DePere River Walk/Locktender’s House Cafe

Working from home is often quite the challenge for me. I wake up at home, work all day at home, switch over to mom/wife mode in the evenings at home, and then go to sleep at home. Our friends and family wonder why we are never home on the weekends and I wonder why would they ask something so self explanatory. I am ALWAYS home!

Sometimes during the week when I have just had enough of my home and need a little escape I will make my way to the DePere Riverwalk. It’s close to our home, is attached to the Fox River Trail, and offers a little hiatus from my life at home.

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Recently we did this one night after work and I was happily refreshed after only a short walk and a little treat.

We made our way across the bridge.

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We noticed that the locks were closed which meant they had a boat or two inside. I always find the lock tenders fascinating. I would love a job where you are working out, standing outside, and enjoying the summer sunshine every hour of your day.

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Surprisingly, when the lock gates opened up we were shocked to see two kayakers exit. Apparently, I am way to frugal to pay per vessel to take kayaks through the lock system. There is a portage just feet from the locks entrance and a put in just down the path a short distance. No way would I ever pay money to not have to carry my kayak such a short distance.

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After this we headed down to the the path toward the pier near the dam. I have never seen pelicans do the fish dance before this day and I found this quite amusing. They swim around in a circle dipping their heads at the same time herding fish together.

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Until finally one get’s lucky and captures a fish for it’s dinner. That one then swims away and the others just continue on with this dance. Odd but so amusing to watch.

We eventually made our way to the end of the pier which is decorated with locks of families and couples all over the cables of the railings. Again, odd but unique.

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I knew with a little persuasion I could talk my husband into stopping at the Locktender’s House for an ice cream treat. It’s hard to resist when they have the best salted caramel shakes we have ever had. It also helps that is his favorite flavor:)

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This little cafe is open from 9am-9pm and is super cute. If your in the DePere, WI area I highly suggest taking the short walk and stopping for an ice cream treat. You won’t be sorry you did.(NOTE: that is not my husband in that picture…just some older guy trying to figure out his phone….haha!)

After our ice cream we headed back and I was ready to return home. As short as it was, it was all I needed to recharge and return back home for another few days. Sometimes my weeks just drag on and this is a perfect spot to escape for just a little while.

My Top 10 Summer Essentials

Let’s talk about summer and some of the things I could never do without during these few months. Here in WI summer really only last about 3 months, sometimes a little more or less but for the most part 3 solid months. For me, I take advantage of every second. During these three months I have consolidated a list of my top 10 summer essentials. Let’s see how your summer essentials compare to mine.

#1 Sunscreen: I have finally found a favorite and I am sticking to it. It smells nice, actually does what sunscreen is suppose to do which is protect from sunburn, and does not feel like you are applying Elmer’s school glue to your body.

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#2 Fresh Veggies: From farmers markets, to road side veggie stands, to just stepping out in the backyard to pick our own, I cannot get enough fresh veggies.

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#3 Outdoor Exercise: Why anyone would go to a gym during the summer months to workout is beyond me. Use your imagination and get in a good sweat outside doing something fun.

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#4 Ice Cream: This is my favorite summer time treat. I would never turn down the offer to go out for ice cream.

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#5 Greecie Girl Headbands: Love, love, love these headbands. I wear these all year but would never exercise without them in the summer for sure. They stay where I put them, never slip, and can hold up to every activity I do. I have worn them on the river, trail, and at the gym. They come in a variety of great colors and patterns which is always a fun way to spice up any workout. Check them out here http://greeciegirlheadbands.com/

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#6 Vitalyte: We are an active family and replacement fluids are a big part of our summer. We go through gallons or Gatorade and Vitalyte.

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#7 Nalgene Cozy: Nothing drives me crazier than a sweaty water bottle that leaves puddles everywhere I set it down. Since I take my Nalgene water bottle everywhere with me I splurged on a Nalgene cozy with no regrets.

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#8 Clotheslines: Nothing says summer like fresh hung laundry and bedding.

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#9 Cool Summer Salads and Sushi: The last thing I want to do after spending the day outside is come in and prepare a hot dinner. So summer salads and sushi is rotated quite often on our weekly menu.

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#10 Our Kayaks: You all knew this one would be on the list, right? None of us could live without our kayaks and some paddling fun.

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What is something essential to you in the summer months?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Annual Mother and Son Day

Every summer I take a day off of work to spend with just my son. No one else is invited to join us, it’s just him and I. This summer was just a little extra special because I figured since he was 18 now, he would not want to spend a day with his mom. Then just a few weeks ago he surprised me and said he still wanted to have “our day” so we did just that.

It started out as always, a trip to the dentist bright and early. From there we headed to Door County with the truck loaded with one kayak and the stand up paddle board. Our first stop was Door County Coffee for a treat.

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He ordered the orange creamsicle , and I had an iced latte.

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We arrived in our favorite town, Ephraim, about 9:30am.

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We unloaded and started paddling. It took us about and hour to reach the island we had as our destination.  When we got there we switched and he paddled the board back and I took the kayak. When we returned to the beach we beached the kayak and just had some fun with the board.

After a few hours, it was time for lunch. We loaded up the truck and changed. Then headed to our favorite restaurant. The Chef’s Hat.

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We fell in love with this restaurant a few years ago, and just can’t say enough about the freshness of the ingredients. This is one spectacular place. We both ordered the same sandwich, roast beef gorgonzola melt. This comes on a black bean salsa bread which is so different but adds so much to the sandwich.

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Oh, and we also had to order one of the huge cinnamon rolls they have that we share every year.

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Yes this is terrible for me, and yes I know this. Regardless of what I think, my son says that there is 365 days a year and this is the one day I need to just say “screw it” and eat some fattening, not very good for me, food. I try, really I do, but the guilt drives me crazy. I did eat my half, and then it was time to burn it off.

We headed to Peninsula Park next. They have a tower we like to climb and look out over the water.

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You can see quite a breathtaking view from up here.

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Next it was time to pick up a few things that I can only get in this area, olive oil, wine, and some blueberry jam.

Of course, now that it is a few hours later, after our terrific lunch, he suggested we go for ice cream. Real ice cream, which I typically don’t eat either!!! I knew I would get the same lecture 365 days a year and……… yeh yeh whatever, let’s just go. So we arrived at Dippy’s Ice Cream Shop.

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Super cute place.

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Oh my,what to have. So many choices. I knew healthy was not an option, so I just did it, said screw it, for my son. I had “cookie dough” and he had “heaps of love” ice cream in a waffle cone.

IMG_2557 At least we walked while we ate so technically we were burning the calories as we were putting them in. (Although we probably should have jogged) We walked all the way to the end of the street to the beach and sat on the stone wall over looking the bay and ate our wonderful cones together.

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That’s when it struck me. I can burn the calories off from today on another day. I may never have this moment again with my son. I just simply enjoyed the moment for what is was.

All in all it was a wonderful day we had together. Hopefully he finds time to be with his mom in the summers to come. Although, if not, I have some great memories of the ones we have had already.

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

Exploring the new river walk

Recently the city has made some very nice new walkways in our area and we had some time to go explore them. The walkway takes you out over the locks and very near the city dam.

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On the overlooks, you can see many, many pelicans hoping to find their next meal.

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I must admit, I was quite impressed with all the improvements. There were alot of people walking on the new overlooks and all the kids were oooing and ahhhing at the hundreds of big fish below, swimming in the river.

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While we were walking, I mentioned to my husband that this would be the ideal place for us to live. There are condo’s feet from the waters edge and they even have their own boat slips. How great would that be?

We could stand up paddle, kayak or take the fishing boat out every night. Then he pointed out a big disadvantage. There are always alot of people around and sometimes we really search hard for piece and quiet, especially since we already live in the city. So, I sadly agreed, and besides, this is not our dream body of water to live on anyhow. It was a nice thought though.

On the way back to the recreational trail, I noticed an area restaurant that offers dinner on the outdoor deck, where you could sit and watch the sunset. How beautiful would that be? And I just love how all the old buildings in and around the area have renovated and helped make the area what it is.

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After our exploration here we headed toward the recreational trail which is connected a little further down. It is a great paved trail that goes on and on for miles. Along the way we ran into a little boy and his mom. The little boy came to us and asked if we could see all the,”fuzzy flowers,” and we said yes. I told him to see if he could catch one, and so he did. It’s funny how something that normally drives alot of people crazy with allergies can cause such excitement in someone with an imagination. It was cute to see him run around and try to catch the floating cotton puffs.

We walked a little further and my husband surprised me with his offer to buy ice cream along the trail. I would never pass this up, he very rarely will go out for ice cream. He ordered an orange cream drink, and me a turtle sundae, with no nuts(allergy).

We took them back down to the waters edge and ate. Then headed back to end our night.

When we got back to the car, I noticed a beautiful sunset. Which made me comment to him, its sort of weird. We now do things during the week. Before our son graduated high school, we always left the nights open for all his homework. Now, our son has a second shift job, which leaves us alone, and we don’t have to be home by a certain time for anything. It’s like we are dating all over again, after almost 20 years of marriage. Now that is very weird, but, very nice. I think I am going to like this new way of life:)

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QUESTION: How did your life change when your last child graduated high school or left for college? Was it good or bad?