Some Of The Best Places Are Ones We Stumble Upon

While we were in Wallace, Michigan visiting the De Young Family Zoo(read about it here if you missed it) we were hoping to stumble upon a park nearby that we could enjoy a quiet picnic lunch together at. So we drove down a nearby highway thinking we were headed toward lake Michigan and were surprised when we realized we had turned the wrong direction. Which we then turned around and passed a sign that said public boat landing on a flowage.

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Now, if you know anything about my husband, he knows just about every boat launch in our area. However, in Michigan, he knows very little but said that the ones in WI sponsored by WPS are usually pretty nice so why not check this one out in Michigan. I had no reason to complain since I know very little about any of them and plus, I was hungry and wanted to eat lunch. So we ventured down this gravel road and came upon this.

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Wow, gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!! A big lake, with a nice gravel lot, and a porta potty. And the best part….not another vehicle in the entire lot except for us. We both used the bathroom facilities and then ate our picnic lunch of chicken salad on pitas, fresh apricots, prickly pears, and Larabar caramel seal salt bites.

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Oh, I must mention, if you have not tried this flavor if Larabar bites yet, you must….they are fabulous. Good luck eating only one serving…..the two of us finished the whole bag!

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After lunch he knew I spotted the grassy trail we passed off the gravel road that seemed to lead around the lake and suggested we go check it out.

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Now, keep in mind, we were not in any way prepared to hike today since I was suppose to be taking it easy and letting my abdominal muscle heal. However, I saw the trail, he saw that I saw the trail, and my hiking boots are always in my SUV just in case….you never know when I will come across a trail I must explore. So after lunch we both sprayed down with more sunscreen and bug spray which also never leaves my SUV and we headed out for a look where this trail led to.

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It quickly got much more wooded and the trail turned from grass to dirt. And soon we found ourselves surrounded by big tall trees as far as we could see.

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I asked my husband if he felt we could possibly see a bear here…and he said it was very possible which made me stop and look around. One of my bucket list things to do is to see a bear in the wild while hiking someday. Although, today was not the day since we soon found ourselves swatting at numerous bugs. Plus, not having any hiking supplies, backpack, bug nets, water or bear spray we decided it was probably best if we turned around and head back to the parking lot where we left our vehicle.

We walked probably about 1.5 miles on this trail with no end in sight. You all know what that means…..we will return and come better prepared next time for sure. I never start a trail I can’t finish. And next time maybe we will stumble upon a bear…who knows.

All in all it was a very beautiful place to share a lunch and explore. Never be afraid to stop and take that turn if you not sure what’s down that road. You never know what you may miss by passing it by.

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Change Is Hard But Sometimes Necessary

Summer may have arrived other places around the world but here in WI it is not feeling a whole lot like summer. It has been so chilly again this week. I can’t even think about water activities without getting a chill and you all know how much time we typically spend in the lakes and rivers around WI. So this week it was once again all about outdoor fun, hiking, and the gym. No water fun at all….uggg!!!! Unless you count playing in all the rain we have had water fun….it’s been quite a bummer of a summer so far!

Here is a look at my week of sanity seeking fun:

Saturday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and weights

3.30 mile hike on a near by campus trail

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Sunday: disc golf 18 holes

and another 3.30 mile trail hike on the same trail as Saturday

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Monday: morning weight lifting routine in the home gym

gym: 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Tuesday: morning weight lifting routine in the home gym

3.30 mile evening hike on the same campus trail….I am loving the wildlife we see while hiking this trail

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Wednesday: afternoon weights and 30 minutes on the recumbent bike in our home gym

Thursday: morning weight lifting routine in the home gym and yoga during nap time(hurray for everyone sleeping at the same time!!!)

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Friday: rest

It has been almost three weeks since I have had my last long walk on black top/concrete roads here in our neighborhood and even though I miss what walking offered I am not missing the pain it caused my joints. I never thought I would give up walking but my body was telling me it had had enough and I had to listen. For me change is hard but sometimes necessary to be happy. I will say I am loving the gym even though it is summer time. Maybe my age is changing how I look at life but going to the gym and feeling great instead of going for a walk and aching for hours afterwards is something I am savoring. And clearly, as you see above, I am still technically walking since we have been utilizing our area trails and with the softer ground under my feet I have had no pain at all after a long hike.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!!!!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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National Trails Day Hike-2017

Did you hike a trail for National Trails Day this past weekend? I sure did and it was exactly what I needed to recoup from the week and recharge for the week ahead.

I solo hiked a trail about an hour from our home that weaves through a water way which I thought would end up being a bit cooler. Ha, was I wrong…although for me, this was just what I needed, a good sweaty hike. It’s no secret I LOVE SUMMER HEAT!!!! Thankfully, I grabbed a cooler for cold water, sunscreen, and my summer boots before leaving home.

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I arrived mid morning since I knew this was a hike just short of 4 miles and storms were predicted by dinner time so I wanted to be off the trail early and not later. Plus, I had a crap ton of other things I needed to get done at home. However, in the summer, my pleasure always comes before chores since summer is short and chores can be accomplished all winter long.

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I love this hike since you are literally following a path right through Lake Butte des Morts and there is so much to see and explore on this winding path.

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I love the peacefulness of hiking solo. You can go at your own speed, stop when you want to explore, sit and rest if you wish or just simply walk and let all the thoughts in your head roll right off your shoulders the farther you walk.

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By the time I finished the trail it was 85 degrees, breezy, and gorgeous. I, just having breakfast so far, found myself hungry and very thirsty so I changed shoes and grabbed a snack for the ride back home.

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Where did you hike for National Trails Day?

 

 

Interstate State Park -St. Croix Falls, WI/Taylor Falls, MN

Hi, we are back from our extended weekend adventure to Interstate State Park located on the border of WI and MN.I had been looking forward to this park for quite some time and in all honesty, I was quite disappointed. Not so much in the park itself but in the hiking trails.

The park itself was gorgeous….but if you are looking for a good hike, distance is not to be had here at all. Most hikes seem to be over before we even started. Even the hard rated hike of Summit Rock was quite easy. A beautiful hike but not difficult by any means.

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We also combined the Echo Canyon trail since they basically intersect. This brought us low and right next to the St Croix.

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After this we then added the River Bluff trail and the Lake O the Dalles trail to make our total hike a whopping 2.65 miles of hiking. However, we did find a few geocaches along this trail which added to the adventure.

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Like I said, someone could easily do this entire park in a few hours since nothing is very long. All these trails were accessed from the Summit Trail parking lot.

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After these we headed to another parking lot to do the most popular trail in the park according to the park ranger I spoke to before leaving home regarding hikes and fishing regulations. By this time, I was pretty much hoping for a spectacular hike since so far I was not thrilled. We arrived knowing it was a short hike(less than a half mile round trip) but apparently there are some amazing pot holes to see. Which there were when we got to them but nothing I would call amazing. At least not on the WI side of this park. Here is one picture I took of our friend standing inside one of the potholes.

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We then packed up and headed across HWY. 8 to the Minnesota side of the park and took the small hike of 8 city blocks to see their Pothole trail. This was much more impressive even if it was only 8 blocks long.

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The guys even resorted to making there own fun by doing pull ups on a pine tree branch.

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All in all both sides were very short, nice views but short. And by far if you are looking to see potholes in the rocks make your way to the Minnesota side since it is much more impressive.

The rest of the day we spent fishing on the WI side of the park and then headed back to camp which I will share this part of our trip next….when I have time to type it. Let me just say, camp was much more fun and we had some great laughs that’s for sure!!!!

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*****Yes, to answer the first question I will surely receive by many people looking to visit this park….you do need to pay on both sides if you do not have a WI state park pass and also a MN state park pass.

***** Yes, fishing rules are different on WI vs. MN sides so do your research and make sure you know what you can fish for and how to transport them over the state line if you plan to keep your catch.

Geocaching, Disc Golf, Fishing, Hiking….Just Not Enough Time In One Weekend

Do you ever feel like you never have enough time in one weekend to do everything you wish to do? We do quite often…this past weekend was one of them. However, we did fit in quite a bit of fun along with some chores that needed to be done also.

First off, Saturday morning we wanted to cross off a few things on the to do list so we made a trip to a local retailer to buy 8 bags of mulch.

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While I spread mulch around our house my husband prepared the boat for the 2017 season and also pressure washed outside toys, tables, chairs, and high chairs from the long winter. This always brightens up everything and is so easy to do.

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Add in a few loads of laundry and some bedding that was cleaned and hung outside to dry and it was now time to have some fun.

We finally went geocaching. In case you missed our new goal announcement, we have decided to section hike the entire Mountain Bay Trail and while doing this we also plan to search and find all the placed geocaches along the way.

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We searched and found all but two in a 4.5 mile section.One was not even attempted do to the width of the ditch of water that would have had to be jumped across and one was simply not located. The trail was quite quiet in this section and offered us some well deserved peace and quiet time.

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Oh, and without leaving out the best worst part of the whole hike, I can now add four more snakes to the list….these things literally make my heart skip a beat. I have a feeling it’s going to be a bad year for these little critters….or maybe I should say, a bad year for me since I seem to be the one to always find them.

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That sums up Saturday…. a productive, yet fun day.

Sunday I woke up later than my husband to breakfast prepared for me. How wonderful was that….I have the best husband ever, in my opinion.

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After breakfast we went fishing for a few hours on a local river. I am not the biggest fan of fishing but sometimes its fun to give it a try. Today was not my lucky day….I caught nothing!! My husband was the lucky one and caught two, both of which he threw back, but its the catch that is the exciting part not cleaning and eating of the catch.

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After this it was a quick trip home for lunch and to pick up our son after he was done working. We had made family plans to hit the disc golf course for the first time this year. This is always fun since we normally are pretty rusty at first. Although, to my surprise I did much better at this than fishing. My first basket I achieved in two throws….with disgust from both my husband and my son. Ahhh, it sure felt good to throw a disc again.

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18 baskets later and it was home for dinner and relaxation time before the week once again.

 

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

This was the only state park we visited while in the state of Tennessee. Located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties and it surrounds the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau. We explored two waterfalls while here, Fall Creek Falls and Cane creek Falls.

Even when you take into consideration that we visited here without a plan, in mid January, and really only came to hike a quick hike to the Fall Creek Falls itself…..our visit here ended up being quite amazing. Now, apparently, there is an inn, campsites, cabins and meeting rooms for, I would assume, weddings and such…..we saw non of this. Like I said, it was quickly planned and we went directly to the trailhead we were seeking without any extra exploration.

Upon arrival to the trailhead we found ample parking, great signage, and an overlook for anyone not hoping to hike down to the falls itself.

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All very gorgeous and easily accessible……but we were looking to hike. So down into the gorge we headed.

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It was amazing. The terrain was mostly rock with some dirt trail here and there. We knew to be careful not to turn an ankle since the park ranger we spoke to upon arriving told us many individuals do injure themselves on this trail.

Beside the falls itself, our favorite spot we found to explore was a crevice in the rock that we all crawled into. If you recall in Sedona, the new family rule is I only hike on trails that are as wide as my hips and thankfully my hips fit through this crevice which meant I could also explore with my boys.

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Eventually you arrive at the end of the trail and two waterfalls roaring over the edge into the gorge.

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After we all did some exploring in this area it was time to head back out of the gorge and see if we could find our way to Cane Creek Falls.

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Although, by the time we reached the top again, we were hot…. in January…..again just amazing, so it was time do some adjusting to our zip off hiking pants.

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To reach Cane Creek Falls you followed a fairly smooth trail through some dense wooded areas with lookouts along the way.

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For us the lookouts were quite a disappointment since you could see very little if anything around the over grown tree line. So we headed a bit further down the trail to what we had read was a swinging bridge. How fun does that sound right? Well, it was fun, shaky and a bit unnerving to see cables with only, what I refer to as, chicken wire for edges. However, you only live once, so we all crossed it once and then twice to return to our vehicle from there.

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Our entire hike took us 5.3 miles through this state park.

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The park service rated this hike as strenuous and going into the gorge down to the falls I would agree simply because of the terrain. With that being said, I think anyone not disabled could do this at a comfortable pace per individual.

The trail to Cane Creek Falls I would rate as easy….since there is very little rock to be scrambling over to reach the overlooks.