Hike, Cook, Eat, And Explore….Just A Few Of My Favorite Things

I don’t get a whole lot of down time with being a wife, mother, childcare provider, and a person that will not pass up a day outside if the sun is shining. However, there have been a few things consuming what little free time I do have.

Trip planning…..I should have been a travel agent. Although, do people even use travel agents any more???? Who knows. Anyhow, I have been working hard at planning our next adventure vacation and I am finally at a place where I can say it’s complete. I till have two places to book for the night but for the adventure part of the trip, it’s complete. Sleeping is just details anyhow…right? This vacation is going to be like no other since I am not ready to live the airline HELL again any time soon, so we are driving this one, exploring many places, and of course hiking to some of the places on my bucket list.

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Cooking….again something I have been enjoying but I know will soon become a chore for the next few months with the warmer weather. There is nothing worse than having to come in from outside to cook…uggg. Why do we need to eat in the summer time….its such a waste of good summer time hours? Anyhow, I splurged and bought a spiralizer and have been experimenting with it. My husband is a bit scared of what I may put on the dinner table in the next few weeks and our son has already said to give him notice and he will go out for dinner. Party pooper!!!

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And I have been roasting veggie mixtures like crazy and found that I LOVE roasted lemon slices on my veggies. Lemons turn to sweet slices of heaven when they are roasted. You have to try it!!!

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We are planning frantically for camping season and I could not be more excited. OK, well maybe if it were paddling season but that is still a ways away for me. Waters are still a bit chilly so why not camp instead. I placed and received my yearly order of grab and go camp meals for when the urge hits and we have no time to prepare…we just grab and go.

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I have to mention my new love…..sushi. I have had sushi in the past at a few places but this months dinner out with my brother was for sushi at an actual sushi restaurant here in Green Bay. I was nervous,excited, and a little scared to be honest. They often will serve fish eggs on many items and being married to a avid fisherman, I cannot eat fish eggs from any species. However, we easily worked around this dislike and I was amazed at how wonderful our meal tasted, looked, and I cannot wait to return. We had the chef prepare everything we ordered on one plate to share between the three of us and it was like a party in our mouth, literally!!! Look at this plate of food. I am loving these monthly dinners with my brother, he is an adventurous soul and a great foodie at that. And, I will never again have to try and figure out where to go for my future birthday dinners….without a doubt it will be out for sushi.

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That sums up my free time as of lately. I will leave you all with an end of week rainbow and a wish for a great weekend ahead.

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Tagging Along For The Day

Recently, our son and a friend casually mentioned that they were considering a hiking trip to my favorite WI park which quickly made me think fast. I knew they were both college students and, let’s face it, always tight on money, so if we offered to drive and supply lunch they may let us tag along for the day. So, the offer was made and by the next morning excepted…..which made this mom very happy.

I wish we lived closer to this area because this would be where I would spend a great majority of my time, hiking in Devil’s Lake State Park. This park literally has everything we love, well almost, it does not have whitewater rapids. It does have a lake for standup paddling, fishing, and swimming. It has bluffs to climb and hiking trails that are well marked and fun to hike. And the view is as good as it gets in Wisconsin.

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Since both our son and his friend are photography students, they each had their backpacks loaded with camera equipment, which meant I had the pleasure of trying out my new Gregory backpack. (Which I LOVE) My husband had his backpack which started out empty since we began hiking when it was pretty chilly. As the temperature quickly rose, we started peeling layers off half way up the bluff and loading it into his backpack.

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Our new hiking companion had never been here before, much less hiking anywhere for that matter. They have been doing little bits and pieces around home but this was by far the biggest hike he had been on. If only he could have seen his facial expression upon walking up to the trail head, it was photo worthy in my opinion. I hopefully put his mind at ease by reminding him that slow and steady is the key to success when hiking up cliffs/bluffs and that when he needed to stop and “smell the roses,” or catch his breath, to  do just that. We have done this hike a hundred times, so we knew exactly what was ahead. For him, this was truly a new adventure which we were hoping to make a big success.

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By the time we reached the top everyone was warmed up and ready to explore. IMG_2775  IMG_2790

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Then it was time for a little break. We found a sunny area and all shared a snack.

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After numerous pictures were taken it was time to head back down. It was not a long distance hike by any means, but it was successful. Anytime we can share our love of the trail with someone new is a success in my eyes.

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Then it was picnic time and we decided since we were not sure until last minute if we would actually be able to join them, that freeze dried meals would be easiest and fun for this newbie hiker to experience.

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It ended up being a wonderful day of hiking and getting to know a new friend a little more. We returned to 80 degree weather at home and even managed to get a little yard work done before the sun set.

 

 

Devil’s Lake State Park/Our First Visit With Our Son

This summer we never found the time to make our yearly trip to our favorite hiking destination in Wisconsin, Devil’s Lake State Park. This did not make me very happy. I mentioned to my husband that I sure would like to try and make it there before winter. His favorite saying is, “Happy wife,happy life!” So, he agreed to set aside a weekend to hike this beautiful park and make his wife happy:)

While talking with our son, I mentioned we were planning this adventure and he said he would like to join us if we made the trip on a Saturday. We clearly thought this would be a great way to sneak in a visit and spend it hiking as a family like always. (Otherwise we would not be seeing him until Thanksgiving normally) So we worked out the best weekend and decided to leave extra early to travel a little further and pick him and his friend up from campus for the day.

We left home at 4:45 am and picked them up at 9am to head back to the park arriving about 11:00 am. Our goal was to make it to the top of the first cliff and have a picnic lunch together. Upon arrival it was gorgeous, not too hot  and very sunny.

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We stopped a few times to take pictures and let his friend take in the view.

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This park has my favorite terrain to hike, boulders everywhere. I have climbed this trail numerous times and it never gets old.

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Upon reaching the top we found a fairly flat boulder on the edge of the cliff, off the beaten path and enjoyed a nice spread of picnic foods and some catching up with the kids. It was so nice to sit and talk.

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After lunch we headed to Devils Door. This is a spectacular rock formation at the very top of the cliff.

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Popular for many different reasons. Here you can find rock climbers, scenic helicopter rides and hikers that love to climb into and out to the edge of this formation.

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The colors of Autumn were just beautiful from this view.

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Then it was time to head back down and refill water bottles for the next hike. This one is a killer, but well worth the view at the top. Unlike the rock climbing on the other side, this side is mostly paved with many steps built into the the path. The incline is steep and exhausting. The view from the top is breathtaking and so worth the effort.

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When we reached the top, we had the opportunity to watch some rock climbers do their thing, which is always exciting.

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From this side we could look over and see the side that we had just climbed. It does not seem so high until you see it from this angle.

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After this we hiked back down and headed to our next destination, our campsite.

The town that our son’s campus is located in is very small, has a total of two hotels and they are by far, not the nicest hotels to stay in. So, we had planned ahead and decided we would camp at a near by state park. We  really wanted to have our tent set up by dark so we decided to bring freeze dried meals and all have dinner together at camp before returning the kids back to campus. Ahead of time we had informed our son of this plan, and told him to ask his friend which meal she preferred to have in freeze dried form.

We reached the campsite and my husband starting setting up the tent while my son and I started getting dinner ready.

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This was his friends first experience with a freeze dried meal, so when he opened her meal of choice and showed her the inside she was somewhat speechless. I couldn’t help but laugh at her facial expression. Thankfully we had enough picnic food left over from lunch just in case.

Everyone’s boiling water was added to their meals. When it was time to start my husbands meal of choice, chicken breast with mashed potatoes, his needs to be done in steps, so I took out the freeze dried chicken breast and placed them on a plate.

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She was again rendered speechless, and just turned up her nose. I guess you had to be there to realize how funny it really was. They began measuring out the proper amount of water for this meal, looking like two mad scientists doing an experiment.

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While we waited for this meal to be prepared, it was time for her to take a look in her bag and see the outcome of her chili mac after it sat with boiling water for the required time. I don’t have a picture of this expression because I was laughing too hard. Although, she opened her bag, tried it and said it was pretty tasty. She took a picture to document her first freeze dried meal for future reference. It must have been edible because she ate the entire meal. It was a fun dinner with lots and lots of laughs.

Then it was time to bring the kids back to their dorms. We did stop for a quick Dairy Queen dessert before dropping them off and saying good bye. They both seemed to have a great time, and enjoyed their well needed break from campus life for a few hours. I have no doubt they were both feeling a little stiff the next morning from hiking, but they are young, they should recover fast. We told them on the second, more strenuous hike, we were helping them keep off the freshman 15 lbs. that everyone talks about. I don’t think either one believed us though.

All in all, we had a great day with them. We were tired by the time we headed back to our campsite for the night but were confident after seeing the two of them that they are getting along on their own just fine. As a parent, you never really know what will happen when they go off to college, but mine seems to be doing quite well and that makes me feel good.

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.