November=58 degrees…In Wisconsin…..Seriously??? Time To Trade In My Whisk For My Hiking Boots Once Again

As you can probably assume from the title, I am one VERY happy person. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning and saw the forecast prediction for the day after Thanksgiving was going to be in the mid 50’s I immediately put things into high gear. I simply looked across the room at my husband and he knew exactly what I was thinking……..he said calmly, “let’s get it all done today so we can hit the trail tomorrow.” I love how he understands me without me even saying a word.

As you can imagine I had a load of things on the to do list to accomplish with four days off for the holiday. We literally packed all our chores into one day, we got in our annual family hike for Thanksgiving morning, plus I made Thanksgiving dinner that same evening. Oh, I was so tired by evening but so happy to be free of the long list and just had a few things that needed tending to before we hit the long trail on Friday afternoon.

Thanksgiving family hike

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Then Friday arrived and I was excited to get in some warm mileage on a dirt trail once again before the snow arrives full blast. We arrived at our chosen trail head to find just us. I did not mind this at all, I parked our lone vehicle and it awaited our return.

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The temp on my vehicle upon arrival was a balmy 58 degrees. Amazing!!!!

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And a few steps into our hike and I had to chuckle. Clearly, this lone dandelion was not ready to give up quite yet on summer either.

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The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

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signs of deer were everywhere,

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nature could be heard and saw along the way. It was so good for my soul…to just walk, listen, and breathe the air around us.

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The only thing that could have caused me any worry was that we were hiking during the gun deer hunt season here in WI. We did see many different deer stands, thankfully no active hunters during our time on the trail . And yes, in case you are wondering, we did also wear blaze orange for our own protection on this hike.

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With 3.3 miles Thanksgiving day and just over 4 miles Friday, we could all agree that summer is going to missed.

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Hiking, along with numerous other things we were able to pack into four days, left us all with a feeling of happiness. Add that to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal……along with my first ever homemade whipped cream (which turned out wonderful I may add) so my husband could enjoy whipped cream on his pumpkin pie along with everyone else…and I could not have been more thankful for anything else in the  world.

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Now, we all have to return to normal life once again and hopefully be ready for Christmas in a few short weeks. Sadly, I have a feeling I will not be hiking anywhere where that snow is not covering the trail come this time but who knows, maybe just maybe, wishes will come true.

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Big Spring/Kitch-iti kipi at Palms Book State Park- Michigan

Palms Book State Park in Michigans U.P. offers something everyone should see at least once. With a small fee to enter the park you get to walk a short distance down to a raft that takes you across Michigans largest spring.

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Open year round, this raft will offer you viewing of bubbling springs in crystal blue water with trout swimming around right below.

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Then when you finish riding the raft you can make your way up to the gift store and bring home something to remember from the adventure.

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Kids love this place as much as adults. The raft itself is free to ride as many times as you wish after you pay the small fee to enter the park. Bathrooms are on site and picnic tables are available for you to use.

If your in the area of Michigans U.P. don’t pass this one up…..you won’t be sorry you made the trip.

 

 

 

Our Visit To The DeYoung Family Zoo In Wallace , MI

Once again my husband came up with a spectacular idea to make my weekend a bit more fun while taking it easy and letting this muscle strain heal…he suggested we take a trip to Wallace, MI and visit the DeYoung Family Zoo.

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I have a love/hate relationship with zoos since I sometimes feel sorry for the animals penned up and not free to be in their normal environments. Although, I do love the zoos that offer a place for animals to rehabilitate from injury or even survive as happy as can be in the case of a birth defect. I have found that its best not to know and just enjoy the zoos we visit to the best of my ability since let’s face it, zoos have been around forever and will always be a popular place for families to enjoy whether I like them or not. In this instance this is by far one of the more rustic non commercialized zoos I have ever been to. For a reasonable entrance fee you can enjoy a natural setting with animals and very little hype when it comes to snacks, gift shops, and extras around every corner.

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There are no paved sidewalks in this zoo and no big guard rails to keep you at a distance from the animals. However, every cage is double fenced and found easily with hand painted signs through out the area. It’s like hiking through a jungle full of various animals.

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The do offer food to purchase and feed the animals in the feeding area. Although, we only saw one place to buy food and that is in the same building you enter and pay admission in. So save yourself some time and buy this at the same time you pay your admission fee.

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There are also signs posted along the way when special feeding times are for the large animals if you enjoy this type of thing. Crowds gathered for the hippo were amazing so this is something you will want to make sure you grab your spot in time.

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It was a nice change from the zoo in our area here. All dirt trails, tons of trees, and nothing for your children to beg you to buy throughout the entire zoo.

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I would highly recommend this zoo if your looking to get away from the big city and enjoy a few hours of animal adventure.

Get here early for good parking since parking is limited. Bring your own snacks or a picnic lunch since snacks/food is also very limited. And remember bug spray since this is Michigan and bugs are everywhere!!! And if you forget the wipes/hand sanitizer…no worries, they offer soap and water right on the premises to clean up after the feeding area.Oh, and I almost forgot….grab some tissues/toilet paper since all the facilities are porta potties and some where out of toilet paper while we were here.

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Summer Fun At The Milwaukee County Zoo

Are you looking for something to do in WI this summer? For a full day of fun you could visit the Milwaukee County Zoo. My husband and I used to take our son here years ago and recently we decided to go as a couple.

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It has been at least 6 years since I last visited this zoo and I was quite amazed at the difference now compared to back then. First, let me say gooood jobbbb to all the employees today….the zoo is much cleaner than it ever used to be. Very noticeable and nicely kept.

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It took us about 4 hours to see the entire zoo and we did none of the specialty rides or attractions except for the special exhibit that was happening during the time we were there. So I would bet a family with kids could literally spend an entire day here if they wanted to explore the entire zoo.

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Upon our arrival it was raining so we choose to do all the inside exhibits first where you walk between building viewing animals.

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Which worked out perfectly since the rain stopped right before lunch time which meant we could then do all the large outdoor exhibits without getting wet.

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I was really happy to see that they still offer the opportunity to carry in picnic food. They offer many eatery places along the way or a place to grab a quick snack but in my opinion, all the prices are very expensive.Take a look at some menu choices inside the zoo.

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Although, with a little planning you can easily pack a nice picnic and enjoy this just the same for a lot less cost. We even saw families tail gating in the parking lot and if you know anything about WI, you know that we are professional tailgaters here.

As for the special exhibit going on while we were visiting….this was also an extra cost of $10 per adult above and beyond the admission price. And when I saw what the special exhibit was I was all in since I LOVED going to see the Body Works( a few years back) I just had to see the Animals Inside Out also.

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If your looking for a great place to spend some family time and learn about nature and wildlife, give a thought to visiting the Milwaukee County Zoo. Your children will love it and so will adults.

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*** All opinions are my own regarding this establishment. All admission fees, parking, and special events were also paid by myself.

 

 

Geocache #600 Found…..Have You Ever Tried Geocaching?

We did it. We have found 600 geocaches since starting this hobby a few years ago.

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If you know nothing about geocaching and you like a challenge and the outdoors, this would be a great hobby to try.

Basically you are treasure hunting while hiking…unless you do drive up geocaching which are located in street signs and such, along roadways which I personally feel are lame. Anyhow, you go to the geocaching website ( geocaching.com) and download the geocaches in the area you plan to hike. Then you grab a pen/pencil and start hiking. Along the way you watch your GPS, which tells you the wave points indicating where there is a cache to be found.

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Eventually you find the geocache container. These containers can be just about any shape, size or color. From tiny to large and anything in between.  IMG_2681

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IMG_2699Once you locate the cache, open it and locate the geocache log inside. This is what you sign and date with your code name indicating that you actually located this particular cache.  IMG_2700

It’s really fun to see the names of other members in our area. We often see some of the same names on numerous trails that we geocache on.

Next, if you so wish, you can take a trinket and leave a trinket. This is the fun part for children besides the hunt. Geocaches can be filled with almost anything and everything you can think of.

IMG_2697 IMG_4384 After you are finish finding all the caches you have downloaded or you are just done for the day, you return home and record the caches you have located on the website for others to know if they are still there or not. This is where you can also notify the owner of that particular cache that there is a problem with a cache or if it is no longer able to be located for some reason. (fallen tree, high water, someone took it, etc)

Geocaching is a fun way to spend some time outdoors, be active, get your children active and enjoy exploring trails.  IMG_2701

Give it a try, I really think you will find it fun.

 

 

 

 

Weekend Snapshots: Autumn Adventures

What a fabulous weekend we had. The sun was shining and the temps were comfortable enough to have fun outside with little more than a light jacket on. Thankfully, we had a weekend full of outdoor plans to fill the daylight hours.

Saturday morning workout

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Fishing outing

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Packing for a day of hiking and a picnic

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Sushi for dinner

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  Hiking as a family with one newbie along for the adventure

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Ending the day with a picnic

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It really felt like August in October…..now how awesome is that?

Reader Request: Our Favorite Kayaking Gear

I sure can tell kayaking season has arrived. Lately, I have gotten a few emails asking what some of our favorite kayaking gear items are or what I would recommend. So I thought I would write about what we use and what we have found works for us during our paddling trips.

Keep in mind, we paddle mostly rivers with some whitewater involved. We have paddled lakes, although very seldom and when we do we use our recreational kayaks.

Let me also remind you that not everything listed you will find to your liking as much as we have. We have paddled now for years and have changed up our gear from time to time to adjust to our comfort while on the river.

Kayaks: We all own Jackson Kayaks. Our son has a Karma and both my husband and I own Villains. As for our reasoning to why we choose the type we did, well, honestly, we all have different likes and dislikes. I will give you my opinion and my opinion only. Safety and comfort were the big sellers for me. I LOVE the happy seat and the size of my kayak. I feel that if needed I can wet exit without any doubt, which was huge for me. (I had a little accident when we first started paddling in another kayak and will NEVER forget the feeling of being trapped underwater in a boat)

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PFD’s: We have gone through a few until finally finding our happy PFD’s. When you spend 4-6 hours in this safety device you really want to be comfortable. For us we all agreed that the Astral brand is for us. My husband and son have the same style and I wear the female version. Yes, believe it or not they make a female version that allows room for the “girls” to be comfortable also. Many of the other PFD companies have this feature also, so again, to each there own comfort. My advice to you is try them on, sit on the floor, and move your arms as you would while paddling. If you have rub zones anywhere hang it back up and try another PFD.

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Dry Bag: We have a few dry bags but the one that we like the most is from Sea Line (5L). This is the bag we take and load it up with a snack for up to 6 people, bug spray, travel size sunscreen, and my camera for every trip. It has always kept our items dry and is clear which means when we do need to open it we don’t need to rummage through everything to find what we are searching for which is very nice. It has held up for years and is still in great shape.

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Helmets: We all wear the same brand but a little different style. They are made by ProTec and were purchased through NRS. As you can see, my husbands is pretty beat up and has served it’s purpose a few times already. They are as comfortable as a helmet can be in my opinion as I am not a big fan of any helmet.

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Shoes: This is the item that we have replaced most often in the years we have been paddling. However, not due to damage, mainly due to style, and once forgetting them at the rivers edge…arggggg!  All our shoes were also purchased from NRS and for personal comfort reasons.

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Water bottles: Without a doubt I would suggest Nalgene bottles. Hook a carabiner to them and clip them behind your seat and you will have nothing to worry about. Ours have been thrown across rocks, down waterfalls, and on pavement and have never cracked yet.

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Safety Knife: My husband is the one that carries our safety knife on his PFD. Again, there are so many to choose from but we felt this knife would serve all our needs in any event where we would need to use one. Thankfully, we have never had to cut PFD straps or ropes from anyone or anything. The only thing it has cut so far is food wrappers at lunch time on the side of the river. Let’s hope it stays this way.

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Paddles: This is way to personal an item to suggest. There are so many variables to paddles that it is too hard to suggest a certain paddle to you. We all own different paddles and each of us dislikes the others for one reason or another.

That pretty much sums up what we use while on our rivers. We do carry a throw rope which can be purchased anywhere kayak supplies are sold and spray skirts are basically which ever company carries the proper size for the kayak you own. We have been very happy with the company called NRS and their customer service is beyond wonderful. I would highly suggest checking them out.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation to any of these companies and I receive no compensation to mention or recommend them and their products to all of you.