Primitive Camping Actually Means Four Wheel Drive Camping

When I booked our campsite for our weekend near Interstate State Park I knew I wanted a site away from all the action, the entrance, and the shower house. Plus, I needed a site that could accommodate three tents since their were five people in our party. Typically, campgrounds do not let three tents on one site plus two vehicles but this campground had a sight away from all the action and big enough for us all. Perfect…..right? The lady said it was a quiet site and primitive…..she forgot to mention that we would need a vehicle capable of making it to the site. Thankfully, we did not have our Honda Civic for this trip since that would have been even funnier than it already was.

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We arrived mid afternoon and began setting up immediately. Three tents up, gathering wood for campfires, and organizing camp.

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I then left to find the nearest bathroom since the middle of the night was not that far off. Needless to say, it was quite a distance to walk at 2a.m. in bear country, so I knew if need be it would be a quick trip to the nearest tree. Life goes on…I did ask for primitive.

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After camp was set the guys were all itching to get in some fishing. So after a quick lesson for one of our friends on how to tie fishing lure knots, we headed to the river.

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I wandered around the park we found while the guys tried fishing. However, it did not take long to see that the fish were not biting here so we headed back to camp for dinner and a campfire. Our son taught our friend how to light a campfire with flint and steel which is always fun. Some succeed and some do not….he did very well.

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Saturday morning I climbed out of my tent to see this beautiful sunrise before we visited Interstate State Park both in WI and MN to hike. You can read more about that adventure here.

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After a day of hiking and fishing at the parks we headed back to camp once again to clean and prepare their catch.

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For those of us that were not into the “cave man” type of eating…..roasted fish on a stick (that would be me) they also made some fillets. All while I threw together a quick cheesy taco casserole.

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And just as I watched the sun rise on the day I also watched it set feeling like we had a pretty fun day.

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A Trial Run Camping In Our SUV

This past weekend I threw out an impromptu camping trip to my husband where we would sleep in our SUV. Back when we purchased the vehicle the salesman laughed at me when I asked to see all the back seats lowered down and I then crawled in to make sure we fit in the back length wise. I simply looked at him and said, “I plan to sleep back here while camping.” My husband and the salesman then both looked at me with an expression of your kidding right? Ha, would I ever say something I did not mean…NEVER! So, a few months after having the vehicle my husband and I made a trip to the hardware store for a sheet of plywood and he got to work.

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And then life happened and we never had to opportunity to test it out due to his back injury and then my surgery. Which meant, this weekend seemed to be the perfect opportunity to finally do so. Campgrounds are not full yet since it’s too cold, which meant we could easily show up at any park and be guaranteed a site without a reservation. After throwing a few needs and some quick food into the vehicle we headed out. We picked a state park about 45 minutes from home.

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Upon arrival it was cold…and windy…..very windy. He gathered wood around our campsite for heat and I made up our sleeping area.

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Then we did some exploring nearby, did a little fishing, took a drive, and came upon a new park we had never seen before. I can see us returning here when it’s paddle season.

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By this time the wind was starting to calm down a bit so we returned to the campground and he made a big fire to keep us warm.

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We later took a short walk around the campground and it was so great to see the leaves finally emerging from their pods. Summer is coming:-)

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As evening progressed we started to get hungry. Our choice for dinner were freeze dried meals we had on hand from home that we quickly grabbed. Two, new to us, meals that we each chose were chicken and dumplings…super yum and chicken fried rice….again, a winner.

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After dinner we relaxed by the fire and later turned in for our first night of SUV camping.Ohhhh, what an adventure this was.

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We learned a few things during the night. #1SUV camping is quiet…we hardly heard anything from area campers unlike in our tent. #2 you cannot unlock the SUV from inside and open the door to exit if the SUV was locked with the key pad…the alarm goes off(this was so funny at midnight of all times) #3 our sleeping pads do not stay put in the SUV which meant we kept sliding down toward the door. Frustrating, but we figured it out and turned the opposite way to sleep which was much better. This little transition happened about 2a.m.. #4 down sleeping bags and comforters are priceless when temps are in the 30’s and winds are 35mph off the Bay of Green Bay….brrrr!!!! It was freezing outside but we were quite cozy inside.

All in all, we were surprised we were not cold. We have one adjustment to make with our sleep pad but this is already worked out, I just have to go buy the item we are going to use. And I know without a doubt this will be the way to camp in the spring and fall here in WI. I loved not having the damp, wet, clammy feeling of sleeping in a tent. Plus, there was nothing to take down, dry out or fold up. In the summer however, I will still take my tent. There is nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent staring at the stars above.

 

Weekend Recap- Thai Cuisine, Happy Birthday, and Camping Trip Plans

As usual the weather forecast changed from warm and beautiful Saturday to cold and blustery so geocaching was once again put off a bit further. However, that does not mean we did not have fun along with a bit of work.

Let’s recap everything from the last few days….I found out I LOVE Thai cuisine. We tried it for the first time with my brother and it was fabulous. We all got different meals and we all tried each others and I think I picked the winner of the night. I went with what they called volcano chicken and OMG was it good. I, of course, forgot to take a picture but I do have a pic of the appetizer we all tried.

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Our first camping plans of the year have been made. We are finally headed to a new WI state park that I have been wanting to visit for a few years now. It kept getting put off with all our health issues (herniate discs, abdominal surgery etc.) the past few years, but we finally are making the trip to Interstate State Park in a few weeks and hopefully all this darn snow is gone by then.

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I also celebrated my birthday this weekend with a new treat my husband found while grocery shopping. My favorite candy bar of all time is Mounds and he stumbled across Mounds pudding in the store and I had to give it a try. Plus, he said birthday calories don’t count. Let’s hope so because it was wonderful.

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I also bought myself a birthday gift while out and about this weekend. Two pair of workout leggings for those chilly but active days outside. I am not a big fan of full length leggins at the gym but outside in the spring and fall they are a welcome addition to the trail. Plus, they were an awesome price so I just had to get them.

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Saturday I finally made a return to the gym. It had been two weeks since I had been there and it felt so great. I am finally over whatever virus I had and I felt I could handle a good sweaty workout with no big breathing issues.

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That sums up my weekend. Nothing too exciting but it was a nice quiet weekend which is sometimes a welcomed thing.

 

Let’s Relive Summer Mid Winter…..

Who’s feeling like they have had enough of winter? I know I am.

As I often do at this time of year I thought I would take a look back at summer and all the fun that was had by us all. Let’s just say it’s something a bit more brighter, a bit more fun, and a bit more cheerful than looking outside my window at everything covered in WINTER!!!

Join me will you….

The view from atop Oberg Mountain.

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Water, sunshine, and two great friends…who could ask for more?

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Simply relaxing;-)

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Catch of the day.

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Yoga outside…..priceless!

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My second home.

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Freezing cold Lake Superior in July.

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Disc golf anyone?

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The bluest water in Wisconsin.

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Roses….oh, how I miss stopping to smell the roses.

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Homemade fly swatter constructed while sitting next to the campfire.

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It’s coming, summer is right around the corner. If you keep repeating this to yourself like I do we will all survive this winter. You gotta believe….

Recent Thoughts, Recent Eats, Recent Randomness

Where should I begin…..

Thoughts, ideas, inspirations, dreams….do you all have them rolling around in your brain like I do? Sometimes they drive me a bit crazy but I often wonder if they aren’t meant to do that. Some of the things rolling around in my head range from where to camp this coming summer,

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to what trails I want to hike this year,

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to what state do I want to toss at my family and see if they are on board to go visit.

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I would love to plan a girls weekend where all my girl friends escape the role of wife and mother and just be us for a few hours. No worries where this child is or that child is, what we will be preparing for dinner, how high the dirty dishes are stacking up or how much laundry I need to eventually make time to get done.

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I am not a big shopper but I want to plan a Trader Joe’s trip(2 hours from us is the nearest) and also want to make a trip to the next REI garage sale day for members(again, another 2 hours from us).

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I have a million recipes I want to try in my new dutch oven. However, I have been using it quite a bit with old recipes and so far I am thrilled…it is fabulous. Big huge thank you to one of my daycare families for this wonderful gift.

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I also have a list of places to research for possible destinations to visit and I am really feeling the need for elevation…..a long trail that’s leads up where no one else is typically found when you finally reach the top. In other words, a little peace and quiet to gather all these thoughts and put them in order of importance.

So let’s move onto an easier topic….recent eats. This last week it’s been all about cleaning up the frig and open food in the pantry. I hate leaving home and having to throw out food. So it’s been a bit of random meals but still good meals per say.I have been really enjoying spicy black bean salads for my lunches. I am not a big side salad person but give me a meal salad and I am all in.

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With winter chill in my bones I have been really enjoying oatmeal for lunch also. Oatmeal is not a family favorite so when I get the chance to make it for just me I do.

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We had one bottle of Trader Joe’s curry sauce left and it was time to enjoy it since I had a few chicken breast we needed to eat up. My son and I were in heaven…..hubby…not so much. He had italian chicken breast instead. He is not a fan of curry in anything…party pooper.

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Let’s see, workouts have been going great. I have been concentrating on weekends at the gym and maybe one day during the week since right now it is so crowded it’s more stressful to go that not to go. Weekends are busy but not nearly what Monday thru Friday are at the moment. I have not been outside to exercise in quite sometime….and even though I miss fresh air, I have no urge what so ever to go outside to “play”! Too much snow for this desert loving girl!

I know my husband is waiting patiently to go ice fishing for the first time this winter which really causes me anxiety. Although, this year it seems he is going with someone new and it could prove to be very interesting to hear about when they get home. We shall see….

I am trying to figure out when and how I plan to surprise my boys with something they purchased me for Christmas and of course, I want them to share in the fun of it also. They thought it would be a great gag gift to buy me a brick of ration bars. Why…..who knows??? All I can tell you is, when they least expect good ole mom to have snacks in the snack bag while 10 miles back in the middle of nowhere….this is all I am going to produce and they are going to share in the fun of trying it if they are hungry enough. Fun will be had by all of us;-)

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For now I will leave you with all this. You may not feel better but I feel a bit lighter.

If you feel the need to get something off your mind…feel free in the comment section….I will listen.

 

Currently….

Can you believe it’s the middle of August? I feel as if summer flew by this year.

In two weeks children in our area will be back to school and summer as many know it will be over. Which ultimately brings me sadness but at the same time great joy. Sadness, since I love summer, sunshine, heat and summertime activities which I hate to see all come to an end.  Although, on the flip side, great joy because fall is my next favorite season. We can begin geocaching again with less bugs, I can finally enjoy the windows open during the night again since the humidity will subside some, and we eventually store our paddles for the season and trade them for our hiking boots again. So, all in all, I am sad and happy all at the same time.

As we switch seasons here in WI and prepare for some long…..very long months….stuck in our homes, I take full advantage of packing the prewinter weekends with all kinds of things. I have been working diligently on this task and have every weekend in September booked, half of October, and some of November so far. (SHHHH…don’t tell my husband. I will break this to him when the time is right since he hates when I packed our weekends full of stuff with no down time)

Let’s see, currently we have one, but working on two, weekends that will need our tent.

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I have a dinner out with my brother coming up that I always look forward to. We just don’t have time to connect like we should unless it’s planned and put on the calendar. Sad, but life is just so busy…

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I have attempted to start a hiking group in our area and have had a few really promising responses. The first, meet and greet hike, has been planned and I am really looking forward to hitting the trail with fellow hikers. I am hoping this is a success.

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I have plans with a few friends to travel to a nearby Harvest Festival and then take them on a canal hike in the area. Neither are big hikers but both have reaped the benefits of being active and are stepping out of their comfort zones with me a little more each time. Which is exactly why I write this blog…..to inspire people to get out, live, explore and step out of that comfort zone and experience what the world has to offer. So I am pretty pumped about this date and the plan we have set.

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I also have another girls day out happening soon. You see, with hunting season right around the corner, my husband and I part ways for a few weekends and he hunts and I do my thing. I am not a hunter….I see nothing wrong with hunting…..it’s just not my thing. So he goes one way and I go another and we meet back up and share events after they happen. It all works out in the end. He has fun, I have fun, and we are both happy.

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We also will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary this year and I am so, so, so excited to be doing this in Sedona, Arizona. Which means we have begun training for this adventure and this takes a lot of time and discipline on our parts during the week. It makes our weekdays even longer than usual, but I know it will be so worth it in the end. I plan to share our training plan with you all soon.Hint: it involves a lot of these!!!

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And our last planned excursion before the snow forces me inside for the winter is my annual shopping trip to my favorite place to shop….Chicago! Actually, a very nearby suburb of Chicago. This is one day I splurge on things for me….whatever I see that I like I purchase with no guilt, no regret, and no worries. I can’t wait!

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Besides a few random outings throw in there between all this, we are pretty well booked solid till Thanksgiving.

Do you like relaxing weekends or busy weekends?

What’s your favorite fall activity?

 

Trip Planning Takes Time

One common question I am asked when it comes to our trip planning is…. how do I decided where to go and what we need?

My answer to this common question is…..I go where there is something we will all enjoy and I do research sometimes for months before making our packing list.

And that is when everyone rolls their eyes and says…..and that’s vacation to you???

I simply answer….YES!

Planning an active vacation is very rewarding to me. Accomplishing what I have planned is even more rewarding. Coming home after seeing things we have never seen before and having memories that will last a lifetime is honestly, something I can’t even put into words.

After answering numerous emails on how to plan a vacation like this I decided to write this post to inspire everyone to just go for it. If you have a dream vacation and it involves a lot of planning just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will be there living your dream.

This is how I plan an active vacation in order of importance:

#1Destination and # of people: The first thing I do when I plan one of our adventure trips is figure out where we are headed and who is all coming. This is vital because climate plays a big part in what we need as does the number of people coming which makes the food list bigger or smaller. This is what I actually took inventory of this weekend. I dug out our supply of dried meals and wrote down everything we have at home so I can start making our meal plans for our upcoming Superior Hiking Trip. After taking inventory, I then sat down with my husband and son and we decided who wants what meal and if we need to purchase any more before the trip.

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#2 Means of travel: The next big thing is how are we getting there. Plane, boat, car, etc.. I research nearest airports if we are flying, check out rental car rates, shuttles or transfers. If we are driving, this is simply getting the directions and deciding how far to travel each day to reach our destination. Another very important thing if driving is to make sure you have the proper vehicle type if you plan to do any back roads.

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#3 What we plan to do while there: This is by far the part that takes the most time. Typically, we hike when we go on vacation. So I need to find trail maps, check if permits are needed, check for shuttles to trail heads if needed, watch the weather forecast if hiking in/near canyons, and read what others have said about the trails we plan to hike.

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#4 Hotel, resort, campsite: This is another part of planning that can be either easy or hard depending on where we are headed. For instance, when we hiked Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Lakeshore finding a hotel was easy. We had no problem finding a nearby hotel for a reasonable price. When we hike in Zion National Park, this needed some planning ahead. Hotels near national parks book up fast so planning ahead makes all the difference especially in price. Early is cheaper and you have more selection. Campsites in national parks book even faster and honestly, after hiking the mountains of Zion, I need the comfort of a real bed and would pay almost anything for it. (We have a favorite if your searching for one near the park)

#5 Packing list: This is probably the biggest and will ultimately make or break the entire trip. Being prepared for what you have planned is vital to having fun. In many remote places supplies are very limited and if you do find them they are extremely expensive. My motto is, bring what you can from home even if it cost you another checked bag on the airlines. If you don’t, your likely to spend more than that trying to find what you forgot and paying for it when you do find it. If your driving, this is not an issue because there is always more room somewhere.

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6# Relax: This is the one thing I learned on our first trip to Utah. We went from sun up to sun down without one single day to relax and rest. It was torture on our bodies. So now I plan every day we are gone except one. One day is simply set aside to rest which clearly is needed by all.

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#7 Have a backup plan: Things can and almost always will go wrong during any vacation. It’s best to make a backup plan for these instances. From flight delays, flat tires, to torrential rain/snow…..all this can make a vacation plan impossible. In our experience we have been snowed out completely from one vacation and never left Green Bay. This was devastating and we could do nothing about it. On another vacation our road to camp was washed out by flooding and we had no where to stay until almost half way to our destination. However, this was not our problem. Thankfully, this was our first and only guided vacation we ever took so the company worked on this dilemma from cell phone the entire three hour drive to our destination and we all ended up in resorts for the week. On our last vacation we luckily hiked one trail the day we did because the next day it was closed off for the entire day for a rescue of a fallen hiker into the canyon. So believe me, things happen whether in your control or not, they happen.

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#8 Be realistic: Don’t forget you are on vacation. Don’t book yourself and your family so tight that you forget to smell the roses. Take it in, enjoy the ride and make the memories last.

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These are probably the most important pointers I can give while planning an adventure vacation. Of course most would say that money should be one of these pointers also but as you can see I did not touch on this one. Why you might ask? Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have the money to spend on a vacation you would not be inquiring on how to plan a vacation. I cannot tell you how to save money for such an adventure, only you know what you can stash away and how long it will take you to get the amount you need. And since that amount differs greatly from place to place, I did not add finances to the list. I believe if you want/need a vacation bad enough everyone can stash away a bit from their daily lives to eventually make this dream come true.

If you have any you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I missed something and you may be able to offer another suggestion.