Fall Favorites!

For those of you who don’t know me…FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Like if fall could be 9 months out of the year (with summer being the other 3 obviously,) I think I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I’m not sure I can chose my favorite thing about it: the cool temperatures (hello jeans+sweatshirts,) the beautiful colors of the leaves, football games, outdoor activities or pumpkin spice lattes. Either way, the vibes of Fall are just something I look forward to all year long.

This year was especially fun and special; being that it’s Fitz’s first Fall experience! Does anyone else feel like Northern Michigan really lucked out this year with some warm, sunny and colorful days! Kwin and I definitely took advantage of this with lots of hiking, biking and “fall-ish” activities. Let me know if you enjoyed any of these too; or if we need try some new things next year!

Hiking and Biking

  • Vasa Single Track– HIGHLY recommend going here for an epic bike during the fall! NMMBA has done an awesome job recently of creating more trails for you to explore all over the state land in Williamsburg, MI. You can also hike or RZR on designated trails.
  • Electric Bikes on the backroads– We invested in some Electric bikes a couple years ago, specifically for bike rides like these! We are able to cover so much ground, and still enjoy the ride. Plus adventuring on back dirt roads is always so much fun with Kwin. Shoutout to Oma Jo for hanging out with Fitz so we could have a little day date!
  • Home Sweet Home– We’ve spent so much time over the past five years working on trails around our property. I’m not lying when I say they are my favorite trails to hike! The dogs can be off leash, so many different trails to choose from, and the beauty of the landscape makes it great too!
  • Mt. Holiday– A local favorite for skiing in the Traverse City area is also a favorite for hiking year round! Climbing to the top of the main ski hill really gives you an epic view of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay!
  • Marquette Trip– Our annual UP fall trip took place in Marquette this year. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend; filled with lots of hiking! Some of our favorites are Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Deadriver Falls and catching sunrise on Lake Superior. Fun fact… FOUR years ago Kwin and I got engaged on top of Hogsback Mountain; and look at us now with our beautiful baby girl in the same spot! This hike will always have so much special meaning to me.

Fall Treats

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes– I’m usually not for frilly drinks, I’m pretty lame and just prefer a good black coffee. BUT this time of year calls for all the frilly pumpkin drinks I can get my hands on. If you’re in the Traverse City area…. go to Espresso Bay and get their pumpkin spice latte (it’s made with REAL pumpkin, no fake sugary syrups) YOU WONT REGRET IT.
  • Third Coast Bakery– Donuts aren’t really my jam, and I usually only have one pumpkin donut a year. However, after trying one of there HIGHLY RECOMMENDED GF donuts… I was converted to a donut person. Lets just say we made it a Sunday tradition to get a few of these bad boys! If you’re in the Traverse City area and looking for a bakery that is Gluten Free and very allergen friendly (soy, dairy and some items even egg free) give this place a try! I haven’t had a bad bakery item yet!
  • Pumpkin Patch– Is it really fall if you don’t go to a pumpkin patch? Unfortunately with COVID, this wasn’t the “usual” pumpkin patch experience…but we still made the best of it!

Sports

  • Lions Games– Even though the lions let us down 75% of the time, we still spend our Sundays cheering them on!
  • Elk Rapids Sporting Events– I love fall because of all the sports! And with Kwin taking a break from coaching this year, we had more time to go support the other teams; like football, soccer and volleyball! Fitz is enjoying going to all these games too. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be a little sports star!

Family Fun

  • Sauna Season – I missed out on sauna season last year, due to being pregnant. But let me tell ya, I’m so excited the weather is cooling off and the sauna is being lit again!
  • Hot Tubs– Kwin and Fitz have some fun bonding time in the hot tub before “tubby time” almost daily! My heart melts watching her splashing around in there and interacting with daddy. She really is a water lover already.
  • HalloweenEEEEKKK, I was looking forward to Halloween so much! In fact, Fitz rocked three outfits and looked absolutely adorable in all of them. Dottie from a ‘League Of Their Own,’ A Polar Bear, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Writing this on our first wintery day -hello white stuff&40mph winds– and getting a little sad that fall has come to an end. We are lucky in Michigan to experience all four seasons, as it really makes you appreciate whatever season you are currently in.
So I’ll sign off hear and say: Until next year Fall!

Inflatable Paddle Boards…Winter Edition!

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a growing hobby all around the world! If you are around a body of water (especially during the warmer months) you are highly likely to see at least one person paddle boarding!

Living in Michigan during the winter months brings about some pretty harsh winter conditions, like frozen over lakes, blistering wind and below freezing temps. So how do you continue to use your boards? We get asked this questions A LOT…and the answer is  WE GET CREATIVE!

Here are a few pictures from last weekend, where we went sledding and paddled around in the icebergs!

The master behind the photos is Mark Goethel– a good friend of Kwin and I’s who is an awesome action photographer/videographer.

fun-25

fun-18

fun-11

fun-2

fun SUP-13

IMG_5890.jpg

 

Group Toboggan is all fun and games…until you notice you’re going right for a tree!

 

 

It has always been a Dream of Kwin’s to paddle on an Ice Chunk! He also brought his Paddle Boards with him for Safety (just in case!) Notice he is also wearing a Wetsuit!

 

Kwin and I love waking up early and paddling first thing in the morning! It’s always to peaceful and a great way to start the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and enjoy the water! Get creative, get out of your comfort zone and JUST DO IT!

If you’re looking for a very durable paddle boards check out the ones at Tahoe SUP!

Mine: 11’6″ Bliss

Kwin: 14′ Tallac

Inflatables: 11′ and 12′ Alpine Explorer.

 

What Are They Doing Out There….They’re CRAZY!

Michigan…what is up with these curveball winters lately!

Winter really started off hard; being dumped on by snow in December. Then the new year rolled around and we haven’t gotten much of anything….UGH.

As you all know, I use to dread winter when I was younger. But as I’ve gotten older (Lets be honest..since I met Kwin and he has challenged me to try new things) I’ve really started enjoying this season.

Our normal winter activities have kind of taken to the back burner, do to the lake of snow. BUT….with this recent weather that we have had lately (warm days+cold nights+rain/snow mixtures) the ice skating has been OFF THE HOOK!

DSC03258

We are lucky to have friends who are just as crazy as us! Not many people would want to walk a ways away from shore to the perfect glassy ice.

DSC03252

It was Kwin’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate this birthday boy than will some pond hockey out on East Bay.

Check out our friend Mark Goethel’s video [HERE] of our skating adventures!

DSC03261

If you’re ever looking to tire your dogs out…just have them chase a ball on ice! Kanyon was having so much fun with the guys trying to get the hockey puck. She was at a little disadvantage when she couldn’t stop and would go sliding a couple hundred feet!

DSC03260

We stayed out until sunset, because WHY NOT! I love February because by this time of year the Great Lakes are usually cold enough,  that when a front passes over cloud formation doesn’t happen. Blue skied winter days are the best! 

img_3595-1

DISCLAIMER: It’s always important to remember that being out on the ice is dangerous. NEVER DO IT ALONE! Pay attention to the weather, and don’t go out on ice when it’s been too warm. Too many people risk it and fall through and can be seriously injured!

January Thaw, NOW BRING ON THE SNOW STORMS!

Well, January in Michigan was NOTHING like a Michigan January should be. I think at least half of the month was 30+ degrees! SO NOT NORMAL. A little thaw was nice, but bring on the snowstorms!

While in New Zealand Kwin and I were so excited to getting home (to the 2 1/2 feet of snow) so we could do all the winter activities! That first week of being home we managed to Fat Bike at the Single Track VASA trail almost everyday! We were kicking ass with our 1 mile a day biking! 

Kanyon also got some new glasses to protect her eyes during our activities! 

We were also able to cross country ski a ton; It’s my favorite when there is a lot of snow on the ground! Trails are a little slower…which is definitely my preference 🙂

Would you just look at how beautiful these sunsets are! We were defiantly spoiled these past couple weeks! Sunset paddle boarding and hiking, a must do on nights like these.

img_3580

img_3576

It just doesn’t feel like winter without snow…but one good thing that came out of the most recent warm episode was POND SKATING!

The combination of:

Rain+Wind+Below Freezing Temperatures at night= Perfectly Smooth Ponds!

Something exciting that happened this January:

Stand Up For Great Lakes ‘Crossing Lake Huron’ documentary (by Corey Adkins) was the feature film in the Thunder Bay International Film Festival! It was so awesome watching the documentary and getting all the emotional feelings from the crossing again! Not only that…but seeing Kwin, and all the other team members get a standing ovation for their tremendous efforts brought a couple tears to the eyes again.

If you’ve never been to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary museum in Alpena,MI it’s definitely somewhere to check out! Learning about the history of “Shipwreck Ally” in Lake Huron is awesome!

January- Goals Check In

Kwin and I love being active and preach living a happy and healthy life! This includes setting goals and challenging yourself  to be a better person everyday!

This month, my challenge was:

  • NO MEAT: To some people this would be extremely challenging, and to others it would be extremely easy! Growing up I ate meat at almost every meal, but after much research I’ve slowly started to cut back. I don’t think I will ever completely get rid of meat (because I believe everything in moderation)…but I wanted to see how I could do. Honestly, it was easy and I really enjoyed it! It challenged me to get creative with other foods: Tempeh, Lentils, Quiona, etc.

Goals for the 2018 year:

  • Reading everyday before bed: I did OKAY on this…definitely something I need to continue getting better at! I still tend to browse through my phone and social media a little too much. So February to be more successful at this I will plug my phone in somewhere else NOT NEXT TO MY BED!
  • Yoga 3x per week: Man, this was definitely a great goal to set! Yoga has helped me physically and mentally in SO MANY WAYS.
  • Being more Green: This is A LOT harder than expected! Especially being that it’s the middle of winter, and it gets dark so early (which means lights on in the house more.) I love my new reusable produce bags [I got theses] that I’ve been using at the grocery store, and switched over to reusable laundry lint balls too [Got mine form Woolzies]! Making small steps, but better than nothing. This month I want to get better at unplugging outlets that I am not using!
  • Blogging more: Still struggling with this one. I feel like what I want to blog about would not be very relevant to people…but I need to get past my fear and JUST DO IT!
  • Biking: Kwin and I have a goal of getting better at biking this year, so we have either been fat biking outside…or using the new Bike trainer in the basement. Getting 1 mile a day has been pretty easy (with a .5mile penalty for every day missed). I’m really hoping that all this biking helps (M22…inspiration point…you are my motivation!)

My monthly goal for February is to cook 1-2 NEW MEALS every week! I tend to get into a slump at times…especially with cooking! Thank goodness for Pinterest though, I’ve already got a lot of new recipes on the list! If any of you have must try recipes though I would love to hear them!

Puppy snuggles are the absolute best! Thankful that my mother-in-law (Chocklabs.com) breeds the cutest pups ever!

I hope that everyone’s 2018 started off great and January was a success! Now, lets make February a huge hit too!

Mackinaw Straights Paddle, Stand Up for Great Lakes

April 22, 2017.

A sunny, 40 degree day in Northern Michigan. The water of the Mackinaw Straights extremely calm, which as many of you may not know is VERY rare. Absolutely perfect conditions for a paddle board adventure.

Gordie Lafontaine and Kadin Patterson, two 8th graders at Cherry Land Middle School, have both grown up in the Northern Michigan area and share a love for the Great Lakes. So they asked Kwin Morris (my fiancé and their 8th grade science teacher) if they could join up with Stand Up for Great Lakes for their 8th grade community Project.

17990870_790256311134205_1939927858971338457_n

Stand Up For Great Lakes

For those of who don’t know, Stand Up for Great Lakes is a non-profit organization, started by my Fiancé, and four other native Northern Michigan friends, whose main goal is to raise awareness and protect the Great Lakes. Two years ago the five guys successfully Stand Up Paddle Boarded across Lake Michigan (starting in Algoma, WI and ending in Frankfort, MI). This was a 60 mile paddle that took them 24 hours to complete. Since then they have organized beach clean-ups, went to local elementary schools to teach water safety, and many other SUP demo days for the public.  Another goal of the organization is to reach out to the younger generation so they too can become more involved in preserving the Great Lakes.

17265244_763367727156397_1629098034140499983_n

Mackinaw Straights Paddle 

Gordie and Kadin have been working alongside their teacher planning something that they felt could really raise awareness to preserving the Great Lakes. They came up with the idea to paddle across the Mackinaw Straights. The two students decided this location because they wanted to educate and bring awareness to a huge Political/Public issue going on, Line 5. Gordie and Kadin went around to local town meetings, wrote to newspapers and did TV interviews educating the public. They trained throughout the winter paddle boarding to practice for the cold and windy conditions,  and have been lifting weights before school with Kwin every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

April 22, 2017..Earth Day, the day of the official paddle. They took off from St. Ignace and ended in Mackinaw City, MI.  For safety measures they had two safety boats, wore dry suites, had leashes connected to their boards and each wore PFD’s.  A five mile paddle may not seem long, but the conditions that the straights provides make for a very difficult journey: 30 degree waters, currents exceeding Niagara Falls, and choppy waters caused by the westerly winds passing though. With all the training and preparation the paddlers did the five mile journey only took them 1 1/2 hours.

18077177_10212489276330659_9176840243575291954_o

At the end of the day the Kadin and Gordie ended up raising over $4000 for the Stand Up for Great Lakes foundation. Not only this, but they  earned a lifetime of experience in public speaking and learning how to organize public events.

17966266_10212489297291183_1214027373367615873_o

18055700_10211365658844934_2172616209921060575_o

What’s Next? 

Stand Up for Great Lakes paddlers Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy, and Joe Lorenz next adventure is to paddle across Lake Huron. They are going to be starting at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which is the only fresh water sanctuary in the world, and ending in Canada. This is going to be about a 90 mile feat! To follow along their journey and help protect the Great Lakes check out their website!

Stand Up For Great Lakes

18055634_10212489315091628_395670528124421512_o