November=58 degrees…In Wisconsin…..Seriously??? Time To Trade In My Whisk For My Hiking Boots Once Again

As you can probably assume from the title, I am one VERY happy person. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning and saw the forecast prediction for the day after Thanksgiving was going to be in the mid 50’s I immediately put things into high gear. I simply looked across the room at my husband and he knew exactly what I was thinking……..he said calmly, “let’s get it all done today so we can hit the trail tomorrow.” I love how he understands me without me even saying a word.

As you can imagine I had a load of things on the to do list to accomplish with four days off for the holiday. We literally packed all our chores into one day, we got in our annual family hike for Thanksgiving morning, plus I made Thanksgiving dinner that same evening. Oh, I was so tired by evening but so happy to be free of the long list and just had a few things that needed tending to before we hit the long trail on Friday afternoon.

Thanksgiving family hike

 IMG_9976

Then Friday arrived and I was excited to get in some warm mileage on a dirt trail once again before the snow arrives full blast. We arrived at our chosen trail head to find just us. I did not mind this at all, I parked our lone vehicle and it awaited our return.

IMG_0002

The temp on my vehicle upon arrival was a balmy 58 degrees. Amazing!!!!

IMG_9984

And a few steps into our hike and I had to chuckle. Clearly, this lone dandelion was not ready to give up quite yet on summer either.

IMG_0001

The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

IMG_9993

signs of deer were everywhere,

IMG_9996

nature could be heard and saw along the way. It was so good for my soul…to just walk, listen, and breathe the air around us.

IMG_9990

The only thing that could have caused me any worry was that we were hiking during the gun deer hunt season here in WI. We did see many different deer stands, thankfully no active hunters during our time on the trail . And yes, in case you are wondering, we did also wear blaze orange for our own protection on this hike.

IMG_9992

IMG_9991

With 3.3 miles Thanksgiving day and just over 4 miles Friday, we could all agree that summer is going to missed.

IMG_9999

Hiking, along with numerous other things we were able to pack into four days, left us all with a feeling of happiness. Add that to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal……along with my first ever homemade whipped cream (which turned out wonderful I may add) so my husband could enjoy whipped cream on his pumpkin pie along with everyone else…and I could not have been more thankful for anything else in the  world.

IMG_9982

Now, we all have to return to normal life once again and hopefully be ready for Christmas in a few short weeks. Sadly, I have a feeling I will not be hiking anywhere where that snow is not covering the trail come this time but who knows, maybe just maybe, wishes will come true.

Advertisements

How To Plan A Hiking Vacation

Vacation can mean different things to different people. Some individuals like to plan beach vacations where there main goal is to find a beach chair and bake in the sun while reading, sleeping or listening to the waves crash into the shoreline. Some, on the other hand, would rather feel as if they need a vacation from their vacation since often times doing something active when they are at home simply is not feasible and it’s what they yearn to do. For us….its the second scenario. And that is what I am going to discuss here today. I receive so many email questions on how I plan our vacations that I decided instead of answering each and every one I would make a few suggestions and pointers here.

#1 You must look at your group size and the ages of your vacationers. This for us is easy since our son has become and adult. He is able to do anything we can do which is nice. However, that being said, he is often not willing to do everything we want to do. What I do is gather everyone going and discuss things we all would like to do in the area we chose to vacation and then look at every ones ability levels.

IMG_6888

#2 Pick a place you can all agree on. This is often times that hardest thing. Take for instance my family. Our son wants, in the worst way, to go to Washington or Alaska. Mom(me) however, will NEVER go to Alaska….I already live in the frozen tundra of Green Bay. And Washington is beautiful, it has mountains(snowy mountains) but it is often rainy and I love sunshine. Which means that is a no go also! So we agree to disagree and someday he can go and send me pictures from those states. Then we have my husband, whom usually agrees to go on any vacation. He is not too fussy. Although, this last vacation in Virginia showed him that mountain hiking may require some extra knee support next time. And then you have my destinations…..the list is LONG!!!! I like it HOT! And I like ELEVATION!

Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

#3 Decide on how may days active and inactive you will be vacationing for. I made a big mistake our first trip to Utah for our 20th anniversary. We were there on our first guided trip ever and it happen to be our first ever mountain hiking adventure also. It was four days of long, hot, very steep switchback hiking in the most gorgeous place I have ever seen in my life. When the guides dropped us back off at our hotel for the night after hiking four days and traveling three hours from Utah back to Nevada we could hardly walk. We were hungry and the hotel offered a buffet right on the premises where we stayed and neither of us even wanted to walk down the hall to eat. We were so exhausted, sore, and oh so very sore. So I vowed from then on to plan one day of relaxation…..shopping, driving scenic roads, or just pool time. And no more than 3 hiking days in a row. This is what we did the first time we brought our son back to Utah with us and it worked so well. Yes, it was still exhausting but we could at least still function after a short rest. This goes back to knowing your activity levels of your group.

IMG_2108

#4 Now pick your activities, gather your maps, talk with professionals, and get to know your surroundings. I always pick our trails after researching online, hiking forums, and park websites. Once I have the trails we plan to hike chosen, I then make sure none of them need permits to do. If they do make sure you have time to apply and get the proper permits. Research parking, trail heads, animals/bugs/snakes to beware of, and GPS coordinates. Park rangers, if you are visiting a park or even near a park, are useful individuals. They often will know things you cant find online. Also, all national park websites have alert pages you can check up until the day you plan to hike. Flash floods, trail closures if there has been an accident, warnings regarding wildlife problems and so on can all be found here. I also love forums….they offer priceless information about many things you would lever think of… from what to eat on the trail to where you can find basic water while in the backwoods.

IMG_6000

#5 Plan for the climate you are headed to. We have a completely different packing list for Utah/Sedona than we do for Tennessee/Virginia. Desert hiking and forest hiking are two different animals completely. Again, research sample packing lists for different climates. Know that if bugs are an issue head nets will be your friend. Or if bears are active in the area make sure whatever you bring to protect yourself is legal in the state you happen to be hiking in. Find out when hunting seasons are in the area you plan to vacation. Hikers and hunters are typically not the best of friends….at least not here in WI. And know that bear spray canisters are not allowed on airplanes. Whomp….whomp!!

IMG_9611

IMG_9589

#6 Pick a place to stay. Whether its a hotel, campsite, or resort with all the amenities, pick this out and make sure everyone is on board with the choice. I know after a long day on the trails there is nothing better than a warm shower. We almost always vacation while on our hiking trips in a hotel. We sleep in beds and have flushing toilets. Ice machines are always a bonus to fill ziplocks with for sore muscles too…..just being honest!!!! Pools are simply a bonus after a long day.

IMG_6109

#7 Means of travel there and while there. Ahhh, the big question of fly or drive? We have done both. We have had issues with both. No one way is perfect. Logically speaking, this is a crap shoot so good luck.

IMG_20170112_1530132_rewind

As for traveling when you are there….if you flew you will more than likely need a rental vehicle. Know your trails and if they are on fire roads to reach the trail head. Some trail heads will require a high clearance vehicle to reach the trail head. Sedona, AZ was a place where we needed a high clearance rental…so research, research, research….you will not be sorry you did.

#8 Research the area your staying in and make a packing list from this research. Are there grocery stores? Are there outfitters if you forget something important…like your boots? Where is the closest medical building if you get bit by a snake? ( I would be dead of a heart attach for sure before reaching the ER but its still good to know where it is) Is there cell service typically in this area or will you need a SPOT global locator? I am sure there are more but all these are super important. First, when we traveled to Utah there was one grocery store in the small town we stayed in and Clif Bars were 2 for $5……here I can purchase and entire box for $5. We have learned to pack as much trail food from home as possible. Its just easier, cheaper, and saves you a trip to a store before you begin your adventure when you arrive. Animal/ plant encounters happen often, so pack first aid but also know where your nearest emergency room is. And just know that there really are still places where cell phones will not work in this world.

IMG_1818

#9 Have a backup plan. Life happens and if it can go wrong it often will. Prepare to change up the plan at any moment. We did this a few times thanks to flash floods in Utah, hurricanes hitting close to a trail head, broken vehicles the day before leaving for an 8 day road trip, wild fires in Tennessee, search and rescue closing down that days planned hike etc…..just have a backup plan.

IMG_6848

#10 Remember your on vacation….Dream big, not impossible!!! Don’t pack yourself so full that it causes worry and stress to get it all done. See what you can and leave the rest for next time. List the most important things and do them first and follow the order until it’s time to leave. Take us for instance, in Sedona we all wanted to climb Cathedral Rock so we made sure this was first. Then in Virginia my dream was to hike up McAfee Knob so we did this first. Make a plan and stick to it. However, even though we did both of these wants first, we still have not finished our list of things to hike in either Arizona or Utah so we know eventually we will return.

IMG_9505

I am sure there are many more pointers by people that plan many more active vacation trips that I do. Although, these are the ones I follow the most. I am a planner and have found my planning abilities make our trips pretty flawless. It does take time but trip planning for me is fun. And, as a bonus, when it all goes as planned it’s even more fun.

If you are thinking about planning an active vacation and want to ask specific questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help make your vacation as wonderful as ours have been. So whether your headed to somewhere warm, tropical or to the good old state where I live….Wisconsin….enjoy the journey.

 

Big Spring/Kitch-iti kipi at Palms Book State Park- Michigan

Palms Book State Park in Michigans U.P. offers something everyone should see at least once. With a small fee to enter the park you get to walk a short distance down to a raft that takes you across Michigans largest spring.

IMG_9075

IMG_9068

IMG_9067

Open year round, this raft will offer you viewing of bubbling springs in crystal blue water with trout swimming around right below.

IMG_9070

IMG_9096

IMG_9091

IMG_9090

Then when you finish riding the raft you can make your way up to the gift store and bring home something to remember from the adventure.

IMG_9097

Kids love this place as much as adults. The raft itself is free to ride as many times as you wish after you pay the small fee to enter the park. Bathrooms are on site and picnic tables are available for you to use.

If your in the area of Michigans U.P. don’t pass this one up…..you won’t be sorry you made the trip.

 

 

 

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.

IMG_9254

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.

IMG_9276

IMG_9285

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.

IMG_9277

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

IMG_9304

IMG_9300

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

IMG_9287

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

IMG_9326

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.

IMG_9295

IMG_9290

IMG_9278

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.

IMG_9322

IMG_9318

IMG_9310

IMG_9319

IMG_9307

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

IMG_9327

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.

IMG_9328

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.

IMG_9329

IMG_9331

IMG_9339

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.

IMG_9292

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.

 

Signs Of Autumn Are Everywhere

Oh my goodness…..are you feeling what I am feeling here in WI? Although, I am not by any means feeling the gloom and doom of winter quite yet, I sure am feeling the signs of autumn.

Leaves are beginning to change colors on the tree branches.

IMG_9187

Some have already fallen from trees.

IMG_9208

And some are just starting to change. Fall is quickly approaching for sure.

IMG_9186

This is the time of year where summer is trying so hard to last just a few weeks longer.

IMG_9191

Iced coffees are no longer my preferred morning beverage…it’s now a big cup of hot coffee to take the morning chill off.

Soups are making a come back on my weekly meal list with no complaints from my husband or son.

For us here, we are living everyday like its the last. Fall is a great time of year to hike here in the midwest with much less bugs. We spent the entire weekend hiking waterfalls and with camping plans right around the corner….blogging is really going to have to take the back burner for a bit until I have more time. So just know that I am collecting photos and fun outings to share with all of you when time permits. And I can only hope you use what I share to get out and try something new and be inspired to enjoy the great outdoors as much as I do.

IMG_9111

As for now, I will be back as soon as possible….first I have to savor every moment before the snow begins to fall.

 

 

 

 

Our Visit To The DeYoung Family Zoo In Wallace , MI

Once again my husband came up with a spectacular idea to make my weekend a bit more fun while taking it easy and letting this muscle strain heal…he suggested we take a trip to Wallace, MI and visit the DeYoung Family Zoo.

IMG_8786

I have a love/hate relationship with zoos since I sometimes feel sorry for the animals penned up and not free to be in their normal environments. Although, I do love the zoos that offer a place for animals to rehabilitate from injury or even survive as happy as can be in the case of a birth defect. I have found that its best not to know and just enjoy the zoos we visit to the best of my ability since let’s face it, zoos have been around forever and will always be a popular place for families to enjoy whether I like them or not. In this instance this is by far one of the more rustic non commercialized zoos I have ever been to. For a reasonable entrance fee you can enjoy a natural setting with animals and very little hype when it comes to snacks, gift shops, and extras around every corner.

IMG_8785

There are no paved sidewalks in this zoo and no big guard rails to keep you at a distance from the animals. However, every cage is double fenced and found easily with hand painted signs through out the area. It’s like hiking through a jungle full of various animals.

IMG_8829

IMG_8830

IMG_8834

IMG_8838

The do offer food to purchase and feed the animals in the feeding area. Although, we only saw one place to buy food and that is in the same building you enter and pay admission in. So save yourself some time and buy this at the same time you pay your admission fee.

IMG_8848

IMG_8850

There are also signs posted along the way when special feeding times are for the large animals if you enjoy this type of thing. Crowds gathered for the hippo were amazing so this is something you will want to make sure you grab your spot in time.

IMG_8857

IMG_8856

IMG_8863

It was a nice change from the zoo in our area here. All dirt trails, tons of trees, and nothing for your children to beg you to buy throughout the entire zoo.

IMG_8800

IMG_8825

IMG_8815

IMG_8804

IMG_8865

I would highly recommend this zoo if your looking to get away from the big city and enjoy a few hours of animal adventure.

Get here early for good parking since parking is limited. Bring your own snacks or a picnic lunch since snacks/food is also very limited. And remember bug spray since this is Michigan and bugs are everywhere!!! And if you forget the wipes/hand sanitizer…no worries, they offer soap and water right on the premises to clean up after the feeding area.Oh, and I almost forgot….grab some tissues/toilet paper since all the facilities are porta potties and some where out of toilet paper while we were here.

IMG_8789

How Do I Get It All Done? I Don’t!

 

I am often asked how I get it all done. It’s a question that sometimes annoys me because getting IT ALL DONE can mean so many different things to so many different people. So I really never know how to answer this question when it is asked. Although, I feel I do a pretty good job of being a wife, mother, daycare provider, barber, accountant, dishwasher, home maker, yard person, chef, first aid provider, and still have time for me. So for all my friends, family, and acquaintances who have asked me this, let me tell you how I do what I do.

First, just let me say…..I don’t get it all done. If I got it all done I would probably never sleep since it would be a full 24 hour a day job. However, I do follow a pretty strict schedule. Which is my first suggestion…make a schedule and stick to it. For instance, here at my house, I do laundry every single day except Saturday. I clean the bathrooms Tuesday, dust/scrub floors Monday, vacuum every single day(sometimes twice a day), garbage goes out on Tuesday, bills are done on Thursday, lawn gets cut once a week(sometimes twice), daycare bedding along with our bedding gets washed every two weeks unless needed before, garage gets swept once a week, dishes are done at least three times a day, ironing gets done on Wednesday, and dinner is prepared every evening except Friday. This schedule is very rarely changed up and some things are delegated to other members of my family. Lawn is typically husband or son, vacuuming is also husband or son if its the evening vacuum…..everything else is on me. All this is completed while I also work full time caring for three children all under the age of 3 yrs old. Add in a daily workout session for myself, kid cuddle time, play time, and time to eat and my days are full.

IMG_8059

How do I manage…..well I have a few other tips for everyone:

* Wake up early. Get what you can done before the kids wake up….in my instance before they arrive(6a.m.). Or if your a night owl, stay up late and get it done then.

IMG_3322

*Routine …routine…. routine. Having a schedule which becomes a routine after awhile helps me to know what the day holds in store. I know Mondays are my hardest days so dinner is typically something easy and fast.

IMG_7883

IMG_7886

*Don’t be afraid to use your kids and spouse for help. Kids as young as two can lend a hand…plus it teaches them responsibility.

IMG_1403

*Don’t forget time for yourself. Sometimes we become so involved in life matters that our needs get pushed to the back of the line. Don’t let this happen. Schedule time for you just like time for laundry,dishes, and meal prep.

IMG_5030

*Organization is key. I am a very organized person and it helps so much to know exactly where things are when I need them. Even my daycare kids are taught from very young….things go back where we got them. They know exactly what is going to happen when. And having a routine is truly priceless when it comes to living a crazy, busy life here in our house.

IMG_7809

*Make a list. If you find it hard to stay on track try making a list. I am a professional list maker and have noticed my son is catching on now that he is an adult. I have lists every where. I have a weekly menu which then helps me make my weekly grocery list so food is not bought that may be wasted. I have a packing list for when we travel, lists for where I want to vacation, and lists for daily chores. You name it…. I have a list.

IMG_7856

Pre prep if you can. For me timing is everything. Many people may think I relax at nap time if I am so lucky to get everyone on the same napping schedule. This is not true….I typically exercise first and pre prep dinner during nap time. This way when my last child is picked up I can switch gears back to wife and mother and quickly throw together dinner before I hit the gym or my nightly exercise of choice. I find chopping veggies for the week on the weekends is helpful and taking things like sun dried tomatoes and pureeing them and then freezing them makes for a fast sauce additive with very little prep during the week.

IMG_1772

IMG_7847

IMG_7849

There is never a day where I feel like I got everything done. Although, there are days where I feel I have accomplished a lot and I am happy with the day. I used to stress over the fact that not everything got done but I quickly learned it never really changed anything. For me, I prioritize and the things that need attention get it…. from a chore around the house, to a particular person, or to simply myself. You need to have priorities. My family knows, if mom is not happy no one will be happy. Thankfully, I have a marriage where if either of us needs time apart we can simply say so and it’s not a problem. If we need some couple time we can also just say so and it happens. If I need help my husband is typically ready and waiting to lend a hand.

After all this is said, I will never say I don’t at times need an afternoon pick me up. My days are long and often exhausting, especially in the summer months where it is hot and we spend all day outside enjoying summer. When these days happen I will often turn to a afternoon chilled latte…..but believe me it is never in a fancy glass with ice cubes to keep it chilled while I sit on the front porch and enjoy it during nap time. Nope….never. Instead, it is straight from the frig, with a splash of almond milk added right to to container it was stored in, and gulped down withing minutes so I have time to workout before my first child decides they are not going to sleep on this particular day for whatever reason.

IMG_8152

Plus, in all honesty…..a fancy glass would just be one more dish I would need to wash and put away later on. It tastes the same from the storage container as it would from a fancy glass…..right?

I learned along time ago, what does not get done today will still be there tomorrow. I no longer sweat the small stuff….it’s just not worth the stress.