Memories I Will Have Forever From Virginia: Part One….McAfee Knob

Memories….they are made everywhere. Many of my memories are from here in Wisconsin where I was born and raised for the past 40+years of life. However, this past week I made some more memories with my husband on a bucket list trip to Virginia where I know my heart aches to be……in the mountains.

IMG_9708

We live in the flattest state around(in my opinion) and I have seen almost all there is to see here numerous times. So when the chance comes that I get to escape the grind of every day life to go to my happy place I am the first one packed and ready to go. So let me share with you the past week in the mountains of Virginia.

For this vacation we drove from WI to Salem, Virginia to begin our adventure. Now you may wonder…why such an off the wall city like Salem? Well, I had a bucket list dream to fulfill and I wanted to make sure I could do this before we packed in anything else. My dream was to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and get the iconic picture that you see in many, if not all, hiking magazines, on hiking websites and so on. Every time I would see this picture displayed I would tell my husband….some day I will get there. And as usual, he would just smile and say….I have no doubt you will. Love you honey!

The morning of our hike we left before sunrise to make sure we could find the trailhead and get a parking spot. I had read that parking was sometimes packed but was hoping it would not be too bad since our hike was happening Monday morning. We arrived with about twenty minutes to spare before the sun started peeking over the mountains. The lot had a fair share of cars but all looked to have been there overnight. The lot was easily located of the 311 and marked clearly.

IMG_9436

IMG_9564

IMG_9558

IMG_9565

IMG_9560

The trail itself starts across the street from the parking area. Again, clearly marked with signage once you cross the 311 carefully, since cars zip around this mountain road fairly quickly.

IMG_9440

IMG_9442

The view going up was so beautiful.

IMG_9450

IMG_9466

A bit up the trail you will come to a split. Signs are large and arrows point you in the correct direction. ***Now, I will tell you that many AT hikers recommend hiking the fire road up to the knob and then taking the AT back to the parking lot or vice versa since the AT is quite rugged. We did not do this. I did not train physically and drive for two days to hike any fire road for whatever reason what so ever. I came to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and back and I am so happy we did.

IMG_9448

The trail we found to be difficult. Remember….we hike flat ground in WI almost all our life. This part of the AT was covered in rock, boulders, and roots in many places. Very little was ground and being we were headed to the top of of a mountain it was clearly up all the way.

IMG_9464

IMG_9478

IMG_9562

IMG_9489

IMG_9480

Eventually you will come to a crossing that again is well marked and will lead you across the fire road.

IMG_9485

Then you reach an AT shelter where you head up another clearly marked trail.

IMG_9550

Eventually you see the trail start to have huge boulders and you weaving around these while you make the last stretch to the top.

IMG_9497

IMG_9496

By this time I was tired. And I mean TIRED!!!! Hiking up the entire trail was difficult plus our GPS clearly did not agree with the mileage that was posted with all the information I had read regarding this trail. So if you attempt this hike and find your mileage is also different keep going…..you will be so happy you did. We finally reached the top of the knob and immediately we checked the mileage to compare.

IMG_9500

I soon forgot about this little issue because when I rounded the corner I felt like I wanted to cry. OK, maybe I did a bit. It was truly amazing in every way!!!!!!

IMG_9528

IMG_9506

IMG_9507

We had did it and we did it together. We arrived to find a few others but the longer we stayed the more others arrived. We ate a small snack and rested a bit before returning to the bottom by way of the AT once again. We saw deer, lizards, and many, many caterpillars along the way.

IMG_9549

IMG_9554

When we finally arrived back at the 311 parking lot we had clocked a total of 9.5 miles and almost 6 hours of hiking with I would say about 45 minutes were at the top exploring, resting and having lunch.

IMG_9567

Most importantly……I crossed something of my bucket list that I will cherish forever…..my own iconic photographs on the top of McAfee Knob with the love of my life.

IMG_9503

IMG_9501

IMG_9514

IMG_9519

A dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!

Advertisements

Disc Golf, Training Trail Chosen, and Being Published

Well, the weekend is over and regardless of the on and off weather and the cooler temps here, we had a good one. Very productive and yet we still found time to have a bit of fun.

My husband worked on his honey do list and accomplished a lot. Me….not so much. Just the usual like meal prep for the week, laundry, and errands.

IMG_8386

I did however visit the gym and had a great Saturday morning workout. And then came home and waited patiently for him to finish all his projects so we could take a trail hike at a nearby campus. I have not been able to make it to this trail since last fall so it felt great to be surrounded by trees again when we finally got here late in the day Saturday.

IMG_8376

IMG_8381

IMG_8421

Sunday we decided to try and beat the rain and get in a game of disc golf. This was not a great plan since it began to rain on us by hole 11. Thankfully, we had enough tree coverage on this course to keep us almost completely dry and we just waited it out.

IMG_8393

IMG_8399

IMG_8394

Clearly, the course had seen some big storms just as we all did since there were obvious signs of storm damage.

IMG_8400

We had a great game, with a quick shower right in the middle and were able to continue on until…..the last hole where my husband threw his disc and it never returned to the ground. AGGGG….his favorite disc was stuck in the tree!!!!

IMG_8403

This was not good and I knew he would not leave it here and just go buy another…so after many, many broken branches were collected from the surrounding trees, they were tossed up to his disc and it finally fell to the ground and we headed home.

We ate a fast lunch and then headed out for another hike to the same trail as Saturday since it was so beautiful. There really is nothing better then trees, dirt trail, and good company…..right?

IMG_8414

IMG_8412

IMG_8378

While walking this trail we finally remembered to grab the GPS and track the mileage since we have been discussing starting to train for our upcoming hiking vacation. This time we need more mileage training than elevation training so we thought this would be perfect. After tracking the mileage we found that its just a bit over 3.5 miles. Which would mean we would need to do this three complete times to match the mileage of our longest trail we plan to hike while in Virginia. Uggg, that sounds like a lot right now but as usual, training is work but it is so rewarding when we reach our destination with energy to spare. So in  about a month we will begin training and hopefully four weeks after that we can reach a total mileage of 10 miles.

IMG_8426

And lastly, we had some big news this weekend from our son. He has had his first photographs published in a local magazine on WI state parks. This is exciting since he is working on becoming a professional photographer. We picked up four of the magazines since parents can never be too proud of their own children.

IMG_8312

 

 

Let’s Relive Summer Mid Winter…..

Who’s feeling like they have had enough of winter? I know I am.

As I often do at this time of year I thought I would take a look back at summer and all the fun that was had by us all. Let’s just say it’s something a bit more brighter, a bit more fun, and a bit more cheerful than looking outside my window at everything covered in WINTER!!!

Join me will you….

The view from atop Oberg Mountain.

IMG_4947

Water, sunshine, and two great friends…who could ask for more?

Clark Lake-4

Simply relaxing;-)

IMG_4530

Catch of the day.

IMG_4507

Yoga outside…..priceless!

IMG_4318

My second home.

IMG_3968

Freezing cold Lake Superior in July.

IMG_4630

Disc golf anyone?

IMG_4205

The bluest water in Wisconsin.

IMG_4469

Roses….oh, how I miss stopping to smell the roses.

IMG_4078

Homemade fly swatter constructed while sitting next to the campfire.

IMG_4749

It’s coming, summer is right around the corner. If you keep repeating this to yourself like I do we will all survive this winter. You gotta believe….

Recent Thoughts, Recent Eats, Recent Randomness

Where should I begin…..

Thoughts, ideas, inspirations, dreams….do you all have them rolling around in your brain like I do? Sometimes they drive me a bit crazy but I often wonder if they aren’t meant to do that. Some of the things rolling around in my head range from where to camp this coming summer,

IMG_3968

to what trails I want to hike this year,

IMG_4994

to what state do I want to toss at my family and see if they are on board to go visit.

IMG_5679

I would love to plan a girls weekend where all my girl friends escape the role of wife and mother and just be us for a few hours. No worries where this child is or that child is, what we will be preparing for dinner, how high the dirty dishes are stacking up or how much laundry I need to eventually make time to get done.

IMG_5328

IMG_1846

I am not a big shopper but I want to plan a Trader Joe’s trip(2 hours from us is the nearest) and also want to make a trip to the next REI garage sale day for members(again, another 2 hours from us).

IMG_4326

I have a million recipes I want to try in my new dutch oven. However, I have been using it quite a bit with old recipes and so far I am thrilled…it is fabulous. Big huge thank you to one of my daycare families for this wonderful gift.

IMG_6538

I also have a list of places to research for possible destinations to visit and I am really feeling the need for elevation…..a long trail that’s leads up where no one else is typically found when you finally reach the top. In other words, a little peace and quiet to gather all these thoughts and put them in order of importance.

So let’s move onto an easier topic….recent eats. This last week it’s been all about cleaning up the frig and open food in the pantry. I hate leaving home and having to throw out food. So it’s been a bit of random meals but still good meals per say.I have been really enjoying spicy black bean salads for my lunches. I am not a big side salad person but give me a meal salad and I am all in.

IMG_6594

With winter chill in my bones I have been really enjoying oatmeal for lunch also. Oatmeal is not a family favorite so when I get the chance to make it for just me I do.

IMG_5522

We had one bottle of Trader Joe’s curry sauce left and it was time to enjoy it since I had a few chicken breast we needed to eat up. My son and I were in heaven…..hubby…not so much. He had italian chicken breast instead. He is not a fan of curry in anything…party pooper.

IMG_6592

Let’s see, workouts have been going great. I have been concentrating on weekends at the gym and maybe one day during the week since right now it is so crowded it’s more stressful to go that not to go. Weekends are busy but not nearly what Monday thru Friday are at the moment. I have not been outside to exercise in quite sometime….and even though I miss fresh air, I have no urge what so ever to go outside to “play”! Too much snow for this desert loving girl!

I know my husband is waiting patiently to go ice fishing for the first time this winter which really causes me anxiety. Although, this year it seems he is going with someone new and it could prove to be very interesting to hear about when they get home. We shall see….

I am trying to figure out when and how I plan to surprise my boys with something they purchased me for Christmas and of course, I want them to share in the fun of it also. They thought it would be a great gag gift to buy me a brick of ration bars. Why…..who knows??? All I can tell you is, when they least expect good ole mom to have snacks in the snack bag while 10 miles back in the middle of nowhere….this is all I am going to produce and they are going to share in the fun of trying it if they are hungry enough. Fun will be had by all of us;-)

IMG_6526

For now I will leave you with all this. You may not feel better but I feel a bit lighter.

If you feel the need to get something off your mind…feel free in the comment section….I will listen.

 

Fitness and Food In Week #1 of 2017

The first week in 2017 proved to be a challenge but ultimately was successful. Having Monday off was wonderful which meant we could go to the gym anytime of day to try and avoid the crowd which we did with success. Tuesday-Friday the gym was plain old crazy busy so I avoided it like the plague. (We have inside information since our son works at our gym)

All my daycare children returned to normal schedule…..but routine took awhile to find once again. Plus, they all brought back a cold virus of some sort so we shared in all these germs as well. Don’t we all love the holidays?

Being it’s the first week of the new year and I had my hands full during the week with numerous things among a house full of children…..I am pretty happy with my workouts this week.

Sunday: almost a 3 mile hike New Years Day

IMG_6568

plus a home total body weight circuit

IMG_6433

Monday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical, rowing, stretching

Tuesday: home: total body weight circuit, 3 mile evening walk outside

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: home: total body weight circuit, 3 mile lap walk at the mall

Friday: rest

Saturday: gym:45 minute elliptical, rowing and stretching

Meals this week were all eaten at our dining room table as a family except for one evening our son was gone. His work schedule changed with the new year and this makes dinner planning much easier. Plus, we all get to eat together, something we have not been able to do for quite sometime. On the menu this week we enjoyed sloppy joe salad with burger fixings. I simply take ground turkey and my homemade sloppy joe sauce and prepare the burger. Then I take salad fixings that would normally be on a cheese burger and plate them up with a serving of sloppy joe meat on top and drizzle it with dijon mustard. Yum!

IMG_6545

Another dinner was Swedish meatballs over pasta. Super easy and a great comfort food in the winter months.

IMG_6570

IMG_6573

One night was tortilla soup….a family favorite.

IMG_4028

And Friday we had breakfast for dinner…..which was homemade waffles with my homemade chicken breakfast sausage.

IMG_6586

The next two weeks will prove to be an exciting time if we can pull off everything we have planned. However,  there are some big factors involved that could really hamper our plans. My goals are to stay positive that it will all work out, we will see everything we are hoping to see, and I will finally have part of my “life plan” in place by the time we are done. Now, let’s just hope the stars line up and it all plays out perfectly.

 

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.

IMG_3344

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!

IMG_3339

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.

IMG_3545

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.

IMG_5172

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

IMG_3968

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!!!!

Clark Lake-5

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

IMG_4790

IMG_4885

IMG_4626

IMG_4927

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:-)

IMG_5138

IMG_5135

IMG_5139

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.

IMG_5339

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

IMG_6037

IMG_5678

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

Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

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.

IMG_6181

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.

IMG_20161125_0850350_rewind

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!!!