Outrunning my demons in Hell

Next year I want to go to Hell.

Whoa now, before you get a little concerned, let me explain.

Hell is a town in Michigan. With some of our winters, I’m surprised that more towns are not named Hell. Although, after a bit of overthinking, maybe the name should be reserved for hot Southern crime ridden towns.

Anyway, every year there is an ultra trail run in this little town called Hell. Part of the course includes running through waist deep water for a river crossing.

Sign me up already!

I am starting to look ahead to running goals for next year. This summer I completed my 4th marathon. The first couple times I said I would never run a marathon again. But now I am thinking about doing a 50k ultra race. Hey, what’s a few more miles??

Then I thought it would be super cool to get a tattoo that says Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k. I don’t have any tattoos yet, unless you consider my car which is plastered full of bumper stickers…I have a couple of tattoo ideas, but thought it would be great to kill two birds with one stone…running and blogging.

I have one more race planned for this year, a half marathon next month. My husband is planning on running his first half marathon with me. I am really excited for him. I must really make it look like a lot of fun! Ha ha ha…

Blizzards, hurricanes, and airplanes

My husband and I are flying to Florida next week…or at least we are (were??) planning to.

As you may have guessed, we have become obsessed with the news coverage of hurricane Irma. We are going to Orlando for a conference and decided to go a little early to spend a few days at Disney without the kids.

I was surprised to see people sharing things on Facebook about it being the end of the world. Major hurricanes, wildfires out West, and a solar eclipse…but all of these things have been happening since the beginning of time. At least we have modern technology to know about the storms before they hit.

Some people also have been thinking that the world was ending for awhile too. I remember hearing stories in my lifetime of people waiting on their rooftops for the end of the world to come. They would’ve died waiting too…which sends my thoughts to wonder how many fell off their rooftops? I wouldn’t want to climb out on mine, especially in winter.

Maybe people are talking about the end of the world because it seems like America is getting hit with some pretty nasty natural disasters.

Did anyone proclaim the end of the world when eBola hit Africa?? What about during the Salem witch trials, the year 666, and during the bubonic plague??

My brain might explode!

Do I believe that someday the world will end?? Yes, perhaps so, but I believe that the world has been ending since it first began. Kind of like life…people will debate over when life begins..Does it begin at conception or birth? But no one would debate that the minute something is living that it begins the process of dying whether it is a plant, human, or animal…

Wow, that is morbid and deep…okay, enough of the philosophy.

I don’t know if we will be flying out next week…As a Midwestern girl, I know nothing about hurricanes. I’ve only dipped my toes in the ocean a handful of times. I’ve never seen a shark in the sea. I’ve never seen an alligator or crocodile in its natural habitat. I couldn’t tell the difference between them.

All that Wisconsinites know about is blizzards.

Most of us know how to drive in a foot of snow. Some people around this neck of the woods can manage driving in a foot of snow drunk. I wouldn’t recommend it.

We rarely shut down for more than a day for a snow storm…usually a few hours. Most people have a truck, snowmobile, or 4 wheel drive. We’ve gotten used to white out conditions, sliding into snow banks, and leaving the house when it is 20 below without gloves and hats. We can live 3 months barely seeing the sun. We’ve become accustomed to seasonal depression. We shovel the snow out of our driveways with snot dripping and freezing onto our jackets. We are so desperate to get out that we fish on the ice. The bravest of us see how long we can make it before turning the heat on.

But hurricanes, I don’t know anything about that! I can’t even comprehend its impact.

I suppose I too am guilty of being self-centered. I am worried about myself, my flight, my ability to get away for a few days. I seem to be more concerned about the storm for my purposes then the people that have lost everything even their lives.

I admit I am rather happy that all of the news on Facebook isn’t political rants, rioting, and that weird stuff about statues. But I feel horrible about the stories of devastation that are replacing them.

Oh, and I never did read that article about the end of the world.

 

19. If I could live anywhere…

Day 19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

It is that time of year again…the time of year when the old year is coming to an end like the falling of the leaves….and a new year with new opportunities is almost upon us..

It is at this time of year that I reflect…. What do I truly want?

If I could pick any place in the world that I wanted to live, it would be Tahiti. I have images in my mind of forever lounging in the sunshine on a sandy beach.

But, would that be what I truly want??

I have never lived in a warm climate. We get a total of 2 months out of the year that lounging in the sunshine on the beach is really possible. If we are really lucky, we get 3 months of warmth and beach weather.

Would I miss the change of the seasons? Would I get bored spending every single sunny day on the beach? Would I take it for granted?

Summer is my favorite season.

Would I miss cuddling in a warm blanket on a cool fall evening? Would I miss breathing in the crisp cool refreshing autumn air? Would I miss the beauty of the leaves changing color?

Would I miss waking on Christmas morning to fresh fallen snow? Would I miss the excitement of the first big snowfall? Would I miss seeing icicles glisten like crystals on barren trees?  There is something special about the roaring wind that whistles through the cracks in our very foundation that ushers in the winter snow….The appreciation of warmth inside when the house cracks from temperatures of 30 below.

Spring is my least favorite season..Every time there is a glimmer of hope, it seems like we are dragged back into the dark, desolate winter again. But would I miss the expectation of the arrival of summer if it is always summer? Would I get sick of something that I love because I have too much of it? Would it still be as special??

Although I would like to say that I want to live in forever summer, I don’t think that I really want to live anywhere but here…

Would I be happy away from friends and family to live in sunshine and warmth? Maybe for a few months out of the year, but not forever…

Maybe, just maybe, in the darkest loneliest days of winter I will pack my bags and live for a short time in forever summer…That sounds perfect to me!

A Midwesterner’s (changed) view of California

There are so many misconceptions I had about California before I actually went there…

1. I would experience an earthquake.

I thought that the likelihood of experiencing an earthquake was high. When I started to relax, I had to remind myself of this possibility. It never happened. I remember in grade school having a teacher tell us that someday an earthquake might send California crashing into the sea. From that point on, I always pictured the outline of CA tearing apart (like folding a paper in half and ripping it along the crease) into the ocean. Didn’t happen..

2. I didn’t expect so much variety of landscape and people.

While we experienced only a small part of CA, we were able to see the desert, mountains, and the ocean. In Wisconsin, our state is pretty flat except on the far western border.We are surrounded by many lakes and rivers, just no ocean. Although we do experience extreme differences in climate with the changing of the seasons our landscape is pretty much the same.

Paul noticed that the people of CA seemed to be very individualistic. People wore some pretty outlandish things and no one stared. In WI, we are all about conformity. Fitting in is pretty easy. All you need to do is wear a regular pair of jeans and buy a Packer shirt. If you move in from out of state, you will be accepted if you dress like this. If you wear outlandish clothing, and don’t own Packer’s clothing, you will be mistrusted and talked about. If you are a man, you have to be a Packer fan.

Every time we leave the state, people ask us about the Packers. Like I would know… Frankly (don’t tell anyone) I could care less about football. Doesn’t anybody know anything else about our great state??

3. People that live in CA are health nuts.

I bought a pair of sunglasses for the trip and noticed that it had a warning that according to CA law the glasses contained materials that caused cancer. What was I getting myself into? Will I be surrounded by judgmental health nuts? I didn’t find that to be the case at all. I think that because the weather is ideal year round that more people get out and exercise.

I didn’t see any obese people in CA.

While we were waiting for the plane, Paul said that he knew we were flying back to WI just by looking at all of the overweight people waiting for the plane. WI is a very obese state. Our diet consists strongly of brats, cheese, and beer. For a majority of the year, it is difficult to buy fresh fruit and vegetables because the quality is so poor. We have excellent weather conditions 3 months of the year. Only the die hard fitness fanatics have what it takes to exercise indoors on a treadmill for several months straight. Plus with the major lack of sunlight, it is hard to be motivated while we are fighting off seasonal depression. Most of our elderly suffer from obesity caused illnesses such as diabetes. Many have a hard time walking around carrying their weight.

We pride ourselves on being hardy to handle cold winters. We are also hard working. But honestly, there really is not much else to do.

4. People in CA are beautiful, rich, and talk differently from us.

I find it funny that a lot of my stereotypes of CA are perpetuated by CA itself. Even the most beautiful and talented Midwestern girls are told that they don’t have what it takes to compete with a California girl. The CA girls are very beautiful and if they are not they have plastic surgeons to make them more beautiful. Again, not true although it keeps a lot of our beauty and talent in the Midwest.

There were rich people and poor people in CA just like there are here…They just have a higher cost of living.

I thought that I would hear at least one person say, “Like, gag me with a spoon.” Nope! They talked very similar to us. More similar than our southern or east coast friends.

Although I would have to say that WI and Upper Michigan has their own dialect.

First of all, if you are visiting here, it is a bubbler not a water fountain. A water fountain is what we throw pennies into, a bubbler is what we drink out of. You may hear someone say ‘yous guys’ for a plural of you. Then replace the “th” with a “d” and wallah. The becomes da, there becomes dere, this becomes dis, and them becomes dem.

This would be an acceptable sentence. “How about dem Packers?” “Did yous guys have fun dere or no?” We typically throw in an ‘or no’ at the end of our questions. “What did yah do dere?” Yah could be a singular form of you or it could mean yes. “How do yah like dem dere cheese curds?” “Not bad, huh?” Not everyone talks this way, but we all know someone who does and we understand.

I really enjoyed comparing the differences in culture. Someday I hope I get the opportunity to explore the rest of California..

 

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 adventures of Hickory

Our foreign exchange student from Japan arrived safely Friday night. She was tired, so we gave her a little cheese and sent her off to bed. She already has the knickname of Hickory, very similar to her own name. I liked the name so much it made me long to have one more child. What? Wait! No!  Forget about that, but it is nice to have one teen in the house that doesn’t talk back. Lol. Everything is exciting and new for her. Her sense of wonder reminds me of a 2 year old without the tantrums. So far it has been a very pleasant experience. Paul and I would like to have a foreign exchange student longer than a week when our youngest is in high school. 

Saturday morning, Paul made bacon and pancakes with real maple syrup on top. As is customary when we have a family meal, we say a prayer in thanksgiving for our meal. We tried to explain to Hickory our culture and beliefs. Paul asked Hickory if she knows what Christianity is. “No” replied Hickory. He asked if she knows God. “No” replied Hickory. He asked Hickory if she knows about Jesus as he was bringing out the cheese. Very excitedly Hickory replied, “Yes, I know cheeses”. I suppose it will be confusing if we send her home with a cheesehead. She may end up telling her parents that we have a strange culture. Stories of us Wisconsinites worshipping cheeses before eating it. Stories of us worshipping strange men in cheese colored uniforms while wearing cheeseheads. Makes me wonder what other people think of us, huh? Don’t ya know? 

Hickory also arrived bearing gifts from Japan. She gave us green tea cookies and chocolate, a fan, soup bowls, chopsticks, and saki. The saki was wrapped in newspaper written in Japanese. Of course, I am thinking of sending back some good WI beer wrapped in newspaper. I could wrap it up and send it back in a cheesehead for protection. Hickory’s dad is a sushi chef. No pressure, right? We have been making a lot of “American” food for her. Paul is making his homemade pizza tonight. It is the best pizza ever. Good thing you don’t know where we live. We are thinking of getting her dad either a Brewers or Packers apron. Now if we could only get some brats and cheese to them…hmmm. 

Other than that, we have been trying to show Hickory as much of our culture as we can. Last night we went to a chili dump. Some of the other foreign exchange students were there. They had a bonfire, live music, pumpkin carving, a piñata, and other yard games. Today we played miniature golf and had a picnic at a park with the school group. I hope she really has a good experience here. And she doesn’t go home telling everyone that we worship cheeses. 

Trying to sail through life’s storms

We made it back home safe about 2 hours ago. I thought I would let everyone know since I left everyone hanging yesterday with some hard decisions to make about whether to weather the storms. After we last spoke, things did get a little dicey.  The first round of thunderstorms came through after blogging. We holed up on the sailboat. After the storm went through, we headed to the pool. We didn’t want to spend our whole anniversary huddled over our iPads scouring weather reports. We decided at that point to possibly wait until the next storm went past to head home. It was going to take some schedule juggling to stay another day. 

At the pool, we received reports of the big storm that was to come. Strong thunderstorms, 50 to 60 mph winds, large hail, possible tornadoes. It was one big blob of reds and purples over the whole Midwest. We met a man at the pool with his daughter, son-in-law, and two young granddaughters. They made a point of teaching the children how to be respectful of adults in the pool which was greatly appreciated. They had a small motorboat and were determined to beat the storm because plans couldn’t be changed. 

The large cold front came in. The clouds rolled, the sky eerie, lightening flashed, and thunder boomed. The man left with his family about 5 minutes before the torrential downpours with a bit of trepidation. I ran into the boat to grab some clothes while Paul closed things up for the storm. I ran bikini clad through the strange silence of electrically charged air into the shelter of the bar. Inside, Paul saw an old college roommate. Always nice to meet a group of people for the first time in a bikini when others are fully clothed. Priceless. The lights flicker. The winds blow, it starts to hail. An elderly couple at the gambling machines momentarily express worry because windows were left open at home but head right back to the machines. The band is set up to play next to the window. They abandon equipment to play their instruments closer to the bar. The music is quiet while the thunder cracks loud.  When the storm finally ends, it is late afternoon. Now we face the prospect of sailing through small bands of storms in the dark. We decide to stay. 

When we get back to the boat we find that the wind blew our hatch open. All of the clothes, pillows, and my sleeping bag is soaking wet. We try with some success to dry everything. If we saw the storms on Saturday morning, we probably would have stayed home. We faced cooler weather conditions, strong winds, and 3 foot waves most of the way home today. But we made it home safe, which might not have been the case the day before. Another adventurous anniversary in the books. 

Midwest (wild)life

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This picture exemplifies life in our state. I was driving to work when I saw this majestic eagle sitting on a deer next to an empty 12 pack of beer. I didn’t have my camera so I grabbed my cell phone and got a few shots. I was about 6 feet away from the eagle. He wasn’t moving and I got this eerie respect for his great size.

This is my National Geographic gone bad picture.

The goodbye rescue kind of sail

Paul may have saved a man’s life last night. 

Last night we went sailing with Tom and Lisa (my running partner and bff) to say our final goodbyes before they move from Wisconsin to Florida. We keep our boat on a relatively large body of water. I am not giving anything away as our state is practically surrounded by large bodies of water and contains large and numerous lakes and rivers. It is rumored that we have more lakes than our neighboring state of Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. But I do not want to start a debate. Let me tell you that sailing on a large body of water isn’t always a breeze. Ha ha. Last night was no exception. 

The night started off breezy even though the forecasters said that there wasn’t going to be much of a wind. We were sailing with the same friends that we went on the accidental overnight sail with that I blogged about earlier. We have had so many crazy wild adventures with them that I thought I would give them names which means future crazy wild stories. Anyway, we decided to take a sail out to a landmark for some awesome goodbye photos. Lisa and I share the love of running and photography. The sunset pictures were going to be divine. The wind took us to our destination in no time. It was so windy that there were whitecaps with two to three foot waves. We had our pants and sweaters on as it was a chilly July night. The water splashing up on us was not much warmer. Lisa and I went out on the bow and started posing for the camera when we saw a little guy in the distance out on the water struggling. We asked him if he needed help and he said he would be okay. We looped around taking more pictures. 

When we made it back to the man a second time he was clearly in trouble. He was in a small boat, about the size of a canoe with a small sail on it. He had tipped the boat over several times struggling with the waves and the wind. The water was cold, it was getting dark, he was 5 miles from shore, and we were the only boat around. It was going to take us an hour to get back to shore at dusk under motor. His situation was getting dire. I was picturing in my mind the morning news story of a man lost at sea drowning. A man in the background of our smiling pictures. My husband Paul did what any great captain would do, he threw out a line and kept us all from panicking. After the man swam to our boat, I did what any good captain’s wife would do. I wrapped him up in my warm, fuzzy purple robe and handed the guy a beer. Apparently, he headed out for a short sail about four hours before. The wind took him out and he couldn’t get back to shore. He was clothed in a swimming suit, life jacket, and inexperience. He had nothing on the boat to eat or drink and left his cell phone at home. He was in big trouble. 

Paul may have saved a man’s life last night.