Behind the Photo Fridays / Photography

The Grandest View

The Grandest View

The Grandest View

Our summer of fun was about to come to an end. My cousin Aubrey was heading back to her home out west all too soon, but there was more fun to be had. We all decided to meet up at Hoffman Hills to watch the sun set.

Dad, mom, Aubrey, and I pulled into the lot at the bottom of the hill; Ike and Janell were already there waiting for us. We unloaded ourselves, grabbed cameras and water, and doused each other in bug spray. We were ready!

Up the little hill we went, along the flat path that passes by the pretty flowers, up and down the big dip, and finally up the biggest hill.

I was slow. I had to stop and rest a lot, and dad hung back with me and waited while I chugged water and tried to breathe. Eventually we made it to the top of the big hill where I collapsed on the bench with the rest of my crazy family. After a little more resting, we all tromped up the many stairs to the top of the fire tower.

Again, I made it up the stairs last, but I made it! I collapsed in a pile on the floor and ever-thoughtful Janell came and laid next to me while I recovered. After a decent number of awkward selfies, we got up and checked out the view.

It was golden hour and the sky was beautiful. The rolling green hills of Wisconsin were aglow, showing off every shade of green. The farms looked small and picturesque. I would say it was serene. But – it wasn’t!

It was my family up there so things were a little… humorous! Lots of laughter, silly jokes, funny pictures, and overall noise. We heard some other people coming and tried to scare them away with obnoxiousness. It worked! Oh, and how could I forget about the spitting contest from the top of the tower? It was a lot of good clean fun – if you were in need of a spit-shine!

We were close to getting locked in the park so we hustled back down the hill. Aubrey and Janell disappeared in the woods for a while and I kept thinking they were going to jump out at me any second and scare the snot out of me.

We taught Aubs how to braid some local weeds (not weed, weeds!). Eventually we made it out of the park, late, but not locked in. We headed back to my house to light off some giant sparklers and fireworks Janell got us for the 4th. She had been saving them until we could all light them off together.

That night we officially made Janell part of the Siler family. Her initiation was some memorable stargazing. It was another fun night of summer fun that we thought would be one of many. It is now a cherished memory as we mourn the loss of one gone too soon.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I captured The Grandest View. (Click to Tweet.) But you know what? That photograph wasn’t really the grandest view that night. This was the grandest view.

Front: Ike Siler, Josie Siler Back: Aubrey Wait, Janell Javis, Annie Siler, Randy Siler

Front: Ike Siler, Josie Siler
Back: Aubrey Wait, Janell Javis, Annie Siler, Randy Siler

And maybe this!

Hmmm, I don't remember who won the spitting contest!

Hmmm, I don’t remember who won the spitting contest!

This Sunday, September 11th, we celebrate Janell’s life. She was a treasure and we miss her so much. If you’re in the area, please come celebrate with us. Information on the memorial service can be found here.

Until we meet again,


About Author

I'm the author of "Howie's Broken Hee-Haw," a photographer, and lover of all things adventurous. I'll walk alongside you and help you discover joy for your journey and freedom in Christ!


  • Randy Siler
    September 9, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Tears flowing again Josie!!! Great Job, Great Memory!!



    • Josie Siler
      September 9, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      It is such a wonderful memory. That was an incredible evening that we can all cherish and remember with smiles and laughter!

  • Annie
    September 9, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Precious memories I’ll never forget♡

  • Shauna
    September 10, 2016 at 11:47 pm


  • Shauna
    September 10, 2016 at 11:48 pm



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