Suzi’s Yarns ~

In 1970 we boated from Needles to Lake Havasu on the mighty Colorado and spent the day walking the newly assembled London Bridge. We’d been once before when the bridge was just a pile of numbered blocks, so it was fun to see the completed project.  We got a late start back and it was getting dark while cruising thru the canyon. The Deuces Wild didn’t have enough power to run the engine and the light at the same time, so we were using a low powered flashlight … when we ran aground on a sandbar. When we hit, my stepmom Jeanne stood up putting “one” foot in the bucket sitting next to her that my baby sister put the fish in that she caught earlier, and started yelling “OMG we’re sinking” … now mind you it was just “one” foot that was going down – not the other!  She and Dad had had way too many beers that day!  Somehow we made it home safe and sound, tired, but with many a good laugh to remember.  Fun memories!


I’m From Lizards and Snakes


1987 Deschutes River Memories

We were camping on a bluff overlooking the river in a little Shasta trailer pulled by our Nissan.  The truck had a canopy where Ryan and his friend Chris were sleeping.  My niece Audrey came with us but had a tent she set up at the base of a hill just across from the truck.  That first night … it rained.  Not just a little, but a LOT!  Soon poor Audrey had a stream of mud running through her tent, so she first climbed in with the boys, but their smelly feet drove her to come knocking on our door.

The next day dawned bright though not warm enough for the guys.  But we girls were determined to raft so we had our boat in the water before noon with the guys driving along the dirt road to film us – knowing that we surely couldn’t survive without them on the paddles, and ready to capture any flips or disasters on camera.

We were doing just fine until the boat ahead of us clipped our bow causing the 2 people in the rear to flip off … however the 2 in the front never even noticed they were gone until we saw the guys waving and yelling for us to help them!  Audrey was holding tight to the back of the raft while Wanita was floating to the side.  I went for Audrey who kept shouting “I’m gonna die … don’t let me die!!  I don’t want to die!  Please don’t let me die Aunt Suzi!!”   Wanita was pretty calm about the whole thing … and dang it – yes, the guys did get pictures of the whole thing and never let us live it down. __________________________________________________________________________________

In November of 1989 we were on our way to Cancun and had a 3-hour layover in Florida. We were sitting in a dazed state from our early morning flight just sorta staring without really seeing, watching the folks from an incoming flight coming thru from security and then go up the escalator to customs. All of a sudden I saw a man who had to ‘duck’ in order to clear the door frame – now that caught my eye!

I knew my uncle was coming back from Cancun about the same time we were going – but since he lived in Cincinnati, I had no idea what his port of entry would be. When I saw that man duck – I knew it could only be him … for my uncle was over 6’6” tall!!!  I bolted from my chair and ran to the window separating the ramp from the waiting area – pounding on the glass I yelled Uncle Bill, Uncle Bill. He didn’t hear … but the man behind him on the escalator did and I pointed to the ‘tall’ guy.  At that point the ramp had gone out of site but a minute later my Uncle appeared at the upper rail waving down at me, blew me a kiss – and then disappeared out of sight.

Uncle Bill


 In June 1992 I was working at a small travel agency where every now and then I got some free flights.  So my cousin Teresa and I flew down to southern Cal one weekend to surprise my mom for a quick visit.  My kid sister picked us up and let us borrow her car the next day after dropping her off at work … the only problem was that she worked at Camp Pendleton where there was a strict security point you had to pass thru.  Going was no worry – they knew her car and she just flashed her badge on the way in. Coming back at 5:00 was another deal. I figured if I drove thru the far outside lane and flashed her ID badge, they wouldn’t see me as well or notice that I was a brunette instead of blonde … I was wrong. Two young very good looking officers waved us over and took us into security where they drilled us unmercifully and gave us a very hard time, threatening my sister’s job and clearances – although doing so while smiling, almost on the verge of flirting the whole time. I think she got a minor demerit or slap on the wrist – but my cousin and I got one heck of a memorable afternoon!


November 1990 – We were staying at the Paradise Hotel on Ambergris Caye in Belize. We me a gal from our own town in Escondido California where we’d lived for many years.  She stayed a few weeks longer than we did, sending us a letter when she returned home, telling us she got in on a mini hurricane which flooded the hotel yard and tore some roofs off the huts where we’d been.


In 1988 one HOT tender dry 4th of July on the Deschutes River, there were no fires or fireworks allow. This was our first time camping at the city park right in town, with green grass and lots of shade.  We were relaxing under the trees as the evening started to cool down, when high up on the bluff right in front of us came music. Soft and sweet the sound of a trumpet went floating up the canyon.  “Oh Beautiful”, “My Country Tis of Thee”, “This Land is Your Land”, “The Battle hymn of the Republic” and the “Star Spangled Banner”.  Each song brought loud cheers that could be heard up and down the river.  “More, more” we cried!  Whistles echoed from other canyons where the river wound round the bluff.  He played for over an hour … it was one of the most memorable 4th we’ve ever had!!


In 2007 we were about to take a trip on   the American Queen sternwheeler, floatin on the mighty Mississippi.   Our flight was on a Sunday morning and we mistakenly thought ‘how busy could it be’ and ignored the 2-hr “suggestion” for arriving early.  When we got to the airport the line was out the door for check in.  We noticed the couple ahead of us had the same cruise tags on their luggage as ours.  We became close friends as we inched through the line then sitting back to back both going and coming home.  We were together all week on the boat and they were the very last people we saw when we got home.   Their son was picking them up but was delayed an hour, so we sat with them until he came to get one last hour of visiting in with Harold and Louis Miles.


In August of 2006 My mom was dying … she didn’t know it yet but her kids did.  She had 4 major things going against her so if one didn’t do it, the other ones would.  I flew to Pueblo to be with her and give my sister a reprieve from watching over her.   She couldn’t get enough air at home from her portable tanks, so we had to move her into a care home where she could get “piped in” oxygen.   That was an ordeal in itself … the hospital wanted her discharged, her ‘retirement home’ didn’t have air and we had to find a place for her – NOW.  Only trouble was, as we were walking out the door the hospital suddenly had a fire drill … all door were locked until the ‘all clear’ call came in.  We were totally sweating, panicking over running out of time.  But find a place we did and it was really pretty wonderful … great people and best of all – they had a little ice cream parlor!  Mom would take her portable air off to lick the cone, gasping before it was done!

I had spent the previous day polishing the inside and out of her car … waxing, Armoralling, vacuuming, windexing … It was probably the hottest day of the summer, but it took my mind of my troubles and it looked fantastic.  I took it by to show her thinking it would be like seeing an old friend … but I was wrong.  She wasn’t interested and probably felt bad at not being able to drive it.

 I went out to buy a shelf for her room to make it look homier.  I was on my way back just approaching the ramp to the highway, when the car died and black smoke started coming up out of the dash! I couldn’t believe what was happening and didn’t know if I should bolt and run fearing an explosion, or try to put it out myself. There were several guys in the store I coasted to a stop near, glued to the window watching me. I motioned to call for help … not that I didn’t have a cell phone, but my first call was to my baby sister to commiserate with. When the fire department showed up, I was worried about other cars going around so close to me – but they let me know that cars only blow up in the movies. They couldn’t get the hood open to put the fire out since it had fused to the body … so it just kept burning, melting the tires.  So there I sat, in the heat, not knowing who to call or what to do.   I called my Aunt Em who came to get me, and my who’d know how to handle things.   We had the car towed to a repair/scrap yard in hopes that Bob had been right in saying there was still some value in it … if there was, we didn’t get it.  Then I had to go face my mom to tell her that her beautiful shiny clean “ol friend” had passed on to “the great parking garage in the sky”.


We spent a week at Mammoth Mountain in 1976 – When hiking we found there was a restaurant at the halfway point of the chair lift … we were hungry and wanted lunch … the only trouble was that the lift didn’t stopped there on the way up, just coming back down.  When we stopped at the top to take in all the beauty, Ricky panicked and wasn’t about to ride the lift back down.  So, we walked … me with a little 4yr old, hungry and wearing flimsy sandals … 4 hours later the only thing that saved us from divorce court was that my in-laws were joining us later that day to stay for the rest of our trip – so I was forced to be nice.


In 1987 while testing out a new 4wd car and driving the snowy deserted roads of the Washington gorge, we high centered and were stuck.  There was NO one around, branches were covered deep in white and we had no tools.   I walked one direction and Ricky the other to see if we could find help.  All of a sudden I spied what appeared to be a shovel handle sticking up out of a snow drift.  As I grabbed the tip and pulled it out, I’m sure I heard the angels on high singing, sorta like young Arthur did when he pulled the sword out of the stone and became King.  Soon we were dug out and on our way.  But before leaving I found a scrape of paper to write a Thank You note on and stuck it down in the handle, leaving it back sticking out of drift for someone else to discover.


1959 – I remember one summer vacation where we went up to the Hualapai Mountains near Kingman Az. My sisters, mom and I went up to the cabin earlier in the day, and then my dad brought Bill and his friend Greg in sometime after midnight.  I can’t remember how old I was but just after everyone finally got back to sleep – I woke them all up with a bloodcurdling scream after I rolled off of the top bunk bed!

Hualapai cabin


August 1994 on the Snake River – Early one morning as we sat having our coffee at the confluence of the Snake and Salmon rivers, we watched as a helicopter came zooming up the canyon.  As we went racing for our cameras to get the shot …  it turned and headed back at us, landing right beside our camp. They were looking for a jet boater who hadn’t showed up the night before. All the jet boats we’d seen looked exactly alike, so we weren’t really any help.

 Then the same day a group of 8 Portland rafts beached at our camp waiting for a jet boat pick-up back to Lewiston. They had broken down their rafts and placed all their gear in nice neat little piles then sat back to wait for the boat. Only when it got there … it was too shallow at that spot for the boat to pull in, so they had move it all down river about 800′. They were faced with carrying all their gear (8 rafts, 8 coolers and all the paraphernalia for 18 people) down to the boat. But Ricky came up with a great idea … he used one of our rafts to ferry it all. They piled every raft and cooler on Jon’s boat and floated it down and around the sandbar. They made 4 trips in all, leaving hardly any to be hand carried.  They were oh so happy and we made lots of new best friends that day!

Snake River 1
Snake River 2
Snake River 3


Ryan’s Prized BB

When Ryan was around 12, he and his best buddy Jerome went out hunting gophers. They were both sitting in our cherry tree patiently waiting for the varmint to surface below, where they hoped to plug him with his bb gun. But just as the gopher showed his head, Jerome who’d tired of waiting, swung down out of the tree – at the same time that Ryan took his shot … only when the tree limb swayed so did his gun and he shot himself in his foot! When I looked at it later that day, it seemed only bruised and that the bb hadn’t actually gone in.

Years later while we were lying on opposite ends of the bed talking one nite and he had his size 13 big feet in my face, I notice his big toe had a ‘lump’ in it. I said “what the heck is that!” He said “it’s my bb!” Well needless to say I was shocked and took him to the doctor right away to have it removed. Only the doctor surprised me by asking RYAN if he wanted it out saying it wasn’t hurting anything and there was no danger of it causing any problems. Ryan said no – so the bb stayed.

When he was 28ish married and hosting a Christmas Eve party one year, he came up to me smiling and said “hold out your hand … I have a special gift for you”. Well as soon as it hit my palm I knew what it was. After dancing one nite and having his foot stomped on, his toe swelled up and the bb popped out!!


Billy's Fort


Oatman, Az

My honey proposed to me there in 1971 … (well sorta kinda). We were sitting in the saloon, me having a ‘sarsaparilla’ and him a beer, watching the mules come in to wet their whistles.  He leaned back in the chair and said “I feel married”. I said “and you’re not running away?”.  I think it did scare him a bit because it actually took him another day to really pop the question 🙂


 The Dead Mouse

One day Rick and I had just come home from shopping to see 4 little ten year old boys coming from the house, headed for our camp trailer that they were using for a sleep over. When they saw us come in they sorta hid the matches they were holding, and complained about the ‘dead mouse’ smell in the trailer. They were wanting to burn incense to mask the odor. We went in to see how bad it was and were over come by the smell of GAS. One of the boys had turned the stove dials on and thought “how dumb it doesn’t even work” – then walked away leaving it open. Had we driven in just 5 minutes later, we would have witnessed our little trailer with 4 young boys going up in a huge explosion!!


Albert Youst

2003 – Shortly after we moved my mother-in-law up from California we took her to see the beautiful Oregon coast.  Half way there we stopped just outside of McMinnville at the Lawrence Gallery for an ‘art break’.  Terry was an artist and enjoyed the tour.  As a tall good looking business guy in cowboy boots came up to show us around I noticed his name badge … Gary Miller-Youst.  I commented that I had Youst in my family but he brushed it off pointing out that his Yost had a U in it and not real common.  I told him my Youst did also and again, casually brushing me off said “Well if you have an Albert then we may be related”.  Excitedly I stopped and said “I’ve got Albert!”

Well that still didn’t impress him much probably thinking it was still a real long shot.  When we got home I copied the photo and sent the original to Gary at the gallery.   I missed his call but the message said “Albert was my grandfather and taught me all I know about horses – thanking me very much”.  We didn’t exchange contact info or keep in touch, but I later learned he was not only a famous artist – but an actor as well!  Technology has now brought us together to at least view snippets of each other’s lives – thank you Facebook!


I ran across this old photo and thought wow I was just around 2 years old with that bandage on my foot … I remember playing ‘Red Rover Red Rover’ in the neighbor’s yard next door to us and cutting my foot on a broken glass. My mom took me to Doctor Andy’s (?) office right next door to the corner drug counter where I serenaded them with my screams as my foot was sewn up!! Funny … I thought I was lots older than the picture shows –

me w cut foot


We were living in Redding and just before Ryan’s second birthday, he disappeared!  Now he had pulled some Houdini acts before like hiding in my large Tupperware drawer and pushing all the containers towards the front so when I opened the bin I couldn’t see him.  And another time when he climbed to the back of my ‘lazy Susan’ cabinet and just laughed when I called frantically.  But this time – he was gone!  We were out in the tiny back yard area just outside the kitchen when the phone rang.  Now mind you it was a wrong number so I quickly hung up and went back out.  I called … no answer.  I ran first to make sure the pool gate was still closed and locked.  I ran out to the opposite corner of the property where we’d climb the fence to watch the trains go by down below – but no Ryan.  I screamed his name running down our long gravel drive way towards the heavily traveled road to where our mailbox was.  He was used to going out with me and loved opening the box to see what was inside.  He was nowhere in sight.  Frantic I ran back to the house screaming the whole time.  Another look at the pool, then the fence, then back to the mailbox.  I started to turn when I heard a whistle … ACROSS the main road and down a couple of hundred feet, there was an old man holding my son.  I was almost hysterical by then.  I ran, I grabbed and ran home, never stopping to thank the man or get his name – something I’ll always regret.  I was just so relieved I couldn’t wait to get back safe inside our home.


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