We Still Do….After 25 Years

This past week we spent as a family in Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our 25th anniversary. To celebrate this occasion we did something somewhere very special to us and it could not have been more perfect.

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That picture right there is Doe Mountain…a place that will forever have great meaning in our hearts. That is where I dreamed of saying I Do all over again and my dreams came true on this day.

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We married very young, we have had many struggles, we have gone through many things together and never once have we left each others side through it all. Today, looking back, I can honestly say that it all made us stronger and so much more grateful for each other. So to make it to this milestone in our lives together where we could celebrate in a big way was something we worked very hard to do. We came up with the idea a year ago to renew our wedding vows on our anniversary but I wanted to do this at the top of this mountain…not on ground level. Yes, crazy I am…..but I was determined to find a minister that could and would be willing to make this happen for us. So I started contacting ministers in the Sedona area and I was quickly shot down by six of them as soon as they heard my destination. That is, until I contacted the 7th one on my list and after talking with him, he kindly agreed to hike with us to the top, let us pick our place atop the summit, and perform the ceremony all while our son photographed the entire time.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018 we arrived at the trailhead parking lot and waited patiently the arrival of our minister, Reverend Ken Froessel.

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We said our hellos and began our hike up the mountain.

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This was to be a completely casual affair. However, our kind and thoughtful minister asked if we would mind if he changed into his hiking boots to make the climb instead of his normal wedding attire shoes he arrived in. I simply said of course, we are planning to wear our boots, he may as well also.

We said our vows on this point looking out into the canyon. It was perfect. Something we will never forget.

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After all was said and done we took some more pictures, he presented us with a copy of the vows we had just promised to each other, and then said our goodbyes as he headed back down the mountain while we stayed up to enjoy more of the summit.

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It was a dream come true. A day that will forever hold great meaning in our hearts.

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I could not be more honored to be married to this man. He is my rock….the person that I know, no matter what, I can lean on. Here’s to many more ahead of us babe.

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Trails Are Picked Out And Now It’s Time To Train For This Adventure

Recently our son stopped over for a visit and I tossed out to both my boys (husband and son) a suggestion that we really should consider looking at preparing a training schedule for our upcoming trip to Sedona, AZ. Surprisingly enough, both agreed! This brought a small chuckle to my inner self. It’s funny how when mom (me) plans a vacation it takes 10-12 weeks to prepare for this vacation. We know this because after attempting once to do one of these vacations without training….we have all learned the hard way. Training makes what I love to do on vacation so much more pleasant in the long run. IMG_5837

So this is what we came up with. We agreed 10 weeks should be enough time to accomplish what we need. I have already picked out all our hikes, summits, and activities that will take the toll on our bodies. All the rest of the fun should be easy and just plain fun. We know the area already since we have visited once before so we all agreed incline strengthening is the most important.

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Along with some higher mileage walks/hikes added in, this should prepare us for the adventures we have planned. Planning was the easy part….now finding time, energy, and the area where we can do this is the tricky part. Although, I think I have it set. Here is the plan….

First, let me say WI is flat!!!! In the past we did steps to help us prepare at a near by track field. This year, however, we will not be doing those steps. Why you ask??? Simply stated, they are concrete and torture, to put it mildly!

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Plus, we know we will not be boulder climbing, for the most part, like in the past, so a hilly incline to climb up and down numerous times is more what we need. Thankfully, we have a new grassy hill near our home and it will be perfect.

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Second, we know we need to up our mileage from our normal walking/hiking distance. So we have a great hilly trail on the UWGB campus that worked perfectly for our last vacation and we plan to use this same trail again to up the distance for this upcoming trip. Three laps of this trail almost add up to 10 miles which is perfect.

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Plus, we have many rail trails that go on forever. We could easily take our pick of rail trails and just walk until we can’t walk anymore.

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Last, finding time will probably the hardest part. We are planning on twice during the week in the evenings and once on the weekend. Add this with my normal daily early morning workouts and I should be plenty exhausted. Although, I still plan to take Fridays off of all exercise since, after all, it is Friday and every body needs a rest day. If my husband is on the road traveling for work this schedule could get a bit tricky for him. He works long hours on the road so he may or may not miss out on some training days. He typically takes workout clothes to hit up his hotel gym but sometimes this works out and sometimes it does not depending on his schedule. It will be what it will be.

Like usual many people ask us every time if its worth all the work we go through to go on vacation. I can honestly say, no matter how much we dislike the preparation, the reward is so worth it. Anyone that has had a goal and has accomplished that goal by putting in hard work to get there will know…..it is so worth the effort!Mom Cathedral End low logo-1

If your in the Sedona, AZ area and have any recommendations for us let us know. I would love to hear from others what they found to be the best hikes, restaurants, places to explore and so on.

Spring Is Here….But We Are Still So Limited

According to the calendar Spring arrived a few days ago and I clearly am not feeling the excitement yet. Yes, we have been able to get outside for short bursts of time here and there but come on already…I am so over winter!

One weekend we got out and walked in just sweatshirts on a local trail.

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The next weekend my husband wanted to try out his new fishing reel and I wanted to wander the wooded area near the rivers edge while he did this. We both needed winter jackets once again unlike the weekend before we only needed sweatshirts.

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We arrived and he balanced on ice along the shore hoping it did not break

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while I only made it a little ways down the trail before hitting snow and ice.

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And that’s when I noticed this fella fishing in the river with neoprene waiters on. BRRRRR!!!! I don’t care how thick and warm those waiters are….there is no way he was not freezing his %$##@ off. In my eyes this was crazy….in a fishermans eyes this is dedication. All I can say is I sure hope he caught something for all his effort.

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On a brighter note…and much warmer topic…our gym got an overhaul and I could not be more thrilled. I walked in a week after missing out for illness and wow I was excited. Almost 15 years ago now I began my health journey and my first piece of exercise equipment was a stepper at a very small gym. Then I left that gym and never found another with this piece of equipment until now….our gym has two brand new seated step machines. WHOOHOOO!!!!

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Plus, they added 3 of my next favorite machines…rowers!

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So now when I go to my early morning workout session I mix things up a bit. I am all about cardio and do weights simply because I have to. And you all know if you’ve been following for awhile that when we train for our vacations we utilize real concrete steps at a local high school. Concrete steps=torture!

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We have been seen here a lot with boots on doing flights of stairs in the heat and humidity many times. Well…..never again! I can just go to the gym now and step until I cannot step anymore. And I can even wear my hiking boots if I wish to get strange looks from other gym members which I may just do. After all, you cannot climb mountains with out strong legs now can you.

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Life Lately….

I have come to the conclusion in life that once one matter is handled the next big pressing situation is never very far behind.  It’s sort of like when you come into a bonus amount of money and you never quite know what to do with it….until…..the refrigerator decides to stop working in the middle of the night, the washing machine decides to spring a major leak during your last load of laundry, or you slip and fall on the ice and need an x-ray when your deductible is not met yet. Yeh, thankfully none of this has happened for us recently but just when things starting calming down after Christmas the next big thing(s) starting popping up. Let me catch you all up on life as it is here today.

We have our first glamping (glamorous camping) trip planned for 2018 and I am excited…very excited. Once again we are returning to what I consider is Wisconsins best state park….Devil’s Lake. We missed visiting this park last year and I really missed it. We have hiked Devil’s Lake every year for at least the past 5 years, but last year we skipped it due to other trips we had planned and we just could not fit it in anywhere. Plus, this year we are glamping for the first time ever with my brother and his family. We have cabins rented at our favorite nearby campground and we plan to campfire, hike, explore and celebrate springs arrival. No one will ever be as happy as I am when spring finally arrives!!!

I also am loving that my husband is finally getting some projects done that have been laying around waiting for completion for quite sometime. My brother, one year for Christmas, had some pictures made up into puzzles for us. Once they were assembled my husband thought it would be cool to glue them and make red rock frames to go with the red rock theme of the puzzles. I agreed, then life happened, and they sat there. Well, they are now completed and I love them. Now we just have to figure out where to hang them.

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I have now expanded my cookbook selection to include one more clean eating/plant based cookbook to make meal planning easier. Since cutting out artificial sweetener in all our diets and with the amazing success my husband has had with this change, I am now finding it much harder to make casseroles. And casseroles were my “go to” for an easy make ahead and throw in the oven meal in the winter months. However, I am really finding plant based meals to be fulfilling and much less work than I ever imagined. Plus, my grocery bill is pretty nice also.

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I do have to give a shout out to my other half lately. It’s been one of those winters where everything keeps breaking. Nothing huge but big enough that thankfully with his repair skills he has saved us so much money just this year alone so far. I love having my own maintenance man in the house. Some people marry for money, some marry for love, I married for love and the money he saves us.

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And last but not least, the one big thing I have been working very hard on is our next big trip…the one where we are renewing our marriage vows for our 25th. anniversary this year. Do you know how difficult it is to find a minister that is willing to hike up to the top of a mountain to perform a renewal ceremony for this occasion? Well, I can tell you how difficult it is……VERY DIFFICULT!!!! However, I found one, we have talked with him and explained how important it is for him to make this trek for us, and he assures me he can do this as long as we are not trail runners and plan to race up the mountain. I promised him we could take as long as he needed to arrive safely at the top and for him to grant us his services. Now I just have to figure out a proper tip to give this gentleman since he is clearly putting his life on the line to make our wishes come true. I cannot wait to say “I Still Do” to the one I love in a place that brought such happiness to us the first time we saw it.

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What would you tip the minister in this situation? I would be grateful for your suggestions.

 

Tips For Hiking In Sedona, Arizona

We learned a few things really fast with our first visit to the Sedona, Arizona area. And even though we only spent three full days hiking the desert trails and exploring the area, I know these tips will come in handy for anyone else visiting the area also. So I thought I would share some with you all today.

#1 WATER: You would think this would be obvious desert hiking but from what we saw, it was not! You will need water and lots of it. We planned two hikes per day and even kept a gallon jug in our SUV to refill our water containers between trailheads. Yes, its warm and not very refreshing to drink warm water, but it’s water and in the desert water is a necessity.

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#2 BOOTS/HIGH SOCKS: We were told to bring boot and higher socks to protect our legs from cactus plants that are sometimes very near the trail edge. This was a great recommendation since both my husband and son rubbed up against a cactus while hiking. These plants are vicious and you don’t want to get to close.

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#3 GPS/TRAIL MAPS: I did alot of research on what trails we wanted to hike during this trip. We, however, ended up adding two extra and changing one up due to rain we received overnight in our area. Which meant we did not have all the proper maps with us. Although, we did have the GPS which meant we were just fine. Most trails are marked very well in the Sedona area but it’s also very easy to get turned around or get on an intersecting trail by mistake. At each and every trailhead we hiked, we marked our vehicle so we knew no matter what we could find it again.

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#4 RED ROCK PASS IS REQUIRED: Some trailheads require a RED ROCK pass to park at the assigned lot. Many…..and I mean many people do not get them and then are upset when they return and find a ticket on the windshield. These passes are cheap, can be purchased by the day, week or year, and are easily located throughout the area at different businesses. We bought ours our first night at the Safeway Grocery Store(located on SR89A), for the week which was $15. They can also be purchased right at the trailhead if you wish.

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#5 TRAILHEAD PARKING LOTS: A few things here….arriving early makes it much easier to find a spot. They fill very quickly, especially on the weekends. Second, some have bathroom facilities and some do not. And the ones that do, don’t always have toilet paper in them….so bring some and leave it in your vehicle just in case. They are all pit toilets with no water at all….so prepare to clean your hands on your own. Lastly, some are located on back forest roads that require a high clearance vehicle. I researched which ones did and did not before deciding where we would start each hike. And when they say a high clearance vehicle is needed here, they mean it……here is one forest road with huge ruts in it.

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#6 PROTECT YOUR VALUABLES: There are signs everywhere to protect your valuables at the trailheads. We had no issues but we also left nothing but water and jackets in our vehicle while hiking.

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#7 READ THE SIGNS: All trails are different…..some allow dogs, some tell you what to do and not do, and some tell you exactly what will happen if you do something stupid. Read them ,follow them, and keep this place beautiful for everyone.

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#8 YOU WILL BE DIRTY: Hiking here for us was a whole different experience that back home. We spent alot more time using our rear ends to get back down many different areas, our boots were covered in red dust by the end of the day, and we had red dust lines where are socks ended. Everyone around us had dirty backsides and the same red dust coating there skin. So prepare to be dirty but have a great time getting this way.

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#9 HAVE A PLAN B: We were (un)fortunate enough to receive rain one evening while we were here and that made us change up our plans for the next day due to where we had planned to hike. Although, everything turned out fabulous and we could not have picked a better alternate hike because it ended up being my favorite of the entire vacation. So even though you have a plan, be flexible.

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#10 SEDONA IS NOT A CHEAP PLACE TO EAT OUT: We were very fortunate to have an awesome hotel with a great balcony facing the mountains that made meal times even more special for us. We did eat out one evening(the evening we arrived) and the bill was over $50 for three sandwiches and two lemonades. (That to me is expensive) So we headed to one of the many grocery stores and picked up breakfast items for four days since we planned to leave earlier in the mornings to hike. And dinner every evening was also bought here and enjoyed on our balcony. It was cheaper, tasty, and I did not have to keep my boots on to eat:-) We met many of the same hikers every evening doing the same thing and all covered in dirt which made us not feel so bad.

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We did not do hardly any shopping in Sedona’s downtown area. We drove through it to get to the Oak Creek scenic drive and it’s was bustling with many people. We did locate two outfitters while here and found one had much more “needed” supplies and one was more a clothing/fashion outfitter. We did visit one park while here, Grasshopper Point, simply because my husband had a wish to jump off a canyon wall into the water. Which he fulfilled.

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Other than that we hiked everyday. We enjoyed our hotel pool and all the warm sunshine.

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We enjoyed our first ever acai bowls(We all ordered the Summit Bowl) as a treat one evening.(Again, I thought super costly, 3 smalls were $30)(Although, the smalls were HUGE)

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If you plan to visit this area and have specific questions for me, feel free to comment and I will answer them if I can.

(***Keep in mind that we were here strictly to hike, it was the end of October and temps never got above 87 degrees)

*** To see the hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

 

 

Chimney Rock Loop Trail-Sedona, Arizona

Chimney Rock Loop was our last and final trail we hiked while in Sedona for the first time. It was also an unplanned add on because…..well….we just weren’t ready to return home. All three of us fell for desert hiking much more than we thought we would…..especially my husband.

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This hike was a 2 mile loop that involved some elevation but nothing drastic by any means. From the parking lot located on Thunder Mountain Road in Sedona, it loops around very close to residents back yards in the first mile or so. (***NOTE the gate to this parking lot apparently does not open until 8:00a.m. so plan accordingly.) This I did not care for, as it felt a bit intruding but then again, I am guessing the trail was probably there before the homes were constructed, so it all works out I suppose. Anyhow, I sort of felt like I was still in the city so to speak. However, all of a sudden you head inward and round the mountain and climb a bit upwards and you are on the lookout and away from the homes.

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You then continue around the mountain base while headed back down. This side is much more secluded and peaceful.

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All our resources stated this hike was rated moderate….I would agree to some extent but most of it was fairly easy.

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In my opinion, this is a hike if you have a short amount of time and need to stay close to the city itself. All that being said, we saw many area residents using it for trail running which I bet is ideal for a quick run before or after work.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.

Mescal Trail Hike-Sedona, Arizona

The Mescal Trail was the trail we decided to add on to one of our days. My husband fell in love with hiking through the desert terrain and wasn’t ready to be done one day so we ventured down this trail for a little over a mile and then backtracked the same mile for our return. From what I have researched, this trail does make a loop and would be about 5 miles total if this loop was completed. However, we knew we only had about an hour before darkness set in and there was no way I was hiking in the desert in the dark. Clearly, there are animals that can bit through this wicked cactus that I do not wish to meet in daylight much less darkness!!!!

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This trail seemed to be utilized by a lot of mountain bikers. Yet, we did cross paths with hikers also and when we did cross paths with mountain bikers they were respectful and gave us on foot the right of way. (Odd to see, because the bikers we see on WI trails do not do this)

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For the majority of the trail that we did hike, it was flat to little incline and offered quite an open feel to the desert. Unlike the Fay Canyon Trail, which is more enclosed and has tree cover, this was a mostly a sunny trail and I bet it could get pretty hot mid day.

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I wish we had something like this near us to walk after working all day. It was a nice peaceful walk and great scenery from every direction.

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The bit we did of this hike I would rate as easy.

*** To see more hikes we did in the Sedona area, click here and scroll down to the Arizona section and take your pick of which adventure you wish to read.