Granite Lake

Granite Lake
4th of July backpacking trip 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Change of Seasons

Saying goodbye to summer was difficult for me this year. Our summer was cut short by a major surgery and also by the sale of Big Sky Transfer and the resulting new jobs for both Vern and I. We had a few really fun outings early in the summer - mostly hiking and rafting. While I really enjoyed the new raft and the little bit of hiking we did, I missed out on the one activity I love more than almost any other ooutdoor activity - waterskiing!

Early in the summer, the lake was too cold to even think about skiing (I guess I have become a little bit picky) and by the time the lakes warmed up enough to ski in, it was time for my surgery. I can't believe that we didn't get out on the lake even once this summer! Neither our little fishing boat nor Kelly's boat (which we use for skiing) touched the water at all!

It's hard to explain why I love being out on the lake so much. Number one, I LOVE to slalom! I started skiing when I was about 8 (?) and was up on one ski by the time by the time I was 12. I was already addicted to water skiing, but learning how to slalom took my love of the sport to a whole new level! I am never content; I am constantly trying to perfect my form and lean a little further in order to create a bigger "rooster tail." I'm not an expert by any means, but I do a pretty nice job! I can't imagine ever getting tired of water skiing and hope that I can continue to improve.

Aside from water-skiing; I love being on the lake for many other reasons. I think that my love of the lake comes from the emotional attachments I formed to the lake as a child. I have so many beautiful memories - from as young as I can remember through high school and now as an adult. These memories are triggered by the sights, smells, and sounds of the lake. While THE lake is Swan Lake, the sights, smells, and sounds of most any lake invokes the same happy, warm, fuzzy memories within me.

The feeling of the sun beating down - warming my skin - and the gentle rocking of the boat as the waves pass beneath it is a feeling that makes me undescribably happy and content. There aren't many other scenarios in which I can really let go and relax as fully as I do when I am in the boat out on the lake. As I lay on the boat soaking up the warmth of the sun, I hear a mixture of sounds: other boats buzzing by in the distance, kids playing and swimming, and the delighted squeals of people flying by on tubes. Sometimes there isn't much to hear other than the sound of the water gently lapping at the sides of the boat and maybe a bird off in the distance.

The lake has a special smell. Most people will think this is really weird - unless you have experienced it personally, you won't understand what I am talking about. The "lake" smell I am referring to is a combination of the outdoors - trees, water, grass - and the smell of the boat...the wet, musty smell of the boat upholstery and lifejackets with a hint of boat oil. All of these "boat" smells topped off by a layer of Coppertone sunscreen are my idea of aromatherapy! Like I said: if you haven't experienced it first-hand, you won't understand - you'll have to trust me on this one!

Anyway, to make a long story short - I really love all of the outdoor activities we engage in, but none quite as much as being on the lake. Being on the lake - smelling, seeing, feeling, and hearing everything that defines the lake experience - transports me back to some of the happiest, most carefree times in my life. Ahhhhh...the lake!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just a few thoughts:

Our lives have changed dramatically in this past month, which has caused some serious reflection on my part...here are some bit's and pieces...

What do we do when the "going gets tough?" We pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, grin and bear it, get a stiff upper lip, count our many blessings, and DEAL WITH IT! After all; allowing ourselves to wallow in self pity would serve no purpose at all! On the contrary; we "pep talk" our way through life's challenges in order to make it through.

Now that the "burden" is lifted and we have something much better to compare it to, we see the reality of our former situation from a clearer perspective. It's as if I am finally "allowing" myself to acknowledge how totally depressing, defeating, hopeless, negative, and frustrating our work situation has actually been. Since Vern and I worked together in the same negative environment and because it was a family business, the anger, resentment, frustration, and general negativity overflowed from our work into our marriage and home. We never really fought against each other, but the situation was like a poison that affected each of us individually. I have described it as "sandpaper to my soul." I also spent quite a bit of emotional energy trying to counterbalance the effects of the "poison" - I was afraid that if I allowed the negativity to take root it would take us over completely. I also avoided "venting" my own feelings and frustrations for the very same reason.

Over the past 2-3 years, Vern and I have been very frustrated with our inability to maintain harmony and happiness in our home. We had come to the conclusion that we are "weak;" that something must be wrong with us! We have been upset with our individual selves and with each other for not being able to do more, be more patient, work harder, be happier, etc.

This morning, I had a neat little revelation; a "light bulb moment" of sorts. It suddenly dawned on me that we haven't been weak; we have actually been incredibly STRONG! The more I have allowed myself to relax and to refrain from the tiring task of convincing myself (and Vern) that things aren't that bad, we should be grateful, etc. - the more I understand what we have endured. Viewing our life from this perspective, I am amazed at what we have been able to accomplish and how much we have grown. Though this incredible growth has not been especially comfortable, we are better as individuals, as a couple, and as a family because of it.

I am very thankful for the years we had working at Big Sky. I am very grateful that we got to work together for so many years. Working at Big Sky afforded us many opportunities and priveleges that we would never have had working elsewhere. Unfortunately, the financial situation at Big Sky, along with the retirement of my father, brought an end to the "fringe" benefits and the cooperative working conditions we enjoyed. The job I once loved became dreary and depressing. Vern felt that no matter what he did or how much he did, it was never enough or good enough. The tension and - at times - animosity between my brother and us was unbearable. Big Sky had outlived it's usefulness.

Now Vern and I are both very excited about our new jobs. Hopelessness and frustration have been replaced with excitement, hope, happiness, and a new-found motivation and desire to progress and succeed. We both feel a huge sense of relief and the stress is gone.

I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us; it is really inspiring and comforting to be able to look back and have a greater understanding of why things happen the way they do and to have a glimpse of how He works miracles - big and small - in our lives.

Monday, July 20, 2009

So much has changed in the past two weeks! After 41 years of business, Big Sky Transfer & Storage has sold it's assets to another (much larger) United Van Lines agent called Mergenthaler Transfer & Storage. Mergenthaler is based in Helena, MT with agancies in Bozeman, MT; Kalispell, MT; Salt Lake City, UT; and Portland, OR; they also have a large freight division called MTS Freight.

So....what does all of this mean to the Kersey family? WELLLL...Vern and I were both offered positions with Mergenthaler, but I am the only one of us that opted to stay aboard. It was a hard decision; mostly because they don't want me to go to school for the first year (at least) because they need a full time commitment to get the new agency up and running. After all of the blood, sweat, and tears - and HOURS of homework - devoted toward my goal of applying for nursing school next spring, I had a hard time accepting the fact that my plan would be interrupted. Since we can't really afford for me to drop my income all together and go to school, it seems that the choice was made for me. I must say, however, that after the reality started to sink in, I felt a huge sense of relief. The past two years of juggling work, family, and school has been really tough on me and the family. Now that I have had a chance to think about it; I think the break will be good for all of us. After the year is up I can re-evaluate the situation and decide where to go from there!

I am really excited to work for such a great company. I am both Operations Manager and the Move Coordinator, which will definately keep me busy! I am thrilled to have the structure and resources to do my job the "right" way. I will be doing the same thing I have always done at Big Sky, but in a different way; Mergenthaler has a system and a checklist for everything, which I love. This is an opportunity for me to learn alot and to expand my skills.

Vern has actually been casually looking for a new job for quite a while - not agressively, but keeping his ear to the ground. He has had his eye on a particular company, Food Services of America, for about a year because they are a great company with great pay and benefits. FSA is also a (Teamsters) union shop, so the union benefits that Vern accumulated at Big Sky (before Big Sky withdrew from the union last summer) will just pick right back up. FSA only has 26 drivers in Montana and it is a really hard company to get hired into because they have very little turnover. Anyway...the very week that we found out that Mergenthaler was buying Big Sky, Vern was offered a job at FSA! We are adjusting to his new schedule and to not being together 24/7, but we are ecstatic! Vern began working last week and LOVES it so far! The best part about it is that it is almost totally STRESS FREE! At the end of the day, he sets the brake and walks away!

So; there you have the "nutshell" version of what is going on with the Kersey bunch! The kids seem to be rolling with the punches as usual...I am so blessed to have such great kids! We had alot of fun hiking, camping, and rafting in June and over the 4th of July, but summer is going to be cut short for us because I am going in for some "female" surgery next week that will severely limit my activities for the rest of the summer. I will miss two weeks of work, so I will be at home going crazy...actually I will probably be drugged up and sleeping most of the time. Vern will be changing to night shift sometime in the next two weeks, so we will also be adjusting to him working from 4:00 in the afternoon to about 4:00 in the morning. Hopefully, he will get a day route soon but until then we are just sooooo happy that he has a better job.

I'll try to fill in details about the kids and their activities with my next post...whenever that may be!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Last week we were wearing shorts on Tuesday, winter coats on Wednesday! The temp dropped 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. Now, we are at the end of a massive snowstorm; we got something like 26 inches in two days! Most people grumble about it, but I think it's great! The way I see it, we need the moisture. After all, nothing ruins a summer faster than fire restrictions! Not being able to have campfires or, even worse, not being able to go camping/backcountry because of forest fires or the threat of fires is a BIG bummer!

Meanwhile, Spring semester is almost over; I have two online tests to take for my Medical Terminology course and my semester final in Algebra is next Wednesday. After that, I have 2 weeks off and I'm back at it again! I am taking another Algebra course, a Psychology course, and an intro to Nursing course.

My big sister, Linda, passed away in April, which was a very sad and emotionally draining event. The silver lining in the cloud was getting to see some of my neices and nephews and their little ones...I am pretty sure that I have the most adorable, smartest, sweetest little Great neices and nephews ever! It is so fun to be around these cute little babies and toddlers and to get to know them a little bit. Each one of them has their own unique little personality and mannerisms; they are so precious!

I am hoping that things pick up at work; nothing drives me crazier than having to sit in the office with nothing to do. I suppose I could clean out a file cabinet or organize safety and training material...NOT! I would much rather be running like crazy all day long than sitting around waiting for the phone to ring!

Somewhere between work and school, I am eagerly anticipating being able to get out camping; better yet: Backpacking! The problem with early season backpacking is that the nights are still pretty cold - especially in the mountains at the higher elevations. When we packed into Bear Lake (which is at about 7,000 feet) last July, there was snow! Our sleeping bags are ultra light (less than 12 oz and smaller than a loaf of bread) and not warm enough for the cooler weather. Unless I get alot bigger and stronger, I won't be switching to a bigger, heavier (warmer) bag! Also, spring and early summer stream and river levels make certain trails very dangerous or impossible to ford because the water is so high and fast. The "up" side to the increased water flow is having more rafting opportunities! So, any way you look at it, there is a positive side! I can't wait!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Whew! What a week! We are just wrapping up "cookie season" at Big Sky, which is a relief. We distribute the Girl Scout Cookies throughout the western half of Montana, which is a huge job. There are approximately 40,000 (that's 8 full semi loads!) cases that we receive into our warehouse on pallets and break down into individual orders for each town/city. Each order has to be hand stacked in the trucks; some of the runs are done with smaller trucks and others are done in full size semi trucks/trailers.

Vern is the cookie KING! He knows exactly how to stack the cases so they fit tightly, how many cases he can fit on each truck or trailer, and how to plan the routes in the most efficient, cost-effective ways. Believe me, it isn't nearly as easy as it may sound! Each and every town, big or small, gets a hand stacked and delivered order. For example: we drive to Lincoln and drop off 10 cases of Thin Mints, 15 cases of Samoas, 3 cases of Lemon Cremes, etc. etc. Then off to Seeley Lake to deliver their "custom" order. Some of the places we have to deliver can be very challenging to get into with a semi truck; expecially when there is snow, ice, or mud. The larger cities are a bit easier because they get so many cases, they usually end up having them delivered to a warehouse or large storage unit rather than each leader's home. With these larger orders, we are able to leave some of the cookies palletized and thake them off with a forklift, which is really nice.

Every year, Vern, Trevor, and I take the route that goes up through Seeley Lake, Kalispell, Libby (because his parents live there) then down through the Thompson Falls Valley to home...(many little towns in between not named...approximately 12-15 towns in all). This route consists of over 5,000 cases and fills the entire trailer (53 feet). The route takes about 3-4 days of very HARD running...just go, go go! We always take an extra day to spend in Libby to visit Vern's parents and sneak up to Turner Mountain to ski, which makes it fun.

I love cookie season because it is one of the very rare opportunities I get to leave town and drive. I also love to drive the truck on crappy, icy roads because it is great experience for me. Even though it is very hard work and the schedule is a bit stressful, I really enjoy "our run" because most of the leaders have known us for years and we have built a rapport with them. They always comment on how big Trevor is getting and how fun it is to see him grow. Trevor is a hard little worker and an expert cookie handler (he started when he was 3). He can handle cookies better than some of the adults! The three of us have a system; together, we are like a well oiled machine.

Anyway, goodbye to another cookie season; I'm not sure if there will be another one or not because of the financial condition of Big Sky. Actually, last year was supposed to be the last because Big Sky was only 3 months away from being taken over by another agent. The sale fell through at the very last minute, which was devastating. On the way home from our run last year, I cried all the way from Bowman's Corner to Great Falls because I was so sad that I would never get to do another cookie run, would probably never drive truck again (further than accross town) and mostly because my little boy would never get to go on a cookie run again. We'll see what next year brings; I just try not to think about it too much.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wow! We just spent the most amazing weekend skiing/boarding at Big Sky and Moonlight Basin (over by Bozeman, MT)! Trevor is on Showdown's "Team Extreme," which he has participated in for the past six Saturdays. There are 8 kids from 8 to 14 on the team, which is not a competitive team; though it is based on ability. The kids learn so much and have alot of fun. Anyway...the last weekend of the course is always reserved for a "road trip" to two different ski resorts, which is tons of fun and gives the kids some experience at other resorts. Because we were part of a "group," we got killer deals at the hotel and the resorts, which made it affordable enough for us to go (just Vern, Trev and I). The weather was gorgeous and we met alot of people. The freestyle team (high school kids) and the Peak Performance team (adults) went too, so we had a total of 45 people from Showdown. he highlight of the day at Big Sky was riding the tram up to almost 12,000 feet and skiing down; it was hard to even breath up that far but the view and the skiing were awesome! The bummer of the trip was on the last run of the day at Big Sky when we went down a DOUBLE black diamond run (with the kids) and ended up in a closed area. The kids just scatter and we always make sure they go first (in case someone gets hurt, loses a ski, etc) and by the time we realized that they were heading into a closed area, nobody could turn around because it was SO STEEP, ICY, ROCKY, and in the TREES...YIKES! Anyway, I followed this little girl named Hannah, and when she tried to turn, she caught an edge ande began falling; she rolled for a while and ended up going off a 20-30 foot cliff. I felt so helpless because I was right behind her but couldn't get to her quick enough (not that I would have been able to stop her). So...we ended up calling the ski patrol and they had to ambulance her to Bozeman, etc...ended up being her ACL (knee)...OUCH! It was probably one of the stickiest situations I have ever been in because of the ice; it was pretty much impossible to turn around and we ended up inching down on our edges. The next day at Moonlight Basin, we skiied with the parents of a little girl in Trevor's group (who are both instructors at Showdown and really amazing skiiers). I learned tons from them; I think my mogul skiing improved more in one day than all season so far! They are a really fun couple and we are hoping to spend more time with them in the future...maybe backpacking, rafting, kayaking, etc. Today was a little bit rough at school and work trying to stay awake/pay attention after such an exhausting weekend...but here we are, back to the grind...life goes on!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Update

I really need to be better at blogging (as if anyone really reads it anyway)! But honestly, I love reading other people's blogs...it is a really fun way to keep up with what is going on in the lives of friends and family who live too far away to see very often! My neice, Tasha is probably the most "faithful" bloggger I know; she always has the cutest photos and is so good about keeping her blog updated with recent events, etc. It is fun to see how her little family is growing...thanks Tasha!

I can't beleive it has been almost a year since my last entry; I will try to give a "nutshell" update:

Anyway, there are alot of changes at the Kersey household since my last blog! I just finished my first semester as a college student since I went to Montana State University 22 years ago. I only took 2 classes and did very well in both, but I still have no idea why I am spending all of this time and effort; I just cannot figure out what I really want to do! I know I need to do something because the future of my employment is so uncertain; even if I still have a job five years from now, there is virtually no chance (outside of a literal miracle) that I will be able to progress. So, here I am trying to figure out what to do with my life!

Vern is still plugging along with me at Big Sky Transfer; the situation is tense but we are grateful that we still have an income and the flexibility Big Sky allows us to take care of our family.

Hunter changed jobs; he decided to work for a company that has potential for growth, which QLC did not. He works for a company called NEW...he is a computer help desk something-or-other and is very excited to have the opportunity to learn more about computer repair and is studying for a certification test of some sort...I'm not sure what the name of it is, I just know it will help him to advance. He has also been accepted at University of Great Falls (same school that I attend) and plans on going part time, probably in the evenings so he can keep his job. He still wants to be a High School Teacher.

Zach and Cassie broke up, which really shocked us all, and broke Zach's heart. Even though it has been devastating for Zach, it has been a catalyst for change in his life. He is also registered at UGF - full time - which he is really excited about. The best part of all is that he has signed up for two classes with ME! YEAH! I think it is so awesome that we are going to have classes together! Zach and Hunter plan on living in the dorms together...even though they have a home right here, they want the whole college experience. Also, after living on their own for awhile, they have gotten used to having their own "space." Since our house is very small, space is in short supply! They have also gotten used to hot showers in the morning and the luxury of 2 minutes to yourself in the bathroom (1 bathroom and 7 people is an ugly reality). I am excited for them both; I think it is going to be alot of fun for them.

Jake, Shelby, and Trevor are still at home, of course, and doing great! Jacob is taller than me now (no big suprise) and Shelby is cute as ever...Trevor is a sweet kid with many talents.

The best news of all is: SNOW SKIING/SNOW BOARDING SEASON IS HERE! Showdown opened on Friday and we were right there! It was AWESOME! The snow was great; lots of powder! We planned on going up again today but the weather was so bad and the roads were closed in the morning, so that idea went out the window at 6:00 this morning. Anyway, we will be there again next Saturday for sure! WAHOO!

Well, it's beddy-bye time so I'd better tuck in...for all of my adoring fans, I promise to be better at keeping you all updated!