Weekend Happenings….

This is the first weekend all summer we have not had preplanned plans. Which left us wondering, what should we do? We have so many upcoming adventures, that laying low and close to home sounded quite nice to me.

Saturday morning we started by sleeping in until 6am.(Yes, normal wake up time for us is 4am, so 6:00am was very nice.) I did a few chores, worked out, ran a few errands, hubby did some of his “honey do” list, and then we thought it was too beautiful to just sit and waste a sunny day. We checked out the Algoma/ Lake Michigan web cam to see what the big lake looked like, and it was sunny, with a little ripple. Exactly what I have been waiting for all summer. We loaded up the paddle board, packed a quick lunch and we were off to the big lake.

My boys brought kayaks to goof around and practice rolling with and I had my board, who could ask for anything more perfect.

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I was so happy to finally have my moment with beautiful blue water, sunny skies and my board.

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Meanwhile, my boys were testing out my kayak, to see who could roll it the best. Doesn’t my husband look so concerned standing there with his arms crossed and our son is upside down in my kayak?

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No need to fret though, we have all come to know how long each one of us is comfortable being upside down. He was up in seconds. My kayak is the easiest to roll of all of them, so each one was over and back up with no problem.

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It was a spectacular day at the beach. Sun, sand and paddling:) Pure Happiness!

Sunday brought a day of tasks we have been wanting to do for some time. With the help of my brother, my husband trimmed dead and hanging branches from our huge tree in the backyard.

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We made a visit to the veggie market in Black Creek.

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I bought $16.00 worth of veggie happiness!

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We came home and immediately lit the grill and started roasting veggies for homemade salsa. Recipe will be posted this week.

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What a terrific weekend. A lot of chores were accomplished with a little added fun in between.

The River Is Beautiful Although It’s Always In Charge

Yesterday we visited the Pike River in Northern WI and had two of my son’s closest friends and my husbands co worker(and friend) with us. We loaded the kayaks and all the supplies and headed out to meet up with my husband’s co worker at the put in point.

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Upon arrival it was sunny, hot, and just great to be back again.

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We started off and had a great beginning. We arrived at a little pond like area a ways down and my son and husband decided to try their roll they have been working on. For all the non-kayakers out there, this is when they flip over and roll themselves back up without ever having to exit their kayak.

My husband going over

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And my husband coming back up.

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Very nice honey!

Now my son was over, but I missed the picture opportunity!(Sorry)

And my son coming back up VERY happy.

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After this it was more paddling and some paddle splashing along the way.

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One of us even splashed so hard, she leaned too far one way and went for a swim. We all had a good laugh at that stunt.

Then we arrived at the big bend in the river better known as Horseshoe Falls.

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We all got out and climbed the hill to the top to see if anything was in the way of us proceeding through, and all looked good. I got out my camera,took a seat on a big rock, put my toes in the water and hoped for some good pictures.

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And I got them. Here is each one of them going over the falls.

Our son

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His friend

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His other friend(take a look at that smile)

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My husband in my kayak

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My husband in his kayak

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And my husband’s co worker.

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He did terrific until his kayak took on water. After that it was a chance to learn how to wet exit from his overturned kayak, and a nice refreshing swim.

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Which is really a good thing for everyone to learn how to do.I don’t think he was all that upset, as you can see, he is still smiling.

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Before I continue, I would like to point out, that we have been kayaking for many years. We always, regardless if it was last weekend or years ago that we were at the same river, scout out any path that we can not see while in our kayaks. Anything can float down river and cause hazards, so safety is always a top priority. Which brings me to another point. When we have friends with us, we always make sure one of us with more experience goes first down a rapids, and one of us stays back to go last or near the end of the line. That way, one can retrieve at the bottom and one can go to the over turned kayaker in the middle if needed. As you can see in this photo. My son went first and then got out of his kayak(because we had three people this time whom had never done this river) in case someone did not make it over the falls successfully. My husband then proceeded second and stayed in his kayak, to retrieve an over turned kayak, paddle or person, if need be.

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Next it was time for some nose stalls on a small little rapid that is perfect for this maneuver.

Both my husband and son can do these quite well.

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Then it was time for the last rapid of the day. Needless to say, I have no pictures to share with you. We experienced a little mishap with one of my son friends. The current is strong, there are a lot of rocks, and she just was not strong enough to make the sharp left hand turn in time. She ended up being pushed sideways into the boulders and pinned there for quite some time. Again, let me stress, even with experience, a river is always in charge of our fate. My son was the closest to her, and he exited his kayak and made his way to her as fast as possible by foot. Her kayak was filled with water, with the current making it very hard for him to stand and try to get her out safely. She was tiring from fighting the current that was pushing against her to try and get out, and could not help much. After some time, he decided to just grab her by the life jacket and pull, trying his best just to free her from her kayak. He succeeded, thankfully. She was quite shaken by the ordeal, and a little uneasy on her feet, but eventually made it back to shore by foot with some assistance. It took both my husband and son to unjam her kayak from the boulders, due to the strong current filling it with water. Thankfully we all worked together and nothing was lost down river during this ordeal, and most of all my son still had his friend to laugh with for many years to come. Kayaks and paddles are all replaceable. Friends are not.Her quote to him on land was, “We are friends for life, because you save my life!” And they gave a big high five together. We are proud of our son, and very happy she is alright.

We all shared a nice picnic lunch while we all laughed and just enjoyed how the day turned out.

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We loaded the kayaks all back up and the plan was to stop for ice cream on the way home if the kids(now young adults) could keep their eyes open until we got to the ice cream shop. This was not easy, but they all made it, so ice cream it was.

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Flavor of the day was raspberry sherbert. Yum:)

Let me tell you, we were hardly out of the parking lot after finishing our ice cream, and we heard snoring from the back seat. Two out of three of them were out cold sleeping. Although, it was the two that were in the mishap together, so I guess, they deserved a little peace and quiet after all that.

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We all had a terrific day, and want to thank all our friends for trusting us to take you all for these adventures. Our weekends would not be as much fun without all of you.

Happy Paddling Everyone

Paddling Class with an Expert

On our last day away from home, we had the opportunity to attend a class with a paddling expert from Werner Paddles. Danny Mongo was our instructor for a stand up paddle board maneuvering and bracing class at a popular paddle shop in Madison, WI called Rutabaga. We signed up for this months ago, before I even could call myself the proud owner of a SUP.

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We awoke from a very stormy night to very ominous morning sky. Packing the vehicle to make our way to Madison, was quite depressing, to say the least.

I really wanted it to be sunny, hot and beautiful for our class. My husband kept reassuring me that it could pass through and be done by the time class started, but I was not so sure. We arrived in Madison, visited my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s and stopped for lunch before arriving at Rutabaga. While eating lunch, the skies brightened and the rain stopped.To our surprise, we left the restaurant and noticed it had gotten much more humid and hot outside. HURRAY! Let’s go paddling:)

We were a little early, so of course, because they have whitewater boats, my husband and son just had to try two of them out. They honestly have quite a big selection of anything and everything that floats.

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This company, has a nice little lake which is connected to Lake Monona, where you can “test drive” anything in their store. How awesome is that?

So the Jackson Zen and Karma were brought out.

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The boys tried them out, each in there first picks and then they switched. They paddled around and decided one was better then the other, but neither was quite ready to part with their own kayaks yet. (Thank Goodness) We really haven no more room for another kayak.

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Then it was time for class. We were all introduced to Danny Mongo from Werner Paddles, and all given some basic paddling information before hitting the water.

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We took the third level class, because we really needed to know how to do some more advanced techniques before we hit Lake Michigan. I can not say enough about how much we all learned. None of us even knew you could turn quickly the farther back on your board you stand, and just pivot it around. Now, let me remind you, alot of us went for a swim trying this out, including my husband and son. I must admit, I never really mastered this, because I am not confident standing that far back on my board. Maybe in time, possibly.

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Danny even got creative and did a yoga standing tree pose on his board, which was spectacular. Then my husband decided to try his yoga pose and did a warrior II. Very nice. If that was not enough, my hubby even stood on his head on his board. Straight up, and then straight in to the lake. Good job honey!!!!!

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(In case your wondering, we even played in the pond fountain. Fun,Fun,Fun)

We all left wet and happy. A big thanks goes out to Danny and Amelia for some great fun on the water. Thank You!

If you ever get the chance to take one of his classes, go for it. It was very rewarding. Now we need to find time to get to the big lake and see what we can do.

Happy Paddling Everyone.

A Mansion and a Roaring River

Last night my husband said we were going for a drive. Our weekend plans involved going to our favorite river to do some paddling. We also have plans to have one rookie along with us this weekend. Since we have had rain here for the past three days straight, he thought it would be a good idea to check out the condition of the river.

Well, today he will be informing his buddy we are planning a different river. When we arrived we could here the roar from the parking lot above the hill, which normally means it is flowing at a pretty good pace. To put this into perspective for you all, this rock ledge you see covered with water is normally where we can beach up to 6 kayaks easily and still have room to walk around them on dry rock. It is totally submerged as of right now.

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This is normally the part of the river where, when we arrive with our kayaks, there are hundreds of people swimming in the little lagoons and in the river flow. Tonight that would not have been possible, they would have been swept down river very quickly and painfully.

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So, as I was sitting on the rocks where we usually have a snack mid river, wearing what I never thought I would ever be wearing at this location, my hiking boots, instead of water shoes, I told my husband he better start thinking of a new plan for the weekend.

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He sadly agreed. This is our favorite river, it is so fun normally, but not a great spot to take someone that has never been in current with a kayak. So, next we ventured back in the car and drove a little further up to an area where we have only seen from the other side of the river bank. Today we ventured in from the road and got to take a sneak peak of the mansion that has been abandoned for many years. If you recall, I gave you a sneak peak from the hill top on our first kayaking trip of the season. Well, here are some very close peaks.

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(Sorry about the umbrella strap in the pic, it was raining again!!!)

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Now for the inside.

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I can only imagine this in fairy tail books. The back balcony on the second level over looks the rivers edge and a beautiful(but dangerous) waterfall.

The water fall behind the building that normally we portage at least half of it anyhow, was really quite unhappy also. My husband tried to do a little fishing here, but no luck catching anything big. Although, when I fish, it is not about big, it’s about catching anything. So, he did catch something, but nothing to brag about.

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On the way home, we stopped in a small town and had some dinner. Very cute decor, huge menu, and friendly people. My husband had a great burger and a huge pile of fries.I had an egg and potato scramble dish with cheese on the top.This was also very tasty, although, I expected real cheese on the top and instead it was some sort of cheese sauce, which I tried to remove as much as possible. Being from WI, I was shocked a farm community restaurant would not use real cheese. I would recommend this restaurant again. Although, plan to have left overs, because the portions were very large. Prices were also very reasonable. We’ll be back:)

It was a great week night road trip. We hope to do one of these every week to somewhere. As for the weekend plans, we are going to see what happens. We will be padding somewhere, it’s just a matter of where at this point.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

First big kayak trip of the year…

We all woke up quite excited to be loading up all our gear to leave for a day on the river. Yes, it was quite chilly but nothing was going to dampen our excitement. Everyone arrived, some new to kayaking and some that have joined us in the past. Upon arriving, I was quite shocked to see the start of the river had no rocks above water.

We had checked the river flow gauge before leaving, and it read about double what we normally run it in the middle of summer. No big deal really, just not what we are normally used to seeing.

We started out slow, because we had one newbie along for this journey. Although, I must admit, he did really well for his first time, and wanted to try everything, which is normally not the case. When we arrived at a big rock structure that my son and husband love to climb to the top with their kayaks and slide down into the river, we asked who was all going to try this. All but myself and one other person decided this looked like fun. So up they all went and came splashing down with smiles across their faces!!!

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The next rapid on this river is known as “double drop” because there are two rapids back to back. This is usually the rapid we spend the most time at when the water is warmer. We love to boogie board and surf these two rapids. Today however, the boogie board was left home due to the cold water, and I did not feel like getting too wet, being I was already shivering and had a lot of the river to go yet. So, my dear husband said he would assist me in getting out to portage and he would just ride my kayak through. No problem, all I asked of him was to try and keep my seat dry!!!!!. If you knew my husband, he enjoys being upright as much as he enjoys being under his kayak, so I knew the chances of my seat being returned dry were slim, but I had to make the request anyhow. Sure enough, he decided to try and surf this rapid with my kayak and with the water being much higher than normal, it did not treat him kindly. He ended up getting turned around and then stuck in a sucker hole that would just not release him.

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Resulting in a flip, a water exit and needless to say, my kayak being returned with a VERY WET seat.

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We then switched back to our own boats, and then it was my son’s turn to surf “double drop.” He did much better and did not get stuck in the same hole as dad did, so he did not have to go swimming at all.

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Our next rapid on this river has beautiful scenery. You are looking from above a high rock cliff with this old broken down building in the distance. It’s quite fun to imagine what they did in such a huge mansion of this size.

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This is the biggest rapid on the river, and is quite mean and furious if you do not have the proper experience to kayak something of this size. We do not do this. My husband tried once, it did not end well, and he promised me I would never have to watch that again. Now some of us do just the bottom half and some portage the entire thing. It is a great resting spot about half way to the ending and a perfect place to have a snack and reapply sunscreen.

All in all we had a great day, the sun was shining and everyone left happy and very tired. We arrived at the end take out and everyone got changed in the little hut they have at this particular take out just for kayakers.

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This is the one thing that is sometimes a challenge because some take outs are on the edge of highways, and you sometimes have to drive home wet, or just be creative. We have a great plan when all else fails, but here we never have to go that route.

After changing we all eat, because you can not imagine how hungry a day on the river makes you. Our dining table is the tailgate of our truck. And you gotta love the Christmas plates I grabbed, I figured it was appropriate, because I knew the water was going to be cold:)

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It was a fun day, with a fun group of people.

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QUESTION: Would you ever try this if you had the chance?