Recent Random Thoughts

Hi, how is your week going? Mine is good….and almost over, yeh!!! Just a few more hours to go.

With no great workouts to share with you all since I am mostly just walking area trails and riding my bike giving my body time to heal, I thought I would share some random things today. My brain is often like a never ending trail to nowhere and sharing it sometimes helps relieve some of the “pressure” shall we say.

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I’ve been up to a lot but at the same time not so much….is that possible? Makes no sense I know but that is how I feel lately. Summer has not been what I thought it would be and now we are into August and we all know what that means….it’s almost over! It’s weird to think my mind still runs on the school calendar when my son has not been in grade school for years already. How do us moms break out of this and just take every day as it is….I haven’t figured that out quite yet but I am working on it? Which is why, as of the end of August, I consider summer over. However, I know in my mind we have plenty of nice days left in September and even some in October but ultimately it comes to an end so quickly.

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Speaking of September and October, I do believe I have over booked all our weekends once again for these two months. Fall is the best time in my opinion to hike, camp, explore the area and enjoy harvest time. Bugs are dying down some, colors start to appear, veggies are plenty, and it’s cooler so camping and hiking are much more pleasurable. Now I just have to find a way to tell my husband I only left him two weekends for hunting in the fall months….he may not like this very much!

Anyhow, let me tell about some treasures I have found lately. First, I must give a big shout out to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market here in our area. We have fell in love with their meat department and if you know me, that is saying A LOT! I am not a meat lover but my husband is. I have a hard time buying it, preparing it and eating it but my attitude has changed a bit since this store has opened. We are loving their meats.

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I have also found an essential oil room freshener that I love and does not cost an arm and a leg. (I paid $7) I hate chemical fresheners and don’t want the overwhelming smell of a plug in oil freshener since I don’t want the aroma all the time. Which makes this spray perfect and I can use it when I wish and not gag when I spray it in my home like the chemical fresheners cause me to do. I know it says it can be used as a body mist also but I have not gone this route…I strictly use it for our home and vehicles.

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Once again I am attempting to grow my green thumb and I am going to try and grow a prickly pear plant or two. We fell in love with this fruit in Arizona and I recently kept the seeds from one we purchased here in WI. I would bet it’s not going to grow and if it does it may not survive but I have to give it a try. Here’s hoping for a touch of the southwest in good old Green Bay. On the flip side, if I do not succeed at growing one myself I can always plan another trip for fresh fruit. I know none of my family would object to returning to this area.

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Speaking of vacations, we are inching our way closer to our next one and I cannot wait to step foot on the A.T.( Appalachian Trail) once again. Back in January 2017 I made this dream come true and finally got to log some miles on the A.T. with my husband and son. Our next trip will bring us back to the A.T. only in a different state and I plan to log even more miles and hopefully make more wonderful memories. However, this time it will be just the two of us since our son recently started his new job and is not bale to join us for this adventure.

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That shall be it for today. Enjoy your weekend…..that’s my plan.

 

 

 

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Mother Nature May Be Testing Me!

 

This week was a test from Mother Nature and clearly I am not happy about it. Wisconsin has been so chilly this week. Tuesday I found myself with a sweatshirt on, windows and doors all closed, and I was shivering in my own home…..AND IT”S JUNE!!!!! Now, that is not funny!!! The worst thing came when I turned on the news and heard the southwest region like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona (my favorite states to hike) were having a record heat wave. I simply wanted to cry…..like really cry:-(

Speaking of which, I actually just told my husband I was really feeling the need to hike a mountain lately. Is that odd or what? Some days I am content with the elliptical at the gym and some days I really need to push my body just to make sure I still have what it takes to do what I love. And let’s face it, there are no mountains in Wisconsin that could even come close to one in the southwest so he knew exactly where I was going with this statement. He simply looked at me when I said this and smiled. I guess that means he is not against a possible trip but then again, I honestly still can’t decide where to go back to….Utah or Arizona. We all agree, we have unfinished business in both states so time will tell where we end up. For now, I have to concentrate on our next destination….McAfee Knob and the Shenandoah National Park. Which, rightfully so, is a mountain I plan to hike and another bucket list destination I hopefully will be able to remove from the list in the near future.

For now I guess the elliptical, kayaking, and outdoor fun will have to be enough to keep me happy. Plus, after all, eventually it will get warm again here in Wisconsin….right???? Summer did officially just begin.

Here is look at what I did to increase my body temperature to a happy degree this week:

Saturday: kayaking the Chain O Lakes….paddled and swam for 3.5 hours (if you missed it read about it here)

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Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical

Monday: morning weights in the home gym, 1.5 mile walk with my daycare kiddos through a nearby wooded area.

Tuesday: home: morning weights

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday: morning weights in the home gym

Thursday: yoga at home

gym: 30 minute elliptical, weights, and stretching

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Friday: rest

After my post this past week regarding how hard it has been to remove artificial sweeteners from our daily diet, I received many questions what a daily day of food looks like for my husband. I have decided to try and document 2 days worth of food and post my findings in the near future instead of addressing each and every question. However, this may take a week or two to complete. I, for the most part, know what he eats in a day since I prepare his breakfast, pack his lunch for work daily, and dinner is eaten together. The hard part will be to remember to take a picture of the food and then find the time to write the post regarding his daily meals. Just know, I am working on it and hopefully all of you suffering with the same symptoms get as much relief as he has. Life is so much better when you feel healthy.

Have you been to either Utah or Arizona hiking?

If so, which is your favorite state?

Why?

Looking Back At 2016

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I know we did here and I am ready to get back to a bit of routine again. So without further ado….

It’s always fun for me to take a look back at what the past year has been like for me which is what I am going to share with you all today. Maybe you have been a long time reader or you are a new virtual friend, which if that’s that case, then you can catch up with the events that have happened these past months.

Here we go:

January: A routine doctor visit turned into emergency surgery one week later with the removal of a large abdominal tumor and a few other parts and pieces that were effected by this slow growing tumor. Thankfully, it ended up being benign and all that was left was recovery and getting use to my new life with some limitations.

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February: This entire month consisted of recovery. I could not bend, lift, shower by myself or sleep in my own bed forever. And everything was left to my husband and son. I had friends stay with me during the daytime hours so my husband and son could work and visitors stopped in during the evening hours. It was a longggg month!

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March: I finally got the ok to return to work half way through this month. I also got the ok to keep the preplanned trip we had scheduled to visit Arkansas and do dome hiking. Although, my surgeon told me very firmly to stop when it hurts and don’t push myself. And in all honesty, when we arrived at the first trailhead I was a bit overwhelmed when I first put my hiking boots on. It had been a stressful, painful 9 weeks of HELL and I was not sure if I would ever be able to hike again….but I was here and it was warm, sunny, and I was truly happy for the first time in what felt like forever.

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April: By now things were progressing slowly and each day was getting a bit easier. Although, I had so many things I was still wondering….would I be able to paddle again, would the swelling ever go away, would I ever be able to do another abdominal crunch….etc.? Well, this is the month I gave paddling a try and I’m not going to say it felt great, but it was tolerable. I knew immediately I was a long way from a river with current but I was padding and it was a start.

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May: My husband and I went on the first camping trip of the year. Ahhh, I could feel summer right around the corner.

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June: I had the opportunity to go tubing behind a boat the first time in my life. And let me tell you, it was so much fun!!!!

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July: Family vacation to the North Shore of Minnesota. A first for us and definitely not the last time we visit here.

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August: Ahhhh, boredom will get me every time…..so, I had been patiently watching flight prices for a bucket list trip to Sedona, Arizona for almost an entire year. One day I happen to just be bored and thought, let’s take a quick check if anything has changed…and sure enough its finally affordable. I wasted no time…I emailed my husband at work and waited patiently for his response which took hours since he was in a meeting!!! And all he said was….”go ahead sounds good to me”….YEEEEESSSSSS! Three hours later we had three tickets, travel insurance, hotel, and a rental vehicle all booked. And when my husband and son arrived home later that day I greeted them with a training plan for the next 8 weeks. Steps, hills, and more steps:-)

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September: I finally had a chance to take a friend of mine hiking for the first time. I have been trying to get her outdoors to try different types of activity…..and she finally agreed to go hiking. She had a wonderful time, as did I.

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October: We celebrated our 23rd. wedding anniversary hiking in Sedona, Arizona. There are simply no words to describe how wonderful this place was.

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During this trip I also accomplished a bucket list summit which was captured by our son in a picture.

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November: As always in November my husband and I took our annual coach bus trip shopping for the day in Illinois. I love this day. I am not a big shopper but once a year I enjoy it completely.

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December: I returned to the gym full time for the first time since January. I dabbled here and there a few times while recovering from surgery and during the summer months but just was not willing to risk anything going wrong. I was told it would take a full year to completely heal and I waited as patiently as possible….gosh it feels good to be back.

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What a year….it brings tears to my eyes just seeing what my family has been through this past year, what I have accomplished, and the hurdles I thought I would never overcome. It’s no secret, if you know me personally, life has changed and will forever be changed……but that is not holding me back. It has made me adjust a bit here and there but I still wake up every day with a dream and I work to accomplish that dream someday.

Good bye 2016……bring on 2017…..I am so ready to start fresh!!!

 

Tips For Hiking In Sedona, Arizona

We learned a few things really fast with our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. And even though we only spent three full days hiking the desert trails and exploring the area, I know these tips will come in handy for anyone else visiting the area also. So I thought I would share some with you all today.

#1 WATER: You would think this would be obvious desert hiking but from what we saw, it was not! You will need water and lots of it. We planned two hikes per day and even kept a gallon jug in our SUV to refill our water containers between trailheads. Yes, its warm and not very refreshing to drink warm water, but it’s water and in the desert water is a necessity.

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#2 BOOTS/HIGH SOCKS: We were told to bring boot and higher socks to protect our legs from cactus plants that are sometimes very near the trail edge. This was a great recommendation since both my husband and son rubbed up against a cactus while hiking. These plants are vicious and you don’t want to get to close.

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#3 GPS/TRAIL MAPS: I did alot of research on what trails we wanted to hike during this trip. We, however, ended up adding two extra and changing one up due to rain we received overnight in our area. Which meant we did not have all the proper maps with us. Although, we did have the GPS which meant we were just fine. Most trails are marked very well in the Sedona area but it’s also very easy to get turned around or get on an intersecting trail by mistake. At each and every trailhead we hiked, we marked our vehicle so we knew no matter what we could find it again.

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#4 RED ROCK PASS IS REQUIRED: Some trailheads require a RED ROCK pass to park at the assigned lot. Many…..and I mean many people do not get them and then are upset when they return and find a ticket on the windshield. These passes are cheap, can be purchased by the day, week or year, and are easily located throughout the area at different businesses. We bought ours our first night at the Safeway Grocery Store(located on SR89A), for the week which was $15. They can also be purchased right at the trailhead if you wish.

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#5 TRAILHEAD PARKING LOTS: A few things here….arriving early makes it much easier to find a spot. They fill very quickly, especially on the weekends. Second, some have bathroom facilities and some do not. And the ones that do, don’t always have toilet paper in them….so bring some and leave it in your vehicle just in case. They are all pit toilets with no water at all….so prepare to clean your hands on your own. Lastly, some are located on back forest roads that require a high clearance vehicle. I researched which ones did and did not before deciding where we would start each hike. And when they say a high clearance vehicle is needed here, they mean it……here is one forest road with huge ruts in it.

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#6 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES: There are signs everywhere to protect your valuables at the trailheads. We had no issues but we also left nothing but water and jackets in our vehicle while hiking.

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#7 READ THE SIGNS: All trails are different…..some allow dogs, some tell you what to do and not do, and some tell you exactly what will happen if you do something stupid. Read them ,follow them, and keep this place beautiful for everyone.

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#8 YOU WILL BE DIRTY: Hiking here for us was a whole different experience that back home. We spent alot more time using our rear ends to get back down many different areas, our boots were covered in red dust by the end of the day, and we had red dust lines where are socks ended. Everyone around us had dirty backsides and the same red dust coating there skin. So prepare to be dirty but have a great time getting this way.

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#9 HAVE A PLAN B: We were (un)fortunate enough to receive rain one evening while we were here and that made us change up our plans for the next day due to where we had planned to hike. Although, everything turned out fabulous and we could not have picked a better alternate hike because it ended up being my favorite of the entire vacation. So even though you have a plan, be flexible.

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#10 SEDONA IS NOT A CHEAP PLACE TO EAT OUT: We were very fortunate to have an awesome hotel with a great balcony facing the mountains that made meal times even more special for us. We did eat out one evening(the evening we arrived) and the bill was over $50 for three sandwiches and two lemonades. (That to me is expensive) So we headed to one of the many grocery stores and picked up breakfast items for four days since we planned to leave earlier in the mornings to hike. And dinner every evening was also bought here and enjoyed on our balcony. It was cheaper, tasty, and I did not have to keep my boots on to eat:-) We met many of the same hikers every evening doing the same thing and all covered in dirt which made us not feel so bad.

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We did not do hardly any shopping in Sedona’s downtown area. We drove through it to get to the Oak Creek scenic drive and it’s was bustling with many people. We did locate two outfitters while here and found one had much more “needed” supplies and one was more a clothing/fashion outfitter. We did visit one park while here, Grasshopper Point, simply because my husband had a wish to jump off a canyon wall into the water. Which he fulfilled.

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Other than that we hiked everyday. We enjoyed our hotel pool and all the warm sunshine.

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We enjoyed our first ever acai bowls(We all ordered the Summit Bowl) as a treat one evening.(Again, I thought super costly, 3 smalls were $30)(Although, the smalls were HUGE)

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If you plan to visit this area and have specific questions for me, feel free to comment and I will answer them if I can.

(***Keep in mind that we were here strictly to hike, it was the end of October and temps never got above 87 degrees)

*** To see the hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

 

Chimney Rock Loop Trail-Sedona, Arizona

Chimney Rock Loop was our last and final trail we hiked while in Sedona for the first time. It was also an unplanned add on because…..well….we just weren’t ready to return home. All three of us fell for desert hiking much more than we thought we would…..especially my husband.

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This hike was a 2 mile loop that involved some elevation but nothing drastic by any means. From the parking lot located on Thunder Mountain Road in Sedona, it loops around very close to residents back yards in the first mile or so. (***NOTE the gate to this parking lot apparently does not open until 8:00a.m. so plan accordingly.) This I did not care for, as it felt a bit intruding but then again, I am guessing the trail was probably there before the homes were constructed, so it all works out I suppose. Anyhow, I sort of felt like I was still in the city so to speak. However, all of a sudden you head inward and round the mountain and climb a bit upwards and you are on the lookout and away from the homes.

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You then continue around the mountain base while headed back down. This side is much more secluded and peaceful.

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All our resources stated this hike was rated moderate….I would agree to some extent but most of it was fairly easy.

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In my opinion, this is a hike if you have a short amount of time and need to stay close to the city itself. All that being said, we saw many area residents using it for trail running which I bet is ideal for a quick run before or after work.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

Mescal Trail Hike-Sedona, Arizona

The Mescal Trail was the trail we decided to add on to one of our days. My husband fell in love with hiking through the desert terrain and wasn’t ready to be done one day so we ventured down this trail for a little over a mile and then backtracked the same mile for our return. From what I have researched, this trail does make a loop and would be about 5 miles total if this loop was completed. However, we knew we only had about an hour before darkness set in and there was no way I was hiking in the desert in the dark. Clearly, there are animals that can bit through this wicked cactus that I do not wish to meet in daylight much less darkness!!!!

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This trail seemed to be utilized by a lot of mountain bikers. Yet, we did cross paths with hikers also and when we did cross paths with mountain bikers they were respectful and gave us on foot the right of way. (Odd to see, because the bikers we see on WI trails do not do this)

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For the majority of the trail that we did hike, it was flat to little incline and offered quite an open feel to the desert. Unlike the Fay Canyon Trail, which is more enclosed and has tree cover, this was a mostly a sunny trail and I bet it could get pretty hot mid day.

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I wish we had something like this near us to walk after working all day. It was a nice peaceful walk and great scenery from every direction.

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The bit we did of this hike I would rate as easy.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.