Trip Planning Takes Time

One common question I am asked when it comes to our trip planning is…. how do I decided where to go and what we need?

My answer to this common question is…..I go where there is something we will all enjoy and I do research sometimes for months before making our packing list.

And that is when everyone rolls their eyes and says…..and that’s vacation to you???

I simply answer….YES!

Planning an active vacation is very rewarding to me. Accomplishing what I have planned is even more rewarding. Coming home after seeing things we have never seen before and having memories that will last a lifetime is honestly, something I can’t even put into words.

After answering numerous emails on how to plan a vacation like this I decided to write this post to inspire everyone to just go for it. If you have a dream vacation and it involves a lot of planning just take it one step at a time and before you know it you will be there living your dream.

This is how I plan an active vacation in order of importance:

#1Destination and # of people: The first thing I do when I plan one of our adventure trips is figure out where we are headed and who is all coming. This is vital because climate plays a big part in what we need as does the number of people coming which makes the food list bigger or smaller. This is what I actually took inventory of this weekend. I dug out our supply of dried meals and wrote down everything we have at home so I can start making our meal plans for our upcoming Superior Hiking Trip. After taking inventory, I then sat down with my husband and son and we decided who wants what meal and if we need to purchase any more before the trip.


#2 Means of travel: The next big thing is how are we getting there. Plane, boat, car, etc.. I research nearest airports if we are flying, check out rental car rates, shuttles or transfers. If we are driving, this is simply getting the directions and deciding how far to travel each day to reach our destination. Another very important thing if driving is to make sure you have the proper vehicle type if you plan to do any back roads.


#3 What we plan to do while there: This is by far the part that takes the most time. Typically, we hike when we go on vacation. So I need to find trail maps, check if permits are needed, check for shuttles to trail heads if needed, watch the weather forecast if hiking in/near canyons, and read what others have said about the trails we plan to hike.


#4 Hotel, resort, campsite: This is another part of planning that can be either easy or hard depending on where we are headed. For instance, when we hiked Michigan’s Pictured Rocks Lakeshore finding a hotel was easy. We had no problem finding a nearby hotel for a reasonable price. When we hike in Zion National Park, this needed some planning ahead. Hotels near national parks book up fast so planning ahead makes all the difference especially in price. Early is cheaper and you have more selection. Campsites in national parks book even faster and honestly, after hiking the mountains of Zion, I need the comfort of a real bed and would pay almost anything for it. (We have a favorite if your searching for one near the park)

#5 Packing list: This is probably the biggest and will ultimately make or break the entire trip. Being prepared for what you have planned is vital to having fun. In many remote places supplies are very limited and if you do find them they are extremely expensive. My motto is, bring what you can from home even if it cost you another checked bag on the airlines. If you don’t, your likely to spend more than that trying to find what you forgot and paying for it when you do find it. If your driving, this is not an issue because there is always more room somewhere.


6# Relax: This is the one thing I learned on our first trip to Utah. We went from sun up to sun down without one single day to relax and rest. It was torture on our bodies. So now I plan every day we are gone except one. One day is simply set aside to rest which clearly is needed by all.


#7 Have a backup plan: Things can and almost always will go wrong during any vacation. It’s best to make a backup plan for these instances. From flight delays, flat tires, to torrential rain/snow…..all this can make a vacation plan impossible. In our experience we have been snowed out completely from one vacation and never left Green Bay. This was devastating and we could do nothing about it. On another vacation our road to camp was washed out by flooding and we had no where to stay until almost half way to our destination. However, this was not our problem. Thankfully, this was our first and only guided vacation we ever took so the company worked on this dilemma from cell phone the entire three hour drive to our destination and we all ended up in resorts for the week. On our last vacation we luckily hiked one trail the day we did because the next day it was closed off for the entire day for a rescue of a fallen hiker into the canyon. So believe me, things happen whether in your control or not, they happen.


#8 Be realistic: Don’t forget you are on vacation. Don’t book yourself and your family so tight that you forget to smell the roses. Take it in, enjoy the ride and make the memories last.


These are probably the most important pointers I can give while planning an adventure vacation. Of course most would say that money should be one of these pointers also but as you can see I did not touch on this one. Why you might ask? Well, in my opinion, if you don’t have the money to spend on a vacation you would not be inquiring on how to plan a vacation. I cannot tell you how to save money for such an adventure, only you know what you can stash away and how long it will take you to get the amount you need. And since that amount differs greatly from place to place, I did not add finances to the list. I believe if you want/need a vacation bad enough everyone can stash away a bit from their daily lives to eventually make this dream come true.

If you have any you would like to add please feel free to leave a comment. I am sure I missed something and you may be able to offer another suggestion.




Kayaking Safely With New Paddlers

It’s that time of year again. All our “seasonal friends” are letting us know that this will be the year they give kayaking a try. I laugh every year I hear them state this fact. In the back of my mind I know it all sounds great and exciting UNTIL it comes to summer and time to bite the bullet and actually come along. Then they all seem to chicken out…..but we play along and usually have a few give it a try.

Anyhow, here are a few basic facts that we have learned over the years that will make guiding a trip with newbies much more enjoyable for you as a guide. Plus, by following a few basic guidelines you can ensure that it will be safe, fun, and very enjoyable for first time paddlers.

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable for them then in the event that they decide to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.


#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.


#7 Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. If they change their mind when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock, and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.


#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)


#11 Keep Alcohol For The End Of The Trip. We do not allow anyone in our group to consume alcohol while with us on the water. Maybe it’s being over cautious, but it’s hard enough to help and rescue a sober person when they are in a panic much less if they have alcohol in them. We have no problem asking anyone to leave the alcoholic beverages of choice for the end of the trip. This is for their safety as much as ours.

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.


Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!



A Little Of Everything: MRI, Disc Golf, Sale,Workouts, Birthdays….

Hi, how was your weekend?

Mine was a bit crazy. Not overwhelming just crazy.

First let me update you on where I am with that ankle of mine that has been giving me pain since last August. After seeing a doctor last week I am now awaiting an appointment for a MRI of this ankle. Doc seems to think that I may have a piece of bone/cartilage floating around causing me such agony. As for repairing this problem if he is correct, well, that is to be discussed in more detail at that time. I suppose it all depends on recovery time for me. I have big plans coming up and I need to be able to rely on that ankle. Which right now I can although, I suffer the consequences later on. So in other words this topic is “to be continued” after I get some definite results.

Now back to the weekend. My son and I found time to clean his room and rearrange the furniture. During this cleaning frenzy he came up with even more junk that is being contributed to a garage sale we are hoping to have this summer, which made me very happy. I am not a pack rat which means it’s not hard at all for me to throw things in the sale pile. My son is not too bad with this either but my husband is the worst. He thinks at some time in his lifetime he may be able to use this or that and it drives me insane.

Saturday we actually had plans to do a few chores and then take a trip to the gym for a workout. We have not been to the gym in over two weeks. Instead we have been walking outside every night since the weather has been tolerable. It was suppose to be cold and miserable the entire weekend which turned out to be very wrong. By mid afternoon the sun was high in the sky and we just could not see spending a nice sunny day in a sweaty gym so we contacted our neighbor and all went disc golfing. The four of us dodged a few mud puddles( water hazards) and really had a good time. None of us were all that rusty which is always a nice surprise after a long winter.

After disc golf the sun was still high in the sky and we just could not see wasting a single moment of it, so we dropped off our son and neighbor at home and continued on to the Mountain Bay Trail for a two mile walk together.


Sunday brought us clouds, rain, and windy conditions. Although, that was ok, it gave us no reason what so ever not to make it to the gym on that day. So we woke up and my husband made us french toast,cinnamon apples, and coffee. After breakfast we were off the the gym for a wonderful workout together. It felt so good to be back, but surprisingly I felt no guilt about not being there for awhile. I knew I had not been just sitting back being lazy. I have still been working out daily, walking and/or hiking on weekends. It was just a nice change of pace. We hope to possibly start walking to the gym from our home, doing our weight lifting routine and then walking back. This way we each get a little of what we love to do without sacrificing one thing for another.

Sunday also was my husbands birthday. We celebrated with a nice lunch out as a family and then it was one of those days where cuddling on the couch just seemed appropriate since it was dreary, cold, and rainy outside. It was a great way to end a very nice weekend.




If The Bears Are Ready, I Should Be Too

Did you hear the bears in Yellowstone National Park are starting to come out of hibernation already? The officials feel it’s because of the recent warm weather in the area. I suppose that means I need to start thinking about crawling out of my den too.

Last week was the first time we took a walk outdoors in months and actually enjoyed it. It was about 32 degrees and the sun was still shining after work so we went with it and gave it a try. I did need my big winter jacket, hat and gloves yet, but I did not shiver one shake.

I’m also on a mission to seek out a double stroller to purchase. As soon as it hits a comfortable temperature we will get back to our daily walks and I can’t wait. With two infants in tow, I will need to make an investment in one of these two seaters real soon. However, my luck of finding one so far has not been good. The search continues…..

We have also started stocking up on some of our favorite snack foods for our trail and river journey’s. We have a box we keep fully stocked for our active months. This way I can avoid running to the store every time we get the urge to just pick up and go. I plan to do a post on all our favorites, especially since the epic Pop-Tart fail of 2015. You can watch for this post in the upcoming week or so.

As for the upcoming weekend, we have a few options on the list to take advantage of. It’s my birthday and I am hoping to spend a portion of it outside. We may attempt snowshoeing for the first time this winter if the temperatures cooperate. We could also give ice skating a try since our son just purchased new skates last weekend. Although, I am not an ice skater, I don’t mind watching. I also have a new restaurant picked out for us to visit for lunch on Saturday. All this should be fun and something to look forward to. I  overheard my husband mention that the end of ice fishing season is getting near, so he is hoping to spend Sunday on the ice. This is something he is on his own for. I am not a fan of ice fishing…..way to cold, and neither is our son. Again, we’ll see if all this actually happens. We are really good at over planning and for some reason we run out of hours on the weekends.

With all this and many plans already made for the upcoming months, I feel that it may be time to start poking my head out and getting a little glimpse of life again. What about you?

What is the one thing you can’t wait to do when Spring arrives?





Listening To My Body Is Not Always Easy

Happy Friday everyone….it has been a gorgeous sunny week here in Green Bay and we have taken full advantage of every second, which is why I have not blogged since Monday, sorry!

With October upon us I must say it’s getting a little cold for my blood to spend a great deal of time outdoors but I am still savoring the moments without a winter jacket, hat, and scarves. I have broke out my gloves but I don’t mind them as much. I do have to admit, I have been taking it easy on the workouts lately due to some ankle issues that have decided to haunt me. That being said, I have still made it to the gym at least twice a week and we still take a short daily walk every morning. Our evening walk of three miles has been what has suffered the most. If I find myself chasing the kids all day I have been opting out of pushing it further at night with a walk. Although, if my pain level is still tolerable by dinner then we take it slow and easy. I have been wrapping it and icing it as much as possible but that is nearly impossible during working hours. So all in all, I could be doing less to hurt less but for my mental health, I need to exercise to tolerate everything else life throws my way, so I live with the pain.

Anyhow let’s move on. We made our first batch of pumpkin muffins this week and they were all gone in two days. Yes, 12 muffins in two days, gone. Unbelievable! Everyone loved them, obviously.

Our son has started creating his website to promote his photography and it is coming along beautifully. He is loving his photography classes and is turning into quite the busy person between work, school, and photo shoots for family and friends. It’s simply amazing what he finds to capture with his camera. He has mentioned that when he is done with his website I will be allowed to post a link for all my readers, so be watching for this in the near future.

This weekend we have some spectacular weather predicted and I can not wait to get out and soak up some sunshine. There has been talk of maybe taking the fishing boat out one last time before storing it for the winter. We may sneak in a hike depending on how my ankle feels or even possibly a game of disc golf somewhere. Who really knows at this point except that I am sure we will find something to do that is fun in the outdoors.

Have a great weekend everyone;-)


Preparing for the Week Ahead

I find that I can really benefit myself by planning my weekly menu and getting a head start on Sunday mornings. I start my Sundays with about 1-2 hours in the kitchen preparing some of our go to foods for the week.


The first thing is to make sure I have a plan. I then lay out all the ingredients and start the items that need cooking first.

The plan for this week is hard boiled eggs, pickled eggs, lentil bowls, cashew date balls, over night oats and  fresh chunk pineapple.

I first put the lentils and eggs to simmer and boil. While this was happening I chunked a pineapple. Next, I prepared my mushrooms, zucchini and onions for my lentil bowl topping. By the time I had all this chopped and ready to cook, my eggs were boiling and ready to sit for a few minutes and my lentils were also done. While my mushroom mixture was cooking, I  threw together three quick over night oat mixtures for fast hot breakfasts this week. Mix, shake and into the frig, done! Then it was time to peel eggs, I hate this job especially when they do not peel nicely!!! After peeling I prepared the pickled mixture and let it cool in the frig while I then made cashew date balls.  Mixed them up in the food processor, formed into balls and walla, done. Finally, I poured the cooled pickled mixture over a few eggs in a glass jar and back into the frig.


Now, I feel pretty prepared for the week ahead. Our go to meals and snacks are made, dinner menu for the week is planned and our workouts are scheduled. Now, I can only hope the week goes smoothly. By the looks of it, mother nature may have her own ideas. Today we have been warned of another major snow storm and Thursday they are preparing us all for a good amount of rain. If it’s not severely below zero here then it seems to snow. I guess that’s winter in Wisconsin.

Do you plan ahead to make life easier?

What are your go to meals/snacks during busy weeks?