Time To Catch Up

Warning: Long post ahead:-)

Life has been so crazy that I have been struggling to find time to blog. However, that does not mean I don’t have a ton of stuff to share with you all. So let’s briefly catch up a bit today.

I mentioned back a few weeks that we were headed out to waterfall hike. Well, I have 6 waterfall hikes that need to be written and posted on the hiking trails page and hopefully I will get to them before the snow flies but if not, winter is LONG and that will be something to blog about then. For now, I will tell you we had a magnificent time and while my husband and I ventured off alone leaving the photographers do their thing…we came across one of my favorite reptiles ever. I love turtles…even ones that bite!!!!!

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We also had another monthly dinner out with my brother recently and it was his pick on the restaurant so we ended up trying Green Bay’s newest sushi restaurant….Sushi Lover.

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Oh my….I could eat sushi every day…..it was so darn tasty. I loved this place. Everything was made fresh, you can order as many times as you wish, and it is one flat price. My husband and brother can sure pack away their share of sushi…..and I had fun watching them fill themselves to complete fullness from about that half way point of our meal.

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Then we had our first camping trip of the fall season. This time it was only the two of us and it was so relaxing.

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He was in charge of keeping the fire going so I could stay warm.

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I was in charge of meals for the weekend.

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My only request for the weekend was to relax, go out for our favorite pizza at the new location of our favorite restaurant in the Door County area which is Wild Tomato now open also in Sister Bay, and to go out just once for ice cream before the end of summer. All of which we made happen.

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We used to go out for ice cream all the time….heck, we used to go out for anything all the time…but since going artificial sweetener free for his stomach issues we can’t without causing problems. Although, since getting this all under control, it has gotten easier to go out here and there and he only gets a little stomach upset if we go overboard. Some foods and restaurants we have found are fairly safe for him to eat at…like sushi…..this causes little to no problems at all.

While camping we also got in a small two mile hike which was the highlight of the weekend. I love hiking and it makes me sad to know that very soon the ground will be rock hard and frozen solid for months.

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Then I had a mid week day off of work which I packed way to much stuff into. I had three appointments to attend and a date with my son for lunch at a new restaurant in Green Bay near his work.

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That evening my husband and I walked my favorite nearby trail to discuss the results of one of these appointments in a place I feel peaceful.

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There is nothing like a beautiful sunset to reset my mind and make me come to terms with news I don’t like hearing. Although, as with all things, we will move on and deal with what comes our way.

In the food category the fall menu has arrived here in our house. Soups are being made, the last of the fresh veggies are being enjoyed everyday and I am even sneaking in veggies where my husband and son would least expect them. So far no one has complained and they have even asked for more. From salads, to veggies added to pasta sauces for the entire family instead of just myself, and even carrot muffins…..eating clean and healthy is getting to be so much easier.

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And lastly, this past weekend I spent with a friend attending a harvest festival in Door County. I was not sure I could pull off another weekend away but when travel plans were set back a bit for my husband I went for it. We had the best time chatting, shopping, and of course eating.

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That should catch me up to date I believe. Eventually I will get to the details of those beautiful waterfalls but for now I will leave you all with the reminder to get out and enjoy life while it’s still nice. Go hike, enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are starting to appear, and breathe the fresh air……see ya!

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Peninsula State Park: Hiking Eagle Trail

Peninsula State Park is one busy place if you have experienced summer in Door County, WI. However, for those of us who live in WI we know that after Labor Day attendance drops drastically with families back on school schedules and summer basically over. Although, with this being said….it’s still plenty busy just not as chaotic as in June, July, and August.

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We just spent our first time camping in this state park this past weekend and honestly I am not sure why we waited so long to do so. It’s fairly close to our home(just over and hour) and has one of the best hiking trails in the area….Eagle Trail.

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Rated as difficult I would have to say in Wisconsin standards they are correct. It’s a two mile loop with a steep decent to Eagle Harbor. Not handicap accessible in any way and small children will be able to do it with the guidance of an adult in some areas.

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The trail itself goes from narrow to wide in many spots.

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With rocks and tree roots making hiking challenging with those without good ankle/knee support.

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My advise would be if you have trekking poles this would be a great trail to use them on.

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Clearly you will be headed toward the waters edge and for 50% of the hike you will then follow the water until you start back up toward the starting point. Along this path there are many places to access the water for a toe dip, rest or even a swim if its warm enough.

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At the half way point you will reach the often talked about sea caves. They are quite amazing and can offer some exploration if you are into this type of thing.

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Continuing onward you will find some spots with wood planks placed by park rangers to cross over wet spots in the trail.

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And eventually you will come to a V where it is well marked and directs you to which direction to head back to where you began.

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Upon hiking upward toward the end you will come to the Eagle Panorama viewing area. Don’t pass this up since its a great view in all directions.

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Then directly across the street you will see more signs guiding you to the continuance of the eagle trail. Follow this a little further to where you began.

All in all its a great hike.It took my husband and I about two hours total with plenty of time to explore the caves ourselves.

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Give it a try if your ever in the Door County area and visit Peninsula State Park. To hike you will have to pay the park entrance fee or have an annual WI state park sticker on your vehicle.

 

It’s Cooler By The Lake

As life would have it high heat and humidity in WI bring the risk of sever thunderstorms which brings a quick change of plans. So what do we do to escape the heat but still be outside, we head to the lake….Lake Michigan that is.

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Originally, we had plans to paddle the chain of Lakes in Waupaca but quickly made a change since the sustained winds were 30mph or higher and thunderstorms were a possibility. We have been there, done that before, and we were not willing to relive this possibility again. However, it was a weekend, the sun was shining, and it was HOT! Which meant I wanted to be outside where I am happiest, so my husband suggested we head lakeside and tour lighthouses and walk the piers since the waves would be fun to see. I was all in!!!

We started in Kewaunee, WI but were quickly disappointed to find the lighthouse was under construction and the pier was closed.

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We did see a wedding just finishing up lakeside. What a gorgeous place to say I love You!

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Being we have been here many times before, we also brought the watermelon rind from the watermelon I cut up before leaving home and grabbed a few carrots to feed to the deer at a local wildlife park in this area. They seemed to enjoy the cool treats.

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Next we headed to Algoma, WI and had lunch at a place my husband has eaten at numerous times for business lunches but I have only visited once with a friend for coffee. Wow, what a fabulous lunch we had. They have an enormous menu, indoor and outdoor seating(with blankets provided since it’s always cooler by the lake), and some wonderful desserts which we did not indulge in sadly.

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After lunch we visited the Algoma pier which waves were crashing over so hard that we were also not able to walk to the end. Although, the view was quite spectacular and it was much colder…..87 at home….64 in Algoma! BRRRRR!!!!

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Even the pelicans seemed to be struggling in the high winds.

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Our last pier of the day was Sturgeon Bay. This is always my favorite. It’s so beautiful.

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While here we even got to witness a “not so wise” family attempt to take on the waves with their boat and quickly decided it was too much to handle when the turned back around shortly after.

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Thankfully, the coast guard boat never had to leave the dock and rescue them. However, whether they know it or not, on shore they had quite the audience watching them attempt this crazy stunt.

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And that was our Saturday…..still spent outside but at times I did have to wear my jacket.So if your looking for a break from the heat and humidity you can never go wrong heading to the lake shore and exploring the area. It has so much to offer… just don’t forget a light jacket.

As for Sunday, much of the same weather was expected so I stayed home and did some things of my own and my husband and son headed out for a quick fishing trip. Successful fishing trip it was…..here is what they brought home. WOW!!!!

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A Trial Run Camping In Our SUV

This past weekend I threw out an impromptu camping trip to my husband where we would sleep in our SUV. Back when we purchased the vehicle the salesman laughed at me when I asked to see all the back seats lowered down and I then crawled in to make sure we fit in the back length wise. I simply looked at him and said, “I plan to sleep back here while camping.” My husband and the salesman then both looked at me with an expression of your kidding right? Ha, would I ever say something I did not mean…NEVER! So, a few months after having the vehicle my husband and I made a trip to the hardware store for a sheet of plywood and he got to work.

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And then life happened and we never had to opportunity to test it out due to his back injury and then my surgery. Which meant, this weekend seemed to be the perfect opportunity to finally do so. Campgrounds are not full yet since it’s too cold, which meant we could easily show up at any park and be guaranteed a site without a reservation. After throwing a few needs and some quick food into the vehicle we headed out. We picked a state park about 45 minutes from home.

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Upon arrival it was cold…and windy…..very windy. He gathered wood around our campsite for heat and I made up our sleeping area.

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Then we did some exploring nearby, did a little fishing, took a drive, and came upon a new park we had never seen before. I can see us returning here when it’s paddle season.

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By this time the wind was starting to calm down a bit so we returned to the campground and he made a big fire to keep us warm.

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We later took a short walk around the campground and it was so great to see the leaves finally emerging from their pods. Summer is coming:-)

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As evening progressed we started to get hungry. Our choice for dinner were freeze dried meals we had on hand from home that we quickly grabbed. Two, new to us, meals that we each chose were chicken and dumplings…super yum and chicken fried rice….again, a winner.

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After dinner we relaxed by the fire and later turned in for our first night of SUV camping.Ohhhh, what an adventure this was.

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We learned a few things during the night. #1SUV camping is quiet…we hardly heard anything from area campers unlike in our tent. #2 you cannot unlock the SUV from inside and open the door to exit if the SUV was locked with the key pad…the alarm goes off(this was so funny at midnight of all times) #3 our sleeping pads do not stay put in the SUV which meant we kept sliding down toward the door. Frustrating, but we figured it out and turned the opposite way to sleep which was much better. This little transition happened about 2a.m.. #4 down sleeping bags and comforters are priceless when temps are in the 30’s and winds are 35mph off the Bay of Green Bay….brrrr!!!! It was freezing outside but we were quite cozy inside.

All in all, we were surprised we were not cold. We have one adjustment to make with our sleep pad but this is already worked out, I just have to go buy the item we are going to use. And I know without a doubt this will be the way to camp in the spring and fall here in WI. I loved not having the damp, wet, clammy feeling of sleeping in a tent. Plus, there was nothing to take down, dry out or fold up. In the summer however, I will still take my tent. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent staring at the stars above.

 

Planning Equals Perfection: Making That First Hike A Success

You all know I am from Wisconsin and if you don’t love brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer you are definitely labeled an outsider. So ultimately, I am one of the biggest outsiders living in my zip code. Which is why I write this blog…..to show everyone¬† that there is more to life than brats, cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and beer.

Wisconsin has so much to offer if you love water, trees, trails and snow. Now, you all know I will not be focusing on snow today since I have a love/hate relationship with that cold, white stuff that falls from the skies for months every year. I love when it melts and hate to see it return a few months later…..so like I said…..a love/hate relationship! Today I would rather focus on the other three months of the year….summer, spring and fall in Wisconsin. Fall is the best time, in my opinion, to hike Wisconsin trails. It’s cool, crisp, and beautiful. Spring and summer are not bad either if you like it a bit muddy in the spring and can ignore the numerous bugs Wisconsin has to offer in the summer months. Which most of us that live here learn to tolerate at some point.

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Since hiking is something I truly love to do, I have been urging a friend of mine to give it a try and take that first step onto a dirt trail. Although, she has always been hesitant since #1 she has never really hiked before, #2 she is afraid of the unknown, and #3 she has no idea where to go do this. Well, say no more, I can fix all these….well almost all these. Let’s face it, aren’t we all afraid of the unknown???

As soon as she said she was willing, I said I was able and I began planning a day I knew she would enjoy. I began by finding a location somewhere close to home since we only had a day. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of activities so she would enjoy herself but at the same time not stress about the actual hike itself. It also made it very helpful to me to know what her activity level is. This is what I based the trail distance on….I knew anything over 4 miles would be a stretch.

The hike part of our day ended up being at a popular county park I am very familiar with and we hiked the gorgeous wooded trail along the bluffs of Lake Michigan.

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We had the perfect day for this adventure. The park was busy but not too busy, temps were perfect for hiking, and the bugs were tolerable for this time of year. We even had the pleasure of witnessing one couple exchange vows on the bluff of Lake Michigan….so beautiful.

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I concentrated on finding a trail that offered a bit of difficulty since I know she is one to challenge herself.

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Distance was about 2 miles roundtrip with many places to sit and rest if needed.

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It was cool along the waters edge since I knew she is not fond of heat. And I was familiar with this trail since hiking it many, many times in the past gave her the confidence that I knew where we were going on how we were going to return.

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Planning a hike for someone who has never hiked before only takes a bit of thought. Even if you are strangers, asking a few general questions from them before choosing a trail will almost always guarantee a successful hike. Have some water and a few snacks ready to offer at the end of the hike and you will be set to enjoy a day on the trail.

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Here are a few more photos from our day .

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Hemlock Trail – Potawatomi State Park – WI

We hiked the Hemlock Trail in Wisconsin’s Potawatomi State Park in August and found this trail to be very peaceful. Bugs were very minimal, shade covered at least 85% of this trail and very little of the trail is paved. IMG_5077

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The trail starts are picnic parking lot #2 in the park. There is ample parking here and restrooms at the trail head.

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Signage is marked along most of the trail by a hemlock branch on a white square sign located on trees. Although, not all of the trail is clearly marked…..so its not the best mapped trail WI has to offer in my opinion.

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There are also trail maps with arrows letting you know “you are here” along the way but we found that some were outdated and incorrect. My advise would be to ask for a current trail map upon entering the park and bring it with you.

This trail starts out along the water and quickly brings you deep into a forested area, past some campsites and back round in a complete loop to parking area #2 where you began. In the park guide they claim this trail is 2.6 miles long. We, however, did not track this hike so I can not give you an accurate mileage.

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This trail has little elevation, is mainly flat with many roots crossing the path. Trekking poles may be a good idea or even a branch found in the forest may be helpful.

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I would rate this as an easy family hike.

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Taking It Easy….But Still Having Fun

Ahhhh, what a weekend we had.

After suffering for almost the entire week from paddling Lake Michigan the weekend before, I had decided going into this past weekend that I was going to take it easy. I was determined not to touch a paddle of any kind. My water toy this weekend would be a blow up inner tube. That left my husband with a hard choice….his kayak or my stand up paddle board. Both of which would be fun where we were headed but after taking a look at the wind direction/speed he ended up taking his kayak. And in the end it was a good choice.¬†IMG_4400

We arrived at a friends cabin mid morning to find small whitecaps on the lake…..which means FUNNNNN in the life of a whitewater kayaker. My hubby ended up paddling his way in the waves to the beach located at the other end of the lake while I gladly boarded the pontoon and made my way to the beach this way. When we arrived I boarded my tube and relaxed until the chills set in.

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Thankfully the beach was nice and calm and we all had a great time soaking up some sunshine. IMG_4387

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After some time at the beach, I talked my friend into having her husband pull us both back to the cabin in our tubes. Neither of us had ever tubed before but there is a first time for everything…right? Granted, we did go very slowly because remember, I was taking it easy and hoping to end this weekend with NO PAIN! Which I am happy to say, I did accomplish.

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After our little water adventure back to the cabin, we all changed into dry, warm clothes and prepared dinner over an open campfire.

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What a blessing it is to have such wonderful friends that love to have fun in the sun. I can’t wait to do it again…..and maybe, just maybe I will be ready to go a bit faster in a tube behind the boat by that time.