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!

Adventures With Our One Month Old!

It is no surprise that Kwin and I have welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world a month ago…man how time is already flying by! Miss Fitz has been a perfect addition to our family, and has already proven to be an amazing travel partner too! Here is a little look into the adventures we’ve been on as a family of three!

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

At just a whopping WEEK OLD, we threw Fitz into our Ergo baby carrier and made our way to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and Glen Arbor, MI. Thanks to our friends J and Lauren for letting us set up camp in their yard at their cabins (have to be COVID cautious!) Since I was still in “recovery mode” we played more of the tourist role; doing short and simple hikes…but still having great views!

Marquette

Every August Kwin and I spend a week traveling around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan(the bugs are usually less crazy then…not this year though!) Our first destination on this road trip was Marquette, MI. A favorite of ours! Marquette has awesome hikes for both sunrise and sunset, great food and overall is just a fun place to be!
Hiking- Sugarloaf Mountain and Presque Isle Park
Camping- Tourist Park
Food- Sol Azteca for dinner, Java Bay for breakfast and Contrast Coffee!

Porcupine Mountains

A definite MUST when going to the upper peninsula! We had two friends join us for this portion of the trip: Corey and Stephanie Adkins! It was so fun showing them, along with Fitz, the beauty of the Porkies!

Copper Harbor

Another favorite of Kwin and I’s. We love the primitive nature of this town…no cell phone service and full of so much Michigan history! We’ve never camped in Copper Harbor, but decided this time to stay the night at a cute campground just at the base of some awesome biking trails (so jealous that I wasn’t able to bike with Kwin!)
Hiking- Brockway Mountain and Estivant Pines
Camping- Lake Fanny Hooe Campground
Food- a local food truck and Jamsens for breakfast.

Boat Days

What a spoiled girl, spending so much time on the lakes!
This little girl has been in Elk Lake, Torch Lake and had her toes dipped into both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior!

Fun fact!
While hiking with our friends-Corey and Stephanie- Corey made a joke that I’ve breastfed Fitz is some crazy spots! So I thought it would be fun to list them out here!
-Pierce Stocking Overlook
-Lake Of The Clouds
-Miners Trail (Porcupine Mountains)
-Cascade Falls
-Lake Superior Shoreline
-Face In The Rock
-Elk Lake and Torch Lake

People call us crazy taking a newborn to all the places we have.
We call it living life to the fullest(:

Wow that flew by…Third Trimester!

As I’m sitting here with my little baby girl laying on my chest, I can’t help but reflect on how fast pregnancy truly went! I was incredibly fortunate to have had a pretty great pregnancy, feeling good throughout the entire process.

Third trimester came and went in the blink of an eye; and I’m excited for all the fun adventures ahead for us as a family of three!

My Symptoms

  • Ligament Discomfort: The ligament discomfort continued from second trimester, but because of my awesome chiropractor, Dr. Darnell, the discomfort actually improved. That is until about week 37 when baby girl had started to drop; increasing the amount of pain/discomfort in my lower pelvis!
  • Gastric Reflux- As pregnancy progressed I was experiencing more and more reflux after eating. It wasn’t terrible, but enough to steer me away from certain foods due to the reflux feeling after eating them! Pasta sauce was the major culprit….
  • Braxton Hix Contractions- Yup, these guys were definitely more noticeable during the third trimester. They acted as a reminder to me to SLOW DOWN!
  • Edema in my ankles- After a day of work, or just being on my feet all day, my feet would be pretty swollen!

My Cravings 

The cravings continue! I’m lucky that for the most part that I was able to eat mostly the same foods that I did “pre-pregnancy.”

  • Pasta or Pizza- Usually with pesto sauce though, thanks to my reflux with tomato sauce!
  • FRUIT– Similar to all the previous trimesters, I could eat fruit all day! But once third trimester hit I noticed that I really wanted watermelon, cherries and pineapple!
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Big Salads
  • Fruit smoothies

Adventures

  • CABIN TRIP! This was a little bittersweet as it was our last cabin trip just the two of us. We enjoyed lots of hiking, reading and kubota rides around the property(:
  • Local Favorites: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Brown Bridge Quiet Area, walking around our property, sunset paddle boards, bike rides and just being spontaneous!
  • Boating! This summer has been one of the hottest that I can remember in a very long time… and because of this, Kwin and I spent almost every day on our boat!

Quick and Dirty On My Labor Experience

Friday July 10, 2020
All day I was experiencing intermittent “period cramps” but no regularity to anything. I had this gut feeling that our little girl was going to be making her appearance soon though!
8pm I started experiencing contractions that were about 8 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute in duration. Kwin and I decided to pack up the car with our luggage and chill the rest of the night!

Saturday July 11, 2020
1245am my water broke while sleeping in bed. Kwin and I made our way to the hospital at this point (as instructed by our midwife) and were both super excited!
130am the admitting midwife confirmed that my water indeed was broken and the admission process was started. She checked me and said I was about 3cm dilated. She reiterated that labor could be a long process still since I was a ‘First Time Mom.’ Kwin and I got settled into our room and tried to get as much sleep as we could.
730am my doula, Harmony, arrived to the hospital. She was an absolute SAINT! I don’t know what I would have done without her during the labor process.
9am Kwin, Harmony and I went for a walk around the L&D unit and that’s when my contractions really started getting intense!
10am I started experiencing the intense feeling like I needed to poop, and that I couldn’t go through labor anymore. My amazing nurse, Heather, said those are the two magic words and checked me again (I hadn’t been checked since first being admitted due to increased risk of infection after your water breaks!) I was so nervous that I was not going to be very far still and would have to make the decision whether or not I wanted an epidural or not. BUT, then she told me I was 8cm, almost 9, and I got the biggest feeling of motivation to finish it out unmedicated! I asked to get in the tub at this point to help my body relax for the rest of labor until I was allowed to push.
11am I was really having the urge to push, so again, my nurse checked me and now I was finally fully dilated and ready to push! The team finished setting up the room, got the doctor and the pushing period began! I pushed for about 45 minutes, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. After much profanity and other kind words….
1147am Fitz Annmarie Morris made her entrance into the world! She was absolutely perfect in every way.

Stay tuned for an update on Fitz’s first month of life and all the crazy adventures she has already done! We are completely in love with this little girl and cannot wait to show her the world(:

PS. For everyone curious where we got the name Fitz from…. I read her name in a book (My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccoult) awhile ago, It was a characters nickname, and absolutely loved it. I told Kwin the name, and well he loved it too for a completely different reason (the Edmund Fitzgerald!)
FUN FACT- two years prior to Fitz’s birth, Kwin crossed Lake Superior on his paddle board (this paddle took place July 10-11, 2018) which is exactly when I went into labor and delivered her! It’s like this name was almost meant to be(:

Annual Trip To The UP…AND WE SAW TWO BEARS!

Yup you read that right, TWO BEARS! Don’t worry, both were within reasonable distance away…but still pretty cool! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is pretty chuck full of wildlife and it’s especially noticeable this time of year. With animals coming out of hibernation, and the lack of leaves on trees to hide things in the woods; You’re chances of seeing something on a hike are very high!

We weren’t uncertain to whether or not we would even be able to make this annual trip of ours to the cabin (due to COVID and the stay-at-home order here in Michigan.) However, when Governor Whitmer loosed the restrictions allowing people to go to their second residences, we ran for it! Obviously following all necessary precautions- wearing masks at gas stations, bringing in all our own food from a grocery store around home, and only going to the cabin!

The trip was nothing short of amazing, per usual! In fact, because Kwin doesn’t have to be at work currently we were able to stay longer than ever… 6 days! Whew, that’s a long time staying at a primitive cabin with no running water, electricity, or cell phone service. But man, it was much needed during this time of craziness!

We spent lots of time hiking (averaging 8-10miles per day,) reading, doing chores around the cabin, fishing, searching for the biggest White Pines we could find (we found one with 14ft circumference) and spending quality time with each other!
Would you believe me if I told you there were still HUGE snowbanks? Welp, there was! The currently melting snow resulted in REALLY high water levels in the rivers and HUGE waterfalls, I had never seen them pumping so much!

Kwin and I enjoy and look forward to this trip so much!
With the sprouting tree buds, the chirping birds, muddy terrain, and sunny days…It’s a true sign that we’ve made it through another Michigan winter!
I hope you enjoy the blog and are getting outside during this beautiful spring weather yourself!

PS. For anyone who cares, baby girl did great with all the hiking and activity this past week! I cannot wait to bring her up to the cabin with us and make a whole bunch of new memories with her(:

Feeling On Top Of The World, 2nd Trimester!

I can’t believe how fast time goes when you’re pregnant! I mean it feels like just yesterday that I was secretly taking the positive pregnancy test in my bathroom, and now I’m finishing up 2nd trimester! I think it helps that throughout the entire pregnancy I’ve felt 100% normal, despite my body physically changing, not too much has changed.
I will say, most people said that 2nd trimester would be the best; I’d get my energy back, the minimal food eversions I was having would be gone, and I would just feel on top of the world. Well, thank you everyone for the positive words because YOU WERE ALL CORRECT.

A lot has been going on for Kwin and I during this trimester, as well as a lot going on in the world. So lets’ dig into the good stuff!

My Symptoms

  • Ligament Discomfort: Around week 18 I started experiencing some pelvic discomfort, most notable after being on my feet all day at work, or after a long walk/hike. The discomfort is not unbearable, just more of an annoying feeling. To help with this I’ve been seeing a Chiropractor weekly (shout out to Dr.Darnell at Torch Lake Chiropractic) as well as stretching everyday and incorporating Yoga into our workout regimen more.
  • Winded easily with high cardiac activity– This hasn’t gotten any worse than it was during 1st trimester, but still gets in the way of hiking sometimes! I do know that it’s important not to get my heart rate up too high during pregnancy, so I’m taking the winded feeling as more of a sign to “slow down!”
  • Feeling baby girl kick all the time– This isn’t a bad symptoms at all; In-fact, it’s my favorite thing nowadays! Even if she wakes me in the middle of the night with a kung-fu like kick in the bladder, her movements give me the greatest feeling in the world. I’d say that I started feeling her around week 18, but was kinda uncertain if what I was feeling was actually her. It wasn’t until our 20 week ultrasound that it was confirmed! What I was feeling was indeed her; that’s because we caught all her movements on camera(:

My Cravings

There is NO DOUBT that this child is Kwin’s (Inside joke.) One reason I say this is because ALL of my cravings and eversions are Kwin’s favorite foods to eat and foods he could care less to eat. It’s so interesting how that happens, but in all honesty I don’t mind at all (and neither does Kwin…we’re eating his favorite foods for dinner all the time!)

  • Pasta or Pizza– I’m usually the type of person looking to “health-ify” everything we eat, and this includes pasta (can you say spaghetti squash or zoodles!) But lately, I’ve wanted the FULL gluten, drenched in pesto sauce pasta, or a good pizza.
  • FRUIT– Similar to my 1st trimester, if I could eat fresh fruit all day then I would! Especially the sour/citrus fruits- like pineapple, raspberries, oranges, mango’s, berries.
  • Cranberry Juice– Again, not something I usually fill my glass with; but one of Kwin’s favorite things!
  • Big Salads– I do still love me a big salad filled with lots of veggies. If I’m not craving pasta/pizza, I’m wanting a salad. It’s all about balance, right?
  • NOT A CRAVING, but I don’t have much of a pallet for sweets anymore…and if you know me, you know I’m a sweetaholic!

My Favorite Investments I’ve Made

  • Lulu Lemon leggings– The Align leggings are a gift from the heavens! The high waist band on them allows for your belly to continue growing, without cutting into it or making you feel suffocated. If they weren’t so darn expensive, I think my whole wardrobe would consist of these leggings!
  • Bamboo pant expanders– I’ve been very fortunate to really only be “gaining weight” in my stomach region. I fit in most of my pre-pregnancy pants still, except having a hard time buttoning now. For this reason I was trying to find some good “pant expanders” that wouldn’t show under the shirt I would be wearing. These guys past the test! Super happy with this purchase and will even be able to use them with my shorts this summer.
  • Bamboo nursing bra– Having sore and growing boobs has made me reevaluate my bra situation. I refuse to buy new bra’s because I know this is only a temporary thing…but guys these bra’s are the comfiest things I’ve ever worn! I wear it 99% of the days!
  • Lotion for my growing belly to help prevent stretch marks– I understand that stretch marks are almost inevitable, but if I can try and prevent them in anyway, then I will! I’ve been using lotion from Primally Pure, or just coconut oil on my stomach twice a day! So far, so good!
  • Apps I’ve been using to help track my growing baby:
    • What To Expect- Weekly updates on what baby girl is doing, how big she is, and what my body it going through too! Another nice feature of this app is that I am included is a forum with other momma’s who are also due in July 2020. It’s nice to see what other women are going through as well!
    • The Bump- Similar to the one above, except it doesn’t have the momma forum. I like both apps as they usually share the same information…but maybe a few different things!

COVID-19 And It’s Impact On Us

I’ll be honest, I was kinda a mess at first when the chaos of COVID-19 came around. All the uncertainty of the virus, plus the uncertainty of how it could impact pregnancy and my growing baby…to say I was scared is an understatement. Especially being a nurse, where I am still required to work (lucky for me, I work in the Oncology world and feel very safe around my patients!) After much research, discussion with my OB, and other momma’s going through the same things… I started to feel better. WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!
-COVID-19 has had some negative impacts on our daily lives. Kwin is NOT allowed to go to any of our pre-natal appointments with me right now, I’ve had to cancel/ postpone baby girl’s baby showers, and we weren’t allowed to travel anywhere for spring break!
-COVID-19 has also has some positive impacts on our daily lives. It has allowed Kwin and I to spend a lot of quality time together before baby girl joins our family. We have also accomplished A LOT of chores around the house that have been put off for the past 5 years (basically since we moved in,) and lastly we started working on her nursery!

Adventures

  • Due to COIVD-19 being around for most of my 2nd trimester, Kwin and I were not able to travel much for adventures. However, this time allowed us to explore new trails and old favorites close by!
  • Some of our favorites are: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Brown Bridge Quiet Area, Maple Bay and just around our own house!

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of what we’ve been up to over the past couple months!
Stay home. Stay safe. And stay healthy during these crazy times!

Final Stretch- Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Roosevelt National Park!

Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite. 

Two weeks down, and one week to go before heading back home! We’ve already seen some pretty amazing things while in Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; but knew we still had some great things to look forward too! 

Here is the final week of adventures!

Bozeman, MT 

On our way from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park we decided to stop in Bozeman, MT for a couple days. National Parks are great, but one downfall is that our dogs [aka our children] aren’t allowed to hike with us.  We had also heard so many great things from friends that grew up in the Bozeman area, so we figured that we definitely needed to check it out.

Camping- We stayed at the Langohr Campground, a quaint campground located about 10 minutes south of downtown Bozeman. The location of this campground was PERFECT! 

No phone service + Creekside + Located right near a bunch of biking trails. 

Hiking- Bozeman is located amongst the mountains, so one would only guess that the hiking is unbelievable.

  • The ‘M’ Trail: A 1.2 mile trail, that has two routes (hard or easy route) ending at the famous ‘M,’ which I believe represent Montana State University. We obviously took the hard route [when hiking with Kwin, it’s pretty expected] and let me tell ya, the views are spectacular! 
  • Baldy Peak Summit: A 9.6 mile trail, rated at hard. We did about half of this tail, due to time constraints, but it was awesome! We saw so many active people [mostly locals] and had the best views of Bozeman! Mountain living is crazy … while hiking two storms split us, allowing us to watch as the storms, on-top of a mountain, as they passed through.

Biking- From our camping spot we were able to jump on some of the mountain biking trails, and like the hiking, the trails were pretty awesome! This was the true definition of Mountain Biking! We pretty much started from the bottom of a canyon, and biked about 2500 feet UP HILL before being able to descent again! It was exhausting to say the least.

Dining- When we are traveling and camping mosts of our meals are eaten and cooked at our campsite. Seriously, who doesn’t like cooking over the campfire? But after two weeks of doing this, we were pretty ready for a little “treat.” Bozeman reminds me of Traverse City, Michigan in so many ways [obviously minus the Great Lakes, and add Mountains.] There were a ton of great coffee shops and dinner places too! 

  • Mackenzie River Pizza: Now, I’m not usually a person who would order pizza, but I’d like to report that the pizza here was AMAZING! Plus the atmosphere was really inviting. If it were up to Kwin, we would have eaten here for every meal. 
  • Plonk: A recommendation from James, Kwin’s high school friend who currently lives out in Bozeman! The drinks were phenomenal, the food was phenomenal [and vegan friendly,] and the atmosphere was so fun! 
  • Bozeman Community Co-Op: I LOVE going to Co-Op’s! This place had a wonderful salad bar, as well as hot food bar.
  • Wild Joe’s Coffee: One of the best Matcha Latte’s I had the entire trip! 
  • The Daily Coffee & Eatery- Northside: Quick coffee, with great breakfast food selections [gluten free and vegan options available!] We hit this place bright and early before hitting the road to Glacier National Park. 

Glacier National Park 

Going into our trip, this was one spot I was most excited for! It’s not everyday that you get to see and hike to glaciers. Plus, if you didn’t know, the glaciers found in Glacier National Park are the only ones left in the United States AND they are receding fast! Infact, researchers are estimating that they may be completely melted within the next 50 years! 

So our original plan for this National Park was to go to the western most part of the National Park, drive the famous “Road To The Sun” through the park and then end up in Waterton National Park (the Canadian side) for a couple days. However, plans don’t always go as planned. When we arrived to West Glacier, we found out that YOU CANNOT DRIVE VEHICLES LARGER THAN 21 FEET ON THE ROAD TO THE SUN! Yup that meant we couldn’t drive through the park while pulling our camper [18foot camper + our truck is bigger than 21 feet.] So we decided to forgo Waterton, and instead to two days on the west side of the park, then drive around to the east side and spend a couple days. We were still able to drive part of “The Road To The Sun,” which was crazy beautiful!

Camping- We decided to stay two nights on the west side of the park, then two nights on the east side of the park, that way we could experience a little bit of everything! 

  • Apgar Campground:  Located right at the entrance of “The Road To The Sun” on the west side of the park. Apgar has a campground and a little village too! Not only is it at the entrance of the famous road, it’s also right on Lake MacDonald- a BEAUTIFUL glacier lake! It was our favorite campground of the two we stayed at.
  • Many Glacier Campground: Located on the eastern side of the park. This area was definitely more primitive than the western side. A tip for anyone planning to camp out here is to ALWAYS check how the wildlife is. This campground had a lot of bear activity, so they did not allow soft top campers or tent camping while we were there. 

Hiking- While in Glacier we obviously wanted to hike a glacier, but that wasn’t the only awesome thing we got to see! 

  • Apgar Lookout Trail: a 7mile, rated difficult hike. This was a great hike to warm the legs back up from a day of driving. It was beautiful, however the summit was starting to get a little overgrown by trees and other vegetation; affecting the view of Lake MacDonald at the top.  
  • Highline Trail: a 14.7 mile [one way] trail, rated as moderate. This was probably one of my favorite hikes! Despite it being long, the views were freaking amazing! When reading all the reviews on ‘All Trails’ they recommended that we park at the bottom of the hike, take a shuttle to the top, and then hike down. That’s exactly what we did! Hiking alongside the mountains gave spectacular views, plus there was so much wildlife along the trail too! 
  • Iceberg Lake Trail: a 9.3 mile [out and back] trail, rated as moderate. This one was my favorite hikes on the Eastern side of the park! A family friend of ours recommended that we do this trail, and I’m so glad we did! PS: If you stay in Many Glacier campground, you can start most of the trails right from campsite. It was pretty windy that day, so unfortunately all the icebergs had been pushed to the far side of the lake, but the crystal blue water was still breathtaking. We also saw two bears while hiking! 
  • Grinnell Glacier: A 9.5 mile hike, rated as moderate. Given it was mid July when we were there, most of the snow on the trail was melted. However, there were signs all over the trail advising people to “proceed with caution” because of the ice and snow that commonly covers it! Fun Fact: the trail actually ends at two different glaciers- Grinnell Glacier and Salamander Glacier. 

Paddle Boarding- Have you ever paddled a glacier lake at sunset? Yup, neither had we… Until Lake MacDonald! You guys, this paddle was so spur of the moment, and it was absolutely amazing! Shout out to Tahoe SUP for the amazing inflatable paddle boards that we take EVERYWHERE with us!

The mountains in the background + crystal clear and glassy water + perfect sunset!

Horseback Riding Megan [my sister-in-law] really wanted to do some horseback riding while at Glacier, so we did! This was only my second time horseback riding, and it was a lot of fun. We rode around Lake Josephine, another glacier lake located in Many Glacier. The two leaders were super knowledgeable, funny and made the trip very enjoyable.

Roosevelt National Park 

After parting ways from Megan and Tommy, we started our journey home. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do a ton of hiking while here, but we did bike around the cute town of Medora and watched the sunset at an overlook in the park! Roosevelt is sometimes known as the “Northern Badlands,” which I can totally see why! It had a lot of the same rock formations as the Badlands in South Dakota, but this definitely had more greenery. 

Another really cool thing about this National Park, was the abundance of wildlife. I’m talking wild horses running around so majestically, buffalo herds of 100+ and prairie dogs popping out of the ground everywhere you look. 

Ballard Lake, Wisconsin 

Our final stop of the trip! Thanks to our good friends, Mark and Janna Goethel, for inviting us to their family cabin! We had so much fun with the whole Tucker family boating, hiking, swimming, paddling, and lots of drinking. Neither Kwin or I had ever been to this part of Wisconsin, but it was so beautiful! It reminded me of Northern Michigan is so many ways. Wanna know something crazy? The cabin is only 1 hour south of our cabin! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on Kwin and I’s road trip! If you haven’t already, check out Kwin’s video he made of the trip HERE. Also make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series for our road trip! 

We sure do love traveling, but there is nothing like being home.

The Great American Road Trip, Part 2. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks!

And the road trip continues! 

If you missed my last blog, check it out HERE.

July 2, 2019

Start– Gros Ventre Campground-Jackson, Wyoming

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground, Grand Tetons National Park 

The trick to getting a good camp spot in the National Parks is to GET THERE EARLY! Living in Northern Michigan, we are part of the Eastern Time Zone; So one of the perks of traveling out west is the time change. Waking up at 6am is more like 8am at home…so it’s kinda like sleeping in, am I right? Not only does waking up early help with getting a good camp spot, but being able to see the sunrise in the mountains is pretty beautiful too! 

Kwin and I were both very excited to be going into the Tetons! Of all the parks, this was the one that most people told us would be our favorite. 

-We’d heard it was less crowded

-There were mountains everywhere

-And there would be lots of hiking, biking and paddling 

Our morning started out again at the cute coffee shop in Jackson, Cowboy Coffee, and then we hit the road! Pulling into Signal Mountain Campground promptly around 7:30am with a train of other campers having the same intentions as us. Luckily, we were able to snag the BEST spot in the campground [well in our opinion at least] right on Jackson Lake.

After setting up camp we decided to do hike Taggart Lake Trail: a 3-mile, rated easy hike, but with spectacular views! We both agreed that it was one of our favorite hikes in the park. 

In the afternoon we did a nice long paddle across Jackson Lake using our inflatable Tahoe SUP paddle boards, and let me tell you …it felt like we were paddling with a green screen in-front of us! I mean just look at those mountains, plus the crystal clear blue water!

Funny story, Kwin and I set up the tent while cooking dinner because we thought it would be fun to sleep under the stars. We didn’t put the rain fly on, that way we would be able to see the stars while going to sleep. Before bed we both wanted to do some reading, so we sat in the camper …. and well we both fell asleep! Around 12am we woke up to the sound of torrential downpour rain! We were dry …. but our tent, sleeping bags and other camping gear wasn’t.  

July 3, 2019 

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park

Destination– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Once the rain stopped, around 8am we got coffee at the Signal Mountain campground store and then hit the road to our first hike of the day. Grand View Point Trail: a 5-mile, moderate ranked trail, that definitely fit its name perfectly! The trail at the beginning was pretty wet, thanks to the rain from the night before, so the mosquitoes were bad! However, once we got up to a higher elevation they seemed to disappear. The top of the trail had a beautiful view of Jackson Lake, along with the Tetons in the background! Again, I felt like I was looking at a green screen! 

Our second hike of the day was definitely more busy than the first, Jenny Lake Trail. Despite there being a lot of people, it was still a really nice hike! About 7 miles in length, and I would rate as Easy. 

July 4, 2019

Start– Signal Mountain Campground- Grand Tetons National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

I mentioned this before about getting to campsites early if you want to get a spot in the National Parks. Another helpful thing is this website here: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm it’s a great source of information regarding camping, or really anything in the National Parks. There is an area that lets you know when the campgrounds in the parks had been filling. 

Our number 1 campground choice was Norris Campground, due to its central location. We saw that Norris Campground was usually full by 9:30am…so we got there at 7:30! After two hours of waiting we finally got a spot, set up camp, and then went for a nice bike/hike to Norris Geyser Basin (about 1 mile from our campground!) FUN FACT: one of the largest Geysers in Yellowstone is found at Norris Geyser Basin- Steamboat Geyser– and it erupts every 4-8 days apparently. While we were standing in line waiting for a campsite, it started steaming and showing an increase in its activity. The ranger pointed it out to us all, and said it was due for an eruption! Unfortunately, it didn’t erupt while we were there…but it was really cool to see the activity of Steamboat! After a quick hike we drove out of the park to Gandier, MT to meet up with Megan and Tommy- Kwin’s sister and our brother-in-law! We got groceries for the next couple of days, then went back to the campground and did the same hike we had already done, that way Megan and Tommy could warm up their legs for the upcoming days! Megan and Tommy were planning to stay with us for the remainder of our trip!

July 5, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Destination– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park 

Alright guys, not only do you need to wake up early to get a good campsite….but while in any National Park you’ve also gotta wake up early to get to the most popular hikes! We had heard horror stories before going to Yellowstone, saying there could be thousands of people standing around ONE SINGLE GEYSER! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for claustrophobia to me! With this being said, we decided to get to one of the most popular geysers in the park, ‘Old Faithful,’ bright and early! This geyser is the most predictable of all the geysers in Yellowstone, and erupts about every 60-90minutes. I can’t compare the eruption to anything else, because it’s the only geyser we saw actually erupt, but it was pretty cool in my opinion! It shot up about 50-75ft in the air and lasted about 5 minutes. We were very fortunate to be there with only thirty or so people [compared to the thousands that can be there later in the day!]

 After that we went to probably our favorite hike in all of Yellowstone! The Mystic Falls & Geyser Basin: a 3.5-mile, moderately ranked hike WITH AMAZING VIEWS! It’s about two miles away from the ‘Old Faithful Geyser Basin,’ so when we hiked to the overlook point we were actually able to see all the geysers there! If you look closely in the picture below you can see all the steam coming up from the different geysers! As the name says, there was a waterfall as well: Mystic Falls. All of us really enjoyed this hike for the views, the waterfall and also the bring blue/sapphire colors of the geysers were pretty awesome! 

We managed to get in another hike this day and did a highly recommended hike Mt.Washburn. This was a 7-miles, moderately ranked hike that ended on top of a mountain overlooking the entire park! In-fact a functioning firetower was at the top. For those who don’t know what that is, a park ranger lives in this fire-tower, which was built in the early 1900’s, from June through October and is constantly monitoring for forest fires! 

June 6, 2019

Start– Norris Campground- Yellowstone National Park

Destination– Norris Campground-Yellowstone National Park 

Our last day in Yellowstone! Our first stop was the ‘Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.’ Now I’ve never actually been to the Grand Canyon, so I can’t really compare it to anything, but man was this beautiful! There were two waterfalls- The Upper and Lower Falls- and then beautiful rock formations lining the actual canyon. By the time we were leaving the parking lot was nearly full-mind you this was about 8am. So get there early folks! 

Our next hike of the day was a “spur of the moment” hike called Elephant Back Mountain Trail. This hike was about 3.5-miles, most of which was uphill! Kwin and I really enjoyed this because we could “feel the burn,” and once you finally got to the top you had a beautiful view of Yellowstone Lake. 

We ended the day by biking the ‘Osprey Falls’ trail- it’s one of the only bike friendly trails in the park- and then got dinner with Megan and Tommy in Gandier, MT.

If you’re planning to stay in Yellowstone, I would highly recommend going to visit this town. It’s located at the Northern entrance of the park, and has so many unique stores and restaurants! You should definitely make sure to stop in and check out Yellowstone Wildlife Galleries too. The store owner is a phenomenal wildlife photographer and has a store full of beautiful pictures!  

Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park were truly amazing! We loved both parks for different reasons. But if I had to choose, I would definitely say that Grand Tetons was my favorite(: 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog, and I can’t wait to share about our time in Bozeman, MT, Glacier National Park and all the stops we made while traveling home!

The Great American Road Trip, Part 1. Michigan’s UP to Jackson Hole, WY And All The Stops In-Between.

“The Mountains Are Calling”

A quote I’m sure most people have heard of or seen while scrolling through Pinterest. I love this quote, like a lot, and have ever sense visiting the mountains for the first time five years ago. It was a spontaneous trip out to Colorado and The Rocky Mountain National Park with Kwin and my cousin Jenna. I remember falling in love with the mountains; the views, the wildlife, and the sense of freedom that radiates out there.

Kwin and I drive through the mountains almost every year on our trips out to Moab, Utah. We make comments about how cool it would be to explore this land a little more, and experience what the mountain life would be like. That’s when the idea arose… we could totally do it, a month long road trip!

Three years, yes three years of planning. We knew that we wanted to be in the mountains and see the Western United States; Like Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon. We also really want to explore Western Canada, like British Columbia, Jasper, Banff and Waterton. So much to see, yet so little time!

After lots of research and talking to many different people [and maybe stalking strangers instagram accounts] we finally decided that hitting it all in one 4-week long trip probably wasn’t going to work. However, dividing it up into two summer trips would be the best idea [oh yeah we’re already planning next summers trip!]

The Great American road trip.

So what exactly was our route going to be?

Kwin and I decided to stay in the United States this summer and hit up

  1. The Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

  2. The Black Hills (South Dakota)

  3. Jackson, Wyoming

  4. The Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)

  5. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

  6. Bozeman, Montana

  7. Glacier National Park (Montana)

  8. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

When planning our trips we like to create a “back bone” of places we want to go and things we want to see. This allows us extra freedom to add or subtract points of interest. Some people might think we’re crazy and get anxiety from not having every second of our trip planned, but we love the “going with the flow mentality.” Going about our trips this way forces us to talk to other travelers and hear about their experiences, as well as diverge into the local communities [because let’s be honest, the locals always know the best trails to hit up, especially if you’re trying to avoid the big crowds.]

Life is crazy, and there always seemed be something holding us back [hence why its taken us three years to plan our trip.] I’ve learned first hand this past year that life is precious and can be taken from you in a second. Neither Kwin nor I wanted to waste anymore time and regret NOT doing the trip we’ve both always wanted to do. Well I’d like to report that the trip was amazing, and I’m so glad that we finally just did it!

I’m going to break up our trip into a couple of blog posts, just because I don’t feel like one blog would do any justice. We had some many great memories that we’ll both forever look back on.

 

June 25,2019

Start: Home Sweet Home

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

We hit the road, finally! Pulling our A-Liner camper and a truck filled with all the camping goodies. Our first destination was going to be Michigan’s UP! We absolutely love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and thought what better way to start our trip than with a couple days there.

Marquette

  • We stopped in Marquette, MI and did some great mountain biking at the South Naquemanon Biking trails. If you’ve never been to them I would highly recommend going! I would consider myself an intermediate rider, and I love these trails! We did one of our favorite trails ‘Gorge-Ous’ which rides downhill and along the Carp River, ending right on the Lake Superior shoreline. In true Megan fashion, I started off the trip with a couple cuts and bruises thanks to flipping my bike….in my defense, there is just so much beautiful scenery to look at that I may have gotten side tracked a little bit(:

  • From there we got a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Iron Bay. Not only do they have great tasting food, but the environment is awesome too! Tables made with parts of the Mackinaw Bridge, menus on old Marquette newspapers, and pictures that tell the history of the town. Such a cool place to eat that’s right across from the Ore Dock on Lake Superior!

Canyon Falls

  • A hidden gem about an hour west of Marquette. We like to stop here anytime we’re heading to the cabin to give the dogs a nice hike PLUS there is a waterfall that kwin enjoys jumping into.

  • The mosquitos were pretty bad, and it stared pouring rain on us…but neither of those stopped us! It was raining so hard that by the time we got back to the car you wouldn’t have been able to tell who jumped into the waterfall and who didn’t.

June 26,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Porcupine Mountains-Our Canin

Have you ever been to a place where you wake up and hear nothing but the sound of birds chirping and a creek running by? Well that’s exactly what we get at our favorite little escape, the cabin! We decided that it would be fun to stay here for a day and really be present in what we were about to embark on. Our goals were to do some hiking (getting our legs ready for all the hiking we would be doing) as well as help Kwins’ dad with some chores that needed to be done. I love the cabin, however, I greatly dislike going during late June and July! The bugs are HORRIBLE. Imagine millions of mosquitos plus deer flies constantly buzzing around you; and no matter how much bug spray you apply they still keep coming. Needless to say, a bug suite is 100% necessary. I tell myself every year that I’m not going back up there when the bugs are nasty…and well…kwin always seems to sweet talk me into it. Okay, no more negativity. Despite the bugs, we still had a great time that day. Hiking, swimming in waterfalls, doing chores, and just getting ready for our big adventure!

June 27,2019

Start: Porcupine Mountains-Our Cabin

Destination: Sioux, South Dakota-Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Our FIRST day of new territory! We woke up early and hit the road. Now because our road trip was planned to last 3.5 weeks we didn’t feel rushed about having to be anywhere at any certain time. Man, it felt so good to have a trip like that finally! We didn’t have any set in stone plans, instead we planned to just go with the flow of things. We took the northern route for our trip, because we figured that staying north would be much faster, more scenic, and less traffic!

Superior, Wisconsin

We stopped at a cute coffee shop, The Sandbar, AND a perfect place to paddle. The water was glassy, so why not!

Duluth, Minnesota

Next we both were interested in stopping in Duluth because we’d heard great things about that town. It’s settled in along the western Lake Superior shoreline, and man were we both surprised and how cute this town was!

  • We got breakfast at ‘At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe’ and it was so delicious! Something I try to do when looking for a place to eat is: make sure it’s NOT A CHAIN RESTAURANT, if it’s organic and locally based ingredients that’s a HUGE win, and it’s got to be somewhat healthy.

  • Duluth has this nice paved trail that goes for miles along the Lake Superior shoreline, and we decided to do some roller blading. It was a great way to get some movement in for not only us, but the dogs too. We made it back to the car with seconds to spare before a crazy storm hit!

Sioux, South Dakota

The rest of the day we spent in the car determined to make it to South Dakota…and we did! We set up camp in ‘Big Sioux State Recreation Area,’ and lucky us it had a ton of paved trails for us to bike and roller blade with the dogs again. It was a beautiful place that Kwin and I would love to return to someday.

 

June 28,2019

Start: Sioux, South Dakota- Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Destination: Badlands National Park-KOA

Like most mornings on our trip we got up bright and early and hit the road, because as the saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.”

Badlands National Park

Our first National Park of the trip! Kwin had been through this area before, but it was a first for me. It was breathtaking and like nothing I’d ever seen before. The sandy colored mountains with intense formations all over the place. Honestly, it was completely different than I thought it was going to be (but I really didn’t do too much research on it to begin with either.)

  • We hiked the Castle Trail, Notch Trail and Door trail. Shout out to AllTrails for helping us throughout out our entire trip! I’ve got the app downloaded to my phone, so I can easily find hikes around us at anytime. All of the trailheads are pretty close together because believe it or not, the Badlands is not as big as most other national parks I’ve been to. Besides the handful of backcountry hiking trails, there was only 4-5 shorter hikes in the Park.

  • We did catch an amazing sunset on one of the peaks though! The sunset on the mountains created such a picturesque moment, painting the sky in pink, orange and yellow hues.

While watching the sunset we ran into a really nice family from Indiana and started sharing our plans. They encouraged us to stop at ‘Custer State Park’ on our way through the Badlands because it had some Great Lakes we could paddle in. Given we had already hiked most of the trails in the park we decided to head out a day earlier than originally planned and instead do a whole day in Custer/The Black Hills.

 

June 29,2019

Start: Badlands National Park-KOA

Destination: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Our morning started off at ‘Dunn Brothers Coffee’ in Rapid City, South Dakota. This town, was alive! Lots of active people all over the place; There was a 5K race going on, lots of people out biking, and it just felt like a fun place to be. We didn’t get to spend much time here besides getting our coffee, but we would love to go back here in the future!

Mount Rushmore

Again, a place that’s Kwin’s been to before, but not me. I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away when I saw the carvings in the rocks…but it was so cool! I mean just the history behind this sculpting, and the fact that people were able to chisel such a beautiful and articulate sculpture out of the side of a mountain is pretty unbelievable.

Custer State Park and the Black Hills

We saw our first buffalo! Pretty much right when we got into the park, we saw the monster of an animal just lingering around in its habitat. It’s crazy that he didn’t seemed phased at all that there were multiple cars pulled over taking pictures of him. The winding roads lined by tall pine trees (giving it the black appearance in the distance, hence why the settlers called them the black hills) was such a beautiful ride!

  • Legion Lake and Stockade Lake- Custer State Park is filled with not only rolling hills, mountains, pines and animals…but also a ton of lakes! Honestly, after three days in a row with 90+ degree weather and NO WATER TO JUMP IN (we’re lake people and really need water) swimming and paddling was all we wanted to do.

June 30, 2019 and July 1, 2019

Start: Casper, Wyoming-KOA

Destination: Jackson, Wyoming-Gros Ventre Campground

If you can’t tell by now, Kwin and I have really enjoyed waking up early and starting our day off at a coffee shop then hitting the road to make up some miles. While in Casper we stopped at ‘Java Jitters’ where the barista was super nice and gave us some great tips about Jackson Hole…our next stop! The drive from Casper to Jackson was really pretty in its own way. Most of Wyoming is grass and prairie land, which was not anything like I expected. However the closer you go to the Grand Tetons and Jackson, the more mountainous it got. In fact, just before we got into the National Park we saw our first grizzly bear! Like the buffalo, it was just strutting through the mountains and grasslands, not phased by the cars and numerous people taking pictures of it.

Jackson Hole

I was super excited about this town from the moment we pulled into it! A cute small mountain town with a river flowing through it, plus tons of active people all over the place! To say kwin and I were in heaven is an understatement.

  • We hiked ‘Josie’s Ridge Trail’ which was about 4-miles and a pretty steep incline. After sitting in the car as much as we had, it was tough…but so worth it for the views at the top! Since this trail is in downtown Jackson, it’s dog friendly…huge win in our books.

  • After the hike we decided to mountain bike in the same general area, because there was a nice spider web of trails right in the center of town. Like the hike it was tough! When we were finishing we actually noticed a lot of people taking the ski chair lift to the top and riding down….we tried to ride them from the bottom up, so that tells ya how hard it was! We biked around town a little bit before heading back to camp and fell in love with the town even more.

  • Our second day in Jackson didn’t start out as planned. After getting coffee at ‘Cowboy Coffee‘ we had to take Kanyon to the vet [Thank you to everyone at VCA Spring Creek Animal Hospital!] Unfortunately she got Giardia while in the UP and had been up all night with diarrhea the past couple days. Once everything was all cleared up, we hiked ‘Ski Lake Trail,’ which again was dog friendly and about 4 miles in length. Definitely not as strenuous as our previous hike, but so beautiful!

  • Jackson, like most of the towns we visited outwest, had a great paved trail mostly used for running, biking or roller blading. We definitely did some miles on that!

  • Our last hike in the Jackson, Wyoming area was ‘Blacktail Butte Trail.’ It was a strenuous 7-mile hike, but beautiful at that!

Man, if you think the trip sounds amazing so far..just wait for the rest of the blogs! Grand Tetons and Yellowstone will be up next, followed by Bozeman, Glacier and the pit-stops on the way home! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

MOAB UTAH, Round Two

One of the perks of being married to a teacher, are the breaks that he gets throughout the year. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he cannot sit still and is always planning our next trip.

Living in Michigan, where winter seems to run forever (from October 1 through May 1,) we are always itching to get to the heat by the time Spring Break arrives. With this in mind most people (Including the Morris Clan) flock to the south, seeking out the sun and warm temperatures!

So, where to go?

MOAB, UTAH!

If you’ve never been before, let me try and paint a picture of what Moab is like. Red Cliffs. Snow covered mountains in the distance. The Colorado river flowing through town. TWO National Parks just outside of town- Canyonlands and Arches. An Infinite amount of mountain biking and hiking trails….basically an active individual’s dream!

It was a no brainer that Moab was going to be our destination for spring break. Kwin and I went out to Moab two years ago (plus Kwin has been to it three times before that too,) we just love it. The road trip out there is long….but exciting (yes its about 25 hours straight…but road trips are fun with your best friend!) 

Going into any vacation, we try to have a “skeleton plan” of things that we want to do. But it’s also important to us to be spontaneous…because spontaneousity is what makes life fun, am I right? With this being said, I’d like to share some of our favorite things to do while in Moab!

  • Sunrise and Sunset Hiking– With the two hour time difference, it’s pretty easy for us to be awake in-time for a good sunrise!
    • Some of our favorite sunrises are in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park (beware, that A LOT of people also like to see the sunrise at these parks, so it’s definitely busy…GET THERE EARLY.) My advise would be to see the sunrise at Delicate Arch and Mesa Arch at least once in your life, because the view really is incredible! But after that, there are plenty of other secret spots to watch the sunrise that would be a little more intimate and less crowded too!

Some of our favorite sunsets are Corona Arch, Moab Rim Trail, or really hiking up on of any cliff you can find! You’re in the middle of the desert so the sunsets are pretty epic from anywhere.

Mountain Biking– Moab is one of the best mountain biking places we’ve ever been too! Honestly, while driving through town I don’t think you drive past a car without a bike on it. They have biking for all levels…but mostly moderate-to-advanced trails! I remember when we were there two years ago I was terrified to do any of the trails because of how “technical” they can be; But this year (with the encouragement of Kwin) I went past my fears and just DID IT! I’m glad I did because the trails were HARD but SO MUCH FUN!

    • Slickrock Trail– Yup, I DIDN’T do this…but I did hike this one. Kwin and our friend Joe crushed this trail, and had so much fun! It’s an advanced trail with some pretty crazy descents and climbs all on sandstone rock.
    • Canyonlands– The drive to the national park from the town of Moab (which is about 30 miles) is littered with trails! A combination of sandstone cliffs and desert riding. These trails range from moderate to advanced and were a blast.

Klondike Trails– Something unique about these trails is that you are riding near or on dinosaur tracks! Thats right, I said dinosaur tracks! Something unique about Moab and it’s terrain is that the sandstone is actually petrified sand dunes, so the geographical history behind the land is pretty awesome! Kwin and I really enjoyed these trails-note they are definitely more on the advanced side, but walking part of the trail is not too bad because of the views!

    • Porcupine Rim Trails– Again, a trail that I DIDN’T do…but Kwin and Joe absolutely killed it. The crazy thing about this trail is that you descend DOWN a mountain about 4000ft. I’ve hiked part of this trail, and it blows my mind that people can bike down it…crazy people!
  • Petroglyphs– The Native American’s- believed to be the Pueblo People- who use to live off the land in Moab left behind some pretty cool pieces of artwork (rock carvings made by hammer and chisel.) Petroglyphs are believed to be a way of communicating and/or celebrating achievements. You can’t see them everywhere, but always be on the look out for the cool pieces of artwork while hiking!

Camping– Kwin and I have created a pretty cool rig that we live in while traveling. With our Aliner camper, an EZ-up Canopy, Solar Panel’s to help keep our camper battery charged, Solar heated shower bags, and all the water and food one could need, we are able to be completely unplugged and off the grid! Camping can be so fun when you have a good set up(:

Being with friends– This year we were lucky to have another family join us…the Shorts! Trips are always so much fun when you’re with other people, and able to make memories with them too. Joe, Leah, Simon and Elmer thanks for making this trip a great one!

As much as we love Michigan, it’s always so sad when vacations are coming to an end (yes, the dogs were sad to be returning to snow again too.) The freedom and spontaneousity of life that vacations bring about are the best! Trips like this one are rejuvenating and make getting back into daily routines exciting. It also excites us for all the upcoming trips that we’ve got planned!

So, can anyone guess where we will be going for next years Spring Break?

If you guessed Moab…YOU’RE RIGHT!

2018, A Years Reflection

A year of grieving, struggles, and hardships.

A year of growing mentally and physically EVERYDAY.

A year of rekindling relations with family and friends.

A year of traveling to new and old places.

A year of creating new traditions and and living life to the fullest!

Reflecting back, 2018 has taught me so many useful lessons that I’ll be able to use the rest of my life. I’ve learned how to handle tragedy, and stressors that are out of my control. I’ve learned that some of the best moments are those in the most unexpected times. And lastly, I’ve learned to just be present and that everything happens for a reason.

Grieving

 Grieving is a beautiful process. Losing family members sucks. I won’t lie, it was horrible and almost broke some of my family members. But it also brought us closer together. We supported each other, and tried to make light of the difficult situation. We shared all the good stories of those lost. And most importantly, accepted each others ways of grieving and helped each other through them. I love my family, and cannot imagine going through life without them.

I wanted to thank my family for being such rocks during this stressful time. I love you all so much, and always remember that Uncle Kevin and Uncle Nathan are watching over us everyday!

 

We also recently had to put down or beloved Dawson Marie. She was not just a dog, she was our little girl. Kwin has owned Dawson for 15 years now….YES he was only a Junior in High School! She went through so many major life events with him, and 5 years ago I was able to join the family too! Dawson was a sassy, determined, and stubborn girl…unlike any dog I’ve ever met! I’m going to miss her constant panting, which she did to make sure everyone knew she was in the room. I’m going to miss her smile, and those big brown eyes of hers. I’m going to miss my hiking buddy, because when I joined the family us two stuck together. And lastly, I’m going to miss just seeing her around the house everyday. A piece of my heart is gone now, but I’m so thankful for all the memories that we’ve got with her to always look back on. Dawson, you’ll NEVER be forgotten<3

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Mental Growth 

I’ve had some struggles with my health in the past. Honestly, it is quite embarrassing looking back at it now, but being upset does more harm than good.I’ve began looking at every situation I’m given in life and truly analyzing them to find the silver lining. This years health debacle, has taught me to CHILL OUT! It’s okay to not always be ‘GO, GO GO.’ It’s okay to have good and bad days- the bad ones really make you appreciate the good ones! And it’s okay to NOT be perfect. By having the mindset I use to have my stress levels were through the roof and effecting other parts of my health. As I sit here today, I can honestly say that my mental health has grown leaps and bounds from a year ago!

Traveling 

What year in review would this be without the awesome adventures that Kwin and I have had this year?!

  • We’ve made countless trips to the Upper Peninsula- Skiing in Marquette, spring trip to the cabin, camping in the summer, and annual fall color trip! That place sure is magical.

 

  • We traveled to North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington DC to visit Kwin’s sister

 

  • Explored new territory in Canada, just before Kwin and the other paddlers of Stand Up For Great Lakes crossed Lake Superior!

 

  • A new puppy joined our family, Miss Kopper! She was born on Kwin and I’s 1 year anniversary…HOW COOL(:

 

  • Hiked the North Country trail, where we did some backcountry camping cliffside!

 

Reflecting on my 2018 Goals!

  1. Be More Eco Friendly– I THINK THIS WAS A HUGE SUCCESS! Kwin and I really made a conscious effort to make this one happen.
    • We installed solar panels on our house, which has made a HUGE decrease in our carbon thumbprint! SHOUTOUT TO Solectriq for installing this for us!
    • We also have picked up our recycling game by having an in house recycle bin
    • Decreased our food waste by composting!
    • Traded out all our Tupperware containers for glass ones!
    • Reusable produce bags for grocery shopping. I got THESE from amazon
    • Reusable sandwich lunch bags. I got THESE form amazon also!
  2. Read More– I’m happy to report that this was a success as well! I finished 13 books this year, which surpassed my goal of 12! Reading is a great way to de-stress, end the night and continue to learn cool things.
  3. Yoga– This was hit or miss…I would go in phases of doing yoga everyday and then not. I love doing it, and feel so much better when I do! I can feel my stress levels going down, and my body is less “tight.” I definitely plan on continuing to work on this in the upcoming year.
  4. Building my Blog Platform– Well, I can’t do it all! This one defiantly was put on the back burning the second half of the year. In fact, the second part of the year I tried to decrease my use of ALL social media. I felt like it was adding to my stress levels, and wanted to put my health first. I also was un-encouraged and felt like my material was the same EVERY TIME. I’m hoping that this year I can get back into being more consistent and think of more content to blog about.
  5. Increase my cooking creativity and eat more wholesome foods– I would like to say this was a success (and I hope that Kwin would agree too!) Diet has a HUGE role in your overall health, and given that I was really working on healing myself this year, I took my cooking and food intake seriously! I love cooking and defiantly will continue this into the new year.
  6. Increase my knowledge of Holistic Health– Learning is one of my favorite things…yes, nerd alert! I would say that probably half of the books I read this year we’re all related to holistic health of some sort. I’ve also started seeing a Naturopathic Dr. (Thank you Dr. Abbey) to heal myself, and she is so great! Always educating me and willing to answer my millions of question. I truly feel that our healthcare will make the change to more of a preventative form of medicine through Holistic Medicine!

2018, you were challenging…but probably one of the biggest years of growth! I’m thankful for everything that happened this year and challenged me to be a better person!

I also wanted to thank my amazing husband, Kwin, for his constant support and love. Without him, all the challenges and frustrations that I’ve faced would have been 1000x harder!

Thank you for reading! I hope you all enjoy the remainder of the 2018 year  with a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!