The real up north

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This past weekend we traveled to the farthest northern point of Wisconsin.

If you aren’t familiar with our state, we are located in the northern mid-west of the United States. We are surrounded by bodies of water on each border of our state, except our southern border which has Illinois. To the west, we have the Mississippi River. To the north, Lake Superior. To the east, Lake Michigan. With so many lakes, it is a wonderful place for fishing, sailing, and water sports of any kind. The diehards even go fishing on the lake’s ice on the coldest days of winter.

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Most of our population lives near our biggest cities of Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. It takes approximately 8 hours to drive from the southern most point to the northern and 5 hours from the farthest west to the east. A lot of our lakes are practically deserted…peaceful, serene, and quiet.

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Wisconsinners are very hardy folk by nature. We have to be to survive our winters. We are known for the Green Bay Packers, the Great Lakes, brats, and beer. Unfortunately, we are also known for being one of the drunkest states hosting some of the drunkest cities in the nation, if not world. Drinking is a huge part of our culture.

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The far northern portion of our state has a lot of wildlife not related to drinking. I captured a picture of Paul fishing. But in doing so, I may have gotten a little too close to an otter den. I was chased down in the water by hissing otters. I can’t say that ever happened to me before. We also saw deer that were too numerous to count. This part of our state tends to get the largest snowfalls and coolest temperatures.

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I love taking pictures of our state’s beauty. The northernmost part of our state is rugged and wild with the lowest population.

On the way home, we stopped for brunch at what was rumored the best restaurant in the county. It was almost a 2 hour wait, so we decided to skip brunch and headed towards home. It took us over an hour to find another restaurant. Was it the only restaurant in the county?? Gas stations and restaurants are scarce. But even rarer is good cell reception. You might be in trouble if you run out of gas on a snowy winter night without cell reception. Even the highway traffic is minimal. I think we saw more deer than cars.

But I would have to say, even though I’ve been to many beautiful places, that Wisconsin is still on the top of the list. I wanted to share that beauty with you.

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

Thailand, Day 9

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We left the hotel early in the morning to take a speed boat to the Coral Island beach. Today we were going to spend most of the day on the beach. I couldn’t wait. The water was a brilliant color of sea green with a white sand beach. The water was a perfect temperature. Every few minutes we felt a slight stinging sensation on our skin. We thought that it might be from tiny jellyfish. A couple of times we saw hundreds of small fish jumping up out of the water being chased by a bigger fish.

We set up our towels on comfy lounge chairs before the other hordes of tourists started pouring in. It was close to the Chinese New Year and there were many tourists in the area on vacation from China.

While at the beach especially, and in other places, I noticed something different. I noticed that the Asian people at times walked around with parasols. They wore long sleeves and pants even on the hottest days. Where they not hot? I thought maybe they were more modest than the rest of us in bikinis and shorts.

Our tour guide said that the Thai people do not want tan skin. In their culture, having tan skin means that you are out in the sun a lot working like the poor people. In fact, they have a big market for selling skin bleaching products. The only thing I bleach is my hair.

Where I’m from, if you are tan it means that you have time for leisure. I went to the tanning bed before my trip. I was quite the contrast to the Asian women who have dark hair and light skin. There was a single girl in our tour group that was getting hit on because she had pasty white skin.

It really made me question my own standards of beauty. I personally believe that having bleach blonde hair and dark tanned skin is beautiful. I want a -10 inch waist and the body of a Barbie doll. Thank you Mattel for creating an unattainable masterpiece of beauty perfection. Now being in my mid-40’s and having 3 C-sections, I am not going to be too hard on myself. But I honestly feel like crap about how I look when my summer tan starts to fade. I would go to a tanning bed year round if I didn’t feel like it was unsafe.

Most teenage girls in the 1980’s spent a lot of time slathering themselves in baby oil or dark tanning oil and laying out. At that time, no one ever told us it was unhealthy. Paul and I went to the tanning bed before this trip. We didn’t go because we thought it would make us look nice. We did it because we are very adventurous outdoors and didn’t want to burn. We did get a little pink on the day we spent at the beach.

We had a glorious time at the beach. We got back to the hotel in mid-afternoon. Paul really had his heart set on getting another massage. Our tour guide told us that if we wanted a massage that we needed to look for a Thai massage and not a body massage. If you went to the body massage place, you would be entering a brothel.

We went to an upscale massage parlor, but they were booked for the day. We walked around town until we found a place that offered Thai massage. They had one opening for a massage bed and one for a chair. I took the chair massage. Paul was led to a massage bed that was separated from 2 other massage beds by a curtain. I was seated out in the main area. My masseuse only knew limited English.

While I was there, I watching the bugs climb up the wall and saw a girl at the bar next door curling her eyelashes for the night. It didn’t seem like they spraying down any of the tables or chairs between clients. I did feel some comfort when a courier dropped off a see through bag of clean towels. A new masseuse came in and changed her shirt in front of Paul because there was nowhere else to change into her work clothes. She jokingly told him if he looked, she would charge him.

After the massage, we walked down to the end of the street. There were rows and rows of bars with at least 50 girls lined up waiting for a man that night. They were scantily clad, some dressed in sexy school girl outfits. It was early in the evening and they were just sitting there waiting watching as we passed by. We walked by a body massage place and saw signs of 3 for the price of 1. I really don’t know the difference between the prostitutes in the body massage parlor and the girls waiting at the bar.

The 2 nights in Pattaya, we saw some very young attractive Thai girls eating fancy meals with corpulent repulsive old white men around 40 years their senior. Although totally acceptable in their culture, I had a really hard time with this. What two (hopefully) adults consent to do should really be no concern of mine… I kept thinking of how I would feel if my teenage daughters went out with a man older than my husband. I couldn’t get past it.

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This was our last picture of our view of the city in daylight. Tomorrow we are heading home.

The ice shove

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As you may have guessed, running and writing are two of my favorite hobbies.

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I also love photography and traveling. Unfortunately, I can’t do the last two hobbies as often as the first two. I could take pictures of everyday mundane life and selfies galore. But that bores me. So why wouldn’t it bore you??

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I didn’t have to travel far to get a few pictures of the ice shove on the bay of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Even local friends asked where I was off to this time…Alaska? Antarctica?? No, just my beautiful home state.

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You really should consider booking a visit. Summer is the best time. But as you can see, winter is beautiful here too. Today the wind chills are only in the single digits below zero. So it is warming up out there!

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The ice shove is 20 feet high. This is the biggest ice shove I’ve seen in my lifetime. It took some really nasty weather conditions to make this. Thankfully the beauty that resulted lasted longer than the storm. Kind of like real life sometimes…

Mile 20 of the show

The last time we talked, I was feeling apprehension about the opening weekend of the musical. It wasn’t about stage fright or worrying about whether or not I knew my songs or lines. It seemed to go a lot deeper than that.

The last show that I was in was back in 2011. I was in my mid-30’s and I had some really awesome parts. I built up a rather large fan base. I wore some really beautiful dresses.

As luck would have it, I was the oldest female that auditioned for this show. The part that I wanted was given to a 17 year old. Feeling old bites, especially after being given the old lady parts. In my mind but not in the mirror, I am still young and beautiful. Don’t they see me as I do?

I have been teased endlessly for my costumes. At first I was angry. One of the costumes I wear was owned by a woman before she had bariatric surgery. I was not kidding when I said that I had to wrap the belt around me twice. Over the weekend, I learned to laugh at myself too. Although it is one of my least favorite shows, the cast and director have been phenomenal.

Over the weekend, I had a few moments for self-examination. Paul and I have the same problem, we tend to be the type that takes on too much. Then we get overwhelmed with the choices that we make. I realized that if I ever train for a full Ironman, there are going to be a lot of things that I am going to have to give up or say no to.

Being in a show is a tremendous time commitment. Many people do not know what it is like until they have done it. Not only are there many hours spent on stage at the theater, there are many hours spent at home memorizing lines and songs. Time that cuts into other time commitments.

Stepping back into community theater after a long hiatus hasn’t been particularly easy. I lost all of my fan base. I am not remembered anymore. The director and most of the cast have never seen me on stage before. The ‘good jobs’ people threw at me as they were passing by on their way out the door don’t mean as much…you should’ve seen me in my hay day…It’s almost like qualifying for the Boston marathon…taking a break from the running scene for years…then being complimented on running a 5k.

This show has forced me to face that I am not young anymore…my looks are fading. I know this sounds incredibly shallow. But it has been difficult for me. To be honest with you, most of the positive attention I received as a child had to do with my looks. It met a lot of emotional needs for attention that went unfulfilled at home. I am learning to live with it like a genius slipping into dementia.

Maybe that is why I slowly switched from beauty to brawn over the past couple of years. It is something I feel I have more control over. It is something that I earned versus a genetic lucky roll of the dice. I feel great. I am starting to see a big separation between those who are active and those who are not. There are people my age who are out of breath climbing the stairs. I get a little winded at about mile 18 in a marathon.

People say that I am lucky. But this has nothing to do with luck. I earned it.

I don’t expect to live forever or even longer than everyone else my age. I probably won’t be running marathons at 80. But I do expect to live a full and active life until my last days. I expect to have enough endurance to make memories with my grandchildren someday.

Will I ever do another show again?? Yes, perhaps I will if the timing and part is right for me. But if you ever ask me if I plan to run another marathon at mile 20, the answer will always be no.

The travel diaries, Pictured Rocks

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These pictures were taken at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Michigan. The Pictured Rocks consists of 15 miles of sandstone cliffs and caves along the shores of beautiful Lake Superior.

We took a boat tour to view this wonder of creation. We stayed at our friends cabin near Munising on a kid free weekend in August. We were there during a heat wave with temps around 90 degrees. Temps in the 90’s is spectacular since the average high in August is 75 degrees, which is typically the hottest it gets all summer. The picture above almost makes it seem like a warm tropical vacation. It may feel that way on a typical day if you are wrapped in a blanket or winter clothes.

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If you look closely at the right hand of the picture above, you can see a face in the rock formation.

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Adventurers can also explore the cliffs, caves, cracks, and crevices by kayak or canoe.  This can be a rather extreme sport in this area because the water temperatures in summer are right around 50 degrees. On this very hot day, we did see a few people jump in the water but they didn’t stay long. I have also heard that it can be treacherous for boaters because there is a great variation in the depth of the water. If you are looking for a place to get away from the heat this summer, this is the place to go! You can be surrounded by cool water along miles and miles of sandy empty beaches. There are also breathtaking waterfalls along the hiking trails flowing forth from the rock formations.

There is so much to explore in this area that you could spend your whole summer doing it. Again, I would give high ratings to this location if you enjoy exploring nature in a tranquil, remote, and beautiful location. I would absolutely recommend this location for extreme outdoor adventurers, unless you are really into swimming. This location really rocks for geologists as well!

Keep traveling!!

 

The travel diaries, Munising

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Deserted beaches. Stormy days. Why won’t you come out to play?

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Friends of ours have a cabin near Munising, Michigan. Munising is located in north central Upper Michigan along the southern shore of Lake Superior. We have had the opportunity to stay at their cabin twice over the past couple of years. Once with all of our kids (7 children between the both of us) and once without kids. Both times were in August, once over a hot sunny weekend and once on a cool rainy weekend.

The last 20 minutes of the journey to our friends cabin is on unmarked dirt roads. On the weekend that I took these pictures, it was cool and rainy with a high of 50 degrees. Yes, in August! We put on rain ponchos and loaded up the kids in their suburban. We toured the beaches along Lake Superior, hiked trails along rock formations, toured a lighthouse, and saw what seemed like miles of sand dunes in the rain. 

After the day of touring, we swerved around as we took washed out potholed dirt roads back. One of the kids got car sick and threw up several times. When we got back to the cabin, we huddled around the fire.

What I really love about the Munising area is its beauty and personality. You do not need A/C on the hottest summer days. There is variety in the landscape’s feel and emotion. Stormy desolate beaches are just beautiful. There are never any crowds with miles of sandy beaches on ice cold water. I would recommend visiting at least once. 

While you’re on the way, stop in WI for some cheese curds, brats, and beer. 

To my daughter’s stalker

I have never met you and hope that I never do. I can understand why you would be obsessed with my daughter. She is that bright light in a dim lit room. Along with butterflies, even the darkest of souls are attracted to her warm glowing light. Sinking ships try to reach that light in this dark world.

I can understand why you said that you would make my daughter love you the way you love her. She is very beautiful. Her stage presence, her angelic singing voice alone has caused the most callous of hearts to open. You noticed that when you met her a year and a half ago on a school choir trip. Even though she told you that she had a boyfriend, that she just wanted to be friends, you thought you could change her mind.

After the trip, you texted, snapchatted, social mediaed, and called her all the time. It got to the point that she told you to stop, but you didn’t. Her boyfriend told you to stop and then you started harassing him. You told him that you were going to kill him at school performances that you knew they would be at and terrorized them in general. Then this summer you hacked my daughter’s facebook account.

We didn’t hear from you too much after that. Although I was disappointed that you decided to go to the same college as my daughter’s boyfriend. I thought that after you got into college and started meeting a lot of girls that maybe you would give up the whole idea that she would love you. She has had the same boyfriend for over two years now, a man I would be happy to call my son-in-law someday.

Then I heard you recognized my daughter’s boyfriend at college from facebook pictures. You punched him in the face. Even though my daughter’s boyfriend didn’t want us to know about what you did, we found out. But this week was the last straw. You hacked into my daughter’s boyfriends facebook account. You posed as him and broke up with my daughter. When she found out it was you, you told her that you loved her and would force her to love you. You said that you were going to find her and rape her. This time you went too far. My husband called you after this. He told you that you are never to talk to our daughter or her boyfriend again. He is not a man to be messed with, so I hope you got the message.

If you ever talk to them again, we will get a restraining order. That is if you are lucky.

Shipwrecks, Superior, Sailing, Survival

Last week I had the opportunity to see Gordon Lightfoot live in concert. I am not a huge fan, but have a great appreciation for his music. It was almost magical hearing him perform The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald considering that today is the 40th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. Over a decade ago, Paul and I had the opportunity to go the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior near the location of the wreckage. I remember really enjoying the tour of the lighthouse there. I can’t imagine the solitude of being a keeper of the light over the cold lonely winter months. The summer months alone offer cool temps and solitude.

After touring the museum and lighthouse, we walked along the shore of Lake Superior. Even on the warmest summer days, the water is too cold to swim in. A few minutes of exposure gives you the pins and needles feeling. The average surface temps of the water are between 32 F and 55 F, so if you are thinking of visiting in the summer make sure to bring a winter coat. I have seen very hot days of 90 F on Lake Superior, still not a lot of swimmers.

On the way back, we stopped for a whitefish fry in Paradise. Then winding our way  back down Upper Michigan, we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls State Park to view the waterfalls. We decided spontaneously to take a hike from the upper falls to the lower falls and back. It was a total of 8 miles. This was before I became a runner. Why I thought that hiking an eight mile rustic trail in flip flops was a great idea, I will never know. Upper Michigan is an absolutely beautiful area to travel. If you do get the chance to put your feet in the water of Lake Superior that would be a great bucket list item. Or better yet, sail all of the Great Lakes. That may end up on my bucket list soon.

Last night I dreamt that my husband wanted me to go sailing with him on Lake Superior. I remember feeling trepidation towards those trepid waters. I woke up thankful that the sailboat is tucked away in hibernation for the winter. Absolutely no way we could be tempted to take a quick sail on Lake Superior even if it has been a warm November. I couldn’t fathom sailing or being on a ship on Lake Superior in November with hurricane winds and during a blizzard. Imagine if you can getting sprayed with ice cold water with 20 to 30 foot waves. I remember getting sprayed with cold water in 4 foot waves and that was bone chilling enough for me. That was in the middle of summer.

If you want a true survival show experience I would suggest November on Lake Superior. I bet even the producers of Naked and Afraid know that the survivalists probably wouldn’t even make it one day there. A couple years back, Paul went ice fishing on Lake Superior. It was during that weekend that Lake Superior claimed the life of the Lake Superior ice fishing expert and guide. What a fearful place, the lake that is so cold that it doesn’t give up its dead.

The lake does draw people in like a siren with its immense beauty. I would like to see the ice caves, only made under the right conditions, along Lake Superior. I have toured the Apostle Islands. I also toured the Pictured Rocks, someday I will show you those pictures. They are absolutely breathtaking. Someday I may even be brave enough to sail on Lake Superior. It is beautiful enough to draw me in, but it can’t keep me.

Sheerly not cut out for it

I really suck at cutting hair. I could use the left handed excuse of having to learn how to cut with my right hand, but I don’t even think that would cut it. I didn’t always think that I sucked at it. As a teen, I got sick of my autistic brother constantly pulling my hair. It hurt. I noticed that my younger brothers didn’t get their hair pulled, probably because it was too short to pull. Just my mom and I got our long hair pulled. I got really sick of it so one day I took a scissors in my right hand and hacked off around 6 inches of long tresses and lot of stress. People commented. They liked my new hair cut. I thought that I wasn’t terribly bad at it.

Then I got married and had kids. My oldest daughter needed her bangs trimmed as a toddler and I was on it. I cut her bangs, but they were crooked. So I kept cutting until they were straight and about a quarter of an inch long. I didn’t really suck. She wasn’t sitting still. People commented. Ah, your daughter decided to cut her own hair. Poor thing. She wasn’t talking too much yet, so I didn’t argue that I was the one who hacked her hair. It wasn’t too long after that when she started to cut her own hair. She was better at it then I was.

Then my husband got the idea of buying a hair cutting kit to shave some money. He liked to cut his hair short so it really wasn’t that complicated. I could almost handle that. I decided to take on bigger things, my dad’s hair. First, let me tell you that he looks exactly like Santa Claus. He has a humongous stomach, everything else is flat. He has long gray hair with an equally long beard that children could try to yank off and find it to be real. He has the glasses that he looks over, worn on the lower part of his nose. He would be a perfect Santa Claus in appearance. He would just have to work on being jolly. He would have to smile and tolerate little children. He would have to give them candy instead of hiding it to eat himself. Darn, it would have been so perfect otherwise.

I made the mistake of offering to cut my dad’s hair. This is a job that my mom always did, but for some reason didn’t have time for. At one point in her life, my mom wanted to be a hairdresser. During her senior year, the high school had a career day. They brought in someone that worked with the disabled doing what she does now. That person probably never knew that by telling high school kids about his career changed my mother’s whole career and life path. I don’t see her being happy as a beautician. She loves her career and finds it very fulfilling.

The day came for my dad’s hair cut. He came over to my house. I realized quickly that I was in a little too deep. My dad’s hair was long. My husband’s hair was short. I decided to buzz my dad’s hair using the longest setting. It really wasn’t going very well. As I was buzzing the back of my dad’s head, the guard came off. I gave him a very noticeable bald spot down the back of his head. Thankfully, he just laughed the whole thing off. After that incident, things such as scissors and hair cutting kits mysteriously vanished from my house. My mom made time to cut my dad’s hair. My husband stopped complaining about $20 hair cuts.

I realized that cutting hair was sheerly not my thing.