Our First “Empty Nester’s” Vacation

We did not waste any time to experience what it would be like to go on a mini vacation as a couple instead of a family.

We spent a good portion of Friday moving our son into his dorm and left mid afternoon for a camp sight about three more hours from his campus. This felt odd, leaving him behind, but we did it knowing that he was well settled and we did all we could do to make him feel comfortable with his new surroundings.

We had our new tent, new sleeping bags, sleeping mats, a bunch of freeze dried meals and our new day packs all loaded and ready for our trial run before the big Zion National Park trip we have planned.

When we arrived the tent was pitched with ease. (Hubby did this twice before leaving home to make sure he knew how) Our sleeping mats were unrolled and bags laid on top. We arrived right around dinner time, so we took out the MSR Whisperlite stove and prepared our favorite Mountain House freeze dried meal, chicken fajitas and corn.

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After dinner, we headed to the showers, and this brought a whole new experience for us. We both headed to our own side of the shower room.  As I got ready to turn on the water, I turned around and guess what was staring at me from the wall????? FOUR LITTLE FROGS! Oh my, I really honestly did not know what to do. Yes, it was over 100 degrees with the heat index all day, and I really wanted a nice refreshing shower, but at the same time, I also wanted to step very calmly out of the shower stall so they would not happen to jump on me with any quick movement I made. They did not seem to concerned about me being there, so I decided, it was either shower with them or not shower at all. I can proudly say, I bucked up and just showered. They never moved from their spot, just watched and waited for me to leave their shower stall when I was finished. The funniest part, was when I was all finished and exited the shower room, my husband was waiting patiently on the bench outside, and asked if I had any “new friends” in the shower with me. I said yes, why? He just laughed and said, wow, I was waiting for the scream, and it never happened, so he thought maybe his shower was the only one that had the frogs in it. I told him, nope they were in mine also, but we all got along just fine:)

Early Saturday morning we got up and had some breakfast. We were hoping to beat the heat of the day and get our hiking in. We started with East Brady’s Bluff Trail in which we saw some beautiful rock structures along the way.

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Upon arriving at the top,our view was of Trempealeau Mountain with the mighty Mississippi River all around it.

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We also had a small snack in the shelter at the top of the bluff.

IMG_2712We then headed down West Brady’s Bluff Trail. Took a peak at Horseshoe Falls, which was not a falls today, but still a sight to see.

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Then we decided to take on the hardest trail in the park. Perrot Ridge Trail. This trail is a mighty climb. At the very top the park rangers have even secured a rope for assistance in the last few yards of the climb.

A view looking up:

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And a view looking down, when we reached the top.

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We were pretty proud. We did this fairly easy compared to past years. Our training must be paying off. Don’t let me fool you though, we were hot and tired when we reached the top, but did it with ease.

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I hope my confidence stays with me to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion in a few weeks!!!

Upon reaching the top, we took a break and did a mom and dad thing. We texted our son, and told him we made it to the top. It had been about 24 hours since we had said our good bye’s and we thought we would check in and make sure all was going well. After a bit of time, we started down the trail back to camp for some lunch. Cheesy chili was our choice for today. Another very yummy freeze dried meal.

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This ended our hiking excursion. It started to get hot and very muggy again.

So we thought some disc golf in a nearby city would be fun. We got in the truck and headed to Winona, Minnesota. We had played this course before and wanted to visit the city again seeing we were so close by. We spent the afternoon golfing and then my husband finally had the opportunity to take me to a restaurant he has visited a few times when he has been on the road working in this city.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Our tent was wonderful ,Marmot Trestles sleeping bags were never slept inside of because of the heat, but our Therm-a-Rest Sleeping mats provided plenty of padding from the hard ground.

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