Today is my sister Kim’s birthday. So just for fun here is a little look back at her younger days.
Happy Birthday Kimmi!
Today is my sister Kim’s birthday. So just for fun here is a little look back at her younger days.
Happy Birthday Kimmi!
I am married to a guy who loves to travel. He went on lots of fun vacations with his family when he was a kid and he has a whole list of places that he is dying to take our kids to.
When I was a kid we went on five family vacations. Three were to Yellowstone. We would take one day to drive there, one day to drive through and one day to drive home. One of those trips was during the big fire, all we saw was smoke.
One trip was to Mount Rushmore and one to Minnesota and Iowa to visit family friends. The last trip was to Calgary to see the Calgary Stampede (and that trip is a story for another time).
What I’m trying to say is that Joe and I have vastly different experience levels when it comes to travel, add in his overseas travel for work and he was by far the more seasoned traveler. I really like the idea of travel and I do enjoy learning about new places and seeing different parts of the world but I don’t really enjoy the process of getting there and I’m a bit claustrophobic and basically the opposite of brave and have a tendency to create disaster scenarios in my head. So, you can imagine how much fun I can be on vacation.
Most of our “trips” in the past few years have been to Casper Wyoming so I decided it was probably passed time to let Joe start crossing destinations off his list.
So, Joe booked a summer vacation to San Francisco. My first reaction upon hearing the destination was to say, “Excuse me, but there could be an earthquake!” To which Joe responded, “Excuse me, Wyoming is on top of super volcano.”…..touché.
(the ironic thing is that there was an earthquake just north of where we stayed, just a few days ago but long after we were safely home. I said, “See what I’d tell you.” The response was a heavy sigh and eye roll)
So, off to San Francisco we flew. The flight was uneventful and as comfortable as flying can be these days. Our first stop was Palo Alto to visit the Stanford campus. It is a really nice campus. We, unfortunately, ran short on time so didn’t get to see as much of it as we wanted but we enjoyed the walking around and visiting the bookstore and at lunch at the student union.
Then we drove north to San Francisco. Here are a few things we learned about San Francisco and a few of the places we visited.
It’s really hilly! I mean really, really steep hills. I kept thinking that I would not want to try to pull a horse trailer around that town. It’s also quite the workout walking around town.
It’s kind of cold. It’s not really very warm at all, even in August. We stepped out of the car at our hotel and were surprised at how chilly it was. The warmest it got all week was 67. We had to buy jackets. We were thinking, California, summer, who needs a jacket. Well, if you’re visiting San Francisco you need a jacket….and a hat if your going to do the open bus tour because your ears are going to get cold.
It’s foggy. Like every day. That’s the one thing that I just couldn’t get used to. I really enjoyed visiting but I don’t think I could deal with the grayness everyday.
There is a lot of history. If you like history, like I do, it’s a really fun place to visit. We stayed in the Fairmont Hotel which has tons of interesting history. It was built by two sisters, Tessa and Virginia Fair, to honor their father, James Graham Fair. They sold it on April 6, 1906 to Herbert and Hartland Law, just days before the great earthquake on April 18, 1906. The Fairmont withstood the quake but succumbed to the fire that followed. The Law brothers rebuilt it and it re-opened a year later. There are lots of interesting stories and people associated with the Fairmont, plus it’s a really nice hotel. As we left to go to dinner the first night we asked our driver what all the security people and cameras were about. Turns out we had just missed Arnold Scharzenegger. So for the rest of trip we kept wondering if he left saying, “I’ll be back”…..
We took an open top bus tour, which I would definitely recommend, although you will want a jacket and a hat.
Alcatraz is a hot ticket. We wanted to visit Alcatraz but made the mistake of thinking we could just show up and buy a ticket. Turns out they book those trips out 2-3 months in advance, so we had to settle for a boat ride under the Golden Gate and around the island.
We had wanted to ride the cable car down to Fisherman’s Wharf but the line was really, really long. So, we ended up taking the bus. I very nearly had a panic attack on that stupid bus. We were crammed in like sardines, standing room only, and the driver just kept letting more people get on! I had to stand on one leg squished in between people I didn’t know. Then the driver says, “just a friendly reminder, there are probably pick pockets on the bus, so get to know your neighbors.” I can not tell you how glad I was to get off that bus and have vowed to never ride a bus again.
Then before I even had time to calm myself down, we were suddenly standing in line to board a boat (boating is not my favorite activity because you know, sharks, drowning, the titanic). I looked back and forth at the line of people, looked at the boat and declared it was very likely going to sink and there was no way they had that many life jackets on that boat. Joe said, “we will be fine.” I pointed out sharks, drowning, titanic. He gently took me by the shoulders and said, “If you really don’t want to go, there is a really nice bench right over there. I will buy you something to drink and we will be back in hour.” To which I said, “Well if you all are going to drown and get eaten by sharks I think I should be there!” He said, “Fine. You can come but please stop acting like we are marching to our doom. It’s a boat ride.”
So, I wasn’t happy about it but I got on the boat and it actually wasn’t too bad. But we did hit a really big wave that came over the edge of the boat and knocked a lady down so I felt somewhat vindicated in my assessment of the danger. (The lady was fine and it may have been the slippery floor that made her fall more than the wave but still)
Ghirardelli Square. What can I say, we ended up there twice because they had really good chocolate, really good ice cream and also Kara’s Cupcakes. We had to have Kara’s Cupcakes in honor of my friend Kara. I took a picture for her and thought about trying to bring some cupcakes home for her but there was no way we weren’t going to eat them before we could them back to Minnesota. So, we each ate two in her honor instead.
There is a nice beach area just across the street from Ghirardelli Square. Anne declared that it had deluxe sand and it was her favorite spot of the whole trip.
California Academy of Sciences. We had an excellent plan for the day we visited the Academy of Sciences. We would get early, have a quick breakfast and get there before the crowds. It was an excellent plan that was poorly executed. And it turns out that executing a plan is just as important as the actual plan. Bottom line is we slept in…..and it was crowded. But still very interesting.
Cable Cars. We did finally get on a cable car. We waited in line for about an hour but we finally made it on.
The Redwood Forest. The next few days we spent along the northern shore in the Arcata area checking out the Redwood Forest. We drove up highway 101. In San Francisco there wasn’t much evidence of the drought going on there but we definitely saw evidence of it on our drive. It looked really dry and we drove through quite a bit of smoke from fires in the area. We also drove past a base camp for some of the fire crews. All the smoke reminded me of two summers ago in Wyoming when we were surrounded by fires. We went from foggy to smokey and then back to foggy by the time we got to Arcata.
The view from our hotel in Arcata wasn’t quite the same as our view at the Fairmont.
The Redwoods are pretty amazing. Max, Joe and I all had cameras, so we came home with 1516 pictures of trees. Here are a few. The rest basically look the same.
Arcata Scoop. We found the best ice cream in Arcata. Even better than the Ghirardelli ice cream. And it was the cutest little shop too. I had a scoop of chocolate and honey vanilla lavender. It was the best ice cream I have ever had…except of course for Max’s homemade ice cream.
Sneaker Waves. We also stopped at a couple of beach areas along the coast. One had this sign.
We don’t have sneaker waves in Wyoming or Minnesota so I had to google to figure out exactly what they are. Basically, it’s an unexpectedly large wave that can happen at anytime and sweep you out into the ocean to your doom. I was on constant lookout from that point on and I think I started to annoy my family with my constant shouting of “sneaker wave!” and “never turn your back on the ocean”
And then there was this sign at the other one. We were in constant danger, although I seemed to be the only one who cared.
Big Foot. It turns out this area is big on Big Foot sightings and he was nice enough to pose for a picture with us.
And also Joe made a new friend.
And then it was back down to San Francisco to fly home. It was a fun trip (aside from the bus and the boat) but it was also really nice to be home again.
My Mom is a Rock Star. Ok, so not an actual Rock Star. In fact, not that long ago, we were having a discussion on what types of music we all liked and she said, “I like some rock and roll music.” The conversation stopped. We all looked at her. This was news to us. She was a George and Reba, Patsy and Jim type of girl. We had no idea that she liked rock music.
“So, what type of rock music do you like, Mom?”
“Donnie and Marie”, she said.
She looked at us like we shouldn’t be confused and explained with some exasperation, “you know…she’s a little bit country….he’s a little bit rock and roll.”
Yeah…..my Mom is not an actual rock star….nor does she listen to actual rock music. But when it comes to living life, she is most definitely, without a doubt, a lot country and a teeny, tiny bit rock and roll, a rock star.
She has had unfair number of challenges thrown her way. A three time cancer survivor, on top MS, on top of a crazy, ragtag group she claims as family (some related by blood, some not, all loved the same) on top of all the challenges that come with running a ranch with a shoot from the hip cowboy.
No one would blame her if she had packed her bags long ago and rode off into the sunset, to a nice quiet beach somewhere. But she hasn’t (and we’re hoping she won’t). She keeps on keeping on. She counts her blessings, declares the glass 3/4 full and lives each day to its fullest.
When the doctor called a few weeks ago and stunned us all, we just wanted to sit in the corner and cry. But not Mom, in typical fashion, she took a moment to let it sink in and then gathered us all up and insisted that we all “just keep on living.” Her mantra all along has been, “you can go to the pity party, just don’t stay too long and then put on your big girl panties and keep on living.”
There have been tears, for sure and occasional cursing and a few things thrown across the room but then she’s on to whatever needs to be done next and more often than not, it’s something for someone else.
In a world where it often seems there’s not much left you can depend on, we’ve got Mom. She’s our ace in the hole. She’s the thing that makes our corner of the world make sense and run smoothly. We are, quite frankly, the luckiest people on the planet.
Happy Birthday Mom! You Rock!
First let me apologize. I know some of you have probably been losing sleep and agonizing over not knowing the outcome of the Matched Horse Race. I’m really sorry to leave you hanging like that.
I’ve had some technical difficulties…..
Before we left for Wyoming, Joe mentioned to me that my computer hard drive was almost full. “You’re about to run out of memory on your computer,” He said. And I thought that what he implied in that statement was this, “you’re about to run out of memory on your computer and I know you’re going to want to take a lot of pictures and videos when you’re home, so I’ll get that fixed for you before you leave so that you don’t have to worry about it.” I mean, being married to a Senior Director at one of the leading computer hard drive companies in the world, you would think, the last thing I should have to worry about is how many gigabytes I have!
But it as it turns out, what he actually meant was, “You’re about to run out of memory on your computer.” That’s it. Just a statement of fact. Nothing implied.
Men are weird.
Anyway, it turns out when your computer runs out of space, really frightening things start happening. It starts losing pictures and videos and there are tears and headaches and cursing. It’s not pretty. But the lucky thing about being married to a Senior Director at a leading computer hard drive company, is that you have someone who will get you more gigabytes and move things around and figure out how to find the missing stuff and so without any further adieu, here is the conclusion to the big race.
But first I have to tell you about the Rodetto and the Mutton Bustin.
Hadley and her cousin Ashley were in the Rodetto again this year. They did excellent and both won checks in more than one event.
Hadley even won enough to buy herself this awesome pair of new boots! Pretty work ladies!
And then these two found the donut box. Nothing makes a couple of kids happy like a whole box of donuts and adults distracted just enough to not notice how many they are eating.
Anne and Hadley were once again in charge of getting the Mutton Bustin contestants geared up and ready and then handing out awards afterwards.
They take their job very seriously and do excellent work.
And Alexandra made her Mutton Bustin debut this year. Her big sis got her geared up and being a former Mutton Bustin champ, offered some words of advice, which were, “hang on and don’t let go!”
And hang on she did! She didn’t hang on quite long enough to make it to the short go. But look out next year because she’s got the fire in her belly now!
Here it is in live action.
And now the horse race. It was definitely western but nobody got hurt and that is really all that matters at the end of the day. All the contestants were family, friends and neighbors so that made it extra interesting. Jamie ended up racing our cousin Jack in one race and Kim in another, so there was a cousin race and a sister race. It brought up flashbacks from childhood, of trying to settle on who had the fastest horse, when we should have been holding herd. Only this time there were more people watching and Uncle Rog wasn’t there to shake his head at us….actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure he was up there shaking his head at us.
So if you recall how it all started. Dick asked Jamie to jockey his horse Tigger and she, respectively declined in favor of riding her own horse Pig Pen. So, Dick went in search of another jockey. Pretty soon half the neighborhood had entered up. Dick ended up having Annie K. ride the first night and then Kim finished out the race since Annie wasn’t available all week. There were a couple of other jockey subs since Jack and Laura couldn’t be there one night.
Quick side note – First, I was in a different filming spot every night and never had a good angle on the finish line. I have already scoped out a better spot for next year. Second, in the first couple of videos someone is screaming like a lunatic. I don’t know who it was but I think once they realized that they would sound like a crazy person when the videos were played back, then they decided to calm themselves down because it’s not as noticeable in the later videos, so turn the sound down for the first couple and then it’s safe it turn it up again.
And also, I had to choose between video and still pictures on most races because, well, I can only do one thing at a time! Joe was there on Wednesday night to take still photos for me but otherwise it’s video only of the actual races. I might need to hire an employee for next year.
Every night started off with a pre-race conference at the horse trailers.
And then warming up and more pre-race strategizing and occasional trash talk.
First night – First up Annie K. on Tigger vs Kendra on California Chrome
And the winner was Annie and Tigger!
Then we had Casey and Mr. Johnny vs. Jeff and Rags. We thought the finish line was the end of the arena, so we were really excited because it looked like Casey won. But it turns out that the finish line was closer to the start line and she hadn’t quite passed Jeff at that point. So the winner was Jeff and Rags!
Second night – Jamie and Pig Pen raced against Jack and Misbehavin’ Angel. Jamie came out ahead on that one and then Laura and Ol’ Rip raced against Garrett and Crazy Cora. And the girls made a clean sweep as Laura won her race too.
Third night – Kim rode Tigger and raced against Jeff on Rags. Kim makes a smart move at the barrel giving her just enough edge to win this one.
In the video the announcer says Annie is riding a horse called Bruiser. She’s not. It’s Kim riding Tigger. He also says the owner, Dick, is engaged to be married. This was surprising, especially to his wife Joan. But we knew who was who, so it didn’t really matter. We’re still trying to track down Dick’s fiancé….
Now this night was also Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. Tough Enough to Wear Pink is a campaign to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Lots of cowboys wear pink on this night in honor of those who have fought breast and other cancers. So, we decked out Pig Pen in pink ribbons - for Mom’s fight against breast cancer – blue ribbons - for Grandpa’s, Uncle Jack’s and Mom’s fight against colon cancer -and orange ribbons for our friend Tom’s fight against kidney cancer. And Jamie dedicated her race that night to all of them. The announcer only says it’s in honor of Mom but it was in honor of all of them and it made Mom cry.
So, the second race that night was Jamie vs. Laura. Their horses were ready to go and they almost take out the starter – the only rule, remember, don’t run over the starter – was very nearly broken. In the end Jamie and Pig Pen pulled out another win.
Fourth night – this night there were three riders in each race. First up, Casey, Garrett and Jim riding for Jack. Jim and Misbehavin’ Angel win this one.
Then it was Kendra, Jeff and Will riding for Laura. There was a near collision at the barrel and Kendra ended up the winner.
Finals night – And here we are at the finals. Racing for third and fourth place we had Jack riding Misbehavin’ Angel and Kendra riding California Chrome. Kendra won. When Dad asked Jack how he felt about being beat by a girl, he said, “oh I’m used to it. I am married to Laura.” Attaboy!
And running for first place and second place, we are back to where we started. Who is faster Tigger or Pig Pen?
Kim rode Tigger again in this race, so it was sister versus sister. And it was neck in neck from start to finish. A real horse race! If you’re worried they might have gone easy on each other, you know, because their sisters and all…..don’t worry.
And at the end of the night bets were settled and everyone raised a glass (or bottle) together because friendships trump horse races….at least until next year.
Oh, right! You’d like to know who won! You’ll have to watch the video…..
My Dad goes by many names and has many talents.
But the thing that suits him best, the thing that he is the very best at is being Pa.
Here are a few pictures of him doing what he does best. He’s taught the kids many, many things….some of which we are still trying desperately to un-teach…..
Happy Birthday Dad!
The sweetest words ever spoken are, quite possibly, “you are cancer free!”
Mom had her post-op appointment today and the news was so very good. The surgery got all the cancer. She is clean as a whistle. Good to go. No chemo. No radiation. Cancer free!
We are doing the happiest of happy dances here today. And she is doing great. She’s been tending to her roses and cheering at the matched horse race and the mutton bustin. She probably should take it a little bit slower but there’s no telling her that. Gosh it feels good to breath deep again!
And she went out and bought a celebratory hat just because she could.
But at the same time that we celebrate our good news, we are hoping and praying with all our hearts that those who haven’t heard those words yet, will hear them soon. And our hearts and love go out to those who never got the chance to hear them.
Our prayers and love go out to all families touched by cancer and to the doctors and nurses who care for them.
Well, it’s official. Max isn’t a kid anymore and not just because he’s turning 13 today.
Last week while moving cattle to Soldier Creek some people (who shall remain nameless) starting to panic just a bit because all of the sudden no one knew where Max was. It’s a big pasture folks and any number of things could have befallen him. He could have gotten lost, his horse could have fallen or step in a badger hole. He could have come across a rattlesnake or gotten bogged down. And quite a lot of time had passed since anyone had seen him. And since we were thinking – clearly mistakenly – that he was just a kid out there alone with only his horse, some of us were a bit concerned.
But when we located him and someone expressed that there had been concern as to his whereabouts, he just looked at us like we were nuts. You know that look that that seems to say “what in the sam hill is wrong with you crazy people”.
He said, “Well, Uncle Jim told me to go gather the cattle up the creek. So, I went and gathered the cattle up the creek. And then I looked back and saw a few he had missed and so I went back and got those. Then I took the whole bunch up the fence line to the middle gate. And since I remembered that Pa had said ‘somebody darn well better count them through the gate’, I opened the gate and counted them through….and by the way there were 365 cows and 16 bulls.”
To which we said, “oh….ok….thanks”
To which Dad said, “Pretty work!”
And Max rode off shaking his head and muttering something along the lines of “oh ye of little faith.”
So, it’s official. Max is no longer a kid. Which I think means I can start charging him rent now.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the events of the past year.
Rockies game with Chad
First day of 7th grade
Basketball season got off to a rough start. Pre surgery.
Cast number one
Cast number two.
And finally no more cast!
This is more like it.
Hanging out with family
Max and his buddy Chase
Speaking of which, if Anne is Casey’s mini me, then Chase just might be Max’s
He loves shopping with his sister. It is one of his favorite things and you can see why.
Making homemade ice cream
I have no idea….
And yesterday while they were watching 80+ exhibition barrel racers waiting for Hadley’s run, he somehow talked his Dad into taking him to a Rockies game for his birthday.
Happy Birthday Max!
We have loved every minute of the past 13 years and can’t wait to see what comes next.