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  • Francs Peak Hike

Digital Scrapbooking…

seems to go perfectly with digital photography.  Both are very addicting and fun.  Photography can be a form of artwork and of course so is digital scrapbooking.  Together they can make a fanastic display to enjoy.

Anyhow I was searching for a specific picture when I can across a scrapbook page that I did for one of my customers.  Of course, it just brought back a flood of memories.  Why?  Well for one thing these sisters was able to have FUN in spite of me taking pictures.  This doesn’t just happen with everyone…many seem to tense up in front of the camera.  So the pictures captured their fun at enjoying each other.

Then, this one sister wanted me to create a digital scrapbook page for her.  She gave me the colors she liked, pictures she selected, and then I worked on creating a page for her.  I loved the challenge and of course it made it sweeter when she LOVED and adored it.  That was SWEET!  Nothing better than making a customer happy.

Sketch_SonyaAdp2 copy 2_12x12 ScrapbookLO_Sample5_500

26 Hour Drive

Tragic news always comes unexpectedly!

I got a call early Sunday morning (Sept 27th) from my cousin Dirk telling me that his sister Gail’s son died the night before.  Of course, I was in shock from hearing the news.  How can one take pain away from a loved one?

Well Dirk wanted me to contact my family and let them know.  So I made those calls breaking the sad news to my siblings, etc.

In my heart, I felt I needed to do everything I could to go and support Gail and her family.  Of course, it was so far away, and my situation isn’t such that I could easily go.  But miracles happen,  thank goodness!

My cousins (Gail’s brothers) planned to drive out, and so I asked if I could go and be another driver.  It so happened that it worked out for them as well, because they needed an extra driver (or so they said).

So we left from Cody Wyoming Thursday (Oct 1st) after work 5:30PM and drove straight through to Ann Arbor Michigan.  We ended up taking two cars with 8 people.  My sister even joined us.

We all took turns driving and the others sleeping where they could, stopping only for gas and using that stop for a break, snacks, trading drivers, etc.

One family member was bound and determined to see Chicago, and we certainly did.  Block after block after block, for nearly two hours.  Thank goodness for GPS to get us through that mess.  We took that detour because the freeway was backed up.  (or says this cousin…heee hee).

We arrived in Ann Arbor at about 3:30AM Saturday morning and crashed.  Got up at about 8:00AM and got ready for the day.   We met the other family members, including my brother Doug, who drove up from GA.  Spent a couple hours at Gail’s house, then took off to the funeral home.

Gail asked me to take pictures for her.  So I did.  The memorial service was nice.  I learned so much more about my cousin’s son that I didn’t know.  As I listened, I could identify so many of the Cozzens characteristics. I felt a sadness that I didn’t know him better.

Then we enjoyed a wonderful meal for the family.  We captured more pictures.  We captured those all- important Family pictures.

Then we began our long drive home at about 6:00PM.  This time only one car was leaving because Dirks family decided to stay a bit longer.  So we drove straight home with very little stops along the way.  Traded around all four of us so we were able to drive around the clock.

We got home Sunday (Oct 4th) just in time for my son’s family birthday party around 6:00PM.  His girlfriend and sister made the cake.

In summary, I’m grateful I was able to go to give love and support to my cousin Gail and her family.

My cousin Gail’s daughter wrote this tribute to her brother.  You can read it here.

Obituary Online

Obituary Notice

Note:  Gail’s family and mine grew up very close, close enough to be like siblings.  Gail was close to my age and we were like sisters as we grew up.

I3_3167_10032009CCSS_500This is my cousin’s family picture.

I3_3207_10032009_CCSS_500This is Gail and myself.

I3_3216_10032009_CCSS_500This is a picture of my sister Melinda, brother Doug, cousin Gail, and myself.

I3_3117_10032009_CCSS_500Some of Gail’s Neices.

I3_3173_10032009_CCSS_500Gail with Miles (husband) and all her siblings.

One of the First Freezes of Fall

One of the first freezes of fall on the South Fork outside of Cody, Wyoming.  A group of were driving up the South Fork to go to work when we came across this pretty ice scene.  We stopped for a brief couple of minutes so I could grab a couple of pictures.  I decided to try various settings just to see what I’d get.

All of them came out really cool.  This one below is one of my favorite ones.  I love how it looks.  The sun was shining behind the misting spraying water.  It got cold enough to freeze the water and the bright sunlight of the morning was glistening off the ice. It was such a beautiful scene to see and the camera captured it in a different but spectacular way.


10% Grade Scare…

Anyone who is familiar with driving in mountains know that a 10% grade is pretty steep. One has to be prepared to drive carefully in lower gears or risk burning out the brakes, etc. In fact, most local people know to have things checked over really well before attempting to go up or down these grades.

We were headed back from our family campout on the Big Horn Mountains coming off the top down into Lovell, WY. That grade is pretty steep and full of switchbacks (curves). It has at least 3-4 truck run-a-way ramps along the way. Before going down, signs warn everyone of the steep grades.

So here we are, our suburban has gear loaded on top, in the back, and items on a hitch cargo carrier. I’m driving down (husband wanted to read), as I have many times before.

Only one BIG problem. I was in 2nd gear and it didn’t seem to work…with the engine slowing me down. So I slowed down and shifted into 1st gear. Again the motor was not holding me back as it should have so I was using my brakes a lot.

This is not good to use those breaks a lot because it overheats those brake pads and they almost become fluid. I knew it wasn’t good so I was trying to take it easy on the breaks but then you can’t go around sharp curves at a high rate of speed.

Here I was doing almost 45-50 mph easy in 1st gear. So I finally got to a spot that had a pullout and stopped. I had to really apply those brakes before they really worked. As soon as I stopped, smoke billowed out of my front tires. Another BAD sign!

So we waited for over 2 hours for those brakes to cool down. They were too hot to even put your hand next to the wheel. As we waited, we tried to think of what our plan of action would be.

The first one was to wait for the brakes to cool down. Obviously our transmission wasn’t shifting properly to the lower gears (of which we were unaware of till then-bad time to find out too). We knew we had already strained our brakes coming that far down the mountain. We were half way down and still had more to go.

My husband thought that we should try the 4 wheel drive Low gear and that it might work to hold the engine back as we finished descending, without using the breaks much. Only problem: we weren’t sure if it worked properly either.

We said a family prayer. Then proceeded to try and shift it into 4 wheel low gear. With difficulty we finally got it. (Of course, that didn’t help my confidence in the vechicle). He had me drive, because of my driving background.

I was shaking as I gripped the steering wheel. Put my emergency flashers on. Made sure that everyone was fastened into their seatbelts and began down the steep grade.

We hit about 35 miles per hour and we got jolted a bit. The engine slowed us down. My husband didn’t realize that and started to freak me out with his comments. So we got around the steep curve and their was another pullout. I pulled over. I explained that I didn’t push on the gas or brake. We got out and felt the tire. They were ok.

So we decided to attempt the descent again. It worked! The engine was slowing the vehicle down, so we didn’t have to use the brakes at all.

Once we got down out of the steeper grades we tried switching the 4 wheel low gear back to the normal 2 wheel drive. After much difficulty we were able to get it back.

We got home safely, but realizing that we will need to get a new transmission. At least we got down off the mountain safely. I’ve been over mountain passes many a times and I don’t think I have felt as nervous as I did this time. It sure helps to have a vehicle that is working properly at such critical times. Thank goodness we decided to leave the camper home on this trip!! Thank goodness we didn’t have my 16 year old driving. Both could have been NOT GOOD!

The Road

The Road

Above Picture:  Here is the road from the pullout that we stopped at to let the breaks cool down.  This is looking down to the next bend in the road that we still had to go down.

View Down

View Down

Above Picture:  This is taken from the pullout that we were parked at for two hours waiting for the breaks to cool off.  This is looking down over the edge to the roadway below that we’ll be traveling.

The Big View

The Big View

Above Picture:  This is the view from the same pullout that we waited at for the breaks to cool down.  This is looking out over the basin towards Yellowstone Park area way in the distance.

Fenced View

Fenced View

Above Picture:  Some of the pullouts have this tall chain link fence up and around the edge to prevent people from falling over the cliff while looking at the view.  This is looking somewhat northwest.

My daughter spent some of her waiting time taking pictures as my husband and I figured out a plan. Believe it or not I was too occupied in this situation to even think about photographing the area.