A Weekend of Chills

When I woke up on Saturday morning the temperature outside was -4 below zero. There was no way I was going to get up, get dressed and go workout today. The only thing that would have been worse for me would have been to wake up to snow falling.

I then announce to my dear husband it would be a great day to clean the basement. With a lot less complaining than I expected, he agreed there really would not be much else we could do today, at least outside that is.

We cleaned, organized and sorted tons of stuff.We ended up with half of our truck bed full of things to donate to charity, a clean basement and a plan for when we bring our son home from college. He has wanted a man cave of his own for sometime but with my workout equipment which takes up a great deal of our basement, that has not always been an easy thing to create. Well, we did some thinking and decided that since he will be transferring to a campus close to home and now living back at home, this is something that he really does need. We were lucky enough to receive a very nice desk for no cost and needed to create a place to put it. Mission accomplished, I think. Now we just wait until he is home and him and dad will start doing their thing and create his man cave.

After cleaning the basement, we went out to drop off the boxes of charity items we had accumulated, stopped for some chinese and called it a day.

Which brings us to Sunday. Another not so lovely day in Wisconsin. Below zero temps and this time snow was falling when I got up. Again, my workout was happening at home.(I am not a very cheerful cold weather person, as you can probably tell.) I planned to try a new salad recipe for dinner, got some paperwork done, we finished our puzzle we started during Thanksgiving and I had the pleasure of listening to my husband yell at the television while the GB Packer game was on. Always a joy that is!!!

Our first significant snowstorm of the year has arrived today bringing 3-5 inches across the area. And temperatures are never suppose to be above 20 the entire week. Which made me think, it would be the perfect week to share a wonderful easy recipe for a nice hot drink. Watch for this on Wednesday.

Until then….

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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.

A Visit To Wausau White Water Park

Saturday morning we awoke bright and early to make the short travel to Wausau, WI for a day of adventure. Our first stop was at  Wausau Whitewater.  

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This is a a great place to try out your whitewater skills, or to learn new skills from some very knowledgeable paddlers. Both my son and husband have participated in this coarse in the past and have learned a great deal of skills here. I also over heard today that we will be returning soon to give this another try.

The portion of the river is very popular when the organization posts that there is going to be a dam release for whitewater purposes. These releases last from 10am-4pm, and in this time you can register for lessons, participate in the recreational release, or you can sit on the edge of the river and just enjoy the show. There is a small fee to participate, although spectating is free. Today,that is what we did.

The nicest thing here for me, as a mom and a wife, is there is medical personnel waiting on the edge, on the rocks mid river, and throw ropes laying all along the edge of the river for spectators to pitch in if needed. Along with the medical personnel, fellow kayakers will also assist mid river when they can.

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Here is the river, calm and relaxing before the dam release.

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And during the release

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If you would need to exit your kayak anywhere along here and cannot make it to the edge of the river, there is a nice little lake waiting for you at the end of the whitewater. Feet in front of you is the rule, and enjoy the ride on your backside.

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Here are some pictures I captured of some experienced whitewater paddlers doing what they do best.

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Here is a little trick they all use to get more volume in their kayaks which makes it easier to flip the boat over themselves while in the rapid.

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Yes, that is a beach ball. They stuff it between their legs under their skirt that covers the kayak cockpit. Genius!

We also saw a class of mostly women taking their first whitewater lesson today. All looked quite nervous as they made their way down river to learn the basics.

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This is an awesome place for paddlers to try their skills, hang out with fellow whitewater paddlers and just have a great time. If you come from far, there is a wonderful little area that kayakers are allowed to camp for the weekend and it is literally right next to the rivers edge.

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It’s the one place that you can see a rainbow of colors and you don’t even have to look up to the sky.

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Happy Paddling Everyone:)