|Birth name||Crystal Louise Chladek|
|Birth date||May 1975|
|Birth place||Glen Ellyn|
|Biological father||Al Buck|
Crystal, like Rhonda Whitsell / Scooter is a recurring character in many of Wes's books.
Crystal was the first child of Karin and Pete Chladek; born in May 1975. It wasn't until the fall of 1999 that she discovered that her biological father is Al Buck who as a boatman on a Canyon Tour in 1974 had a Canyon Romance with her mother Karin. She has a younger half-brother, Jon and half-sister, Nanci, both of which grew up thinking that she was their full sister.
Crystal is best described as an Amazon; she is tall, muscular, with a healthy appetite, and a real outdoors addict. In college at Northern Michigan University, Crystal was a roomate of Myleigh Harris and a close friend to Randy Clark. She worked summers as a White water rafting guide on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.
After graduation, Crystal was not interested in settling down and instead embarked on a variety of adventures, including a ride on a fishing boat down the Alaska Inner passage to Seattle. In the course of that trip, Crystal and the skipper endured a severe storm and muddled through. Another year saw her crew a sailing yacht from California to Hawaii and back. Again, there was a storm which slowed them down, although Crystal did some rigging repairs suspended from a bos'ns chair far above the deck. She spent one winter in Spearfish Lake living in a camper and tending the 120 sled dogs of Tiffany and Josh Archer. In 1998 she hooked up with Canyon Tours and within a year was a trip leader. She has continued working with Josh and Tiffany in the winter off-season.
Crystal is described (in The Lone Ranger) as:
- She was a big girl, five-nine, maybe five-ten, and big-boned. Not slender, but lean, with not an ounce of fat on her; well muscled -- not like a body builder, but you could see the muscles working, and obviously strong, and muscle tone at least as good as most female jocks, maybe better. A bigger bust than you'd expect on a swimmer, but not that big. Skin a touch on the dark side, not from a tanning booth, either.
She became a real outdoors nut in high school, and before college (Northern Michigan University (NMU), in the Upper Peninsula) she persuaded her parents to send her to OLTA (Outdoor Leadership Training Academy in Idaho). Not into team sports, she excelled in almost anything else athletic, especially if outdoors; including (but not limited to):
- Swimming (she was roped in by chance by the NMU coach and set a pool record, but adamantly refused to join the team); also was a lifeguard
- Kayaking - she frequently taught kayaking in the pool at the NMU PEIF (See Physical Education and Instructional Facility (PEIF)
- Judo (black belt)
- Ski jumping
- Small boat handling (had seamanship course and holds a U. S. Coast Guard six-passenger license)
- White water rafting
- Skiing (1997-98 was instructor in Colorado)
How do you pronounce 'Chladek'? There is a discussion in the Spearfishlakestales forum - "How do you pronounce": according to Wes, he had always pronounced it mentally as 'Schladek'.