Category Archives: Family Life

Sweet & Bittersweet: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! In honor of it, I made my children this sweet crepe from Alton Brown (with a few tweaks added, like Watkins Danish pastry flavor instead)  filled with fresh sliced strawberries, a dabbling of chopped peanuts, and drizzled Hersey chocolate syrup. Of course Mommy gets the scrambled eggs with Tabasco!

As I get older I find more and more of my friends are experiencing as have I, the loss of a parent, or serious illness of a parent. In my case I am lucky to still have my Mother living, but she is afflicted with a dementia affecting the frontal lobe called Pick’s Disease. It mimics Parkinson’s with muscle debilitation, Alzheimer’s for the memory loss, and Schizophrenia from mood changes. Mom has hospitalized October 8, 2010, I had to jump through hoops to get her onto Medicaid so that she would be medically covered by what Medicare didn’t cover, and the ongoing 24/7 care she would require in the future. It took 2 weeks to get things in line and I put her in a nursing home then went to the hospital with early onset labor. One shot later, 2 days later, another shot, and by that Friday – a baby over one month early.

My daughter had incomplete lungs and heart. Emergency surgery was performed 24 hours after birth due to a collapsed lung. She was LifeFlighted by Learjet to a St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO, and spent another 2 weeks there. Baby is healthy now, but it was really scary.

My Mom thought I’d abandoned her in a nursing to get rid of her. She didn’t know where she was, who the people around her were, and having constant hallucinations about people hurting her and the others – murdering, locking them in closets, etc. Not true. But still horrific for her to live. She retreated within her mind in a few months because the reality was too great for her to live knowing that one of her greatest fears at the end of her life was going to happen.

For the rest of her life I’ll count her days in the nursing home in the same that I count the days of my daughter’s precious life…bittersweet to be sure.

I’ll be going to the nursing home today, bring her flowers, kiss her, hug her, have the children see her, and not only will she not know us, not remember she has a daughter, but completely forget we were there in just a few seconds after we leave her sight. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is, and we’ll have the memories.

Fisherman Trap

I’m getting a first hand look at the fisherman’s obsession. This week I’ve had the pleasure of going to Trapper’s Route, Black Beach, and Alcova Lake, in the Casper, Wyoming, region. I found this website for Casper angling. I’ve also been reading a book by Chad Hanson called Swimming with Trout which has helped my husband share fishing with me.

Friday night I asked my husband if he wanted to go fishing on Trapper’s Route Saturday. His eyes widened, “sure. Yes.” I told him I wanted to get some pictures and things because people might not know about this area and would want to try it out with their families too.

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Figures that enough people are coming out to the area to warrant fences. It was the first sign new developments were afoot. In early Spring the Game and Fish Department renovated Trapper’s Route with signage, restroom facilities, tables and fire rings. This is great for the fisherman with families!

I’m not sure if they held a contest for names or what, but they came up with Whitetail, Golden Currant, Chalk Bluffs, and Buffaloberry for the fishing/camping areas.

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Although Husband has fished in several of these spots as a fly fisherman we went beyond Buffaloberry and took a path made by tire tracks. From where we were on the road you can’t see the North Platte River for at least another 10 minutes.

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From the limited shoreline we set up chairs and wormed up. Is that the right phrase?

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Husband went into the river in waders for some fly fishing. Most of the time the kids and I were catching seaweed but we munch some lunch.

Catch one.

15 minutes later, catch two.

Another 10 or so minutes, catch three. Husband said it was the best fishing trip he’s ever had – fastest he’s ever caught in such a short time. Of course, I reminded him that Baby & I were his good luck charms.

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At one point I wanted to fish further down in this spot but it wasn’t safe to have both kids there as it drops into a deep hole. Lots of fish.

So many fish I saw 2 dance right out of the water, laughing at me….

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Husband laughed at me, “yep. They do that.” But he’d already confirmed to himself that there was a drop off hole full of fish. He watched the kids while I tried my hand unsuccessfully. Husband took pity and helped us cast and wait for our fish to come on line. Big Boy reeled in his first trout and I got to reel in and release a itty bitty one.

Husband says his legacy is to catch and release

so that he doesn’t catch all of the fish leaving none for others.

A Fish Tale

Only a few days ago I was moaning about my first official fishing trip. Today Husband bought me my own rod. I put my 2 piece rod together, tied my own hook on (Husband tied on the weights) but let him put on the worm bow tie while I held Baby back.

Must have done the trick:

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About 12 inches, male, stock from the hatchery (docked fin). We were laughing and joking about how we probably should check the lines, I laughed and said wouldn’t it be funny if there is a fish just hanging on there, waiting? You got it. Husband actually went in and grabbed the hook, bowtie and all, right out of his gullet, for me to use again. I liked that.

Yeah, we were still laughing when I said…. um, maybe we should check his. Big Boy caught himself a sucker fish. No good for eating (they are bottom dwelling, trash eating, vacuums). We can use it for bait though! Big Boy was pretty upset about “my friend” for awhile.

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And even Husband caught something…

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Baby cooed at that crawdad for at least a good half hour, if longer, calling it her “‘dad” and carrying it around like a kitten or a doll. Only pinched her once, but he was still hers, yelling “MINE, MINE, MINE. No touch. MINE! Poked at its eyes a lot, petted him, soothed his feelers, and after I told her I’d cook him up for her she perked right up. To eat him. Stuck the poor thing butt first in her mouth.

“Love it. I’d say this day was right up there with one of the best in my life,” declared Wyomingstorygirl

Oh, yeah. Big Boy locked the keys in the car and luckily I had my cell phone. Called our neighbor who kindly drove 45 minutes out to us with a spare set. There is a special place in heaven for good friends like her! Thank YOU.

Can I Too Be A “Fisherwoman”?

Recently I got my first-ever annual fishing license. I’ve fished before, without a license, as a kid in a pond with no fish. I’ve also bought “day licenses” and spent the day yakking, but bored with fishing as an “experience”.

Big Boy getting tips on what the fish are nibbling...

Making the effort. Some say part of a good relationship requires a certain level of understanding or appreciation of your partners hobbies. It can be as little as knowing terminology to “listen” or finding a great deal on equipment he really wants. I’ve made the effort of the years in our marriage to attempt these things but a lot of timing problems have caused them to be few and far between. Snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing are my husband’s main hobbies. Although he enjoys doing other things I’d say those are his “Big 3”.

Having no role models (male or female) in my life to teach me any of these things let alone see them done, I was left watching men on tv do these kinds of activities. So attempting to ride, hit the broad side of a barn, or reel one in without being soaking wet, are enigmas to me. The biggest obstacle isn’t that my husband isn’t willing to take me with him or teach me, it’s that he is less than forthcoming on things I need to know, “tips”, because of his experience or skill.

“Take fishing – I should have boned up on some skills beforehand by looking on the internet.” Says Wyomingstorygirl, “I don’t even know how to use his fishing pole.”

I didn’t, but we did go fishing yesterday afternoon, meeting up with one of his coworkers and their extended family. Let’s just say my husband and I were on 2 different fishing trips! Husband got his stuff done, left me the fishing rod and walked too far away for even a shouting conversation. *sigh*

Find out the Basics

I know the basics – you need to bait your hook. So I impaled a worm on the barbed hook for my 3.5 years old son and got his set up. Then I did the same for mine. 5 minutes into it, Big Boy has lost 2 worms and is off running around the rocks playing. 3 hours into it, I’d lost 3 worms myself, lost one hook in the rocks, “caught” one 18 foot tree and snarled my line into several pom poms. At least the pom poms allowed me to be able to see where I’ve “cast”.

Looking interested, Husband comes back to see how I’m doing. I must say my Husband has a really bad understanding for “timing”- he’d come back for my “fishing lesson”. Husband tells me what I’ve done wrong: tied my new hook improperly, made a mess of the weights, showed me what to do when my line “spins” and advised I needed to cast overhead (tennis anyone?). I watched from shore as he walked out in his waders to cast. “Why are you casting with my fishing pole?” “To give you the experience of reeling in a fish.” “Um, I think I need to practice my casting first. Can I have my pole back.” After tellig these tidbits Husband was prepared to go back out for another couple hours but as Baby was at camp with friends of the family I was wondering how she was getting on. We turned back before sundown to go home.

Husband was pleased I hadn’t complained or gotten mad. Um, apparently he really was too far away to hear me swear like a sailor. No, you missed that, I vowed to go online to learn what I needed and I’ll take the kids fishing by myself.

View of the North Platte River from Trappers Route, Casper, Wyoming

Maybe some tips in these related articles could give you the edge the next time you attempt to lure a tree or you know, a trout…

Top 5 Free Places for Little Ones in Casper, Wyoming

Want the Top 5 Cheap Places too?

Wyoming is a great place for families with young children! Although a search for free, young child friendly activities has decent search engine results, going online to find a good list of them is a challenge. It’s a mixed bag of duplicate activities or misnamed activities in listings, inaccurate/ outdated information, and there isn’t one I’ve found EVERYTHING like you do for places like Los Angeles or New York City or Boston. So this is my list of the top 5 TOTALLY FREE ACTIVITIES for the little ‘pokes. Visiting Casper, Wyoming, can provide an exciting look into the recent past and ancient past…

  1. Tate Geological Museum is located on the Casper College campus (drive past all the “college” buildings) on College Drive, it’s the building with an almost empty parking lot. Don’t let that fool you – open year round (check for dates/ times), most of the time you’ll have the whole place to yourself. They do appreciate donations; while some of the gift shop items are super cheap at $0.50 each. Along with the mounted Dee the Mammoth and Lee (T-)Rex in the Lab, take all the time you like in a self-guided tour (or ask for a tour by a volunteer) of regionally discovered minerals, rocks, fossils, as well as presentations on TV, and a small indoor area that you can let the kids pretend to dig up their own fossils!
  2. Werner Wildlife Museum is just a hop, skip, and drive down the road in the building next to the YMCA. In the warm months you’ll see lots of birds in the “backyard” as it is adjacent to a wildlife watching area. If you already visited the Tate, you’ve seen the Bald Eagle (or as my son calls them, and your kids will demand to go to the “dead birds museum” and that’s what this museum if full of – stuffed wildlife of Wyoming.

    Photo Credit: Jeremy Wendinger

    The man who started this museum was a hunter and collector who donated the building & collection to Casper College for exhibit. If you are a fisher-Dad or Mom you’ll enjoy the differences in the fish species that aren’t easy to see in the Fish & Game rulebook. My son and daughter enjoyed the touch and feel exhibit of furs and horns. I, for one, enjoyed the small birds and was surprised at how big the Raven is compared to the Crow. Open year round (check for dates/ times) I highly recommend going to both it and the Tate back to back, and in warm weather having a picnic behind the building on the grass.

  3. If the kids are starting to have cabin fever, drive to one of the numerous city parks in Casper. My favorites are Castle Park, off Poplar Street next to the Casper baseball field, and Washington Park, off McKinley Street. Castle Park has a great “castle” playground for big kids and little kids.
    courtesy of the City of Caspercourtesy of the City of Casper

    Even at 2 years of age my son was gleefully sliding down the 2 story slides. Washington Park has a fun playground too, with a seasonal pool, basketball and tennis courts. Another couple of great outdoors areas are the Yesness Park off of Wyoming Boulevard/Poplar Street with a pond and walk around for little explorers, a bit difficult for a stroller though unless you can do 4 wheeling, and Morad Dog Park off also off Wyoming Boulevard/  C Y Avenue with trails parallel to the North Platte River. Bring a picnic and your imagination!

  4. More adventurous parents can go day camping on Casper Mountain in Beartrap Meadow County Park just by following Casper Mountain Road where a system of campsites are locate on the front side of Casper Mountain, and further on the Muddy Mountain campground. A much quieter area for camping with amazing views of the backside of the mountain, but not accessible during the winter. Look for my favorite spot at a hairpin turn (guaranteed you’ll do 2 drive bys!) by the first campground area (by the big sign) with a small creek running through it just right for little kids. A short walk is the Lee McCune Braille Trail, an easy walking trail designed for the blind. The majority of the area is doable for wheelchairs too. Beartrap Meadow itself has a giant meadow for a big game of tag, and the surrounding campsites are suitable for day and overnight camping with running water from a spigot, nearby bathrooms, and small playgrounds. Day use is free most areas but overnight is a fee.
  5. Garden Creek Falls & Bridle Trails, Rotary Park is a lot harder to find unless someone points out the route. If you already went exploring on the mountain you might have caught a glimpse of the falls, this one is the only one on public land.

    Photo Credit: Eileen A. Hill

    There are signs posted letting you know when you are on private land. Drive up Casper Mountain Road, at the fork (where the Fire Indication billboard is) take a right so you are driving down into the foot of the mountain. The small faded blue sign noting Rotary Park can be hard to recognize, but it’ll be the first left going up a dirt like road. There is day camping, hiking trails, and a great waterfall within a short walking distance. The walk to the falls is about a leisurely 10-15 minutes, not exactly wheelchair friendly but is okay for sturdier strollers. If it’s a hot day, go ahead and cool your tootsies off in the water!

If you run out of free things to do, check out my parallel posting on the Top 5 Cheap Places for Little Ones for some more ideas. Have you found any fun, free places for little kids in Casper, Wyoming, that I’ve missed?

Top 5 Cheap Places for Little Ones in Casper, Wyoming

Wyoming is a great place for families with young children! There is an extensive network of museums and historic sites. Visiting Casper, Wyoming, can provide an exciting look into the recent past and ancient past. There are tons of free things to do with them, which I touched on in the Top 5 Free Places for Little Ones in Casper, Wyoming, in my dual posts today. There are also tons of fun things to do that, thankfully, don’t cost and arm or a leg unless you have a family large enough to qualify for the “large group discount.” Quite often, having a membership allows you free or a discounted admission.

  1. A couple of minutes outside of Casper is Edness K. Wilkins State Park, part of the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails. Wyoming Residents pay $4.00/ per carload and Non-residents pay $6.00/ per carload, a complete deal when you consider the hundreds of acres of land and activities that are available to you. Just outside Casper (South on I25, just before Casper by the or North of Casper, off Hwy 20-26) you might have to turn around to find it, but it’s worth it for a full day of fishing, swimming, beach sand, playground, boat dock, and ADA trails! Watch a Video, here. While restrooms & the water system is closed during the winter months, weather permitting, the State Park is open year round.
  2. The Science Zone is downtown off of Center Street in the basement of a furniture store. It is ADA friendly, with elevator, and has “Permanent, Rotating and Traveling Exhibits, Summer Science Camps, After-School Science Classes, Storybook Science, Outreach Programs, Special Events, Birthday Parties, and live demonstrations and films in our theatre…in a community-based facility, which offers families and children of all ages, interactive science and math learning opportunities.” They have hands on exhibits, a piano (no banging, please), bubble table, small cage animals, and a small tot indoor play area. Unless you have a ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) membership card, admission is $4.00/ adults, $3.00/ children, while Members and those under the age of 2 years are free. If you have a group of 10 persons or more, the price drops to $2.00/ ea. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Members are allowed other days, check with Staff).
  3. How can you have a trip to Casper without visiting our Planetarium? Open since 1966 in the same building off Poplar Street/Werner Court, showings appropriate for little kids are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday at 4:00 p.m. and the current program is Perseus and Andromeda.  Admission is $2.50 per person – they do not have a under X age is free policy but I’ve found they were flexible not charging with children under 1 year of age. There is a short presentation by Staff prior to the show, you can ask questions, while the program lasts about 30 minutes. The doors to the building may not be open until shortly before 4:00 p.m. but Staff are willing to stay to answer questions. There are fun science experiments in the exhibit hall and a gift shop with prices as low as $0.25! During the summer months there several activities put on by the Astronomy society too.

Pictures of National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper
This photo of National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is courtesy of TripAdvisor

4. Want to experience the Westward migration? Continue up Poplar Street and the sign proclaims the interpretative center on your right! Wyoming has a strong presence from Plains Indians (including the Shoshone, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Utes) and pioneer life, chronicled at the Native Historic Trails Center (which is also called Casper’s National Historical Trails Interpretive Center) with a strong emphasis on the Mormon past and tragedies which occured within Wyoming. There is a theatre, a handcart where you can test your strength pulling, and different exhibits showing the tests and trials of those on the open range of Wyoming. Open year round (closed for certain holidays so check first), admission is free for those under age 15, and $4.00/ senior citizens, and under age 18, $6.00/ adults. Federal Passports – Senior Pass, Annual Pass & Access Pass – are honored with existing benefits. Best of all, all visitors are admitted free of charge on designated “Free Fee” days such as the Annual Pony Express Reride!

5. After such a day, can you handle more at a real military fort? A cool trivia fact is that the City of Casper is the official incorrect spelling of Fort Caspar (Museum) and the current site is home to a diverse history of Mormon passage, ferry crossing over the North Platte River and the sites of military forts.

English: Reconstructed buildings at the site o...

All of these locations will give your family hours of outdoor fun in the warmer months and plenty to do indoors in the winter. I highly recommend going to the Science Zone to let the little ones burn off energy if you aren’t in the mood to go to the Eastridge Mall’s (free) indoor playground. If you have fun, cheap places for little ones to add to this list, please let me know!

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