Some Real Talk Moments…..

As you all know Halloween rolled around, we changed our clocks, woke up and began November with cold, darkness, and ultimately then a bit of snow arrived. And if you love winter I am sure your thrilled about all these changes…..for me it’s been a long month! Besides all this change we had so much more happening behind the scenes here that I honestly found solace in some quality alone time. I decided to make a huge change to my daily routine and began going to the gym at 5:00a.m.. And let me tell you….this has truly changed my daily dynamics completely. Somehow this, that, and the other all changed and I have free time now from 5-7a.m. and its perfect time for me to get in a great workout, free my mind of the constant boxing match happening up there, and get some endorphin help to make me feel alive at a time of year I just want to crawl under the covers and not come out until mid March. Anybody else feel this way when winter rolls around?

IMG_7994

So let’s see, November has been good. Challenging but good. We have had work issues to deal with pertaining to all three of us this month.One job change(our son), I am waiting for maternity leaves to be over and then I will be back up to my happy stress level of kids once again, and the other issue is my husband is traveling one day and the next it is cancelled. Which results in literally driving this very organized person (me) completely crazy with frustration!!!! I am a total, get your %$#@ together or don’t plan on me being part of it, kind of person. So when he says he is leaving I plan for him not to be here…and then all of a sudden he is here which means I need to replan once again. Frustration I tell you, complete frustration.OK, that rant is over with….lets move on.

IMG_9904

I always feel pressured to get my Christmas shopping done since I really dislike the crowds at this time of year. To help with this task my husband and I once again made our annual bus trip to Illinois to spend the day shopping, eating, and enjoying life away from the daily grind at home. This all started a few years ago and now it has turned into a yearly event for us. He is the best package carrier ever and all I have to do is promise to feed him from Whole Foods hot bar for lunch every year. It’s a LONG day but so worth it. We always find treasures and deals we can’t find here in Green Bay and there is no stress since the bus ticket is cheap and we don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, getting lost or anything. Just shop, eat, and have fun.

IMG_9889

IMG_9896

IMG_9893

I took my first ever structured yoga class with a friend and it was life changing. Since starting yoga on a regular basis at home my back has gotten significantly stronger and has been feeling better. I thought a class taught by a professional would correct any form issues I could be having so this was the thought behind the class I took. I will honestly say that after class I was pleasantly surprised by how much I got out of it. I am planning on taking 1-2 classes a week for the time being. And I am looking at them as more of an active recovery day than anything. Movement is medicine in my situation and a day off with absolutely nothing is worse than anything so this should be perfect for me on my exercise recovery days.

IMG_9802

We once again broke out our yearly winter pass time activity of jig saw puzzles. This for me is a huge turning point since it really means my time outside is going to be next to none for the next five months.

IMG_6233

I do have something pretty big waiting in the back ground for me to begin planning after the first of the year. My husband and I have decided to renew our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary in 2018. I have a few ideas rolling around in my head but so far nothing is set in stone yet. I will say, the ceremony will be small…..simply because not a single person in our families will be joining us except our son. Why you may wonder…..well, none of them are willing to climb the mountain I wish to have the ceremony on top of. I have however, found a minister that is willing to hike this route and do the honors, so I may have to add in a bit more compensation than his usual and customary fee just for his effort.

IMG_5730

And one last thing to share with you…check this little morsel of yum out! I was shopping at a local grocery and they had these in the seafood case. They called them volcano shrimp. I asked what they were exactly and the employee said they are cooked shrimp wrapped in sweet potato strands sprinkled with ginger. Well, I had to give one a try. I brought it home, baked it for 10 minutes as directed, and shared it with one of my daycare kids. She cried when it was gone and I felt like crying too since it was the only one I bought. IT WAS SO YUMMY!!! Now I am determined to try and make them myself. Really, how hard can they be right? I just have to get my spiralizer back from the friend I borrowed it to and then we will have many more of these to enjoy with no tears when they are gone.

IMG_9876

That should do it for now. Have a great Thanksgiving.

 

Advertisements

Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park/Hiking Brandywine Falls

Finishing up our Virginia vacation was a planned stop about 4 hours into our 16 hour drive home at Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park to hike Brandywine Gorge Trail.  I knew we would need to stretch our legs and this national park was on the route home so we figured why not stop and check it out.

We arrived at the parking lot for the trail and found ample parking and bathrooms.

IMG_9758

IMG_9759

The trail is 1.5 miles long and offers a great view of the Brandywine Falls. It starts out as a boardwalk to the falls.

IMG_9760

IMG_9764

IMG_9766

With upper and lower viewing platforms easily accessible.

IMG_9768

IMG_9777

IMG_9783

Then you follow the path up and over the actual waterfall and begin to follow a crushed gravel path.

IMG_9786

This crushed gravel path leads you a short ways until you then make a left hand turn down a rocky slope. Eventually it leads back to a crushed gravel path ending back at the parking lot after following the river bank.

IMG_9789

IMG_9793

I liked this park. Off the beaten path and not well known meant not a whole lot of people were here. We did see many families with small children although, I can only guess its because its close to residential homes. There was no fee for entrance into this park and its widely spread out over a few miles if you want to explore all it has to offer. We did not explore, simply stopped to hike and stretch and then got back to driving as far as we could before night fall.

This was our last stop before returning home from a week of mountain hiking and relaxation…or at least what we call relaxation. It was quite the vacation and I am already beginning to plan our next adventure. We have a big anniversary coming up in 2018 and we plan to celebrate big……with more big mountains of course.

 

 

 

 

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!!!!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!

IMG_9201

IMG_9199

IMG_9196

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.

IMG_9250

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.

IMG_9249

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.

IMG_9254

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

IMG_9266

I was in charge of meals for the weekend.

IMG_9255

IMG_9373

IMG_9374

IMG_9356

 

IMG_9361

IMG_9273

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.

IMG_9344

IMG_9351

IMG_9371

IMG_9362

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.

IMG_9277

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.

IMG_9385

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.

IMG_9396

IMG_9400

IMG_9401

IMG_9410

IMG_9406

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.

IMG_9390

IMG_9252

IMG_9377

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.

IMG_9415

IMG_9419

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!

IMG_9264

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A Weekend Full Of Food And Fun

What an adventurous weekend I had in both the fun and food I was able to experience.Saturday I had plans with a friend to hit up a festival and a flee market both at two separate spots here in the area.

IMG_8993

One ended up being a bit of a flop and one ended up being a big garage sale. So needless to say we were done with both adventures in an hour and half. And at least 30 minutes of this time was spent eating breakfast from a BBQ food truck since our sandwiches were too messy to walk and enjoy at the same time.

IMG_8994

IMG_8995

She had a bacon,egg, and cheese croissant and I had a pulled pork sandwich with a poached egg on top with cheese. Mine was good but super messy.

Then, since we both did not want to return home yet….it was only 9:45 in the morning after all…we decided to head to Appleton to hit up World Market an Penzey’s Spices. I love both these stores.

IMG_8996

We also hit up a new boutique back in DePere and found some very unique things. I however, bought nothing. I love knick knacks and stuff to decorate my home but at the same time I hate to dust. So the more I buy the more things I need to dust. Although, it was fun looking around.

IMG_9003

The highlight of our day ended up being lunch. I have been trying to get her here for some time but as usual, life always kept getting in the way. However, this time we made it and wow it was amazing. It’s a deli type restaurant where they serve sandwiches, soups, chips and usually a pasta/grain salad of sorts. Although, in my opinion, the sandwiches are so large that nothing extra is really needed.

IMG_8999

We both had the “Late Night” which is their version of a reuben sandwich. Only this one has pickled red cabbage with cranberries mixed in. It is so absolutely wonderful words can’t describe.

IMG_9001

And then Sunday arrived and I should have gotten out of bed as I did Saturday before anything else got in the way and went to the gym. However, this did not happen. I was tired, bed was warm, and my husband offered to make my favorite breakfast if I stayed home and skipped the gym. That was all I needed to hear and I happily stayed home.

IMG_7357

After breakfast we quickly did some chores and were on the road and headed to the river for a 4 hour float once again. The last time we did this it was so relaxing and refreshing. So we had to get it in one more time before the river turns too chilly for my liking. And without a doubt this time was just as wonderful as the last…..so relaxing!!!

IMG_9011

IMG_9017

 

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.

IMG_8914

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.

IMG_8886

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.

IMG_8884

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!

IMG_8784

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.

IMG_8902

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.

IMG_8907

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.

IMG_8912

IMG_8910

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.

IMG_8891

IMG_8899

IMG_8888

IMG_8895