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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Weekend Outdoor Fun….Yes, Outdoor Fun…Can You Believe It?

Oh my, was it a great weekend to be outside. I went outside in January….and had fun….simply amazing!!!! It was so warm….in the 40’s here in Green Bay both days…yeh!!!!

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I had planned to go to yoga Saturday morning as usual but when my husband mentioned to me that it was going to be warm enough to venture out and take a hike I immediately changed my plans.

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We stayed close to home since we knew the snow depth in our area and arrived at one of our favorite nearby trails. I was very happy to see it was not nearly as snow covered as I had thought it would have been. IMG_0275

We walked along the trail and took in the sunshine on our faces with great pleasure. It felt so good to breathe fresh air and get in some outdoor exercise.

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We watched the ice fishermen nearby on the Bay of Green Bay, all the while thinking to myself how crazy of a sport ice fishing is. IMG_0277

We did not see much wildlife while we hiked but we did run across a trail friend who was moving very, very slowly but moving none the less.

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Three miles later we ended our hike and it felt amazing.

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Then on Sunday I woke up, got in a gym workout, came home to meal prep, and once again headed back outside for yet another hike with a friend this time.

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We walked 5 miles, saw one bald eagle that I scared away trying to get a picture of, and lots of melting happening all along the way. IMG_0301

I know it’s too early to be this excited about the weather being so nice but you know what, I will take what I can get and enjoy every last hour until the next snow fall happens or the next ice storm glazes over everything in sight(which could happen tomorrow from what they are saying).

All in all it was a great weekend. I feel refreshed and ready for another long week ahead.

 

November=58 degrees…In Wisconsin…..Seriously??? Time To Trade In My Whisk For My Hiking Boots Once Again

As you can probably assume from the title, I am one VERY happy person. When I awoke Thanksgiving morning and saw the forecast prediction for the day after Thanksgiving was going to be in the mid 50’s I immediately put things into high gear. I simply looked across the room at my husband and he knew exactly what I was thinking……..he said calmly, “let’s get it all done today so we can hit the trail tomorrow.” I love how he understands me without me even saying a word.

As you can imagine I had a load of things on the to do list to accomplish with four days off for the holiday. We literally packed all our chores into one day, we got in our annual family hike for Thanksgiving morning, plus I made Thanksgiving dinner that same evening. Oh, I was so tired by evening but so happy to be free of the long list and just had a few things that needed tending to before we hit the long trail on Friday afternoon.

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Then Friday arrived and I was excited to get in some warm mileage on a dirt trail once again before the snow arrives full blast. We arrived at our chosen trail head to find just us. I did not mind this at all, I parked our lone vehicle and it awaited our return.

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The temp on my vehicle upon arrival was a balmy 58 degrees. Amazing!!!!

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And a few steps into our hike and I had to chuckle. Clearly, this lone dandelion was not ready to give up quite yet on summer either.

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The trail was wonderful. Leaves crunched beneath our feet,

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signs of deer were everywhere,

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nature could be heard and saw along the way. It was so good for my soul…to just walk, listen, and breathe the air around us.

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The only thing that could have caused me any worry was that we were hiking during the gun deer hunt season here in WI. We did see many different deer stands, thankfully no active hunters during our time on the trail . And yes, in case you are wondering, we did also wear blaze orange for our own protection on this hike.

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With 3.3 miles Thanksgiving day and just over 4 miles Friday, we could all agree that summer is going to missed.

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Hiking, along with numerous other things we were able to pack into four days, left us all with a feeling of happiness. Add that to a fabulous Thanksgiving meal……along with my first ever homemade whipped cream (which turned out wonderful I may add) so my husband could enjoy whipped cream on his pumpkin pie along with everyone else…and I could not have been more thankful for anything else in the  world.

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Now, we all have to return to normal life once again and hopefully be ready for Christmas in a few short weeks. Sadly, I have a feeling I will not be hiking anywhere where that snow is not covering the trail come this time but who knows, maybe just maybe, wishes will come true.

Weekly Meal Plans….Back By Popular Demand/Weekend Recap

Our weekend started off as a weekend away camping…..and was changed mid week due to weather concerns. Whomp Whomp! So my husband who was suppose to be setting up our tent to sleep in, instead started preparing his ice fishing supplies by setting up his ice shack instead.

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Then I had planned a night away with a friend….and this was changed last minute due to illness! Whomp Whomp!

So ultimately, I was home all weekend. I started Christmas shopping, I ran some errands, I got in two awesome workouts at the gym, I took care of some daycare business, and the hubby and I hiked a nearby trail together.

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Not the weekend I had planned but you know, life happens and plans change and you sometimes just have to roll with it.

Anyhow, lets move on. I have had a few requests for our weekly meal plans again. I used to post these but never really thought anyone followed….I guess I was wrong. And now that we follow an artificial sweetener free diet, my meal plans have been changed up and I have found myself revamping many recipes I have prepared for years to be much cleaner than before. So back by popular demand, I will be posting my weekly meal plans for you to read. I will not be including recipes but if you find something that looks yummy, don’t be afraid to ask what the recipe was. I will be happy to share anything with you.

Saturday: dill caper farro, grilled salmon with lemon and onions, and baked squash.

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Sunday: fajita brats with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, over quinoa

Monday: mexican tortilla stack(meatless)

Tuesday: stuffed manicotti with cottage cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pesto, with marinara sauce and melted cheese over the top. served with bread sticks (meatless)

Wednesday: cowboy caviar filled wonton cups and side salads

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Thursday: egg frittata(recipe here)

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Friday: out

You will find that two nights a week we try and eat meatless meals….more if I can get away with it but my husband and son like their meat. And every meal is made strictly without the use of artificial sweeteners so my husband does not feel ill. If you missed why this diet change happened you can read about it here.

I will try and post our weekly meal plan on Sundays. Our week typically runs from Saturday to Friday since I almost always grocery shop on Fridays for the following week. Let me know if you see something you like. And by all means, if you prepare something yummy please share it with me….I am always searching for meals to prepare that are as clean as possible so everyone is happy.

 

Memories I Will Have Forever From Virginia: Part One….McAfee Knob

Memories….they are made everywhere. Many of my memories are from here in Wisconsin where I was born and raised for the past 40+years of life. However, this past week I made some more memories with my husband on a bucket list trip to Virginia where I know my heart aches to be……in the mountains.

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We live in the flattest state around(in my opinion) and I have seen almost all there is to see here numerous times. So when the chance comes that I get to escape the grind of every day life to go to my happy place I am the first one packed and ready to go. So let me share with you the past week in the mountains of Virginia.

For this vacation we drove from WI to Salem, Virginia to begin our adventure. Now you may wonder…why such an off the wall city like Salem? Well, I had a bucket list dream to fulfill and I wanted to make sure I could do this before we packed in anything else. My dream was to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and get the iconic picture that you see in many, if not all, hiking magazines, on hiking websites and so on. Every time I would see this picture displayed I would tell my husband….some day I will get there. And as usual, he would just smile and say….I have no doubt you will. Love you honey!

The morning of our hike we left before sunrise to make sure we could find the trailhead and get a parking spot. I had read that parking was sometimes packed but was hoping it would not be too bad since our hike was happening Monday morning. We arrived with about twenty minutes to spare before the sun started peeking over the mountains. The lot had a fair share of cars but all looked to have been there overnight. The lot was easily located of the 311 and marked clearly.

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The trail itself starts across the street from the parking area. Again, clearly marked with signage once you cross the 311 carefully, since cars zip around this mountain road fairly quickly.

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The view going up was so beautiful.

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A bit up the trail you will come to a split. Signs are large and arrows point you in the correct direction. ***Now, I will tell you that many AT hikers recommend hiking the fire road up to the knob and then taking the AT back to the parking lot or vice versa since the AT is quite rugged. We did not do this. I did not train physically and drive for two days to hike any fire road for whatever reason what so ever. I came to hike the AT up to McAfee Knob and back and I am so happy we did.

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The trail we found to be difficult. Remember….we hike flat ground in WI almost all our life. This part of the AT was covered in rock, boulders, and roots in many places. Very little was ground and being we were headed to the top of of a mountain it was clearly up all the way.

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Eventually you will come to a crossing that again is well marked and will lead you across the fire road.

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Then you reach an AT shelter where you head up another clearly marked trail.

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Eventually you see the trail start to have huge boulders and you weaving around these while you make the last stretch to the top.

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By this time I was tired. And I mean TIRED!!!! Hiking up the entire trail was difficult plus our GPS clearly did not agree with the mileage that was posted with all the information I had read regarding this trail. So if you attempt this hike and find your mileage is also different keep going…..you will be so happy you did. We finally reached the top of the knob and immediately we checked the mileage to compare.

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I soon forgot about this little issue because when I rounded the corner I felt like I wanted to cry. OK, maybe I did a bit. It was truly amazing in every way!!!!!!

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We had did it and we did it together. We arrived to find a few others but the longer we stayed the more others arrived. We ate a small snack and rested a bit before returning to the bottom by way of the AT once again. We saw deer, lizards, and many, many caterpillars along the way.

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When we finally arrived back at the 311 parking lot we had clocked a total of 9.5 miles and almost 6 hours of hiking with I would say about 45 minutes were at the top exploring, resting and having lunch.

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Most importantly……I crossed something of my bucket list that I will cherish forever…..my own iconic photographs on the top of McAfee Knob with the love of my life.

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A dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!

Miners Falls-Michigan U.P.

One of our favorite waterfalls in Michigans U.P. is Miners Falls.

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Parking here is ample when it’s not the busy season…..we visited on Labor Day weekend and it was packed!!!!! Bathrooms are available right in the parking area and a few picnic tables are also in this area to rest or have a picnic.

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It’s an easy hike into the falls with a crushed gravel/dirt path through the woods.

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That is until you hit the stairs that lead to the actual viewing platform for the falls. There are a good number of steps so strollers/wheelchairs will have problems from this point onward. And no, you cannot see the falls without taking the steps.

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This waterfall is quite magnificent….with a thunderous roar and a mist of spray while viewing. Many have trouble photographing this waterfall due to this mist…..as I did also while here.

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This waterfall/trail is free along with free parking.

 

 

 

A Surprise Training Hike Once Again and Some Meal Prep To Begin The Week

Ahhh, what a weekend. One that I really needed….I’ll tell you that much. After a major flop last week, we had some business to take care of Saturday morning and then my husband surprised me by suggesting another training hike mid afternoon. He knows I would never turn down a hike and the best way to get me to relax is either bring me to a river….which could not happen due to my finger accident last week…. so the next best thing is bring me to a trail. Which is exactly what he did.

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We knew we could not do all three laps this time around as we did the first time because time was limited today. However, we knew we had time for two full laps and we wasted no time getting started. After lunch we headed to the trail, sunscreen and bug spray in hand. Upon arriving we were greeted by a whole family of wild turkeys.

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I simply love what trails offer me. There are wild flowers everywhere, quietness of the woods, and the ability to just escape everyday life and be one with nature.

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6.6 miles later and we were done, I was relaxed and calm, and felt completely ready to face what life decides to throw at me next. I am really getting excited and feel I am closer every day to feeling like we will accomplish our next big adventure that’s on the horizon.

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Sunday then arrived and I awoke happily feeling good. No pain anywhere after our hike Saturday so I immediately got to meal prepping for the week. Nothing makes my week flow more smoothly than a weekly menu and meal prepping as much as I can for the week ahead.

I started by cutting up fresh fruit….pineapple and strawberries are loved by us all. And then I hard boiled a dozen eggs. I still felt I needed a bit more prepping so I threw together some curry lentil stew this time with sweet potatoes in it and cut up peppers for fajitas one night, I tossed together a greek veggie salad, and also made a new muffin for breakfast…carrot and coconut muffins for the win. MMMM, they are delicious!!!

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After this I bid my husband good luck fishing and headed over to Fresh Thyme for a few items, stopping at the gym on my way home for a workout and my first attempt back at weights since injuring myself back in July. Slow and steady is what I am practicing….and its slowly coming back to me.

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A few hours later my husband arrived home with dinner….apparently my wish of good luck paid off.

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