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.

 

 

Let’s Go Paddling

Saturday my husband and I decided to paddle somewhere we have never paddled before….Cave Point County Park in Door County. We have hiked and explored here many, many times before but have never ventured out into the big open water with our kayaks. Seeing this beautiful place from another perspective was so nice.

We packed up our gear,

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grabbed an iced coffee for the road and

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checked the weather and wind direction one last time before heading out.

We arrived to see the water was calm and calling our names. Not quite calm enough for me to open the dry bag and risk taking out my camera at the gorgeous rock caves, but calm enough to grab a few pics here and there of the other areas.

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I was amazed by how many other groups had decided to do this same thing. There were kayakers everywhere. From guided classes going on to private parties just out enjoying the day.

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Thankfully our son was not along since we witnessed one of his biggest pet peeves ever. Two newbies who clearly had no idea how to hold their paddle. Although, if it works for them, then it’s all good.IMG_4363

Eventually we hope to get back to river kayaking before summers end here in WI. However, truth be told, this is the one thing that still gives me some pain when I do it. I am not sure if its the position I am in or the act of paddling but there is no denying its there. Which means Sunday then brought a day on the couch with my heating pad and some rest. Which is not great for someone who loves summer and just wants to be outside enjoying every last second. So whether or not I attempt a river with rapids and current battling against me has yet to be determined.

 

 

A Day To Slow Down And Smell The Roses

Recently, I was asked by two friends if I could take a day off to spend in Door County, WI. The answer was YES…..I would love to take a day off. Which is exactly what I did Friday and joined them on a day of adventure.

I woke up early Friday morning and got in a great morning workout at the gym before picking them up and heading north. Our first stop was for coffee and soon after that we arrived ready to walk, shop and smell the roses.

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Door County, WI is always a beautiful place to visit. With it being so close to us, its an easy, fun, one day trip that offers everything from shopping, water activities, wine tasting, specialty food tasting, hiking, state parks and some fabulous restaurants.

We visited one of these great restaurants while there and had a fantastic pizza, bean wrap, and wine.

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The area is just now coming alive with color and activity for the season. So it was nice to beat the crowds and take in all Door County has to offer without the hustle and bustle of a million people.

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It was great to escape daily life and just have some fun with two great friends.

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Do you ever escape for a girls getaway?

Where do you usually go?