Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2009 summer trip


At Cody airport

Evan's Plunge in Hot Springs

My Mom and Austin

Buffalo Bill Dam

Dam that's a long way down

Emerson on the hot 4th of July

Mom took Austin Fishing

Heart Mountain

Up on Chief Joseph

Mom and I

Yellowstone "Buffalo"

Lance on "Red Devil"


Heart Mountain


We hadn't made it back to Wyoming since my sister-in-laws memorial service in August of 2007 and things were not going particularly well for a lot of our extended family. My brother had divorced and his kids were having a hard time dealing with that. My Mom and Younger brother, who is wonderful and has down’s syndrome, suddenly the only ones still living in Cody after my other brother moved east, made my Mom pretty depressed as her 70th birthday approached. My husband’s family wasn't doing too well either, his sister was so depressed she wasn't getting out of bed for months at a time and his Mom had fallen down steep concrete steps, one full story and been in the hospital a couple of months with no real therapy or progress, just sitting there, wearing a catheter and saying the world would be better if she died.
Sooo. . . anyway we knew we needed to get there, but at the same time, my husband needed 7 1/2 credits by August to keep his Oregon teaching credential so he got on-line and signed up for any choir type educational grad units he could find, but they were all over the Northwest.
Brief as I can make it - here is an overview

June 18 - Pack and leave around 11, drive 415 miles, from the coast, through Medford to Klamath Falls through the desert to Burns, Oregon by 9 PM

June 19 - Drive 500 miles to just past Swan Valley Idaho to "Falls Campground" on the overflowing Snake river by the Wyoming Border.

June 20 - Saturday we drove 400 miles across Wyoming through Jackson, and into the snow
 then on to Riverton, Casper, and Wright and to my In-laws home in Newcastle on the WY/SD border. We got there by 6 PM and went to see My MIL in the hospital, and out to eat with my FIL - we were staying with my husband's brother and his wife.

June 21 hospital visits and a steak dinner for Father's Day

Mon, June 22 we checked MIL out for a couple of hours and talked her into visiting her house. She had to come in a wheelchair but could use a walker inside. Dad-in-law couldn't pull the chair up the steps.

June 23 My DH, (Dear Husband) had to drive about 80 miles round trip to get lumber for a wheelchair ramp. YIKES! Wood is expensive and that was $1000. Newcastle is small and lovely but even a McDonald's or KFC or Taco Bell is over 80 miles away in any direction.
That evening we brought MIL back to the house and invited her sister, her Step-Mom and all her in-town family and had a big spaghetti feed.

June 24 Doing Laundry and removing sod where the ramp will go

In Custer State park
It was hard Working here
much better visiting
June 25 – MIL and FIL’s 59th anniversary More ramp building and then a trip into the Black Hills to the Black Hills Playhouse for "Sugar Bean Sisters" and a swim in Legion Lake. Musicman and I spent our "Honeymoon Summer"  working at the playhouse 25 years ago.

June 26 and 27 Finishing the ramp, Our two teenage boys helped a lot and also went fishing both days. Now that Austin can drive he had a lot more freedom and got sent on a lot of trips to the hardware store.

June 28th We spent the morning at the hospital and then went to Hot Springs South Dakota - home of mammoth bones and Evans Plunge. My Mom's paternal Grandmother got married there just a couple years after the plunge opened. 1892, Saw a lot of buffalo in Custer state park and swam for hours

June 29 we drove from Newcastle, up I-90 to Billings Montana. Met my Mom and Younger brother, and my  other brother and his three kids, and my cousin  and her husband and their two teens. We got rooms with hot tubs and a pool and went out for BBQ and started the celebration of Mom's 70th birthday
Inside teePee pool

June 30, more swimming, Red Lobster, and drive to Cody, WY to the first ever KOA. Sadly my Mom has packed her house too full of stuff to have room for visitors so we put up a tent. Brother 1 had to leave to drive back to the East with his kids. I'd expected heat but everywhere we went was cool and rainy

Hail Storm

July 1 - July 5 

We stayed around the Cody area but drove a lot with Mom and brother, We went over to Thermopolis
Thermopolis Wyoming

My cousin's Mom plays Calamity Jane
She is related to C. J.  
and the booths at the city park and to the fireworks on the 4th, we went to a rodeo
4th of July in Cody

Up on the Switchbacks of the Beartooths and chief Joseph Highway
and up Chief Joseph Highway (Yes, I'm glad the name was changed but it will always be Dead Indian in my head) through Yellowstone and up to a Mountain top Ranch above Gardiner Montana to visit a friend of my son's from high school here who was working for her uncle there. My brother got to ride "red Devil" there and it was a really intense drive up a gravel road in a lightning laden downpour to get there.

July 6, 7, 8

Baby Bison are camouflaged if you see in black and white like a predator
Three days of driving through Mountains in torrential rain and wind and lightning. The 6th we crossed the bighorns on 14A through Powell and up by Lovell to Newcastle again. The 7th we came down to Laramie and stayed up til 1 AM visiting Greg's sister and her husband and two son's - plus the oldest son has a very nice girlfriend from Cody who actually remembered my Mom and Brother. June 8th We drove to Denver, Colorado to visit Greg's Mom. She had been moved to Porter's Hospital on the 4th.

July 9th, My 46 birthday, we mostly visited at the hospital and then my youngest son bought us all tickets to see Transformers in IMAX that evening.

July 10th Greg's sister came down from Laramie and I stayed at the motel with the boys to catch up on laundry while they were at the hospital again

July 11 we visited MIL in the morning then drove I-70 through Vail, to Green River, Utah

July 12, Drove from Green River to Ontario, Oregon. I usually get sick from the heat but it was cool and almost green. Every river we saw this entire month was up to or beyond its banks.

July 13 - Drive all day to Tacoma, Washington

July 14 and 15 Greg takes a music conference for 2 credits and then we leave at 5 PM and drive home by 3Am and collapse.

I saw so many places I wanted time to explore and was so close to other cousins and friends that we never managed to get in touch with. My Mother-in-law was still in Porter's in Denver although she has since gone to her house, back to the Newcastle Hospital and over to Rapid City’s Hospital. My husband  left July 20 for a three day class in Billings, then went go back to Denver.

This time the boys and I stayed home to work on a yard sale, and save some of the expense. As a teacher we get no pay between the middle of June and the end of September and this has been draining the bank account.

On the way home I did hear an appropriate song,

“Sounds Like Life To Me”
( Darryl Worley, Wynn Varble, Phil O’Donnell )

He said I don’t know where to start

Sarah’s old car’s about to fall apart
And the washer quit last week
We had to put momma in the nursing home
And the baby’s cutting teeth
I didn’t get much work this week
And I got bills to pay
I said I know this ain’t what you wanna hear
But it’s what I’m gonna say

Lots of storms this trip
Sounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me
Wyoming Traffic Jam
Living in Cody
In the Black Hills
Legion lake, SD
reminds me of the Donkeytail plants my Grandpa used to grow
or the "Stone Crop" my 8th grade science teacher had us eat
Don't know what, but very un-redwood
Love Pilot and Index
Pilot and index peak up by Cooke City, MT
Map of our travels
this shows the insane loops and backtracking we did, and then my husband had another class in Billings and had to drive it all over again.
Up on the Switchbacks of the Beartooths and chief Joseph Highway
Grandma Mimi

and she is the real reason for all of this.  I wish I could give her even a fraction of the strength and support she's given other people in her 77 years.

 But months later she is still in the hospital with no real solutions, although this 4th hospital says an MRI scan showed fluid around her brain, and that a shunt should allow it to drain so the brain can expand to normal.  Not sure, but hoping that it might let her spirit expand to normal as well.

and now 5 years later, she has been in a hospital/Nursing Home ever since. Really since 2006, Her mind returned as strong as ever but her body is weakened by the time spent in hospital beds.  Still, when we talk she sounds like our Mimi, and can remember and converse like always and we are grateful to still have her.

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