Trading The Gym For The Outdoors

Lately, I find myself choosing the outdoors over the gym to get my daily workouts. As the seasons change I typically find this to be what happens, although this year it seems earlier than most for this to be happening.

I am not, by any means, a gym die hard. I do, however, like to keep a routine and try and make it there at least twice during week and twice on the weekends in the winter months. The remainder of the time I just find it more convenient to workout at home. When winter comes to an end, I still try and make it there twice during the week but weekends often are spent outside instead.

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That being said, I can’t help but struggle during the week with going to the gym when the sun is shining and there is so much to be offered outside to get in a great workout. Which means some weeks I don’t make it to the gym at all.

For one, I love to do yoga, weights, and stretching in nearby parks. Find a back corner where there is peace and quiet and you can really clear your mind and get in a good sweat.

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As a family we have come to love disc golf. It’s challenging, it’s often a nice walk through a wooded park, and offers fun while your exercising and you often don’t even realize it.

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You all know if I had to choose a great hike over a visit to the gym….the hike would win every time. Here in the midwest, hiking season is short so I take advantage of every chance I get to log trail miles. Granted, I don’t get to work every muscle group I could be working at the gym….however, hiking is one activity that’s truly brings me peace and let’s me know that I can literally walk away from life for a short amount of time. On the trail I can just let everything go.

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Once summer arrives in full force, our paddles come out, get dusted off, and the water calls my name every weekend and even some week nights. From kayaking to paddle boarding, I often struggle with which one to do on which weekend. I know right….what a hard decision to have to make. Believe me…..it really is sometimes.

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During the months of June,July, and August I will be very lucky to touch foot in the gym even once. Weekends are jam packed with summer fun and week days are also jammed packed with other types of summer fun while I work. Caring for children during the days in the summer months is twice as exhausting as in the winter months for me. Winter offers the same activities in rotation. Summer, however, leads to all sorts of summer fun….especially when my husband and son are also home to join in the action. Things such as water balloon fights and critter hunting always add to the fun of summer.

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Do you prefer to spend time exercising outdoors or inside?

What’s you favorite outdoor exercise?

Setting A New Goal

My husband and I made a new goal for ourselves. After completing the Ahnapee Trail back in Oct.2015 which is 48 miles one way( which means we did 96 miles total since we always needed to back track to our vehicle)….we thought it would be nice to do the same with the Mountain Bay Trail which is 83 miles one way. We began this journey Tuesday evening and plan to finish in sections over the next year or so hopefully. For me it’s always nice to have something to reach for, accomplish or push myself to achieve. This will be a good way for me to stay focused and healthy. So without wasting much more time typing while the sun is shining brightly in the sky….here is what this weeks workouts were like.

Sunday: 1.5 mile hike

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Monday: gym: 45 minute elliptical, arms and shoulder weights and stretching

Tuesday: 2.5 mile trail hike on a new part of the Mountain Bay Trail

Wednesday: home: upper body weight routine and abs

Thursday: home: legs and abs weight routine

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Friday: rest

Saturday:4.5 mile hike further on the Mountain Bay Trail

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Do you find it motivating to set goals and try to achieve them?

What is a personal goal you’ve set that you wish to share?

Weekend Recap….REI Garage Sale Deals, BBQ, and a Trail

We had a fantastic weekend….I can’t believe it’s over with already.

Our weekend started with an early morning rise and shine wake up at 4a.m. to leave and hit the road by 5a.m. and travel to our nearest REI outdoor store for a “garage sale”. This is something we do about twice a year and this time we brought our son and his friend along for their first one ever. Even though it was cold(very cold) and very early…it sure was nice to stand in line and talk with individuals that have done we we do. Many of us have seen the same places and have experienced the awwww that we have experienced in our adventures. The way that we can all understand each other and the need to be outside and in nature is something I cherish since many people don’t understand the meaning behind what we do. Anyhow, this is always quite an event. We have seen breakfast prepared in line numerous times.

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It’s sort of like Black Friday for outdoor lovers since there is always people that camp out overnight.

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However, this time we really were quite chilled. I ended up sitting in the vehicle twice to warm up in two hours of waiting in line, all while the guys kept our spot.

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In the end it was all worth it. I found my next pair of Keen hiking boots, my first pair of Chaco sandals, my husband found some treasures, and so did our son. Well worth the early wake up call, the chill we had for the rest of the day, and the fun we had chatting with others.

After this it was one more retail store….Trader Joe’s….oh boy, did we find treasures here and then it was time to eat lunch. We were all very hungry and I had been told of this BBQ restaurant in the near by city of Grafton from a friend. Which was also on our way home so we decided to give it a try. What a nice little city this ended up being.

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We found this restaurant easily located off the highway.

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The atmosphere was clean, friendly and welcoming.

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The menu was huge….so much to choose from and so many great entrees.

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And when our food arrived I was in heaven. And remember, I am not a big meat eater and this was some of the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I ordered the brisket reuben and its was fabulous.

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It was so huge I hardly touched my fries. They offer six different style BBQ sauces at the table for you to choose from and numerous different sides to replace the fries if you wish.I highly recommend visiting this place if your in the area of Grafton, WI and love BBQ.

Sunday consisted of meal prep, chores, and a solo trail walk since the hubby was off doing his own thing and our son was working.

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I came across the first snake sighting of 2017 that I could actually capture a picture of since he had no hope of moving anytime soon. If you know how much I LOVE  despise these creatures, you will also know this was the best way for me to see them….dead!

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I also witness a boy catch a very nice northern pike on the Bay of Green Bay ice fishing.

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All in all it was a wonderful weekend. Lots of family time, some alone time, and some much needed fun all wrapped into two days.

Finally February…What’s Next On The Agenda?

A few more weeks to go until we change our clocks once again and life starts looking a little brighter and much more fun in my eyes.

Typically by this time of year, I have already starting planning our summer excursions, booked some camp sites, and made numerous other plans to fill up our summer calendar. This year, however, has been a bit different…..I have done none of this. UGGGG! I have been, in all honesty, unmotivated since we returned from Tennessee to do any of this. Life has been chaos and I just can’t seem to catch a break long enough to even consider summer planning.

I have been keeping up with my pledge to try at least one new recipe a week for our family dinners. And so far, we have found some real winners. Like beef with pepperocino peppers in the slow cooker. The easiest recipe ever since you literally take your beef roast and lay it in the slow cooker. Dump the jar of pepperocinos with the juice over the roast. Add a shimmy shake of Worcestershire sauce and a tsp of beef bouillon to the mixture and cover and turn it on. Taaaadaaaa….6-8 hours later you shred it up and serve how you wish. I layered whole wheat rolls with cheese and baked them until they were melted. Then I added the meat and served it with a side salad. A complete meal, with little work and very tasty to end a long day.

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With February normally being the month I struggle with the most, so far it has been ok.I have been keeping busy thanks to many different things on my plate at one time. With a trip disaster in January to TN, I am still fighting with the airlines for refunds. I have made and have had plans with friends cancelled due to illnesses(on their end) numerous times. And I have been doing my best to keep a level head about some work issues that have been plaguing me.

I recently went to dinner with my brother to a restaurant I had not been to in at least 15 years and was happily surprised by the remodel job. The place was beautiful but the food was mediocre at best. Next month it is my turn to choose the restaurant and I think I might try Thai for the first time ever. I love that my brother has a broad sense of taste, since then we have many different options to choose from. Often, when I go out with my husband, it’s to the same three restaurants and even though its nice, I sometimes wish he was a bit more adventurous when it came to trying new things.

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February at the gym has significantly gotten less crowded. Normally by February I am so ready to be outside doing something active, however, this year I am not quite there yet. I am loving the gym and my time to do what I love. I have been concentrating on strengthening my abs and core along with my upper body again. Paddling season is not that far off and after taking it easy all last summer due to my abdominal surgery and the summer before due to my husbands disc herniation….this summer I plan to paddle as much as possible.

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We have a bunch of birthdays coming up in the next few weeks and no real plans as of yet to celebrate them. For mine, I am hoping to get a nice dinner out somewhere…..maybe Hibachi/Sushi….we shall see.

There is also an REI garage sale date coming up and unless there is a snowstorm that stops me from making this two hour drive to our nearest REI, I have the calendar marked and the gift cards are burning a hole in my pocket. On the list….a new pair of Keen hiking boots for yours truly. Mine have taken me many miles through Minnesota, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Utah, Arkansas, and all over Wisconsin. I think it’s time to let them rest and break in a new pair.

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And come next month our clocks will once again be changing. Daylight will be longer, snow will begin to melt away leaving mud around every corner. And we will slowly start to venture back outside and start making memories again of times better spent somewhere other than in the four walls of our house. Ohhhh, how I wait patiently for this month to pass.

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

This was the only state park we visited while in the state of Tennessee. Located in Bledsoe and Van Buren counties and it surrounds the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau. We explored two waterfalls while here, Fall Creek Falls and Cane creek Falls.

Even when you take into consideration that we visited here without a plan, in mid January, and really only came to hike a quick hike to the Fall Creek Falls itself…..our visit here ended up being quite amazing. Now, apparently, there is an inn, campsites, cabins and meeting rooms for, I would assume, weddings and such…..we saw non of this. Like I said, it was quickly planned and we went directly to the trailhead we were seeking without any extra exploration.

Upon arrival to the trailhead we found ample parking, great signage, and an overlook for anyone not hoping to hike down to the falls itself.

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All very gorgeous and easily accessible……but we were looking to hike. So down into the gorge we headed.

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It was amazing. The terrain was mostly rock with some dirt trail here and there. We knew to be careful not to turn an ankle since the park ranger we spoke to upon arriving told us many individuals do injure themselves on this trail.

Beside the falls itself, our favorite spot we found to explore was a crevice in the rock that we all crawled into. If you recall in Sedona, the new family rule is I only hike on trails that are as wide as my hips and thankfully my hips fit through this crevice which meant I could also explore with my boys.

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Eventually you arrive at the end of the trail and two waterfalls roaring over the edge into the gorge.

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After we all did some exploring in this area it was time to head back out of the gorge and see if we could find our way to Cane Creek Falls.

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Although, by the time we reached the top again, we were hot…. in January…..again just amazing, so it was time do some adjusting to our zip off hiking pants.

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To reach Cane Creek Falls you followed a fairly smooth trail through some dense wooded areas with lookouts along the way.

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For us the lookouts were quite a disappointment since you could see very little if anything around the over grown tree line. So we headed a bit further down the trail to what we had read was a swinging bridge. How fun does that sound right? Well, it was fun, shaky and a bit unnerving to see cables with only, what I refer to as, chicken wire for edges. However, you only live once, so we all crossed it once and then twice to return to our vehicle from there.

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Our entire hike took us 5.3 miles through this state park.

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The park service rated this hike as strenuous and going into the gorge down to the falls I would agree simply because of the terrain. With that being said, I think anyone not disabled could do this at a comfortable pace per individual.

The trail to Cane Creek Falls I would rate as easy….since there is very little rock to be scrambling over to reach the overlooks.

 

Questions I Am Asked Most Often Being A Female Hiker

Being a female hiker is not common in the WI, at least this is what I have found in my journey. Maybe this is the reason I loved visiting Utah an Arizona so much. Clearly, there were just as many, if not more, female hikers than males. With that being said, I do know of a few women who like to hit the trail and often will be asked questions by them in regards to my likes and dislikes. Which I thought would be informative and fun to share with those of you that are wondering some specifics in regards to this activity.

So here are some of the most asked questions and my answers to them all.

Water Bladder or water bottle? For me it’s a bottle every time. I have tried a bladder and both my husband and son love theirs…..I just can’t get past the rubber bag taste. I know it would be much more convenient but for the short trails I mostly hike(10 mile or less) I don’t mind having to carry a bottle(s). I love my Nalgenes most but the collapsible Platypus brand are very nice also.

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Pit toilet or cathole? Clearly there are moments where there is no option….but if at all possible I will wait till we get to a trailhead and use a pit toilet. I have learned either way it is a “crapshoot” since some pit toilets are down right horrendous. The worst pit toilet I have ever seen was at Scouts Landing on the way up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park…..we all decided to do our business behind the building because this pit toilet was not even “hold your breath” tolerable!!!! I will never forget it!!!

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Distance or elevation? This really depends on a few things. For me here at home, there are really no elevation hikes, so scenery and distance is usually the goal. When we travel to hike while on vacation….I am an all or nothing elevation hiker. The higher the better for me….I love the feeling of being as close to heaven as possible without being deceased. If I am hiking for stress relief, any place and any distance will do as long as it’s a dirt trail with very few people.

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Boots or trail shoes: This is completely personal but I would never hike any trail without my boots simply because I have very weak ankles and need the extra support.

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Trail map or GPS: Both! Before I hike any new trail, I do tons of research. I always have a trail map along and we almost always bring our GPS with us with our vehicle marked before starting the trail . You just never know and I am a better safe than sorry type of person.

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Alone or with a group? I rarely get the opportunity to hike alone….but when I have I find it very peaceful. I can go at my own pace for as long as I wish. However, there is something to be said about hiking with my husband and son and also with a group since I have done both. They all have there pluses and minuses so I like all of them for different reasons.

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What do I use for personal protection: I always hike with bear spray…and not always for the bears I may come across. My thoughts are, if it works even a little bit on a bear, it will work enough on a person so that I can at least have a chance. Plus, I also use my husband for protection…..I believe this man would give a limb to save my life.

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Forest or desert hikes: Both since here at home I have only forest. When we travel and it’s my choice where we are headed….it’s always the desert. I love it hot!

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Squat or female urine device: Female urine device every time. I am not a fan of peeing in my boots…which sometimes happens when you squat. It’s much more discreet when hiking with men, which is almost always who I hike with.Plus, imagine this….temps are 20 degrees, you have a ton of layers on, and snow is up to your knees when you step off the trail to go squat. Now you tell me if you want to drop your drawers and squat to pee. This is what I hike in 4-6 months out of every year which is why I love my female urine device.

What are my biggest dislikes about hiking? I have two big dislikes. One being garbage left by humans on the trail. Some of us are just plain old pigs and need to learn to clean up after ourselves. My other dislike is bushwhacking…..you know, going off the trail to a so called trail that is really not a trail. Ugggg, this is a big dislike for me. We actually came up with a new family rule when we recently traveled to Sedona and hiked in the desert. If the trail is not as wide as my hips I am not hiking it!!!! My husband and son seemed to think this was funny……but we did not hike anymore trails on this trip at least this wide.

What’s the one thing I would not hike without? My boots

Am I scared? I am asked this very often and every time I am not sure what to answer. Scared of what is always my thought. In my opinion, there are bad people everywhere, there are guns everywhere, there are animals everywhere, and there are places in my every day life that I could be in danger. If it’s my time , then so be it. I can only hope that when it is my time it is somewhere beautiful, I am wearing by boots, there is a smile on my face, and dirt under my feet. So no, I guess I am not scared.

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If I could choose one place to hike where would this be? Such a difficult question. I have hiked in some places that have taken my breath away, made me feel emotions I have never felt in my life, and have given me such a feeling of accomplishment that it is hard to explain. So, in all honesty, I don’t know where I would choose but I know it would be the southwest region without a doubt.

These are the most commonly asked questions of me in regards to what I hike, why I hike and what I do differently as a female on the trail. Hiking does not have to be technical, it can simply be a walk in the woods. Women often think because of there shape, size, time of the month, physical ability or the fact that there is no one to do this with, that it is not feasible. I am here to tell you it is and if you have ever considered trying this activity to do it. I think you would be surprised at how much you will enjoy it.

****Keep in mind, these are all my personal opinions and are not meant to guide anyone one way or the other. I consider myself a casual hiker and my no means a long distance or an ultralight hiker.

I Can Cross One More Thing Off My Bucket List

Hello Hello, we are back from our trip to Sedona, Arizona and let me just say, it was a dream come true.

I have tons of photos to scan through, tons of laundry covered in red rock dust to do, three little ones begging for my attention, a stack of mail to read, a yard covered in more leaves and…….well, you get the point. So for right now, know that I am working on blog posts to share with all of you. Everything from pointers we learned while in this area to some of the most spectacular hikes I have ever been on in my entire life.

As for that bucket list summit, it’s done….here is the proof.

 (photo taken by our son, Quade Byrnes)Mom Cathedral End low logo-1