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.

 

 

 

Tips For Hiking In Sedona, Arizona

We learned a few things really fast with our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. And even though we only spent three full days hiking the desert trails and exploring the area, I know these tips will come in handy for anyone else visiting the area also. So I thought I would share some with you all today.

#1 WATER: You would think this would be obvious desert hiking but from what we saw, it was not! You will need water and lots of it. We planned two hikes per day and even kept a gallon jug in our SUV to refill our water containers between trailheads. Yes, its warm and not very refreshing to drink warm water, but it’s water and in the desert water is a necessity.

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#2 BOOTS/HIGH SOCKS: We were told to bring boot and higher socks to protect our legs from cactus plants that are sometimes very near the trail edge. This was a great recommendation since both my husband and son rubbed up against a cactus while hiking. These plants are vicious and you don’t want to get to close.

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#3 GPS/TRAIL MAPS: I did alot of research on what trails we wanted to hike during this trip. We, however, ended up adding two extra and changing one up due to rain we received overnight in our area. Which meant we did not have all the proper maps with us. Although, we did have the GPS which meant we were just fine. Most trails are marked very well in the Sedona area but it’s also very easy to get turned around or get on an intersecting trail by mistake. At each and every trailhead we hiked, we marked our vehicle so we knew no matter what we could find it again.

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#4 RED ROCK PASS IS REQUIRED: Some trailheads require a RED ROCK pass to park at the assigned lot. Many…..and I mean many people do not get them and then are upset when they return and find a ticket on the windshield. These passes are cheap, can be purchased by the day, week or year, and are easily located throughout the area at different businesses. We bought ours our first night at the Safeway Grocery Store(located on SR89A), for the week which was $15. They can also be purchased right at the trailhead if you wish.

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#5 TRAILHEAD PARKING LOTS: A few things here….arriving early makes it much easier to find a spot. They fill very quickly, especially on the weekends. Second, some have bathroom facilities and some do not. And the ones that do, don’t always have toilet paper in them….so bring some and leave it in your vehicle just in case. They are all pit toilets with no water at all….so prepare to clean your hands on your own. Lastly, some are located on back forest roads that require a high clearance vehicle. I researched which ones did and did not before deciding where we would start each hike. And when they say a high clearance vehicle is needed here, they mean it……here is one forest road with huge ruts in it.

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#6 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES: There are signs everywhere to protect your valuables at the trailheads. We had no issues but we also left nothing but water and jackets in our vehicle while hiking.

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#7 READ THE SIGNS: All trails are different…..some allow dogs, some tell you what to do and not do, and some tell you exactly what will happen if you do something stupid. Read them ,follow them, and keep this place beautiful for everyone.

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#8 YOU WILL BE DIRTY: Hiking here for us was a whole different experience that back home. We spent alot more time using our rear ends to get back down many different areas, our boots were covered in red dust by the end of the day, and we had red dust lines where are socks ended. Everyone around us had dirty backsides and the same red dust coating there skin. So prepare to be dirty but have a great time getting this way.

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#9 HAVE A PLAN B: We were (un)fortunate enough to receive rain one evening while we were here and that made us change up our plans for the next day due to where we had planned to hike. Although, everything turned out fabulous and we could not have picked a better alternate hike because it ended up being my favorite of the entire vacation. So even though you have a plan, be flexible.

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#10 SEDONA IS NOT A CHEAP PLACE TO EAT OUT: We were very fortunate to have an awesome hotel with a great balcony facing the mountains that made meal times even more special for us. We did eat out one evening(the evening we arrived) and the bill was over $50 for three sandwiches and two lemonades. (That to me is expensive) So we headed to one of the many grocery stores and picked up breakfast items for four days since we planned to leave earlier in the mornings to hike. And dinner every evening was also bought here and enjoyed on our balcony. It was cheaper, tasty, and I did not have to keep my boots on to eat:-) We met many of the same hikers every evening doing the same thing and all covered in dirt which made us not feel so bad.

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We did not do hardly any shopping in Sedona’s downtown area. We drove through it to get to the Oak Creek scenic drive and it’s was bustling with many people. We did locate two outfitters while here and found one had much more “needed” supplies and one was more a clothing/fashion outfitter. We did visit one park while here, Grasshopper Point, simply because my husband had a wish to jump off a canyon wall into the water. Which he fulfilled.

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Other than that we hiked everyday. We enjoyed our hotel pool and all the warm sunshine.

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We enjoyed our first ever acai bowls(We all ordered the Summit Bowl) as a treat one evening.(Again, I thought super costly, 3 smalls were $30)(Although, the smalls were HUGE)

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If you plan to visit this area and have specific questions for me, feel free to comment and I will answer them if I can.

(***Keep in mind that we were here strictly to hike, it was the end of October and temps never got above 87 degrees)

*** To see the 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.

 

 

Twenty Three Years Ago….

Twenty three years ago my husband presented me with a beautiful diamond ring, his vow to love and cherish me forever, and to be by my side in sickness and in health.

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I am happy to say today we still love each other as much as we did all those years ago and maybe even more. We have both tested the limits in the sickness and the health department and have stuck by each others side through it all. The one big thing that has changed are that diamonds are not the key to my heart anymore. Yes they are beautiful, yes I would accept them if they were presented to me, but he knows exactly the type of rock I prefer if he is looking to make me a very happy wife. And thanks to all his hard work,  once again this year we spent another anniversary climbing/hiking the dusty, gritty, gorgeous rocks of the southwest in Sedona, Arizona this past week.

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This was dream come true!!!! We spent everyday on the desert trails hiking to some of the best places I have ever seen in my life.

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I can’t wait to fill you all in on our adventures in this area. We hiked 6 different hikes, had some awesome meals on the hotel balcony overlooking the mountain sunsets and relaxed in a pool and it’s the end of October. Now that right there is amazing in itself being we are from the midwest and its already WAY TO COLD HERE TO SWIM!!!

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Thanks honey for a fabulous 23 years……I love you!

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More to come real soon….

 

I Can Cross One More Thing Off My Bucket List

Hello Hello, we are back from our trip to Sedona, Arizona and let me just say, it was a dream come true.

I have tons of photos to scan through, tons of laundry covered in red rock dust to do, three little ones begging for my attention, a stack of mail to read, a yard covered in more leaves and…….well, you get the point. So for right now, know that I am working on blog posts to share with all of you. Everything from pointers we learned while in this area to some of the most spectacular hikes I have ever been on in my entire life.

As for that bucket list summit, it’s done….here is the proof.

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Time To Kick It Up A Notch…..Our Training Plan For Arizona Hiking

Yes, you read that correctly…..I am finally headed to another destination on my bucket list…..Sedona, Arizona!!!!!! OMG…excited is an understatement.

With this destination comes another training plan so I can make sure I can reach my goals while I am there. Hiking, of course, is the activity we have planned. And with hiking mountains comes switchbacks and elevation which all leads to pain the next morning upon waking up to use the restroom. Trust me when I say that the toilet seems much lower than any other toilet you have ever sat on the morning after you have hiked up a mountain side. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the pain I am going to try and avoid this time around. Anyone that has ever hiked elevation knows exactly what I am talking about….for the rest of you, just try and imagine sitting down and not knowing if your legs will be able to pick your body weight back up again. It’s pure muscle pain, like no other!!!

So I have a plan. Again, like times in the past, we will be training as a family, but at different times and different levels.  I need to listen to my body and not over do it since I still have some scar tissue issues happening in my abdomen. My husband has knee issues that we are hoping to #1 strengthen before leaving and #2 remedy some with the trekking poles he is going to purchase for this trip. And our son, who is also joining us, just needs to find time to exercise in general. He has a lot on his schedule being it’s summer and he works two jobs.

So the plan looks a bit like this for my husband and I:

Monday: stair climb and hill walking.

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Tuesday: recumbent bike, weights

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Wednesday: 3-5 mile walk…. which ultimately we will consider our rest day since walking is more a relaxing, end of the day activity for me than actual exercise.

Thursday: stair climb, hill walking

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Friday: recumbent bike, weights

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Saturday: random…..paddling, walking, hiking, yoga, elliptical etc.

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Sunday: stair climb and hill walking

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Thankfully, we are very lucky to live near all these types of challenges. We actually live at the bottom of a fairly large hill so walking up and down this hill is very convenient. And our steps are located at a nearby middle school which also is withing walking distance of our home, again very convenient. And with our downstairs full of workout equipment and a gym membership, we are set for success.

Here’s to a great few weeks of preparation………

Questions For All My Readers

****Have you been to Sedona, Arizona? Do you have any recommendations on what we should make sure we do or see? I would love to here them.

****Are you a trekking pole user when you hike? 

Summing Up Our Zion and Bryce Canyon Family Vacation With Some Pointers For Others Planning A Family Hiking Trip

As you can tell from the last few posts we had an amazing time vacationing in Zion and Bryce National Parks. I credit our amazing time to a lot of research, planning, and mostly to what we learned from our guides the first time my husband and I took a guided trip to this area two years ago.

On this trip we were on our own and I want to share some pointers to help anyone else have a successful trip, as we did, to this same area..

#1 Trail Map: This is something you do not want to forget….and if you do go back for it! You are hiking in the desert where it is easy to miss a turn off, get injured, and with mountains surrounding you on all sides cell service is quite limited. We found a family on our trail through Echo Canyon miles from the trail they had been searching for. When asked if they had a trail map, their response was, NO we forgot it.

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#2 Cell Phone: Bring it just in case you would need help and are lucky enough to get a signal.

#3 First Aid: You don’t need much but you also should never be without some first aid items. We actually offered some of our first aid supplies to a family we met on the trail because they left theirs back in camp. You may not get so lucky and meet someone on some of the more remote trails and an injury could really make the hike back miserable.

#4 Headlamp: We all think and plan to be done hiking and out by sunset, although you really never know what will happen until it happens. Hiking out of the mountains in darkness can be even more dangerous than in daylight. So carrying a small light weight headlamp is a smart idea and worth the extra pack weight.

#5 WATER: I cannot stress this enough. You will need water, and a lot of water. If you are doing more than one trail in the park you will be able to refill water containers at each trail head in Zion NP.

#6 Do not feed the wildlife: There is a fine in the national park if you are caught feeding the wildlife.

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#8 Snacks: Bring trail snacks and don’t worry about counting calories while hiking. You will need the energy and will burn the calories quickly here with all the elevation so eat often. IMG_1818 #9 Flash flood warnings and weather: Check the park website for the flash flood and weather forecast warnings everyday. If it’s too high, choose an alternate trail for the day.

#10 Have an alternate plan: Keep in mind that accidents happen and this is a remote area so it takes search and rescue personnel sometimes hours or days to reach people in need. Have an alternate plan if you would come across your chosen trail head and find it closed due to search and rescue trying to find someone. We thankfully did our first hike into Echo Canyon on our first day because the second day the trail was closed down all day and night due to search and rescue trying to help someone.

#11 Permit/Back country Passes: Research before you hike and make sure your chosen trail is not one that requires you to have a permit or pass. Some do and some don’t.

#12 Sunscreen/Hat: Desert sun is hot, lather up and wear a hat if you can.

#13 Adequate Shoes/Boots: You will come across cactus, snakes, wildlife, dirt, rock, water, and so on. Wear adequate shoes/boots.  IMG_1992

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#14 Electrolyte Replacement: I will attest to this personally…..you will sweat like crazy here in the summer time. Prepare to have some sort of electrolyte replacement with you on the trail.

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#15 Groceries: Bring what you can from home or stop in the nearest town before arriving at the park. Groceries are outrageous here….a jar of salsa in the local store we saw was $8 compared to maybe $2 here at our home store.  Clif bars were $3.50 each. We brought all our trail food from home and thankfully did not have to purchase anything at the little grocery store near the park.

#16 Bring Ziplocs: These are priceless….great ice packs for sore muscles, water proofing personal items in the Narrows, rain protection, keeping your packs organized, carryout, sealable garbage bag, etc.

#17 Have Fun: A vacation like this takes a lot of planning but if all goes smoothly you should have tons of fun, leave exhausted, and have memories that will last a life time. I know we did, we were, and we have all of these:)

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Feel free to email me or comment if you have any questions in regards to anything you see or that we did. I will be glad to answer anything I can for you.

 

 

I Feel a Vacation Coming….

The winter of 2014 will be forever in our minds as the winter of below zero temperatures for 49 days straight. Lately, we have had temps up to 75 and now we are back down to the thirties in the morning hours. I simply can’t believe we have had to turn our heat back on!!! That being said, I really feel the need to do something about where we live.

I know what your all thinking. I just have spring fever. Although, I seriously think it’s more than that. I may have winter pneumonia. I have lived in this city for every single one of my 41 years of life. That’s 41 winters I have remarkably survived. Now, I admit maybe when I was young it was not so bad, but the last 10 years have truly been torture. So, I came up with this plan and ran it by my husband.  He always gets so worried when I say, “Honey, I have a plan…!” (I personally think he just needs to relax) Much to my surprise, he agreed to my plan after very little thought.

We are going to take our first winter vacation ever in 2015. We have decided (ok, so maybe I decided and let him know about it) to go back to the Southwest area where it is toasty warm and sunny.

We visited this same general area for the first time back in September 2013 when we traveled with REI to Zion National Park. This was by far the best vacation I had ever been on. We arrived in the REI van as passengers and it literally brought tears to my eyes at what I saw everywhere around me. I must admit, this was also the most emotional vacation I had ever taken. I cried three times in three days and for no reason other than I was so happy there. I was in my element with sun, hot temperatures and mountains all around me. Someday I have to believe I will live in this area, but until then, I plan to visit and explore every mile that I can.

This time we will be going at it on our own with no guides. We are also not visiting any national parks. Utah in winter has snow, so we plan to go a little more south to avoid the nasty white stuff. I hate to say it because winter 2014 is not that far behind us, but I am actually excited for winter 2015 to arrive. Now that’s a scary thought!

My hope is that by going on a warm vacation for a few days it will at least break up the endless days of freezing temperatures and make winter not seem so long and dreadful for me. It’s the best we can do at this point in our lives so I will take it as a blessing that I will have one week mid winter of glorious sunshine and warmth.

Do any of you vacation mid winter somewhere warm and sunny?

Does it help with the endless days of winter?