, I imagine the high mountain peaks of Washington state, not the lower elevation mountains of Wyoming. Nevertheless, we are told that underneath Yellowstone Park is not just a volcano, but a supervolcano. The most recent volcanic activity at Yellowstone consisted of rhyolitic lava flows that erupted approximately 70,000 years ago, which says that the volcano is clearly overdue for the next eruption…or some phenomenon unique to Yellowstone Park is allowing the pressure to release enough to prevent the eruption. Of course, I’m no scientist, and my opinion is purely speculation, but we have been told that the recent large number of small earthquakes in the area could be telling when it comes to the volcano.

We are told that should the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park ever have another “massive eruption, it could spew ash for thousands of miles across the United States, damaging buildings, smothering crops, and shutting down power plants.” Then, almost in the same breath, we are told that it’s possible that Yellowstone might never have an eruption that large again. Maybe I’m not so far off in thinking that the geysers, mud pits, and hot springs allow enough pressure off to avoid another eruption. Still, the earthquake swarms in the area are troubling to the scientists who monitor the Yellowstone supervolcano, but then those earthquakes have been going on for as long as I can remember too.

Time will tell, I guess, and there is really nothing anyone can do about it anyway. If the supervolcano erupts, it just does, and if not, then the scientists will have something to speculate about for the foreseeable future. Either way, the people of Wyoming, and any other part of the world that would be affected in the event of an eruption, can’t sit and worry about it all the time, or we would never get anything done. People can’t live their lives in fear of the eruption that might happen.

As Spring arrives, many people, including my husband Bob and I, have started thinking about the home improvement projects they want to get done. Depending on what you have in mind, it can be a few minor improvements, or it can be big projects, like room gut-jobs and remodels. Whatever it is, you can count on it being work, because no home improvement project is easy. Still, I wonder if we would consider our own home improvement projects to be a daunting a task as the one that took place on the Woolworth building in New York City.

Retailer Frank W. Woolworth commissioned the building in 1910, which he would name after himself. This was just a year after the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company moved into their 700-foot tower on Madison Square, just a block away from the triangle-shaped Flatiron Building. The Metropolitan Life Tower had become the world’s tallest building at that time, having taken over that title from the New York headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, completed in 1908. Of course, as buildings go and builders follow, the latest “tallest building in the world” is nothing more than a challenge to see who will build the next building to beat the record set by the last building in the category.

Building a super structure is difficult enough, to be sure, but what about when such a structure need something like, a outside paint job. The reality is that it was going to take some great painters…who were very brave, and hopefully, not afraid of heights. This was no ordinary job. Now, I love hiking, and I have been to the top of a few mountains peaks, but I still don’t like being at the edge of a cliff. I have no desire to stand at the edge of a cliff and look down to see how far away it is. That makes me squeamish. Nevertheless, the brave men chosen to paint the top of the Woolworth building years ago, had to have stomachs made of cast iron, and nerves of steel. They not only went up there and painted the building, but they even found time to prove their bravery in pictures while they were there. I don’t know how OSHA would feel about the stunts they performed, but perform they did, nevertheless.

When I think of my grand nephew, Weston Moore, graduation is not usually the thing that comes to mind. Nevertheless, that is the next big step in his life. It seems like just yesterday that my niece, Machelle Moore and her husband Steve became the parents of their first child, and now he is looking forward to college and his future plans. It is at this point in a child’s high school career, that they become very ready to be done with high school. They are grown up now, and high school is just in the way of their future.

Weston has decided to pursue a career in the Culinary Arts, and so last week he went to Sheridan, Wyoming to check out the culinary school there. He was very impressed and is excitedly considering going there. That is also the school where my grandson, Chris Petersen, Weston’s 2nd cousin studied, so he can give him a feel for the school and such. Chris really enjoyed his time there, and learned a lot, so I know Weston will too.

Weston likes sports, and is really good at them too. He has played football, as well as other sports, and right now, he is in track. His events are Discus and Shot-put, both of with take a good degree of strength. He did very well in Discus recently for a personal best. He was very happy about that.

Weston has not always enjoyed camping, but last summer he went camping with the family a few times. His mom said that he was a big help when it came to moving the big logs. While camping wasn’t always his favorite thing, he also knows that with graduation, it will be harder to do things with his family, so he really wanted to spend come quality time with them. It seemed a bit strange to have him on the trips, but they were sure glad to have that time up there with him and no cell phones to compete with, since there is no cell service in the mountains. While it was strange to have Weston camping with them, it will be even more strange when he moves out of the house and into his own place. There is a big difference between your son being at work and having him away at college. Today is Weston’s birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I love to hike, but that does not include going to the highest peak I can find. Don’t get me wrong, because I have hiked to the top of some mountains. They just weren’t on the level of Everest or K2. While I love to challenge myself by hiking up some pretty big mountains, I’m just not interested in taking on the ones where the air is so thin that you need oxygen, and the snow never melts. There are, nevertheless, people who feel the challenge to ascend to the highest peaks in the world. They throw caution to the wind, to go where few people have ever gone before. Believe me, I admire their tenacity, but that is simply not a goal I have, or ever will set, for myself.

Mount Everest is a very unforgiving mountain. In the years that people have been climbing it, there have been over 200 deaths on it slopes. These were experienced climbers who knew what they were up against, and yet, the elements and the lack of breathable oxygen, beat them in the end. Of those 200+ people who lost their lives to Everest, many are still up on the slopes, right where they fell. They didn’t get off the beaten paths, they just didn’t get back down quickly enough, and now their bodies serve as a grim reminder of the harsh reality that is Everest. These people might have truly believed that they could make it, and many of them had no idea that they were dying. Severe cold and lack of oxygen will do that to a person.

In a gruesome ritual, each new climber who takes the challenge and starts up the mountain, must pass by the unfortunate ones who didn’t make it back down. To me, the bodies would serve as a warning to turn around and go back down, now…to use my head and stay alive, rather than my ambition to succeed at something that, to most of us, seems insane. I know that there are people who would disagree, believing that challenge is worth the risk, and it might be, right up to the point when you realize that you are about to become a statistic of Mount Everest. Of course, by the time you realize that, it is too late.

Mount Everest, located some 186 miles north-east of Kathmandu, holds the impressive title of tallest mountain in the world, but many people don’t know about its other, more gruesome title…the world’s largest open-air graveyard. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first scaled the summit in 1953. Since then, over 4,000 people have followed in their footsteps, braving the harsh climate and dangerous terrain in the hope of a few moments of glory. Unfortunately, some of them never left the mountain. The top portion of the mountain, roughly everything above 26,000 feet, is known as the “death zone.” In the “death zone” the oxygen levels are only at a third of what they are at sea level, and the barometric pressure causes weight to feel ten times heavier. The combination of those two factors makes climbers feel sluggish, disoriented and fatigued…and can cause extreme stress on organs. For this reason, climbers don’t usually last more than 48 hours in this area.

The climbers that overstay their safety window are usually left with lasting effects. The ones that don’t make it out are left where they fall…it’s standard protocol, unfortunately, and so these corpses remain to spend eternity on the mountaintop, serving as a warning to climbers as well as gruesome mile markers. Each climber who attempts Mount Everest knows the possibilities. One of the most famous corpses, known as “Green Boots” was passed by almost every climber to reach the death zone. The identity of Green Boots while highly contested, is believed to be Tsewang Paljor, an Indian climber who died in 1996. Before the body’s recent removal, Green Boot’s body rested near a cave that all climbers must pass on their way to the peak. The body became a grim landmark used to gauge how close one is to the summit. He is famous for his green boots. According to one seasoned adventurer “about 80% of people also take a rest at the shelter where Green Boots is, and it’s hard to miss the person lying there.” “Green Boots” is known as such because of the neon boots he was wearing when he died.

In 2006 another climber joined in Green Boots in his cave, sitting, arms around his knees in the corner, forever. David Sharp was attempting to summit Everest on his own, which is never advisable. Even the most advanced climbers would warn against it. He had stopped to rest in Green Boots’ cave, as so many had done before him. Over the course of several hours, he froze to death, his body stuck in a huddled position, just feet from one of the most famous Mount Everest bodies. Green Boots most likely died unnoticed, due to the small amount of people hiking at that time, but at least 40 people passed by Sharp that day. Incredibly, not one of them stopped. Sharpe’s death sparked a moral debate about the culture of Everest climbers. Though many had passed by Sharp as he lay dying, and their eyewitness accounts claim he was visibly alive and in distress, no one offered their help. How could they even live with themselves after that?

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to ever summit the mountain, criticized the climbers who had passed by Sharp and attributed it to the mind-numbing desire to reach the top. “If you have someone who is in great need and you are still strong and energetic, then you have a duty, really, to give all you can to get the man down and getting to the summit becomes very secondary,” he told the New Zealand Herald, after news of Sharp’s death broke. “I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying,” he added. “The people just want to get to the top. They don’t give a damn for anybody else who may be in distress and it doesn’t impress me at all that they leave someone lying under a rock to die.” The media termed this phenomenon “summit fever,” and it’s happened more times than most people realize.

In 1999, the oldest known body was found on Everest. George Mallory’s body was found 75 years after his 1924 death after an unusually warm spring. Mallory had attempted to be the first person to climb Everest, though he had disappeared before it could be found out if he had achieved his goal.
His body was found in 1999, his upper torso, half of his legs, and his left arm almost perfectly preserved. He was dressed in a tweed suit and surrounded by primitive climbing equipment and heavy oxygen bottles. He had a rope injury around his waist, which led those who found him to believe he had been roped to another climber when he fell from the side of a cliff. The fate of the other climber is unknown, and no one knows if Mallory made it to the top, so the title of “the first man to climb Everest” was given to someone else. Though he may not have made it, rumors of Mallory’s climb had swirled for years, leading many to wonder. He was a famous mountaineer at the time and when asked why he wanted to climb the then unconquered mountain, he famously replied, “Because it’s there.”

One of the most horrifying sights on Mount Everest is the body of Hannelore Schmatz. In 1979, Schmatz became not only the first German citizen to perish on the mountain but also the first woman. Schmatz had actually reached her goal of summiting the mountain, before ultimately succumbing to exhaustion on the way down. Her Sherpa’s warned her not to set up camp in the “death zone,” but she did anyway. She managed to survive a snowstorm hitting overnight, and made it almost the rest of the way down to camp before a lack of oxygen and frostbite resulted in her giving into exhaustion. This poor woman fell just 330 feet from base camp. That is a devastating loss…so close and yet too far. Her body remains on the mountain, extremely well preserved due to the consistently below zero temperatures. For a long time, her body remained in plain view of the mountain’s Southern Route, leaning against a long deteriorated backpack with her eyes open and her hair blowing in the wind. Then, 70-80 mph winds either blew a covering of snow over her or pushed her off the mountain. Her final resting place is currently unknown.

It’s due to the same things that kill these climbers that recovery of their bodies can’t take place. To us that seems insane, but when someone dies on Everest, especially in the death zone, it is almost impossible to retrieve the body. The weather conditions, the terrain, and the lack of oxygen makes it difficult to get to the bodies. Even if they can be found, they are usually stuck to the ground, frozen in place. In fact, two rescuers died while trying to recover Schmatz’s body and countless others have perished while trying to reach the rest. Despite those risks, and the bodies they know they will encounter, thousands of people still flock to Everest every year to attempt one of the most impressive, if not insane, feats known to man today.

Forty-four years is a long time, but for my husband, Bob and me, it doesn’t seem like long at all. That is the number of years that we have been married. It’s over half of our lives!! We were just two kids back in 1975, when we said “I do” on March 1 of that year. Of course, we “knew” that our marriage would last a lifetime…doesn’t every married couple? Still, in reality, you hope your marriage will last a lifetime. You don’t know for sure until many years later, when that lifetime is in it’s golden years. If you are still together, then you know that yours is a marriage that will last a lifetime.

We were one of those blessed couples, for whom marriage stood the test of time, and still together, and still going strong. For us, the “mountain” has been filled with lots of trails and hikes, and mountains within mountains, and I many ways, that is what has given our marriage the color that it has been filled with. Every trail, whether outdoors, or just a “virtual trail” in a marriage taking us on a different path than we had intended to go before, or one that we had been working toward for a long time. Every trail, and every path became the journey our lives were meant to take.

With every passing year, our marriage becomes more and more precious, but this past year took a turn that made it even more precious, when my husband, Bob had a heart attack that was deemed the Widowmaker. At the time, God provided us with all the right people in all the right places to save Bob’s life, and I still find myself thinking about how very blessed we were and are. Our marriage could have ended that October day, but instead, everything was restored to us and Bob continues to be healthy, and our lives have continued on as before, only better. I guess that when you have a serious event take place, you discover just how precious the love of your life is, and that is a discovery that has not been lost on me. I know that I am very blessed to have Bob in my life, and I will love him for the rest of my life. I couldn’t be happier with my choice of a lifetime mate. Happy 44th Anniversary, my love!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg hates the winter cold, but since she lives in Wyoming, and we get winter here, like it or not, Kelli has been learning to adapt. She has always loved hiking, and spending time in the mountains, but the wintertime was simply not her favorite time of year. Nevertheless, I think that Kelli is coming around to the Wyoming way of thinking. Ok, maybe not, but she is adapting to the winter a little bit anyway. These days Kelli can be found cross country skiing and horseshoeing in the winter on the mountains. Maybe she is adapting more than I have, and I’ve lived here years longer than Kelli has. While I love hiking and being outdoors, especially in the mountains, I have no desire too go skiing or horseshoeing…or anything else that has to do with winter in the outdoors, even though I love Wyoming. Kelli loves to travel, and that’s something we both agree on. She and her husband, Barry have taken many trips to beautiful places around the United States. While many of the trips have been to attend concerts, they have gone through some beautiful country too. I’m sure that Kelli will always prefer summer to winter, and probably Texas to Wyoming, but for now, she is adapting.

She is a purist when it comes to the country, enjoying country life, but very much against the industrialization thereof. When she and Barry bought a piece of land east of Casper, it was quiet and peaceful…until a company put up a wind farm behind their house. I have long been fascinated by the big wind turbines, but I have never lived next to one, so quite possibly I don’t know how loud they are. I suppose they would be an eyesore, when located net to your nice, quiet backyard. I also don’t know if they would be a problem, if one were to think about raising donkeys, which has been a lifelong dream of Kelli’s. Maybe, the animals would be spooked by the wind turbine, for all I know of them. All that doesn’t really matter, because the turbines are there, and they are there to stay.

Kelli is a bubbly person, who loves to laugh. She has a great smile, which is most likely what attracted my nephew to her in the first place. She is fun loving and outgoing. Her love of travel has opened many new vistas to Barry, as they have traveled more together than he ever did before their marriage. Whatever else it was that attracted them to each other, it was definitely true love, because they have been married for almost 15 years now, and they are still going strong. It must be love. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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