We Still Do….After 25 Years

This past week we spent as a family in Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our 25th anniversary. To celebrate this occasion we did something somewhere very special to us and it could not have been more perfect.

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That picture right there is Doe Mountain…a place that will forever have great meaning in our hearts. That is where I dreamed of saying I Do all over again and my dreams came true on this day.

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We married very young, we have had many struggles, we have gone through many things together and never once have we left each others side through it all. Today, looking back, I can honestly say that it all made us stronger and so much more grateful for each other. So to make it to this milestone in our lives together where we could celebrate in a big way was something we worked very hard to do. We came up with the idea a year ago to renew our wedding vows on our anniversary but I wanted to do this at the top of this mountain…not on ground level. Yes, crazy I am…..but I was determined to find a minister that could and would be willing to make this happen for us. So I started contacting ministers in the Sedona area and I was quickly shot down by six of them as soon as they heard my destination. That is, until I contacted the 7th one on my list and after talking with him, he kindly agreed to hike with us to the top, let us pick our place atop the summit, and perform the ceremony all while our son photographed the entire time.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018 we arrived at the trailhead parking lot and waited patiently the arrival of our minister, Reverend Ken Froessel.

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We said our hellos and began our hike up the mountain.

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This was to be a completely casual affair. However, our kind and thoughtful minister asked if we would mind if he changed into his hiking boots to make the climb instead of his normal wedding attire shoes he arrived in. I simply said of course, we are planning to wear our boots, he may as well also.

We said our vows on this point looking out into the canyon. It was perfect. Something we will never forget.

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After all was said and done we took some more pictures, he presented us with a copy of the vows we had just promised to each other, and then said our goodbyes as he headed back down the mountain while we stayed up to enjoy more of the summit.

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It was a dream come true. A day that will forever hold great meaning in our hearts.

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I could not be more honored to be married to this man. He is my rock….the person that I know, no matter what, I can lean on. Here’s to many more ahead of us babe.

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Trails Are Picked Out And Now It’s Time To Train For This Adventure

Recently our son stopped over for a visit and I tossed out to both my boys (husband and son) a suggestion that we really should consider looking at preparing a training schedule for our upcoming trip to Sedona, AZ. Surprisingly enough, both agreed! This brought a small chuckle to my inner self. It’s funny how when mom (me) plans a vacation it takes 10-12 weeks to prepare for this vacation. We know this because after attempting once to do one of these vacations without training….we have all learned the hard way. Training makes what I love to do on vacation so much more pleasant in the long run. IMG_5837

So this is what we came up with. We agreed 10 weeks should be enough time to accomplish what we need. I have already picked out all our hikes, summits, and activities that will take the toll on our bodies. All the rest of the fun should be easy and just plain fun. We know the area already since we have visited once before so we all agreed incline strengthening is the most important.

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Along with some higher mileage walks/hikes added in, this should prepare us for the adventures we have planned. Planning was the easy part….now finding time, energy, and the area where we can do this is the tricky part. Although, I think I have it set. Here is the plan….

First, let me say WI is flat!!!! In the past we did steps to help us prepare at a near by track field. This year, however, we will not be doing those steps. Why you ask??? Simply stated, they are concrete and torture, to put it mildly!

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Plus, we know we will not be boulder climbing, for the most part, like in the past, so a hilly incline to climb up and down numerous times is more what we need. Thankfully, we have a new grassy hill near our home and it will be perfect.

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Second, we know we need to up our mileage from our normal walking/hiking distance. So we have a great hilly trail on the UWGB campus that worked perfectly for our last vacation and we plan to use this same trail again to up the distance for this upcoming trip. Three laps of this trail almost add up to 10 miles which is perfect.

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Plus, we have many rail trails that go on forever. We could easily take our pick of rail trails and just walk until we can’t walk anymore.

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Last, finding time will probably the hardest part. We are planning on twice during the week in the evenings and once on the weekend. Add this with my normal daily early morning workouts and I should be plenty exhausted. Although, I still plan to take Fridays off of all exercise since, after all, it is Friday and every body needs a rest day. If my husband is on the road traveling for work this schedule could get a bit tricky for him. He works long hours on the road so he may or may not miss out on some training days. He typically takes workout clothes to hit up his hotel gym but sometimes this works out and sometimes it does not depending on his schedule. It will be what it will be.

Like usual many people ask us every time if its worth all the work we go through to go on vacation. I can honestly say, no matter how much we dislike the preparation, the reward is so worth it. Anyone that has had a goal and has accomplished that goal by putting in hard work to get there will know…..it is so worth the effort!Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

If your in the Sedona, AZ area and have any recommendations for us let us know. I would love to hear from others what they found to be the best hikes, restaurants, places to explore and so on.

Spring Is Here….But We Are Still So Limited

According to the calendar Spring arrived a few days ago and I clearly am not feeling the excitement yet. Yes, we have been able to get outside for short bursts of time here and there but come on already…I am so over winter!

One weekend we got out and walked in just sweatshirts on a local trail.

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The next weekend my husband wanted to try out his new fishing reel and I wanted to wander the wooded area near the rivers edge while he did this. We both needed winter jackets once again unlike the weekend before we only needed sweatshirts.

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We arrived and he balanced on ice along the shore hoping it did not break

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while I only made it a little ways down the trail before hitting snow and ice.

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And that’s when I noticed this fella fishing in the river with neoprene waiters on. BRRRRR!!!! I don’t care how thick and warm those waiters are….there is no way he was not freezing his %$##@ off. In my eyes this was crazy….in a fishermans eyes this is dedication. All I can say is I sure hope he caught something for all his effort.

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On a brighter note…and much warmer topic…our gym got an overhaul and I could not be more thrilled. I walked in a week after missing out for illness and wow I was excited. Almost 15 years ago now I began my health journey and my first piece of exercise equipment was a stepper at a very small gym. Then I left that gym and never found another with this piece of equipment until now….our gym has two brand new seated step machines. WHOOHOOO!!!!

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Plus, they added 3 of my next favorite machines…rowers!

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So now when I go to my early morning workout session I mix things up a bit. I am all about cardio and do weights simply because I have to. And you all know if you’ve been following for awhile that when we train for our vacations we utilize real concrete steps at a local high school. Concrete steps=torture!

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We have been seen here a lot with boots on doing flights of stairs in the heat and humidity many times. Well…..never again! I can just go to the gym now and step until I cannot step anymore. And I can even wear my hiking boots if I wish to get strange looks from other gym members which I may just do. After all, you cannot climb mountains with out strong legs now can you.

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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.

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#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!

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#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.

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#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.

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#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!!

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#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.

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#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.

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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.

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#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.

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#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.

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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.

 

Recent Random Thoughts

Hi, how is your week going? Mine is good….and almost over, yeh!!! Just a few more hours to go.

With no great workouts to share with you all since I am mostly just walking area trails and riding my bike giving my body time to heal, I thought I would share some random things today. My brain is often like a never ending trail to nowhere and sharing it sometimes helps relieve some of the “pressure” shall we say.

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I’ve been up to a lot but at the same time not so much….is that possible? Makes no sense I know but that is how I feel lately. Summer has not been what I thought it would be and now we are into August and we all know what that means….it’s almost over! It’s weird to think my mind still runs on the school calendar when my son has not been in grade school for years already. How do us moms break out of this and just take every day as it is….I haven’t figured that out quite yet but I am working on it? Which is why, as of the end of August, I consider summer over. However, I know in my mind we have plenty of nice days left in September and even some in October but ultimately it comes to an end so quickly.

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Speaking of September and October, I do believe I have over booked all our weekends once again for these two months. Fall is the best time in my opinion to hike, camp, explore the area and enjoy harvest time. Bugs are dying down some, colors start to appear, veggies are plenty, and it’s cooler so camping and hiking are much more pleasurable. Now I just have to find a way to tell my husband I only left him two weekends for hunting in the fall months….he may not like this very much!

Anyhow, let me tell about some treasures I have found lately. First, I must give a big shout out to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market here in our area. We have fell in love with their meat department and if you know me, that is saying A LOT! I am not a meat lover but my husband is. I have a hard time buying it, preparing it and eating it but my attitude has changed a bit since this store has opened. We are loving their meats.

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I have also found an essential oil room freshener that I love and does not cost an arm and a leg. (I paid $7) I hate chemical fresheners and don’t want the overwhelming smell of a plug in oil freshener since I don’t want the aroma all the time. Which makes this spray perfect and I can use it when I wish and not gag when I spray it in my home like the chemical fresheners cause me to do. I know it says it can be used as a body mist also but I have not gone this route…I strictly use it for our home and vehicles.

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Once again I am attempting to grow my green thumb and I am going to try and grow a prickly pear plant or two. We fell in love with this fruit in Arizona and I recently kept the seeds from one we purchased here in WI. I would bet it’s not going to grow and if it does it may not survive but I have to give it a try. Here’s hoping for a touch of the southwest in good old Green Bay. On the flip side, if I do not succeed at growing one myself I can always plan another trip for fresh fruit. I know none of my family would object to returning to this area.

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Speaking of vacations, we are inching our way closer to our next one and I cannot wait to step foot on the A.T.( Appalachian Trail) once again. Back in January 2017 I made this dream come true and finally got to log some miles on the A.T. with my husband and son. Our next trip will bring us back to the A.T. only in a different state and I plan to log even more miles and hopefully make more wonderful memories. However, this time it will be just the two of us since our son recently started his new job and is not bale to join us for this adventure.

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That shall be it for today. Enjoy your weekend…..that’s my plan.

 

 

 

Mescal Trail Hike-Sedona, Arizona

The Mescal Trail was the trail we decided to add on to one of our days. My husband fell in love with hiking through the desert terrain and wasn’t ready to be done one day so we ventured down this trail for a little over a mile and then backtracked the same mile for our return. From what I have researched, this trail does make a loop and would be about 5 miles total if this loop was completed. However, we knew we only had about an hour before darkness set in and there was no way I was hiking in the desert in the dark. Clearly, there are animals that can bit through this wicked cactus that I do not wish to meet in daylight much less darkness!!!!

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This trail seemed to be utilized by a lot of mountain bikers. Yet, we did cross paths with hikers also and when we did cross paths with mountain bikers they were respectful and gave us on foot the right of way. (Odd to see, because the bikers we see on WI trails do not do this)

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For the majority of the trail that we did hike, it was flat to little incline and offered quite an open feel to the desert. Unlike the Fay Canyon Trail, which is more enclosed and has tree cover, this was a mostly a sunny trail and I bet it could get pretty hot mid day.

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I wish we had something like this near us to walk after working all day. It was a nice peaceful walk and great scenery from every direction.

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The bit we did of this hike I would rate as easy.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.