In their first twenty years of marriage, my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis lived here in Casper, Wyoming, where they raised their two children, Shai and Caalab, but Travis had always wanted to live somewhere else, and Amy was pretty tired of the harsher winters we have here. So, when their son Caalab, their youngest child, graduated from high school, they decided to make the move to a different climate…at least a little bit different one. Seattle, Washington still has the changes of season, but winter is shorter and has less snow and more rain. Amy loves the rain, you see…so much so, that it is very difficult for her to stay indoors when it rains, because all she can think of is driving in the rain. That said, they chose the Rainforest of western Washington as their location of choice to spend their next twenty years.
Amy has been one of my very capable helpers when it came to taking care of her grandparents, but that time of need is pretty much in the past now, as is their obligation as parents to get their children through school. That puts this couple is a place of few obligations, and being debt free, which sets them very free. They can make their decisions based on the fun things they want to do, and not the best place to raise their kids or the best schools to send them too…although I’m not saying that Seattle wouldn’t have fit the bill on both of those items either. Nevertheless, I am thankful that they raised their children here so I could watch them grow up and really get to know them before they moved away. Their daughter, Shai Royce decided that she didn’t want to move, and so she still lives here. Their son, Caalab made the move and will go to school there. I miss him very much.
For their twentieth anniversary, they decided to renew their vows in a ceremony on the beach…a very romantic idea. So, the plans were made and the guests invited, and today I find myself and my husband, Bob in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, looking forward to a lovely ceremony on Saturday evening. The renewal of vows is such a deep expression of the love two people have shared for a long time, and one I highly recommend. Bob and I renewed ours at sea on a cruise we took for our twenty fifth anniversary. It was amazing, as I know their beach ceremony will be. Amy and Travis have always loved the beach…especially at sunset, which is well documented by all of her beach sunset pictures. Today is Amy and Travis’ 20th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! We love you both very much!!
With all the rain we have been receiving, our area, along with many others have received multiple flash flood warnings, as well as flooding in many areas. When river water crosses a road, we are told not to drive through the flood, because it can take your car and cause your death. So many warnings are given to us in a flood situation. So much has been learned over the years about how to stay safe. So much has been learned about early warnings. So a lot of preparation is put in place, and yet, sometimes it’s just not enough. Such was the case on June 19, 1938.
At that time, they didn’t have pickups that drove the rail system to check the tracks for problems. Instead a track walker was sent out to areas where there was a possible problem. Custer Creek is a small winding river that runs through 25 miles of the Great Plains on its way to the Yellowstone River. Minor streams like Custer Creek are prone to flash floods because their small capacity can quickly and easily be exceeded during heavy rains. A track walker was sent out to make sure everything was ok on the trestle at Custer Creek in Terry, Montana, and he reported that all was well there. Just a few hours later, a sudden downpour came through the area. The rising water in Custer Creek washed out the bridge and when the Olympian Special came through, it went crashing into the raging waters with no warning at all.
Two sleeper cars were immediately buried in the muddy waters, and the moonless night extremely hampered rescue efforts. In the end, 46 people lost their lives. The rear cars stayed above the water, but many passengers were seriously injured. To make matters worse, they could not be evacuated until the following morning. To hear of a train going into river in a flood is…at the very least, rare. I’ve heard of trains derailing…we all have, but this was different. On a moonless, pitch black night, my guess is that the engineer had no idea what was about to happen. The shock must have been sickening to say the very least. Just knowing that people were going to die and there was nothing you could do about it, must have been the most horrible experience of an engineer’s life. Completely unimaginable.
These days there are different safety measures in place, but that still doesn’t guarantee that such an event couldn’t happen again. I don’t know what the solution would be in these situations, but I’m sure that if there is one, technology will find a way to fix the problem. In those days, with the technology they had, they had done all they could, and yet, lives were still lost.
Last Sunday, while on a trip to Hot Springs, South Dakota to hike the Mickelson Trail, Bob and I found ourselves sidelined due to rain. We sat around the hotel for several hours…until Bob decided that he had cabin fever. So we decided to go for a drive. I had driven this road on my trip to Wisconsin with my mom and sister, Cheryl. The road took us out the east side of Hot Springs, and then toward Rapid City. We went a ways and then turned toward Custer. The drive was beautiful with all the fall colors. It would eventually connect us with Custer State Park, but since we weren’t going to the Needles or the Wildlife Loop, we didn’t have to pay the fee.
As I said, the drive was nice, even in the rain and the scenery was beautiful, but one thing we started to notice…over and over, was a lot of turkeys. It felt like we had stumbled upon Turkey Central. They were in the farmers fields, by the side of the road, and even walking down the road. And they weren’t one bit afraid of our car either. In fact, they completely ignored us and our car. They moved only when they wanted to move. It occurs to me that these turkeys are quite used to all this traffic, and they might even like it. It also occurs to me that these turkeys are most likely bound for Thanksgiving and Christmas tables in the area. As we drove, we slowly went beyond all the turkeys, but it was too late by then, because I had already decided that we had just traveled through Turkey Central. It was as if they owned that stretch of road…or at least thought they did.
The rest of our drive was fairly void of wildlife, and I went back to looking at the beautiful colors. My only wish would be that our area might have a few more red fall colors than it currently has…and that there might be a few more of the various kinds of wildlife. We did happen to see a few buffalo, but they were on someone’s ranch, so I suppose they aren’t wild…not that I intend to find out. For me, the turkeys were really the highlight of the drive. They just acted so bold and brave…never even taking notice of us at all. I think it was a very interesting drive through Turkey Central, indeed.
For as long as she could remember, my daughter, Amy has wanted to swim, interact, or at the very least, touch a dolphin. I think she was beginning to think that her lifelong dream would never come to pass. Then, she and her husband, Travis decided to take a very special family vacation, before their children, Shai and Caalab were completely grown up. They settled on a Caribbean cruise. At first they were going to keep it a secret so the kids would find out when they pulled up to the dock, but the excitement got to be too much for them and they found themselves wanting the kids to share in the excitement of planning the trip. Shai and Caalab were beyond excited about the trip, and over time it became all they talked about. Finally the day arrived, and they were off on the trip of a lifetime.
Their trip would take them to a private island in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. They would get to go parasailing in the Bahamas, which was a little un-nerving for Shai…but then I’m not sure how I would feel about it either. Jamaica was the part of the trip that Travis, Shai, and Caalab were most looking forward to. They were going to see the home and grave of one of their favorite singers, Bob Marley. Jamaica was a little surprising for them too, because there are two sides to Jamaica…the rich and the very poor…still, the visit to Bob Marley’s place was the highlight of the trip for Travis and the kids. In Grand Cayman, they took a ship wreck tour, and found out what can happen when an anchor misses the shelf it is supposed to land on. The fish they saw through the glass bottom boat were amazingly beautiful, and the ship wrecks were sad, broken pieces of what used to be a ship.
Finally, came the day when Amy’s wish would come true. Their ship arrived in Cozumel at 10:00 in the morning…to pouring rain!! They all wondered if they would be able to spend their time with the dolphins. Travis and Caalab were trying to figure out a way to force the issue, in the event that they said it was cancelled. Thankfully the rain quit, and they headed into the pool area. After a little training, they were able to interact with the dolphins. For Amy this part of the trip was the end all/beat all best part. I don’t know if she ever truly believed that her dream would come true, but in the end, not only did she get to interact with the dolphins, but one named Diego even gave her a kiss. Travis was a little jealous, but since Diego wasn’t coming home with them, he figured that one little kiss wouldn’t hurt anything.
For a number of years now, Bob and I have been walking the Mickelson Trail that runs from Edgemont, South Dakota to Deadwood, South Dakota. It is 109 miles long, and when we are done, we will actually walk the trail more that two times from one end to the other. I say more than twice, because there are some areas we have walked several times. We did not start at one end and work our way to the other end, but rather we started in the middle, and then realized how much we liked the trail, so we made the decision to keep track of where we had walked and work toward walking the entire trail. It has taken us a long time, because we only come to the Black Hills once a year on the average year.
This year, however, we decided to make a second trip. The lower section of the trail has areas of fewer trees, and is a little warmer climate, so it is very hot to walk in the full heat of summer. We decided that the long Columbus Day weekend would be perfect for three days of hiking…and on a normal year, it probably would have been. However, this was not a normal year. It was not a total loss, but we did get rained out today, which was disappointing. The six mile hike we had planned for today will have to be added on to the rest of the lower section, leaving us with 18.5 miles to the south and 10 miles to the north. Two hundred and eighteen miles at an average of six to eleven miles a day completed one week in the summer really takes a while. Still, it is with a sense of accomplishment that we mark of each new section on our map. While the Mickleson Trail is not a difficult trail, when it is taken in nine to eleven mile chunks, it take a toll on your body for sure, at least for that day. In the long run, it is one of the best things you can do for your body…low impact, hard work…yep great exercise, for sure.
While our last day of hiking was cancelled, the other two days were wonderful. The first day, we were treated to flock after flock of geese flying over on their way south. It was an amazing sight to see, and the air was filled with their calls back and forth, as they happily headed to their southern home for the winter. The second day brought deer into my camera view…both white tail and mule deer, which was a bit surprising in that we have not seen mule deer in the Black Hills before…of course, we are on the southern section of the trail, so it could be just that this area has them. The weather those first two days was just perfect for our hikes. We had to wear our jackets, it was not really cold. Our extra time in the Black Hills this year was wonderful…and it has inspired us to do this again next year.
I was a little girl, when the original Kmart in Casper was built. We lived less than a block from the site, and very much enjoyed watching the construction as it progressed. It was very exciting for my sisters and me…at least the ones who were old enough to be able to play outside. Little did I know then, that the construction site was going to be a bit of a problem for me. It had been raining for a couple of days, but I still wanted to go over that weekend and see what had been accomplished. It so happened that I had just gotten a pair of penny loafers, a shoe which was very popular at that time, and one that I had wanted very badly. I was just a kid, and I never gave thought to the rain in relation to a construction site that we girls had been accessing through the alley at the end of the street. Since they had been doing a lot of digging, there were piles of dirt next to that alley…add rain to that dirt and…yes, you get mud.
A kid doesn’t think of boots…especially in the summer time. I simply waded through all that mud in my new penny loafers….and it was probably knee deep. As much as I dislike mud and dirt these days, I really have to wonder why that mud didn’t bother me. I guess I was on a quest to discover how the construction was going. Needless to say, I went bravely on my quest through the mud to see the new Kmart building. In my recollection, the building was coming along just fine, but my muddy legs were getting uncomfortable, so I headed home…yes, back through the mud.
My mom was not particularly happy with me when I got home that day, and the day that followed was not better, but rather worse. After cleaning me up, she did the best she could with my new shoes, and while they looked pretty good, the next day would bring a problem that I will never forget as long as I live. My super cool, brand new, beautiful Penny Loafers had shrunk, and they no longer fit me. They were made of leather, and I had no idea that they would shrink. I was devastated to say the very least. I assume that my sister, Caryl had a super cool, brand new but slightly used, beautiful pair of Penny Loafers after that.
Every year, there comes a day…usually in the early Spring…around mid-April, that can only be called Slap Day. No, I’m not saying that everyone should go slap someone, or even that the weather makes you want to slap someone. Although, maybe it does, when they say something like, “We need the moisture.” I mean, we all know that we need the moisture, but it could snow on the mountain, and rain down here. That is what we are supposed to get in the Spring, right? Rain!! I know that the weather isn’t their fault, and they are just trying to look on the bright side. Still it is just so annoying to me, that after enjoying the crocuses and daffodils in your yard…that is starting to turn green…suddenly you can’t find your yard…much less enjoy any flowers. No self respecting flower would come out in this kind of weather, anyway!! I mean, they are delicate!!
I try not to complain, but when Winter pulls such a cruel joke on Spring, I have to draw the line. It seems to me that Winter is enough of a bully to all of us, but when it has to go out and start picking on Spring, who is really just a newborn, after all…well, I get ticked. And, as if that was not enough, Winter doesn’t just throw this whole bullying thing at Spring, he is slapping me with it too. I don’t get it. I have tried to be patient. I have tried to look at snow and cold as just a part of the changing of the seasons. But, lets get them changed already!! What’s up with all of this back and forth. Spring officially arrived on March 20th, after all. That was weeks ago!! And prior to the trusty ground hog’s ridiculous prediction of an early Spring, we had a pretty easy Winter going. You see, once old Punxsutawney Phil decided it was going to start getting nice early for once…well, Winter decided to cut loose. That is the last time I listen to old Punxsutawney Phil…thank you!!
So, all ranting aside, I will just have to look on the bright side, which is impossible to avoid, especially when the sun hits all that snow…and say that yes, we need the moisture, and I’m sure that when this all melts I’ll be glad we got some. And in a few days, I suppose I’ll be able to forget this cruel trick, and move on into Spring with a smile. My annoyance will subside, and the Spring flowers will put joy back into my heart. Yes, I’ll get over Slap Day, but let me tell you this…Old Man Winter…I will not quickly forget your cruel ways.
There is an old saying by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Into each life a little rain must fall” and when you read those words, you can almost feel the weight of that statement. Thoughts of lost loved ones, ended friendships, or loneliness come into view and almost make you want to look away. But, to look away from those sad moments could be something you do too soon. I don’t mean to make light of the sadness that comes into this life, but after the rain, comes the rainbow, and that is what we can miss out on. Losing a loved one is a sadness that will never go away. Most other sadness is temporary, but life is what we make of it. We have to choose how we are going to handle things.
Sometimes, it seems like we are victims of circumstance, but that is just not the case. Circumstances present themselves in this life, but we do not have to be victims. A victim ultimately is the person who lets the circumstance beat them. I’m not talking about murder victim here, but people who just feel like they can’t catch a break. Sometimes, the sweetest victory comes after the most awful defeat.
When I think of my two nieces and their husband’s who each lost a daughter, and my sister-in-law and her husband, who also lost a daughter. Each couple could have chosen not to try again, but if they had, they each would have missed out on the precious daughter who followed her big sister. It takes great courage to take that next step sometimes, but if you will be brave, and have faith, you will find that there can be a rainbow after the rain.
Sometimes, the circumstance can be the illness of a loved one. Long term caregiving can take a toll of the person or persons who most need to be healthy and strong. Sometimes, it can seem like this will go on forever, and it very well might go on for a long time, but if we don’t lose hope…if we can look beyond the exhaustion, worry, and sadness, we can find that the extra time spent with your cherished loved one, is one of the greatest blessings there is. Don’t give up, because if you continue to strive to do your best, you might find that blessing. If you quit, or never take on the task in the first place, you could miss out on all you could be, and all you could have, because into each life come the rainbows too.
After what was a miserably hot Summer in Wyoming, as in much of the United States, Fall has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe that after praying for rain most of the Summer, we have had rain 3 times this week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it would have been nice to get some of this rain in the Summer. Nevertheless, the cooler temperatures are finally here, as are the colors of Fall that we all love to see. While I usually say that Summer is my favorite season, and that is still true, this Summer has been so hot, that it was miserable, so for this year only, I think Fall might be my favorite.
While I probably won’t have any more time to get out and walk in this lovely Fall weather, I will do my best. The changing leaves are so pretty, even if we don’t have much of the gorgeous reds that you see back East, the green to yellow is also lovely…especially when those bright colors stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like the sun landed in the trees.
Fall always brings memories of buying school supplies and clothes, of course that was back when it was closer to Fall when school started, and not still Summer, like these days. It also brings the realization that with Summer’s end and Fall’s beginning, Winter is not far behind. There has even been talk of snow on Wednesday. It always seems like Fall is mixed with Winter in Wyoming, which I wish would not be the case. The changing of the seasons might not seem so bad if they each took their turns. Winter simply needs to understand that it is not supposed to arrive until December 21, so what is with snow before that. Rain I don’t mind, but the snow should wait its turn.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t ask me what I think of it, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter to it much. All I can do is try to get out and enjoy the Fall weather, before the season slips past me as Summer appears to have done. Like it or not…ready or not…here comes Fall!
Travel has always been something my family has enjoyed doing. As a kid, I remember that my teachers and fellow students were surprised at some of the places we had been. When Bob and I got married we wanted to pass that on to our girls as much as possible, and while we didn’t do quite as well and my parents had, Corrie and Amy have had the opportunity to go a number of places. Bob bowled in the national bowling tournament, so the places we went were places we might not have gone.
One place we went that was not on a bowling vacation, was Beartooth Pass in northern Wyoming. It was an amazing trip. The area is beautiful and the mountain views are awesome. It had been quite a while since I had seen summer snow. The year my daughter, Corrie was born, in fact. She was born June 30, 1975, and it snowed for a few minutes on the 4th of July that year…I couldn’t believe it.
The trip through Beartooth Pass, however, made the 4th of July snow look like a rain storm. It was so much fun to see all that snow. It was over the top of our camper. They had to have poles to show the snow plows where the edge of the road was. I know we have all seen stuff like this before, but we really hadn’t come across it, in my memory anyway, so it was pretty cool. Our girls got pretty wide eyed when they saw it too.
Vacations are all about going to new places and seeing things you wouldn’t normally see in your own area, so I guess you could say that we definitely accomplished that. And some vacations are of the type that you really never forget them, and for a variety of reasons. This was one we never forgot for several reasons. The vast scenery, which was so beautiful, the deep snow, and the breakfast that became lunch because what appeared to be a few miles down the road on the map, ended up taking several hours to travel. Everything turned out ok in the end, because we also tried Buffalo burgers for the first time, and they sure were good.