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.

Up north adventures

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We left Wednesday afternoon to take the winding roads through the north woods of Wisconsin to get to our friends cabin. This was our first time at Tom and Lisa’s cabin. The last couple miles of our journey was on dirt roads.

When we arrived at their cabin, I felt like we stepped back in time. It was quiet and peaceful in their cabin in the woods on the lake. Their biggest form of entertainment upstairs was a record player. We listened to Kenny Rogers and Huey Lewis, the records I listened to as a kid. It’s amazing how I haven’t heard some of those songs for 30 years and can still sing them by heart. I picked out a few records, but to be honest I almost forgot how the record player worked.

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We spent the first evening kayaking around the lake. We sat around the campfire and spent the evenings playing darts and board games. We spent half of the next day at the beach we had to ourselves. It was a hot day and storms blew through in the evening. We had to rescue the kids from the beach in the evening as the storms were coming in. The thunder echoed off the lake magnificently.

I was surprised at how at peace I was there. I certainly shouldn’t have been. Yesterday Tom and Lisa’s friend came up with his kids. Out of all of us, we had 7 kids between the ages of 10 and 15.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. There wasn’t any A/C. The mattress was little and old. It caved in towards the center. I ended up rolling downhill into Paul all night, tossing turning and elbowing him. Four of the kids slept in the room above ours. It sounded like a marching band was practicing above our heads. At 2 AM, I told them to shut up. Nicely, of course, since they weren’t my kids.

I awoke at 6 AM after a restless night of sleep to the ringing of the phone. Our employee called in saying that her mom was in the ICU and couldn’t make it to work today. My mood darkened considerably. I decided to stick with our plan anyway, but modify it a bit.

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Lisa and I were planning on going for a 9 mile run and then hiking to a waterfall. Instead, we hopped on the back of their 4 wheeler to hike. Can you believe that I was never on a 4 wheeler before? It was fun.

We hiked the muddy path to the waterfall. There wasn’t another person in sight, which was great because I had to pee. We had to hike around fallen trees. It felt like an obstacle course more than anything. We made it there and I thought I would share a few pictures.

Afterwards, our husbands dropped us off on the road and we ran 6 miles back to the cabin. It was a tough run. I’m not sure if it was because of working out 3 hours two days before, the endless supply of liquor, a week of barely any sleep, that it was hot out, or because we had to cut our vacation short to go back in to work to cover for an absent employee. Good thing we didn’t see any bears! I could never outrun Lisa.

Regardless, we had fun on our mini vacation. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep??

Then tomorrow we are off bright and early for a sailboat cruise, then ending the day with a sailboat race. Another adventure awaits!

 

Fireworks..

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It was an interesting weekend on the lake. We headed up north Friday afternoon.

Saturday afternoon, my brother Mark and his wife Carla arrived. They decided to go to rummage sales. I asked to go with as it is always a fun thing to do being cheapskates and all. I was expecting being gone an hour or so. We ended up trudging back 4 hours later. Apparently Mark was kicking himself for not buying a junky accordion for $5 last 4th of July. The people did not have a rummage sale this year, but Mark was tempted to knock on their door to ask about the accordion.

I asked Mark to stop at the store on the way back. I brought everything along to make a banana daiquiri except the rum. As I was looking for the rum, there were some young folks stocking their cart full of liquor. They looked like they were 16. They happened to be right next to me in the checkout line. The cashier wanted to card the group of 5 young people until her manager told her that she only needed to card the one buying.

I pushed the door open on the way out and let it slip shut behind me as one of the young girls came out fast behind me. She muttered ‘bitch’ as she was leaving. At first I thought she was talking to me because I failed to hold the door open for her. I was about to turn around and have a conversation with her about her choice of words when I decided she was upset about the cashier and not me. I walked away not wanting to confront someone that was possibly underage. For a moment I pictured myself confronting the girl and ending the evening incarcerated. Sometimes anxiety works to my favor…just walk away.

The rest of the evening Mark and Carla fought. They didn’t seem very happy to be married.

Then my husband Paul’s stepdad Darryl showed up unexpectedly. Paul’s mother passed away in February. A couple weeks after her passing, Darryl discovered the internet. He has become obsessed with women that he could meet online. It is all he has been talking about. It really makes us uncomfortable.

Darryl was having a conversation via text with a hot younger lady the whole evening. She is younger than me. They were talking for several days and Darryl called her his new girlfriend.

The next morning she said her wallet was stolen and she was starving. She started asking Darryl for money. Darryl had to break up with his new girlfriend and seemed heartbroken. All this happened while Mark and Carla fought.

It’s sad that most people I know are just not happy…not happy being single, not happy being in a relationship. What is the purpose of that??

I told Paul that if he starts searching for my replacement a few weeks after my demise, I would come back from the dead and haunt him with a vengeance.

Every year my family goes up north together for the 4th of July weekend. It is almost like a family reunion. This year my brother Luke couldn’t come with his family. His dog was very sick and needed to spend the night at the vet. But that allowed my parents to come up with my brother Matt. Matt is still hearing voices and is obsessed with hurting Luke’s daughter.

Matt was acting strange.. He giggled like a maniac and became obsessed with the noise of the children next door. It was all very concerning and I had thoughts that I might have to protect those children if Matt freaked out. I remained vigilant, but nothing happened.

I spent three mornings swimming across the lake. It went pretty well. Paul kayaked or boated attentively by me. Every time I took a breath, I saw him there. Except for one time. I had a feeling something was off and I was right. There was a loon in the water 10 feet in front of me and I was heading straight for it. Swimming up north across the lake is terrifying because I can’t see what is in front of me, kind of like life is sometimes when things are uncertain. I probably would never swim again if I rubbed up against the loon.

Paul and I also took the 12 ft sailboat out. The wind picked up and the lake was quiet. Once we got quite a ways out, the wind died and everyone came back out on the lake. We were hit by the boaters waves and had to paddle to get anywhere. Then Paul dropped the paddle and had to jump in. Some of the boaters came by and asked if we needed help causing more waves. Time to sell that sailboat I think.

To tell you the truth, I was bummed out a bit up north this year. My oldest daughter Angel decided to go to St. Louis for the 4th to be with her new boyfriend. My son Alex didn’t want to come up either. I told him he had to come for one day. He showed up late Monday afternoon. He spent the night and left the next morning.

I expected that Alex would spend the day with us swimming and kayaking, but he wanted to go cliff diving with his friends. After he left, I cried a few tears. I felt so upset that he left. I wanted him to be there, but he didn’t want that. I felt hurt to let go of two kids at the same time.

I sat around feeling sorry for myself. We were just about ready to leave when we heard someone call our names from the lake. Our friends Cori and Randy were on a pontoon boat with friends. They kidnapped Paul, my youngest daughter, and I. It was so much fun that I forgot about my sadness for awhile.

That was my weekend.. Sorry it is so long.. I wanted to tell you this before I forgot.

We are leaving soon to go back up north to visit Lisa and Tom…another adventure awaits!

Working (out) on vacation

Today I fell off of my bike.

When I bought my new clip on bike shoes a few months back, I was warned that this would happen..

Oh no, no, no…not me!

It happened while I was stopping for a stop sign at a busy intersection. I unclipped my left foot and fell on my right side. I didn’t get seriously injured, just my pride. I caught the fall with my hip/right butt cheek and my hand. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. But it have a little bruise on my butt and a bruised and swollen hand. I am so sore..

It hurts to use my mouse and type. Falling off the bike is better than getting hit by a car though..

Thankfully, I am taking next week off of work for a vacation. I will be partaking in the mass exodus of Wisconsinites (or Wisconsinners, if you prefer) up north.

So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days it’s probably because I don’t have internet not that I got hit by a car..

This will be the first vacation I plan on working out. I have 3 days of swimming across the lake planned. People envy my determination. I envy those who relax wondering why I didn’t choose that as my hobby. Honestly though, it is very hard working out when others are having fun. But signing up for a half iron is very motivating.

But don’t worry, I will swim across the lake early in the morning before the drunks come out thicker than the mosquitoes.

Truth be told, I am planning on having some fun. I love the 4th of July weekend. The rich people on the lake have a fireworks contest every night to see who has the biggest and best. A free firework show on the lake without having to find a parking spot, a place to sit, crowds, and having to drive home. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

Plus we will visit with family around the campfire, play games, and pig out.

Paul is going to sail around the lake with us on his 12 ft Puffer sailboat. We will do some fishing and kayaking.

Then we are coming home for a few days and heading up north to Tom and Lisa’s new cabin. It seems like every time we got together with them that it winds up being like the movie The Hangover. (They were the other couple on the accidental overnight sail with us). They are very adventurous which tends to fuel the flames of our adventurousness. The next thing I know I am waking up on the roof in some strange town or something like that..

So, I will be swimming across the lake and working out over my time off. But I also have a lot of other fun things planned so don’t feel too sorry for me.

 

Up north photography

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Here are a few of my favorite up north photos of the season. Although it looks rather remote, it really isn’t. Just a few spots that I like to take pictures of.

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The lake is the habitat of a lot of wildlife. This eagle has a nest nearby our cabin. It likes to eat the northern, bass, bluegills, and crappies that live in the lake. We also see cranes, geese, loons, and lot of other birds. The most plentiful wild life are the people that make the lake their home on warm summer weekends.

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Early mornings on the lake are very quiet. The evenings, not so much…

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This past weekend we took out the dock. It was a sad day. We won’t be back until May.

Cha cha changes

  

I just got a hair cut. Seven inches of golden tresses fell to the floor. They were swept up and thrown away. Gone.

My life is changing. I have no control. I just turned another year older. My daughter will be an adult this week.

I still have control over some things, like my hair. I haven’t had my hair this short for over a decade. What was I waiting for?

I took half a day off on Friday to get my hair done. After the hair cut, I felt stressed because things were out of control at work while I was gone. In the matter of two hours, I had 5 voicemail messages and my email was blowing up with problems at work. Big time Tetris. I find it harder and harder to take any time off because I end up paying for it later.

Then I ran into someone that I know. She said she was not doing well because her husband lost his job. That really put things into perspective for me. I have a job. We can pay our bills. This business is going to pay off big time. I just have to make sure the stress doesn’t kill me first.

We had our daughter’s graduation party this weekend. I spent the rest of the afternoon on Friday running errands for the party and preparing food. The party itself went great. The event was rather uneventful which was really good. We had enough food and drinks. The weather was great. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It didn’t rain. Really, what more could we ask for?? I admit, I had a lot of anxiety beforehand. This was the first party that I planned with so many people attending. Seriously, what was I worried about? Everything turned out.  

We had the party up north at the family cabin. Everyone pulled through to prepare and help clean up which I really appreciated. So many family and friends offered to bring food. 

Alex brought up his new girlfriend to meet the family. Now that he has his license he can drive the old moped that is up there. He gladly drove to the gas station for ice and whatever was needed. I am afraid though that he drove it too fast. He wants to get a motorcycle someday. Oh, that kid is going to be the death of me yet!

Angel had a great party. I am sad that she grew up so fast. She was so much fun to raise. Next month she is leaving to start her own life. I feel happy and sad at the same time. So many aspects of my life are changing. I don’t have control over time. But I do have control over my hair. Well, most of the time anyway.

Best friends fur everĀ 

   

 I have known many dog owners that sigh in relief after the 4th of July firework festivities are over. My brother Luke’s Boston Terrier is so terrified of fireworks that they have to medicate her to calm her down. Maybe she should be called a Boston Terrified. It probably didn’t help that their kids were afraid too when they were little. 

I have had a couple of pet emergencies over the 4th but they had nothing to do with fireworks. In fact, my dog loves fireworks. He gets excited and barks while we cheer. I can tell he likes it because he wags his tail and smiles.  

 
My cat and dog are best friends. I catch them snuggling together, grooming each other, and being playful even now in their old age. Heck, they get along better than my kids!

Our first problem on the 4th happened after we went up north for a couple of weekends. We took the dog with us and left our cat at home alone. How can I put this delicately?? Our cat started urinating blood one 4th. I took him into the animal ER. We ended up finding out that he had separation anxiety. He couldn’t handle being home alone, especially when we took his best friend with us. He would cry pitifully after we returned home, sometimes in the middle of the night. Now we try to find a pet sitter so they can be together when we are gone. Or if the dog comes with, I turn the radio on.

 

Look how sad and pitiful they look when we leave!

A few years after the first ER trip on the 4th of July, we had another problem. The extended family was up north with us at the cabin for fireworks. Our dog ended up getting into ant poison. He tore up an ant house like he hadn’t eaten in years. I was so angry. Normally in stressful situations I shut down, but this time I totally freaked out. I screamed, hollered, and cried. I accused my parents of trying to kill my dog by leaving poison out that he could get into.

I didn’t know what to do. We were several hours away from the animal ER. Not to mention that it was in the middle of the night on a holiday. This was back in the day before I could get on my phone and Google answers. I just didn’t know if it would be harmful or not. But my dog lived without even a symptom. Maybe it was because the ant traps expired in1982. Or maybe I should just disregard warning labels. It certainly didn’t do much for the ant problem either. 

One thing I know for sure. My pets sure seem to love their life with us. They love each other. I didn’t know if it would be like that. When we first got our dog as a puppy, we had another cat that was 15 years old. She could not stand our dog. The age separation was too great. Then one day my neighbor called. She asked if we had a white cat because if so she found it floating in her swimming pool. We were very sad. There were rumors being spread that it was self inflicted.

After almost a year past, we decided to take our chances and get another cat. This cat was a year older than our dog. After a short period of dislike, they became best friends. Now they are inseparable. 

Best friends fur ever!

Boom bust

Wow, it has been a whole four days since I wrote a daily post. LOL. To tell you the truth, it’s scary how much I didn’t miss it. I was busy doing other things.

I’m not sure where to even start. It was a busy but fun 4th of July weekend. We started the weekend off by going up north and visiting with family at the cabin. There weren’t as many fireworks that evening as I had anticipated. I was able to take a lot of nice pictures on the lake though that I will share later.

Sunday morning I had my first triathlon. I went home to get a good nights rest before the big day. We didn’t see many fireworks at home either. Then we were up before 5 AM to get to the triathlon. I will describe that in another post. After the triathlon, Paul and I went back up north for awhile. Before I could make it into the cabin, three relatives and several strangers had to tell me all about my sister-in-law Carla’s night of drunkenness. It seems like all of the excitement happened after we left on Saturday night.

Then we went home to go to another party. We ended up watching them light off five fireworks. Some partygoers asked if that was all. Show’s over people. We had fun anyway, but I was dead tired after being up early and the tri.

On the 4th, we sailed into the city to watch fireworks. We docked at the local marina. We were going to go near where the fireworks were lit off, but we couldn’t anchor in the water there. We had several other sailors come with for the festivities. We didn’t want to lead them in the wrong direction. We were too inexperienced, so we decided to watch from the harbor. Everything was great except for one small problem. Our view of the fireworks was obstructed by trees. About 15 people came out with us to watch fireworks and couldn’t see much of anything. We felt bad about it but we didn’t really know any better. So this year the fireworks were a bust.

It wasn’t all a bust though. We got to know a lot of our sailing club members a lot better. We also ended up seeing our new friends unexpectedly at the marina who are new sailors. I finally found another woman that I think I could be really good friends with. I don’t really hit it off with too many women my age. She is a very pretty woman my age who is into both sailing and running. She also has a teenage daughter that seems to be a bit of trouble for her. She was very sympathetic when for a brief few hours I was panicking about the whereabouts of my teenage son. It was funny because we dressed the same yesterday. We’ll see if it ends up leading to a lasting friendship or not. 

My new friend also has a great short hair cut. I have been tempted to cut all of my hair off to look like hers since I love it so much. Would that be creepy?? I am getting sick of birds trying to land in my hair. My husband and a friend both told me on separate occasions recently that my hair looks like straw or good nesting material. When I tried really hard to make my hair look nice, my mother-in-law asked if I got my finger stuck in a light socket. My hair has never been my strong suit. It is wild and wispy with a mind of its own. Sometimes I think it would be so nice to ride with the window down, sail, or run without my hair getting wrapped behind the back of my earrings. What do I have to lose?

So even though our boom was a bit of a bust, we had a great weekend anyway. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many exciting stories to tell you today. Don’t worry, things will get better. Tomorrow will be all about the triathlon.