trail

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg is a woman who is determined to accomplish her goals and dreams. She doesn’t let anything get in the way of getting her daily steps in, whether it is bicycling steps or foot steps, she reaches her goal of 25,000 steps a day…every day. If that means she gets up at 4:00 am to get to work at 8:00 am, then she does. Nothing gets in the way of her step count. At night, if she has been traveling during the day, and is a little behind in her steps, she simply doesn’t sit down until she finishes the steps. That means walking around her house for as long as it takes. Any place can be a trail, as long as you have room to walk around. Trails aren’t always outside, and Brenda utilizes any space necessary to complete her daily steps.

Brenda spent much of her life overweight and really unhealthy, and while most people wouldn’t want me to talk about that part of their lives, Brenda uses that part of her life, and the transition she has made to be an inspiration to others. She has set another goal for herself…to reach out to other people who are where she was…to let them know that it is never too late to change your life for the better. Getting healthy and fit is just a step away. Yes, it will take many steps, but the first step is the most important, because without the first step, you remain an overweight, unhealthy, couch potato. Of course, that first step…must be taken every day, if you are going to have to succeed. Most people when they get to that place, where their weight is out of control, and they have become unhealthy, decide that because of this health problem or that health problem, it is simply impossible for them to lose weight and become healthy again. Brenda is proof positive that they can. All it takes is much determination and that first step.

These days, Brenda enjoys things like traveling…by plane, train, or automobile. These are things she really couldn’t do before she lost the weight. She was so limited. Now she travels to different areas around Wyoming and Colorado to speak to others about her story. Sometimes, all it takes to get someone started on the road to better health, is to see that someone else made it. Getting started is so hard, especially when you feel like you will never make it, but when you see someone like Brenda, who has turned her whole life around, you begin to feel like you can do it too. And that is what inspires Brenda…helping other people to succeed. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As I was thinking about today, I found that today is actually a special day…Look at the Leaves Day. Now, if you are like me, you have likely never heard of Look at the Leaves Day, or if you have, you might have wondered if it was a day that was inspired by a science teacher, or something. And, maybe it was in the beginning, but this time of year, the leaves truly are something interesting, especially if you live in an area where there is a variety of fall colors in the leaves. I live in an area where the leaves mostly have two colors…green and yellow, unless you count brown as a pretty fall color…which I don’t.

Nevertheless, looking at the leaves always has a mesmerizing effect on us. I love watching the leaves as they flutter to the ground. The color doesn’t matter at that point. They just look so peaceful on their journey. It is a part of their life cycle. It’s what they do. Grow and flourish, and then in Autumn, they fade and and fall to the ground. They’re all gone by winter, and the trees spend the rest of the Winter looking like skeletons, while they wait for spring when they get their new leaves.

As my husband and I went for a walk tonight, I found myself taking that extra moment to actually look at the leaves. It’s not that I never looked at them before, but today felt…different somehow. I noticed how one tree could be green, and the one next to it yellow. Some trees were half green and half yellow. The few trees and bushes we have in this area that turn red, added a flame-like flair to the look. When I took the time to really look at them, I began to notice how very beautiful they were. I thought about other walks we had taken in the fall. Some of my favorites are on some of the trails in the Black Hills. When you are walking through the trees on a dirt trail, with the leaves dropping all around you, you really feel like you can embrace the season.

Today was Look at the Leaves Day. It is a day for us to stop rushing around, busy with our hurried lives, and maybe take a few minutes to see the splendor of Autumn for a change. I’m seriously not a winter person, but Autumn is definitely a season that I enjoy. It’s sheer beauty captivates me…for a while, until Autumn gives way, and its ugly sister season…Winter enters in…and I want to be the one to hibernate.

When we think about war machines, we think of planes, tanks, ships, and even horses, but we very seldom…if ever, think of bicycles. Nevertheless, bicycles were used in a number of wars, and even continue to be used to this day. The late 19th century brought several experiments into the possible role of bicycles and cycling within military establishments, primarily because they can carry more equipment and travel longer distances than walking soldiers could. The development of pneumatic tires coupled with shorter, sturdier frames in the late 19th century led military establishments to investigate the possibility of bicycles in combat. To some extent, bicyclists took over the functions of dragoons, especially as messengers and scouts, substituting for horses in warfare. Bicycle units or detachments were in existence by the end of the 19th century in most armies.

By World War I, the level terrain in Belgian was well used by military cyclists, prior to the onset of trench warfare. Each of the four Belgian carabinier battalions included a company of cyclists, equipped with a brand of folding, portable bicycle named the Belgica. A regimental cyclist school gave training in map reading, reconnaissance, reporting, and the carrying of verbal messages. Attention was paid to the maintenance and repair of the machine itself. The bicycle could be used to ride when it was feasible, and carried when the pat was not suitable to riding. The bicycle made no noise, so unless the trail was littered with twigs, the bicycle make very little noise. Sneaking up on the enemy was possible.

In the United States, the most extensive experimentation on bicycle units was carried out by 1st Lieutenant Moss, of the 25th United States Infantry (Colored), which was made up of African American infantry soldiers with European American officers. Using a variety of cycle models, Moss and his troops carried out extensive bicycle journeys covering between 800 and 1,900 miles. Late in the 19th century, the United States Army tested the bicycle’s suitability for cross-country troop transport. Buffalo Soldiers stationed in Montana rode bicycles across roadless landscapes for hundreds of miles at high speed. The “wheelmen” traveled the 1,900 Miles to Saint Louis, Missouri in 34 days with an average speed of over 6 miles per hour. The bicycles were even used in the paratrooper deployment. These bicycles not only folded up, but they were equipped with an on board rifle. I don’t know how hard it was to handle a gun while riding a bike, but I’m sure it was a relief to have your gun right there.

The first known use of the bicycle in combat occurred during the Jameson Raid, in which cyclists carried messages. In the Second Boer War, military cyclists were used primarily as scouts and messengers. One unit patrolled railroad lines on specially constructed tandem bicycles that were fixed to the rails. Several raids were conducted by cycle-mounted infantry on both sides; the most famous unit was the Theron se Verkenningskorps (Theron Reconnaissance Corps) or TVK, a Boer unit led by the scout Daniel Theron, whom British commander Lord Roberts described as “the hardest thorn in the flesh of the British advance.” Roberts placed a reward of £1,000 on Theron’s head…dead or alive…and dispatched 4,000 soldiers to find and eliminate the TVK. While scouting alone on a road near Gatsrand, about 3.7 miles north of present-day Fochville, he encountered seven members of Marshall’s Horse and was killed in action.

Caalab & Amy in Edmond13062396_10207883743165032_255531346035253208_nAs hard as it is to see your children move far away, sometimes there is an aspect of it that truly warms your heart. That is how it has been for me in this first year of the new journey my daughter, Amy Royce and her family have begun. I won’t lie and say that it has been an easy transition for me, because I still miss them very much, but the pure joy they feel in their new surroundings is so obvious, that I can’t help but be happy for them. The first six months of their time was spent in a little apartment, while they got a feel for the area. Then, after deciding that the Bellingham area was where they wanted to be, they found a cute house in the suburb of Ferndale, about 10 minutes north of Bellingham.

Amy hit the jackpot at Rice Insurance, and they didn’t get a bad deal either, because Amy is an amazing insurance agent. Her work is located just a few blocks from Bellingham Bay, and for Amy, that is ideal. Part of 13179038_10207976280878417_6843959922991164794_n13315690_10208117965060433_8991877530624826515_nthe draw of the Pacific Northwest for Amy, was to live near the water, and that has been a dream come true. Amy and her husband, Travis who have never been really fond of our favorite pastime…walking, have taken it up anyway. I’m sure that it’s hard not to, when the trails you have found take you to the waters edge. Every trek they take is filled with the beauty of the rain forest, and trust me…that is beautiful.

Amy and Travis have a large, beautiful back yard, and they love to sit out by their fire pit in the evenings, have dinner, and watch for hummingbirds, which seem to flock to the yard for their dinner too. Amy has been able to get some great pictures of the feeding frenzy. Another interesting item for Amy has been the snails and slugs, since they are not real common in Casper, except on the mountain, but up there, you kind of have to watch out where you walk a little bit, or you’ll step on one…and 13321911_10208117965660448_2743111145805970103_n12991034_10207767272133329_995480769411747257_nthat would break Amy’s heart, because she loves them. The biggest draw for Amy, is the possibility of seeing dolphins anytime they are near the water. Amy has always loved dolphins, and really whales and most of the other sealife found on the beach or in the water near the beach. That is something that gets them out for a walk too. Now they are always looking for new horizons to continue their journey on, and that makes me happy for them. Today is Amy’s birthday. We especially miss our girl on these special days. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sheridan Lake TrailSo often when Bob and I are in the Black Hills, we are out hiking the many trails there. Because of that, I have begun to notice that when we are driving around in the Hills, I seem to always be looking for trails, and when I find one, I begin to wonder about it. Where does it go? How difficult is the hike? What would I see on the trail? Are there streams there to cross? Pretty much it’s the normal questions that come to my mind when I think if hiking. I guess it’s just the trails draw. I like thinking about what is just around the next turn on the path. It gives my imagination a chance to work overtime.

The Black Hills has so many trails, that I find myself always in search of a new trail. And finding one is always a possibility. I seriously doubt if we have hiked even half of the many trails that exist there. Nevertheless, we have hiked many of them, and I can tell you that when you are out in the trail hiking…well, there is just nothing like it in the world. You just can’t see many of those sights from the road, but rather from the road all you get is the trail’s draw, telling you to come and have a look. To come and find the peace and quiet that lives there…only on the trail.

As I think about it though, and since I have hiked Harney Peak, my favorite hike, many times, I would have to say that the trail that I find the most intriguing…and the one that will stay that way for some time to come…would have to be the hike up to the Hall of Records, behind the faces of Mount Rushmore. Since it takes The Hall of Recordsobtaining Congressional approval…an act of Congress…to hike that one, I’m sure it will continue to remain a mystery to me, for a long time, if not the rest of my life. Every time I look at the faces of our presidents carved on Mount Rushmore, I find myself looking to the right, to a spot that could easily be missed if I didn’t know what it was. In many ways, I look at that spot longingly, because I know that up that hill are the stairs that lead to the top, to the secret spot behind the faces, where the Hall of Records has been carved into the granite face of the mountain top, hidden from public view, only to be seen by a very select few…and probably never me, because Congress would have no reason to approve my request. Nevertheless, the trail’s draw on me remains.

Our Wedding_editedCaryn and Bob share a laughIt’s a yearly tradition for my husband, Bob Schulenberg and me…a time to re-connect. We make this trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming every year on a weekend near our anniversary. Some years have been harder to take this trip than others. When you have a parent that is not feeling very well, and you are a caregiver, you struggle with me time. There is always that feeling that you might be needed here. This year is a little bit hard too, because I suddenly have one less parent to care for, making this anniversary trip a little sad, but much needed after the stresses of planning a funeral and saying our goodbyes. I only wish that my family could all take this weekend to unwind too, because I really think they all need it badly.

In reality though, this trip is about spending time with the love of my life…my dear husband, Bob. When I think about the fact that we have been married for forty years, all I can think is, “Where did the time go?” Forty years seems like such a long time, and yet, it seems like just yesterday that we said, “I do.” I guess that is the way it is when the marriage is right. I feel so blessed to have been in such a marriage all these years. The squabbles and tough times never manage to stay in our lives very long, because the love always shines through. Love just couldn’t get any better than that…now could it?

So, as we head out, with a slightly heavy heart and high hopes for a wonderful weekend, I am reminded of just how beautiful the Thermopolis area is. We love the fact that there is so little to do there. Very few shops are open on the weekend, so we just relax, soak in the hot tubs, and walk the trail along the river and up by the mineral pools. It is kind of a forced way to relax, I guess, but with our busy lives, sometimes that is the only way to make us relax…how sad is that? Nevertheless, through all the caregiving work of the past ten years, I Bob and Caryn - the early years20100623_31_editedmust say that my husband, Bob was my biggest supporter, helper, confidant, and comforter. Could love possibly be more strong and compassionate than that? When he said, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”, he took those words very seriously, and for that I am eternally grateful. So, now…today, and this weekend…is our time to re-connect. It is our time to relax and enjoy being together again, with the love of our lives…each other. I could not be any more blessed if I tried. I love you Bob Schulenberg!! You have filled my life with love and blessings. Happy anniversary weekend!!

At The Grand CanyonTrail at the Grand CanyonIn this country, we have been blessed to have people who recognize a national treasure for what it is, and make sure that it gets preserved for people in generations to come to be able to enjoy it too. In my life, I have been blessed to visit many of these treasures, like Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain, Glacier National Park, Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon…which was made a national monument on this day, January 11, 1908. Of course, the Grand Canyon was formed thousands of years ago, but it wasn’t until someone looked at it and saw the beauty it could share with so many people, if it was protected from land developers, mining companies, and other such developers who could only see it for its monetary value.

In my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon three times. Each time was significantly different from the others. The first time was as a child, and that trip stands out in my mind as the discovery trip. This was a place I had never seen before and probably hadn’t even thought about, but my parents knew of its existence, and that they wanted their girls to be able to see its glorious beauty. I don’t recall feeling wary of it edges, but that was probably because I was the kid, and not the parent who had the task of watching the kids. I just remember that its red walls were gorgeous, especially at sunset. It was a trip taken almost fifty years ago, but I can still remember how amazing it was.

The second trip I took to the Grand Canyon was in 1986, when my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I took our girls, Corrie and Amy to see it. The trip taken as a mother was one that felt a bit different. My girls weren’t so little, and eleven and ten, that they didn’t stay right with us, but nevertheless, Amy found herself just a little too close to the unfenced edge, and she slipped a little. By the grace of God, she didn’t fall in, but it is an event she still talks about to this day. I think she would go back again, because she was not really afraid, once the moment passed, but she gained a respect for edges like that. As the mom, I determined to put myself between the children and the edge from that point on. We still very much enjoyed that trip, but it was very different from either of the others.

The most recent trip Bob and I took to the Grand Canyon was in April of 2009, and it was probably the most fun trip of the three. We didn’t have to worry about little ones, and we were both in good shape. We hiked the View of the Grand CanyonTurtle at the Grand Canyonsouthern edge of the canyon, and went down into it at both ends of the trail. It was an amazing trip. Looking at the canyon from the top is awesome, but there is something about being down inside it that will always live in my memory files. It wasn’t that the canyon looked so very different when you were inside, but rather that you were inside the Grand Canyon that made that event special. I loved being able to go down the trails and through the tunnel we found there, and see the magnificent beauty up close. It was an amazing trip, and I happily would go again. The Grand Canyon is unforgettable.

Galoshes and Port HadlockWhen my niece, Lindsay Moore was just a little girl, she knew when her birthday was, but there was a little problem with it. For some reason, August just wasn’t a fancy enough name for her month…or maybe she just couldn’t pronounce it. So, for whatever reason, August became Faugust. Even after Lindsay learned how to say August, the month just never got changed…at least not on the 29th. That was her day, and it would always be Faugust 29th. Lindsay has always liked the goofy things in life, so it’s not surprising that she named her day something special.

When the rubber galoshes phase came out, Lindsay was among the first to jump on that bandwagon too. We all thought it was the silliest look, but if anyone could Jogging Buddiespull it off, it was Lindsay. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she still wears them sometimes. And even if she doesn’t wear them often, I’m sure she still has them and would wear them if they fit into her new surroundings much. Lindsay and her new husband, Shannon, moved to Miami Florida right after their marriage because he took a job as the special teams coach for Miami International University. It is a new adventure, but I don’t know how often Lindsay’s galoshes will be used, unless she decides to go jogging through a swamp.

Lindsay has never been shy…not even for a minute, so I have no doubt that she already has a wonderful group of friends in Florida to spend time with, while Shannon is working, because Lindsay now has an online job that she does. That is kind of nice, because it gives her a little Excited about Lifebit more free time to explore her new surroundings. As an exercise enthusiast, she will most likely be scoping out the walking/jogging trails, or she might just do her jogging on the beach. And who could blame her for that. I love the beach, and if I were a jogger, I might love to jog on the beach, but since I love walking, I know that a long walk on the beach would be very appealing to me. But since this story is about Lindsay, I guess it would be jogging on the beach. Lindsay is and always will be excited about life, and wherever she goes, sunshine will follow, because she is a sunshiney girl. Today is Faugust 29th…Lindsay’s birthday. Happy Faugust 29th Lindsay!! Have a great birthday!! We love and miss you!!

HollyhocksYou’ve seen them…hollyhocks. They are a flower that some might even consider to be a weed, and they sure grow like one. They seem to grow well in yards or alleys…with little water or with plenty of water. The fact that their flowers are abundant the length of their stalk, and that the buds are as abundant as the flowers, is I suppose what attracted us to them. Of course, we were taught never to pick the flowers in someone’s garden, so the fact that these flowers were often in alleys made them more readily available. Whatever it was, my sisters and friends and I used to pick these flowers and then because of their very short stem, found that they didn’t make very good bouquets.

It seemed such a waste to pick these pretty flowers, just to throw them away, so we tried to find something to do with them…finally inventing the Hollyhock Doll. It wasn’t one of the summertime things we did for very many years, nor was it one of the coolest summertime things we did as children, but while I was walking along the trail near my house, and saw some Hollyhocks behind a house along the trail, the memory of our summertime school holidays and the making of Hollyhock dolls came to mind again.

Of course, it wasn’t just a memory of making Hollyhock dolls, but the chance to look back in time a little bit to a time that was so much more simple, that really drew me to the pretty flowers. As we grow up, and responsibilities force their way into our lives, the simple days of childhood get pushed to the background of our memories. Gone are the days of laying around in the backyard, sun tanning, and the afternoons spent at the local swimming pool. Now we get up every morning and go to work, take care of the responsibilities life has handed us, whether they be our children or caring for elderly parents. Our time is no longer our own to do with as we please. That freedom we had as kids is such a fleeting time in our lives, and yet none of us could wait to be grown up. Now we just wish we could go back and be kids again…for a little bit anyway, because no one really wants to relive Hollyhock Dolltheir childhood, but rather just go back for an occasional visit.

Thinking back, the next day as I once again noticed Hollyhocks at the edge of the parking lot at work, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick the necessary parts of the flowers for the purpose of making just one more Hollyhock doll. I picked a flower and a bud, and brought them home. It took seconds to put them together, but the memory of the summertime fun we had, has lingered for days. It never was the Hollyhock Dolls that defined summer for me as a kid, but they were a reminder of the summertime fun we had as kids. I guess that’s why the flowers have always held a place of honor in my memory files.

Today, Bob and I hiked the next section of the Mickelson Trail. It was a 3 mile stretch one way, so going out and back put us hiking 6 miles. While this hike was half a mile shorter than yesterday’s and on the Mickelson Trail, which is much more level, the hard thing about this hike is that out of the 6 miles, approximately 5.5 of it was in the bright sunlight, with no shade to be found. We knew up front that it was going to be a tough hike.

We started our hike at the White Elephant Trailhead, so named because of a Feldspar mine across the highway that was named the White Elephant Mine. From there our hike took us on the uphill side of this portion of the trail. Our walk back would be mostly on the down slope…a good thing when you think of being more tired and hot.

When we came to the first real area of shade, which was a place where the builders of the railroad that used to occupy this trail, had found it necessary to cut through the rock for the tracks to go straight through it. Bob noticed a tree that had persevered in its fight for life by reaching through the cracks in the rocks to find the soil it needed. He found it interesting, and asked me to take a picture of it, but I saw something different…perseverance. That tree pushed itself through the little cracks in the rocks in order to live. It was fighting for its life.

As we walked along, I kept thinking about that little tree, and several others as we had seen along the way. Against all odds, they lived, because they never gave up…they persevered. As we sweltered in the heat of the late morning, going from shade source to shade source, we were thankful once again that we were experienced enough to have plenty of water…even if it was warm by this late point in the hike. The little tree stayed on my mind, and I began to see what perseverance is all about. Yes, the tree was fighting for its life, and I was just working toward the end of the trail. They weren’t even the same thing…or were they. In reality, we were both after the prize…the end of the race…the victory. Yes, that was it! We were alike, and like that little tree, I had the victory. The tree had life, and I persevered and made it to the end of another trail. With the completion of today’s hike, we have walked 48.3 miles of the 108.8 mile Mickelson…twice, since we walk out a ways and then back. That is a victory…that is perseverance.

 

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