Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fridays at Jansens

Flip flopping over where to go for Friday night fish? If you are ever in the Oshkosh area, one of my favorite stops is Jansens Bar and Restaurant at 344 Bowen St.  I've been there a couple times and have not been disapointed!  Last night we walked into a full house.  A friendly old couple sitting at the bar began talking to us as we waited for a table, and told us all about their grandchildren.  The waitress then led them over to their "usual" table in the back corner.  The small, hometown, everyone is family type of atmosphere is what you will get when going to Jansen's.  So next Friday, don't contemplate on where you are going...take a drive to Jansens!  Check out there menu online. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Take A Hike: Calumet County Park

Calumet County Park is a great place to watch the sunset or take a stroll through the woods.  Located northwest of Stockbridge, and only a few miles from High Cliff State Park, take Hwy 114 from Appleton into Sherwood, turn onto Hwy 55 and take a right onto Cty Rd EE. This 200-acre park offers hiking and biking trails, rock cliffs, and beautiful campsites along Lake Winnebago.  During the winter, activities include cross country skiing and sledding with a lift to bring you back up the hill.  Tube rental and tow tickets can be purchased at the park. 
Here is a map of the trails and campsites.  Happy hiking!

rock cliffs along hike

top of sledding hill
overlooking lake winnebago


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love Is...

It was complete darkness as we got in the car and drove to the trailhead.  At 3 am it was still cold enough to see your breath when we took our first climbing steps.  For a few long hours, we hiked with only the light of our headlamps guiding us up the continuous stairs of rock.  The air was getting thin as we made it to higher elevation.  Step and breathe, step and breathe.  Strength and every ounce of energy required to keep going.

The morning we left for Colorado my boyfriend started feeling a sore throat.  It continued to get worse throughout the trip until it was difficult to eat or drink; however, knowing that I had been looking forward to experiencing a summit with someone I cared about, we started the ascent that morning anyway.  After hiking 6 miles the sun finally started to rise as we reached over 12,000 feet.  It was then, during that hike, that I saw an example of what love is.  Willing to put everything he may have wanted for himself aside to make my dreams come true, I will never forget our time together and conversations on the mountain that day.
It can be so easy to overlook those acts of love and take them forgranted, or forget the reasons why you love someone.  Next time you notice that unselfish act, or are sitting with someone you love, play the simple game of remembering the things that they do for you that shows what love is.  Having the attitude of recognizing the love acts over the negative can make a world of difference.   

This Easter, start by remembering and having the conversation with God, about what He did for you that shows what love truly is.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13
The Message

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mishaps In Ireland: 4 Travel Tips Continued...

Tip #3: Use the cars emergency break. 
Mid-way through the trip we had another mishap.  It started with my needing to find a restroom after driving all day.  We stopped at a grocery store and there were none to be found.  Come to find out, the only bathrooms in Ireland are located in pubs.  When we got out of the grocery store our car was no were to be found.  We looked around the parking lot dumbfounded as to where it would have gone.  As I turned my head I noticed a vehicle crashed against another car in the parking lot.  I look over at J and said, “Hey, I think that is our car.”  “No, that can’t be ours,” he says.  I walked over and look inside to see our luggage.  Yep, it’s ours!  Just so happens the breaks weren't fully in park and it rolled down the hill and almost into the grocery store.  The collision was intercepted by instead running into an Audi!   A rich Irish man came out of the grocery store wearing an alligator skin belt.  “What did you do to my car!” he yelled.  Luckily, it did no damage to the rental vehicle.  There was a scratch on his vehicle, but I think he felt sorry for us because he never submitted any claim.  So thank you rich Irish man if you are out there!!!!!

Bed and Breakfast we stayed at
and our cute little car
Tip #4:  Keep track of your belongings.
I bought some really nice souvenirs the day before leaving and was planning on wearing my new Ireland sweatshirt home.  We had a long flight back and I am always cold, so I knew it would come in handy.   I ended up getting onto our flight leaving from Dublin to Germany, and left my new sweatshirt behind on the chair in the terminal.  Gone and never to be seen again, I spent a long 8 hour layover in the middle of the night sleeping on the benches in the Germany airport freezing to death.  Probably one of the most miserable nights ever!   Never again will I get on another flight without triple checking if I have everything with me!

Hope you enjoyed the top 4 tips I learned from my Ireland vacation.  Although we went through a lot along the way, it was an amazing trip I will never forget!



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mishaps In Ireland: 4 Travel Tips


Giants Causeway
 In 2006, my brother and I did our first international trip to Ireland.  I remember the nervous feeling I had when purchasing the tickets.  I double checked the time and date of the flights numerous times, and then before I could think too much about it, clicked the button.  Over and done with…we were now headed to Ireland! 
Throughout our 10 day stay I did in fact learn a few valuable lessons.  Over the next couple days I will be sharing my top 4 tips that I learned during my trip.  If you have never traveled internationally, maybe you can learn something from my mistakes before you do take your first flight; or perhaps, at the very least, find some humor over the struggles we had.  J

Tip #1:  Beware of international luggage regulations. 
The trip began smoothly as we left from the Chicago O’Hare airport.  We checked in our luggage and had a nice long flight to London where we had a layover.  When we were about to board our second flight from London to Dublin, however, the security man insisted I couldn’t bring my carry-on onto the flight.  Supposedly, European regulations for carry-on sizes are different from when we left the international Chicago airport.  This meant that we had to rush out of terminal, go back to check in where I had to give them my carry on, and go back through security once again very quickly in order to not miss our flight.  Needless to say, this did not start the trip off relaxed.
 
Our automatic car-
2nd vehicle of the trip
Tip #2: Purchase an automatic vehicle. 
J thought it would be a good idea to save money and rent a manual car for the week.  I tried to persuade him otherwise considering he didn’t have a lot of experience with manual cars.  But he insisted it couldn’t be that hard.  We discovered it wasn’t that easy, however, when the steering wheel and clutch is on the opposite side of the car while also driving on the opposite side of the road.  We hadn’t even left the airport when we blew a tire from hitting a curb on one of the round-a-bouts.  The first 5 minutes in Ireland were spent with angry natives honking and yelling at us as we pulled over on the wrong side of the road, unloaded all our baggage to get the spare tire out, and drove back to the airport to exchange for an automatic vehicle.  So much for saving money. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Take A Hike: Red Mill, Waupaca

Need somewhere to get away from it all and enjoy some peace and tranquility?  One of my favorite spots in Waupaca, WI offers just that.  The historic Red Mill along the Crystal River was built in 1855 and was at one time used to grind flour and cornmeal.  Today however, the Red Mill is now a museum/gift shop available all year-round for our enjoyment.

The property is maintained with a garden pathway and perennials leading to a covered bridge going over the Crystal River.  This leads to the small wedding chapel which is often used for outdoor wedding ceremonies.  With numerous little benches and peaceful areas overlooking the river, it's the perfect place to stop and walk around, read a book, or just enjoy a beautiful afternoon in the sun. 

To get to the Red Mill, take Hwy 10 out of Appleton to Waupaca.  Once in Waupaca, turn off on Hwy 22 and take a left.  Take another left on Cty Rd K and follow a couple miles till reaching the Red Mill on your left.  There is a small parking lot and restroom along the water just prior to reaching the Red Mill as well. 


Covered Bridge


Pathway behind Mill


Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Green Gecko

Have you checked out the Green Gecko yet?  I had just heard about it and stopped by this week.  Located in the heart of downtown Appleton in the City Center Mall, the Green Gecko offers an arrangement of healthy deli sandwiches, along with imported cheeses, meats, wines, and desserts.  There menu is located online if you want to check it out.  The nearest location heard of is in Madison.  Go check it out sometime!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Eleven

If you know me, you already know that I am always researching new adventures and places I want to go and see.  So I compiled a top eleven things that I dream of doing in my lifetime.  Now I may never get to all of them, but it's always fun to have something to strive for. What are some things you would like to do in your lifetime?  Any great adventures or goals?  Let me know and it may give me more ideas to add to my list! 


1.  TMB France

    1.  Hike Tour De Blanc, otherwise known as TMB, which circles the highest mountain in Western Europe.  This 100 mile trail around Mt. Blanc travels through France, Italy, and Switzerland and takes approximately 10 days. 

2. Hike the Inca Trail in Peru to see the Machu Picchu ruins and camp on Mt. Salkantay 
    
    2. Machu Picchu ruins
    
    2. Mt Salkantay
    
    3. St Lucia
    
3. Zip line and snorkel in St Lucia. 

4. Berg Lake Trail at Mount Robson Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada is a 25 mile roundtrip backpack in the Canadian Rockies.  Along the way you will see numerous beautiful waterfalls and can spend the night on the shore of impressive Berg Lake.  For more information, a great resource I have found is http://www.philarmitage.net/.
4. Berg Lake
    
5.  Stay at a Bed and Breakfast on the coast of  Maine. 
    

6.  Mt Whitney

6. Hike to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states with an elevation of 14, 505 feet.  Located in Sequoia National Park in California this hike can be done in one day being 22 miles long, however, is recommended to obtain a permit and do in two days. 

7.  Norway Kayak
7. Kayak in Norway.


8.  China Wall run

8. Run an adventure marathon in another country.  Some possibilities are the Big Five marathon through the South African jungle, the Great China Wall, or Petra Marathon through the Jordan.  Check out http://www.adventure-marathon.com/.

9. See Crater Lake in Oregon.  It seems like every time I think I am going to see it, a car breaks down and I never get there.  I will get there one of these days!
9.  Crater Lake

10. Walk where Jesus walked.  Go and swim in the Dead Sea bordering Jordan and Isreal. 


10.  Dead Sea






11. Go on a medical missions trip. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Positivity

Life is hard.  No matter what financial or relational situation you are in, life at some point will have its hardships.  It’s inevitable.  If we had perfect lives and no trials, we would think there would be no need for a redeemer in our lives. 
It’s so easy when you are in the midst of those trials and tribulations to want to get out of them as quickly as possible.  Find the back door and exit.  Commit your focus to something else to help you forget. Anything else.  
I once heard that so many times we cheat ourselves from increasing our faith and trust in Christ because we never allow Him the opportunity in our lives to prove Himself faithful.  We are too quick to take matters into our own hands, each time decreasing our faith instead of increasing it.  It makes you wonder what great plans God may have had for your life if you hadn’t disrupted it because you were inpatient? 
However, take a more recent situation in your own or someone else’s life.  One that caused deep hurt.  A broken engagement, death of a loved one, divorce, ruined friendship….how could there be any good in those situations?  The hurt runs deep.  Wounds are fresh.  Feelings are real.  It certainly doesn’t feel like God is anywhere near you or the situation.  How could He possibly be working in it and your life? 
There have been times where I have questioned what God’s plan could be, and why He hadn’t stepped in to change things the way I thought they should go.   There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.  Reflecting on what He may have wanted me to learn from the situation only turned into the debilitating and endless mind game of what I wish I would have done.  “If only I had…”  But its over and done with.  There is no going back.  There was a reason it turned out the way it did.  What I realize now is that I’m grateful I followed Gods best and didn’t end up compromising due to how I felt. I can easily see God’s handiwork in my life when looking back. 
I cling to that reasoning now.  I see how my thoughts and opinions on God’s guidance protected me in my past, and pray that His sovereign hand will continue to guide my future.  I may not understand it or truly ever see the reasoning behind things.   But I can trust that God knows and wants the very best for my life, and He has a plan for His children.  The very best plan.  I think that should be enough for me to rest in and keep positivity in my life.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Raised Tough

When asking newlyweds about their plans for children, many times they will comment about wanting a boy first.  Why you may ask?  Many times it’s a fathers dream to take his little boy camping and teach him how to fish.  Mothers often want a boy first in order to be the protective “big brother” for the girls that will follow.   In that respect, I guess you could say that my family got it perfect.  My older brother J was born four years before me, and then eight years after me was my little sister D. 

Some of you may have heard the stories about what it was like for me to be raised with an older brother.  Oh, it was never dull.  Like the time he tied me to my grandma’s dog and then took off running.  My parents looked out the window to find me being dragged through the garden and then smashed against a tree.  He was in a little trouble that night. 
Or I could tell the story about the numerous secret potions or medications he would create for me to eat while playing doctor, only to have me go running to the bathroom throwing up.  When camping we would dream about making our own secret cabin in the woods, and would tromp off waving goodbye to our parents with an ax and rope in hand.  I’ll never forget the morning a park ranger tapped on our camper door asking if the lumberjack was in town.  That quickly put an end to those tree cutting days. 

But no matter what, I would always go along with whatever adventurous scheme he may have come up with.  I would do anything just to spend time with him.  Life could’ve been a lot different growing up with an older sister to play dolls and dress up with.  While instead, I grew up playing guns and robbers, throwing baseballs, and tromping through the woods.  He may have gotten me into trouble and injured from time to time, but I cannot deny that he was, and still is, the first person to be that “protective” big brother when I need him.  I remember at one of my first jobs there was an employee giving me a hard time.  After hearing about it, worried big brother offered to pay me an allowance every week until I found another job so I could quite.
Today I would consider him to be one of my best friends.  We have played indoor soccer together for the last 8 years and will often go on trips together.  Whether it is a weekend getaway to go skiing, antique shopping, and camping, or our vacations to Ireland and California, we always have fun together. 
The play hard, toughen up attitude that my brother instilled in me, has shaped who I am today...and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m so glad that God gave me a big brother.  Don’t take your siblings or the time with them for granted.  Whatever stage of life you are in remember to tell them you love them!  Love you J and D!  

Pulling my teeth out




Monday, April 4, 2011

Take a Hike: Ouray, Colorado

Ouray Colorado, known as the Switzerland of America and Jeep Capital of the World, has history, beauty and entertainment opportunities for the entire family.  It has become one of my most favorite places to visit and most recommended trip. 

Jeeping:
If looking for some outdoor adventure and ability to see some of the most beautiful country not available to most, my recommendation is to rent a Jeep or 4-Wheeler for a day or two and tackle the hundreds of miles of off-road trails the area offers.  The difficulties of the trails are numbered from 1 (Easiest) to 5 (Most Difficult).  You can view a map and listing of trails at http://www.ouraycolorado.com/pdfs/Jeeping.pdf. 
The easiest routes I recommend taking for those a wanting to ease into it is Last Dollar Road connecting Telluride and Ridgeway or Ophir Pass connecting Silverton to Telluride.  I love going to Animas Forks, which is an old mining town with many of the homes still standing and able to tour.  The mining community was growing at one time, but ended after an avalanche that killed many of them.  The easiest route to get there is by going to Silverton and taking highway 110 through Eureka to Animas Forks.  From there you can take Cinnamon Pass to Lake City.  If you want to take a more challenging route to Animas Forks, you can get there through Engineer Pass.  My favorite routes include Imogene Pass (hwy 361- near Box Canyon Falls trailhead) which goes from Ouray to Telluride, Cinnamon Pass, and Yankee Boy Basin which is on Hwy 361 starting on the south side of Ouray.  A map can be bought at multiple places in town for more details.  

You can rent a jeep at the Ouray KOA or at other Jeep and ATV rental places located on http://www.ouraycolorado.com.  Most places have you pick up the jeep around 5 pm the day of rental and return it by 4 pm the following day.  On return, the car must be filled with gas and washed.  This can be done a couple of the local gas stations on Main St. 
video


box canyon falls


Hikes:  Here are my recommended hikes, outlined by difficulty.
Easy- 
1.Box Canon Falls- Located 2 blocks up the hill at the west end of Third Avenue.  This is a short ¼ mile easy hike into a canyon.  There is a small admission to the park around $3.00 for adults and $1.50 for children.  
2.Lower Cascade Falls- Drive up Eighth St. to the trailhead parking lot and take short ¼ mile hike to Cascade Falls. 
3.Riverwalk- The river that runs through town starting at the county park/hot springs parking lot has a trail that follows it a couple miles outside of town. 

Moderate-
Alpine Overlook of Ouray
Weehawken Trail to Alpine Mine- Drive to the south end of Ouray and turn right onto Camp Bird Mine Road.  Drive a few miles up this dirt road and you will see the Weehawken Trailhead sign on the right, parking lot on the left.  Once hiking, follow trail signs to Alpine Mine for a magnificent overlook of Ouray from a high elevation.  This hike totals a little over 5 miles.   

Difficult-
Bear Creek Trail to Grizzly Bear Mine- This trailhead is located off of Hwy 550 heading south toward Silverton.  There is a parking lot of the left side of the road right after going under this bridge.  The hike has a steep climb and dangerous narrow ledges.  With evening storms being common, this trail can become dangerous as you gain elevation so starting early in the morning is recommended.  As you hike there is a beautiful canyon below and the mountain is made of colorful slated rock. 

Parking Lot on left-cross street and hike
 above bridge
  
slated rock on hike

canyon below trail
Activities:
Spend a day playing volleyball in the city park, surrounded by mountain views.  Take a dip in the heated Hot Springs pool, go horseback riding, hot air balloon ride, river rafting, or shop at the many souvenir, candy, jewelry, blown glass, and outdoor gear shops in town.
Find more information at http://www.ouraycolorado.com.

Lodging/Food:
The KOA campground has been a favorite of ours throughout the years.  They offer numerous cabins and campsites.  Reservations are recommended, especially during the 4th of July weekend when Ouray has an annual parade and firefighter water fight on Main Street.  It is extremely busy!  http://www.koa.com/campgrounds/ouray/

The Historic Beaumont Hotel offers free tours throughout the week which explains the history of the hotel and antique pieces/furniture located within the hotel.  A nice bar with a heated patio, book store, and Mexican restaurant are also located within the hotel. 
The Goldbelt is another favorite located on Main Street, which is a reasonably priced restaurant with an outdoor patio where you can get a great view.

Scenic Drives:
The Million Dollar Highway located between Ouray and Silverton (Hwy 550) is one of the prettiest drives in the world.  Silverton is another historic mining town with great shopping and beautiful scenery. 

Drive to Telluride by heading north on hwy 550, then take Hwy 62 West, and Hwy 145 South.  In Telluride you can rent a bike and hit the trails in town or take it up the free gondola ride to the top of the ski hill and bike one of there many trails down the mountain.  They also have great shopping and restaurants.  

Driving to Durango by heading further south from Silverton can be another fun days drive to walk through the city.  In Durango, you can take the Narrow Gauge Railroad train through the canyon up to Silverton.  Visit www.durangotrain.com for more information and prices. 

Any further questions, please comment below.

Drive to Telluride Hwy 62

Telluride

Durango train station
   
Silverton downtown