Delaware

Delaware is my 42nd state I’ve crossed off my bucket list and we had two full days to spend there. I’m a small town girl and wanted to visit somewhere off the beaten path. So I choose a small bed and breakfast in the town of Milton. Not a lot different from rural Wisconsin. The first evening we walked from the B&B to an Irish pub for supper. I have to say I was very happy with the food and service everywhere we went in Delaware.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. Traffic. I will never complain about traffic at home again after visiting out East. Oh my gosh! We must have sat forever at a yield sign before merging onto a busy highway. The lady in the car behind us was gesturing at us emphatically. I guess we were supposed to just go and hopefully someone would let us merge. Thankfully our rental car had Florida plates. Traffic was terrible. The other thing I was not impressed with was the live music I heard.

The bed and breakfast was a charming place built in I believe it was 1810 and a governor once lived there. The house is on a historical registry. I’ve never stayed in a B&B that was so old and as always kept a lookout for ghosts. But the innkeepers said the flickering lights had more to do with a hot water heater than anything else.

Our first day, Paul and I decided to hit up Bally’s Casino in Dover. I hate to admit it, but we had a great time losing our money. The casino was large and opulent with many choices. I liked that it was non-smoking although they did offer a separate room for the smoking section. We ate lunch at the casino and again the food was great. They had specialty drinks. I ordered a root beer float mixed drink which could be really dangerous.

That evening we walked to the Dogfish Head Brewery. We were hoping to get a tour but we arrived just after the last tour of the day left. I got a beer flight. We sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather. There were a lot of families playing outdoor games and people with dogs. I bought a t-shirt and a pint glass to remind me of our trip.

Our last full day we heard it was snowing at home and decided to soak up some sun at the beach. We decided to go to Cape Henlopen State Park. The water temperature was supposed to be the warmest at the cape at a balmy 69 degrees which was pretty close to the air temperature. At the point was where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. At first we walked along the bay. We had the beach to ourselves but the water was very cold. We decided to walk to lunch at Big Oyster Brewery from there which ended up being a long walk. Afterwards we took an Uber back to the cape.

At the cape, we got on our swimming suits and headed to the beach. We ended up walking around the whole cape which was rather massive. People were not swimming and sunbathing there as I imagined. Instead, people were driving on the beach with Jeeps that had a cart on the front full of fishing poles standing straight up. We saw them let air out of their tires to drive on the beach, then fill them up again once they left. No one was walking or frolicking in the water. It was way too cold for that. They were fishing. This plan of mine was an epic fail.

It was really windy and cool on the beach. People had little tents set up to block the wind. They were wearing pants, sweaters, and/or jackets. Meanwhile we were the crazy Midwesterners in swimming suits laying on beach towels getting pelted with sand. It was really quite miserable. We didn’t end up staying that long. It was a long walk back with no bathrooms in sight. It was not what I had in mind. I think we would have been fine if we stayed at the Delaware Bay beach, but we didn’t know. It was the middle of October and I guess I was expecting it not to be. I think we seriously need a beach vacation.

That evening when we got back we went out for seafood. If we couldn’t be in the ocean, we could at least enjoy eating things that did live in the ocean. We enjoyed our little weekend getaway in Delaware. Here are some of the photos I took at the beach.

A spontaneous trip to Washington D.C.

I didn’t plan on crossing Washington D.C. off my bucket list but when the opportunity struck I jumped into the car. The conversation came up at the sushi bar. We met a guy from Alabama. Now before this gets a little weird, we didn’t just meet a stranger in a bar and get into his car. My husband talked to this man several times on the phone before because he was starting up a business like ours and wanted some advice. I remember one conversation quite well even though it occurred back in 2020.

We were in New Orleans when Paul was on the phone with the man from Alabama. We were thinking of visiting while we were in the area but he was out of town. I remember the conversation because some guy came up to us when Paul was on the phone with him wanting us to buy drugs. Another street over there was a pedestrian on a bike almost struck by a car fighting it out in the street exchanging a lot of f words. What must this guy think of us if he heard any of the background conversation?

This was the first time we met our friend from Alabama in person. I laughed when I told him the story of the background conversations. He offered us a tour of D.C. a few days later after dropping off his wife at the airport. He said he lived there for several years and knew his way around. I told him about my bucket list and instantly took him up on the offer. He was pretty quirky himself and said he also had all 50 states on his bucket list. He said his goal was to see all 50 states by age 50 which he did. He also said he had a goal of running a marathon, 26 miles by 26 years which he also did. I really like lists and think he had some amazing ideas by coordinating his lists to his age.

The next day at the conference we didn’t talk to our new friend much. I was a little worried the trip into DC was just bar talk. But it wasn’t. There were certain things I was expecting upon visiting the capitol of our great country and some things I was not.

We saw the Lincoln, Jefferson, and WWII Memorials. The memorials were absolutely stunning and I felt which I can only describe as wonder and patriotism upon seeing them and the words written upon the walls. The architecture was beautifully breathtaking. It was a perfect autumn day, sunny and warm to walk around. I’m not a huge history buff, but it was interesting to think about what our country and its people were like in the early years.

I was hoping to get a little closer to The White House but only saw it from the distance. There were a lot of people at the memorials. I didn’t stay long inside the Lincoln Memorial. I was feeling a little claustrophobic in the crowd. There was a steady stream of noise with planes flying over and tourists. I enjoyed my time in DC and think everyone should experience going there at least once. If we had more time it would’ve been nice to visit the museum.

Other than that, frankly I was not impressed with our capitol city. Maybe I’m just not a city girl. DC was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. We spent a lot of time sitting in traffic. Parking was limited and we had to pay for it everywhere we went. The airport was busy hustle bustle. There was A LOT of garbage on the side of the highway. I’ve never seen more litter anywhere else. My first impression of DC was that it’s an old, dirty, rundown large city. I saw the homeless. I heard a lot of sirens. There seemed to be some nice parts where the memorials and monuments are, but other than that I would never want to live there. How can you take pride in a capitol city that seems so filthy? But that’s just my opinion as an outsider looking in. And I didn’t even mention politics.

Anyway, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to check Washington D.C. off my bucket list. Here are some of the pictures I took.

The Washington Monument with a view of The White House.
The World War II Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial viewed from the WWII Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial

Adventures in sailing

We spent last week sailing Door County on a cruise with a couple of other sailboats. Door County is located on the thumb of Wisconsin and is a very popular tourist destination. We ended our trip right before Labor Day weekend because on a holiday weekend slips are harder to come by with multiple boats. But the week before they are generally plentiful.

The cruise started off a little rough. Paul and I decided to go to the boat early because the forecast was showing hot and humid weather conditions. We thought we could get everything ready and then hit the pool before everyone else showed up. It didn’t quite turn out as planned. When we got there a pop up storm came through and it was cool and rainy. The other couple that was planning to sail with us weren’t sure they were going to go with because she was feeling sick and wanted to get tested for COVID.

The following day we sailed through the wind and the waves reaching our destination just before another round of storms hit. I was in a foul mood as well. Along with getting whipped around on the boat, I was suffering through cramps and arthritis pain. Not a good mix. To add to that, my body does not tolerate beer, burgers, and pizza well. You know, pretty much all the fun vacation foods and drinks. So, I had to deal with indigestion and acid re-flux as well. I topped all that off with my usual insomnia.

By the third day, the other couple joined us. Our friend did not have COVID. Instead she was put on antibiotics for an infection but overall was feeling a lot better. From there we sailed to Sister Bay under strong winds and high waves. It was not a very comfortable sail. We decided to stay in Sister Bay for a couple days and visit some of the shops.

For breakfast one morning, we ate at Al Johnsons the place with the goats on the roof. It is a Swedish restaurant with an adjoining gift shop which we visited as we waited to get a table. According to my DNA results, I am a large percent Swedish. I traced my genealogy back as far as I could go on all sides without finding an ancestor from Sweden. So I ascertained I have Viking blood which explains so much as far as my temperament goes.

When we walked by later, there were people on the roof with the goats. None of us have ever seen people on the roof before. I sent the photo to several people and regretted sending it to my son who thought it was pretty cool. I pictured Alex and his friends trying to get up on the roof some time. Alex’s girlfriend commented asking what would happen if they fell. I said if the people fell off they were pretty screwed with broken legs and necks. If the goats fell off, then goat curry. Honestly, though, Al Johnsons is not like Red Lobster. They don’t have goat on the menu.

The wind and waves were pretty strong most of our trip. At Sister Bay waves crashed over the breakwater. I tried to take videos of people getting doused but every time I brought out my camera it tamed the wicked seas. We sailed to another harbor but that was pretty much uneventful. Then we took advantage of the one day with no wind or waves at all to motor back to our home port before the onset of more strong winds, waves, and storms.

The most enjoyable part of the trip back was having multiple monarch butterflies follow our boat. It’s hard to understand how such a small insect can fly so far from shore. Even though the trip started off rough, it ended on a good note. It’s hard to believe just like that summer is pretty much over. All the things we had planned came into fruition. I’m happy we were able to do so many fun adventures, but I’m sad to see summer slip away.

Yellowstone, day 2

The second day at Yellowstone was our 25th wedding anniversary. I had a plan, and that plan was to see Old Faithful. Very fitting of the situation for someone who has a bad sense of humor like me. The day before we made reservations after being on hold forever and losing the call several times for the earliest opening for supper which was 9:45 PM at the Old Faithful Inn.

The second day we visited the south loop which we were told takes two and a half hours to drive without stopping. We had no idea how long it was going to take to get to Old Faithful. We did stop at several places along the way. One of the places we stopped had bison along the trail. There were signs to stay 25 feet away. At this particular location, there was a park ranger answering questions. After that stop, I decided being a park ranger was not as much fun as it was cracked up to be. When I first saw her, she was picking up garbage. Not long after that, someone came up to her and told her people went off the walkway. She found the people and told them to go back to their cars that they were in extreme and grave danger. I didn’t know if they went close to the geysers or approached the bison.

Old Faithful

This was also the only day on our trip there was a small chance of rain in the forecast. By the afternoon there was a downpour and we could hear distant thunder echoing off the canyons. Everyone ran for shelter and the idea to ever visit the park on a motorcycle was crashed. The rain pooled and flooded the roads. We couldn’t see anything. This also happened to be the place where we ran into road construction.

We were getting close to Old Faithful and decided to stop to see if they could move our dinner reservations up. It was still pouring and there was hardly any room to park at the inn. The inn itself looked like a magnificent castle. I jumped across the puddles to get inside fast. Somehow Paul was able to move up our dinner reservation. Maybe it helped to tell them it was our anniversary, I’m not sure but we were 4 hours early. The staff was very cordial and accommodating, but the meal itself was buffet style and nothing to write home about. We couldn’t even see Old Faithful from the restaurant, but it was a short walk away. It stopped raining and we called a number which gave us the estimated wait time until Old Faithful was supposed to go off again which was an hour wait. There were some people waiting because last time if went off a lot earlier than the ETA.

This was the first time we were able to really talk to other tourists while we were waiting. There was a nice couple from Oregon who came over on a motorcycle. They told us they had to be careful of bison because sometimes they charge motorcycles because they view them as a threat. Another reason why going on a motorcycle might not be the best plan.

We ended our trip by seeing the Grand Prismatic Spring. It was steamy and nearing nightfall which was not the best time to see the brilliant kaleidoscope of colors. I’m sure it’s amazing to see on a bright sunny day. We were tempted to come back, but decided not to make the drive.

The park was beautiful and worth visiting. It’s hard to believe how massive the park is. I think two days was enough but you could probably spend a week there and still not see everything.

Yellowstone, day 1

First of all, Yellowstone is huge. For $35 per car, we were able to get a park pass for a week. That probably would’ve been enough time to see everything, but we only stayed for 2 full days. There were 5 entrances to the park, two of which were closed due to the massive flooding earlier in the season. We came in from the west and tackled the north loop on the first day.

There were some challenges with the north loop we weren’t expecting. We decided to stop in Mammoth Hot Springs for lunch. It would’ve worked great, but the restaurant was closed there due to the earlier flooding. The only thing that was open was a general store were everyone went to buy food. They had a couple picnic tables set up outside which we ended up sharing with a random family. A lot of people were just sitting on the ground eating. Eating in the park was a big problem. But there were plenty of stores, gas stations, and restrooms. They even had an automotive garage on site for car repairs.

For the most part, parking was not a huge issue. There were little areas to get out and see the sights along the loops. We especially enjoyed the geysers and hot springs even with the whiff of sulfur in the air. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful breathtaking places on Earth, surely it is to be found here.

The trip wouldn’t have been complete without wild animals. We saw a bear, elk, and a ton of bison. There were many signs reminding tourists that these are wild animals. We decided not to go hiking on the back trails because of it. If you do, you would need to buy or rent bear spray in case of a bear attack. We decided to stay on the main walkways for the attractions which provided us with plenty of walking without having to go on the hiking trails. It also allowed us to keep within our allotted time frame of two days and still see a lot. Time management was very tricky because we never knew how long it would take to drive somewhere or how long the walkway was to get there. Plus we needed to add extra time to pull over and look at animals. Animals could be blocking the roads, there are long lines at the park entrance, and of all things we ran into road construction in the park.

We received several detailed maps of the park and talked to several park rangers for information. Cell phone coverage is spotty within the park itself so I wouldn’t rely on that totally for navigation.

The picture above and below are of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The above picture we walked down a steep descent to see a waterfall going down into the canyon. It was a challenging path. The picture below was taken from the opposite side of the picture above.

We didn’t end up getting out of the park until after 8 PM the first day. We were really tired, hungry, and worried about where we were going to eat since it was late on a Monday night. However, we found that West Yellowstone had plenty of restaurants open. We stopped at the Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon. It was really packed, but their pizza was amazing. It ended up being my favorite meal on the trip. We learned a lot on that first day and we thought we were ready for day two.

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

The first half of our trip we stayed in Twin Falls, Idaho and the second half we stayed in West Yellowstone, Montana. From point A to point B, it was about a five hour drive. So we decided to break up our drive with a stop at Craters of the Moon.

This park was created by a volcano. The craters were mostly black. In most areas it looked like a freshly cultivated muddy field. We hiked up this hill and were surprised to find the picture below on top. This on top of a hill of rocky soil in a dry climate. Made me think of the weeds growing back at home.

It was another very hot day when we visited, over 100 degrees.

We decided to visit some of the caves. We had to get a permit to go inside which they never asked us for upon arrival into the caves. They asked us if we’ve been to a cave within the last 15 years and if we were wearing the same clothes or glasses. They said a certain bat disease can live that long on our clothes and couldn’t be washed off. Although I was apprehensive about bats, we didn’t see any.

The caves were not at all what I was expecting either. We didn’t go down into a dark tunnel with dripping water and bats. It was more like a tunnel with openings in it so a flashlight was not necessary. The surface was not flat at all. We had to hike over big rocks on uneven ground that threatened to twist an ankle.

There was also a short trail to see the last remaining snowfall. I was expecting to turn a corner and see a mountain covered with snow but instead saw this dirty bit of snow in a crevice. Although it was surprising to see because it was very hot outside.

It cost us $20 to get in which was worth the money. The terrain is unique. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought the park was very well maintained. It’s literally out in the middle of nowhere. I think we saw a sign that said last gas station in 50 miles. There was nothing but mountains in the distance and large open spaces. It wasn’t a tourist trap either. I would highly recommend a visit if you ever find your way out there.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

We visited Shoshone Falls on our first day in Idaho. The temperature was right around 100 degrees, but it was a dry heat that didn’t feel too hot out of the sun.

Shoshone Falls is sometimes called the Niagara Falls of the West. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, but the waterfall was impressive even though it was half the size at the end of July than it would be in early April. I was told by the locals that water would cover the rocks to the right of the waterfall earlier in the year.

Below is the view of where the waterfall flows through the canyon. There were a few tiny waterfalls that trickled through the rocks.

Before the waterfall is Dierkes Lake where there was a large area to swim and rent kayaks. The water was deep. There was a large n shaped dock which contained a raft and diving board to jump off. There were youth jumping off the cliffs right outside of the swimming area. The water was clean and crisp, perfect for a hot day. I was surprised there weren’t more people at the lake on a hot Friday. It only cost $5 to get into the park.

There were hiking trails around the lake. We had a picnic lunch. People were fishing. There was something there for everyone.

We felt like we were being watched. By what, we weren’t sure but it looked like a prairie dog. We kept seeing them pop their heads up every so often.

We stayed at the park most of the day. It was pretty relaxing. It was probably my favorite part of the trip. We did some sightseeing of breathtaking views. The weather was perfect for a beach day. We got in a little hiking. We didn’t have to do a lot of driving.

I enjoyed Idaho more than I thought I would. There is beauty in every state, you just have to find it.

Gratitude week 132

  1. Lists, I really like lists.
  2. Summer!!!
  3. For the weekend spent on our sailboat.
  4. I’ve been wanting to go on a jet ski ride for the longest time. I was finally able to check that off my bucket list.
  5. Our hot tub finally got fixed today! It hasn’t been working for almost two months. It seemed to take forever to get the part we needed to fix it.
  6. Last week was really hard after spending time with the extended family. I am doing a lot better this week so far…
  7. It’s my birthday week. I’m grateful for another year of life and am looking forward to celebrating.
  8. Being back home and sleeping in my own bed after being away for a couple of days.
  9. Justice! I was running some errands today and I was being tailgated bad. I’ve never wanted to brake check someone more. The guy whizzed by me as fast as he could when he got the chance then got pulled over. It made my day.
  10. Wildlife. We have been seeing a lot of deer in our yard. We also saw several eagles on our sailing trip and mink with their babies.

Gratitude week 130

  1. My daughter’s future MIL and I got together to plan the bridal shower and the meeting went better than expected.
  2. The bridesmaid dresses came in for my daughter’s wedding. It’s hard to believe the wedding is a little over three months away.
  3. Summer! We had a couple of really hot days, so I did break down and turn on the A/C. It’s cooled off quite a bit since then so today the windows are open.
  4. Paul and I went sailing and the weather was perfect. We were able to spend some time at the marina’s outdoor swimming pool.
  5. At the marina, I found a book I really wanted to read and finished my book so I swapped them out.
  6. Yesterday I attended the graduation party for my friend Lisa’s son. We are all grateful he graduated since it was down to the wire. I know how stressful that can be.
  7. I’m grateful to sleep in my own bed. Lisa said I could spend the night but I decided to drive home instead which meant 4 hours of driving. They were having a lot of people stay over and I have a hard enough time sleeping in my own bed medicated. Maybe it’s a PTSD thing, but if there are other people around I can’t fall asleep. I usually have to be the last person to bed and the first one up which is really hard on me.
  8. There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider driving four hours by myself. I’m grateful my driving anxiety is pretty much gone. Lately I’ve even been able to drive over tall bridges. These are things I’ve really struggled with off and on over the years. My dad would terrorize us when he was driving us as a kid and I carried that over way too long into my adult life.
  9. Life in general.
  10. After our power went out our refrigerator started making this really annoying high pitch shrieking cricket chirping sound. It was driving me crazier than I already am. The funny thing is the younger the person was the more irritating the sound was. Sometimes I couldn’t hear it, but my kids could. Or sometimes I could hear it and my husband couldn’t. The refrigerator also got really hot to the touch in certain areas. There was a problem with the fan and I’m grateful Paul was able to fix it.
One of the photos from our sailing trip.

Gratitude week 100

  1. Wow, 100 weeks of gratitude. I guess that’s pretty good.
  2. My husband successfully completed the 30 day detox diet. I’m proud of him for cutting out alcohol, coffee, sugar, red meat, and gluten for a month. He also lost over 20 lbs.
  3. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen but my husband, daughter, and I finished the 5 mile race on Thanksgiving day. My daughter wasn’t feeling the best and it was a cold blustery snowy day but we did it. I ended up walking half of it because I was having joint pain. So I think I made the right call by making this my last race. It was a good run and I’m grateful for all the years I had fun racing.
  4. Thanksgiving! We had a fun day with family and friends. Arabella even stopped by for a little while. We played some new online games which is one of my favorite things to do when we have people over.
  5. On Friday morning Paul and I went to the Christmas tree farm and picked out two trees. I got a traditional tree and a purple glittery tree decorated with candy. We lucked out because we took the second to last purple tree. Then Angel and I spent the afternoon decorating.
  6. Alex, his girlfriend, and friend went to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) for the weekend for a friend’s birthday. They safely made it back home today and will probably stop by later for games.
  7. I finished designing my 2022 family calendar. I include all the best pictures of the year and it takes me over 4 hours to complete it. I’m not too excited to spend all the time designing the calendar and decorating my house for Christmas but I love how it turns out.
  8. I’m grateful for the 2 1/2 hours I spent talking to my brother Luke on the phone yesterday. I will be hosting the family Christmas party here in two weeks.
  9. Clean sheets.
  10. Pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies.
  11. I’m grateful for the start of the holiday season, Christmas music and movies.
  12. A warm fire when the furnace isn’t working.