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(:

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!

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!

Lake Michigan-The First Adventures

Stand Up For Great Lakes-an organization started by a group of friends in Traverse City, MI whose goal to raise awareness for the Great Lakes. 

The summer of 2014 was when it all began. Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy, Joe Lorenz, J Mueller and Nick Darga were going to attempt to cross Lake Michigan by paddle boards. They had been planning for almost a year now and were ready to make the feat. Unfortunately, their weather window in late August didn’t give them a good window to make the crossing so it was postponed until next summer.

Little did the guys know…but this was a blessing in disguise. The paddlers were able to get a big sponsor through ‘Ford Motor Company’ as well as do more research on what clothing, and safety measure they needed!

June 2015

June 22, 2015: the five paddlers+ two safety boats+ parametics+ Captain-Ryan Matuzak all traveled to Algmoa, WI where they would be starting their journey the next morning.

June 23, 2015: The paddlers began their journey across Lake Michigan starting in Algoma, WI around 1100. At the beginning of the  paddle they had a steady West wind, where they were averaging 4mph travel time! THEY WERE CRUSING…but not for long! Around 1800 the winds changed to coming from the South, and the waves increased in size. These conditions persisted until the guys made landfall the following morning; meaning they paddled on their left side for 16+ hours!

 

June 24, 2015: After 24 grueling hours of paddling: battling the strong south wind and 2-3ft waves, the paddlers finally made it to the Frankfort, MI beach! There they were greeted by family members, friends, coffee from ‘Espresso Bay‘ and growlers from ‘Storm Cloud Brewery.’

Stand Up For Great Lakes team members had a mission to cross Lake Michigan for two reasons:

  1. To raise money for protection of the great lakes: A ‘Go Fund-Me’ page was set up to raise money for ‘Alliance For The Great Lakes’ a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect the great lakes. The team was able to raise $10,000!
  2. To be able to say they crossed a Great Lakes by paddle board.

I vaguely remember Kwin telling me after the crossing “Yep, I’ll never do that again!” The physical and emotional toll that it took on him was something he didn’t expect at all! He, like most people, thought that it would be a breeze…BOY WAS HE WRONG.

After a couple days of recovery and many interviews with local and state radio shows, news stations, etc. Kwin, Jeff, Joe, J and Nick all saw the impact they made and realized they needed to do more. PADDLE ALL THE GREAT LAKES!

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.

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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.

 

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.

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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!

New Zealand Honeymoon!

New Zealand, where do I even begin? It truly was the vacation of a lifetime! Kwin and I are so fortunate to have spent our honeymoon making such great memories. I’m sorry that this blog is kind of on the long side…but I could write forever about how amazing this country is. I hope you enjoy(:

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Christchurch

We arrived in New Zealand on Christmas day, ready to start our adventures! Little did we know that ALL of Christchurch was shut down for Christmas! It was a ghost town. We ended up renting some bikes (Next Bike) and headed to New Brighton Beach for the day. It was a nice ride (mostly because nobody was on the road). PS-For those who do not know the ozone layer in the Southern Hemisphere is thinner than the Northern Hemisphere so the sun is INTENSE! Unfortunately we both got pretty burned that day….

Christchurch also has a Botanical Garden and Historical Museum which we were able to walk around on our last day. Such a cool place!

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Lake Tekepo and Lake Pukaki

 December 26, we picked up our Mighty Camper van as early as we could, stocked up on groceries and then started on our adventures. Our first stop was Lake Tekepo, this was our first glimpse of the crystal clear, aqua blue water of New Zealand lakes. TRULY INCREDIBLE. After hiking around a little bit we finished our journey to Lake Pukaki and stayed at Glenntanner Holiday Park (Just outside of Aorki National Park-Mount Cook). Something pretty neat about the Holiday Parks in New Zealand was that they have community kitchens for everyone! It was such a cool atmosphere to be in: people from all over the world, cooking and eating dinner together! NOTE: We did not stay in holiday parks all the time, but in specific areas in New Zealand its illegal to Freedom Camp, so just know the laws wherever you are!

Mount Cook-Mueller Hut Hike

This was probably Kwin and I’s favorite hike of the whole trip! It was a 3-hour round trip hike. It was definitely a challenging hike: with steep incline and mostly stairs the whole way up. We stopped multiple times (both to catch our breath, and also take in the beautiful views.) Once at the top we had an amazing view of Mount Cook- The tallest Mountain in New Zealand- along with the surrounding glaciers and glacier lakes. Kwin got this crazy idea that we should hike back down, grab our Tahoe SUP  inflatable paddle boards, do a shorter (less vigorous hike) to the glacier lake and paddle it. Unfortunately, after carrying our boards almost 2 miles, we got to the lake and found a nice cliff, which meant NO ACCESS to the lake. Frustrating, I know…but hey, at least we got some beautiful pictures!

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Queenstown

New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world…and well Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand! It is perfectly located in the middle of the Southern Alps, and along Lake Wakatipu. A perfect set up for hiking, biking, paddle boarding, white water rafting, paragliding, etc. WE LOVED THIS CITY! It has so much to offer, we could have easily spent a week there! However, due to our limited time we only had 4 days, so we packed them full of fun!

Bungee Jumping: We went to the Nevis Canyon Bungee jump (part of the AJ Hackett company) and jumped off a 137m (440 feet) platform in the middle of a canyon! This was the scariest thing that I’ve ever done, but let me tell you it was amazing! Felt like I was flying!

White Water Rafting: We went down the Shotriver, which is full of grade 4 and 5 rapids. It was a fun and a beautiful ride! I would have to say that the scariest part was the bus ride out to the river! The roads in New Zealand are unbelievable… drivers have no fear and the roads are in some crazy areas! This road specifically was an old Gold Trigging road: dirt, pot holes, winding through the mountains, steep drop offs, spots of erosion- FREAKED ME OUT! (These roads are considered historical, so no repairs are allowed to be made.)

Hiking: We did the Queenstown Hill hike which was also pretty steep, but definitely do-able. It has beautiful views overlooking the entire city of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

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Bike Wine Tour: Queenstown and all the surrounding towns have this awesome trail system (mostly mountain bike friendly) extending for miles! It’s hilly, winds through the mountains, and alongside vineyards and wineries.

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Paddle Boarding: Lake Wakatipu was is one of my favorite paddles EVER! Seriously, the scenery of the crystal blue water and mountains was just amazing. Also it was pretty easy to find secluded beaches to relax on. DISCLAIMER: It is illegal to paddle board in New Zealand (or any watersport) without Life Jackets! We did not know this at first! 

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Milford Sound

We were advised to go to Milford Sound by everyone we talked too! While here we did some paddle boarding through the coves, but didn’t end up making it too far out due to the strong Sea Breeze that came in! It was a beautiful place, and the ride out there was beautiful too! I would definitely suggest getting out there and either doing the kayak tour (these are early in the day due to the sea breeze that always comes in) or the bout tour-if that’s your kind of thing!

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Roy’s Peak

We completed the Roy’s Peak hike which was LONG and tiring. It was all steep uphill hiking. (Talk about a calf and butt workout!) The hike took us about 4.5 hours to complete but is slotted to take about 5-6 hours. The views were incredible the entire hike up, overlooking Lake Wanaka and the surrounding Mt. Aspiring National Park mountain range. If you’re ever in the Wanaka area hit up the Burrito Food Truck! It was possibly the best burrito I’ve ever had in my life! 

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Fox Glacier

A guided  Helicopter/Glacier Hike is pretty popular to do while in New Zealand, so we figured why not! There are a couple different glaciers to choose from, but we did Fox Glacier.  It was really cool to be able to walk around on-top of a glacier, while also learning the history them. This was also my first time ever in a helicopter!

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Arthurs Pass

First we did the most iconic hike in the Arthurs Pass National Park- Punchbowl Trail. A beginners hike, but has a really cool waterfall at the end of it! After, we hiked the Mt. Aoiki trail (stems off the Punchbowl Trail) which was intense! Very steep, mostly like rock climbing at times, but a super fun hike up. It had a beautiful view at the top of the whole Arthur’s Pass valley.

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Freedom Camping

 Before leaving for New Zealand, Kwin and I were extremely nervous about freedom camping and the laws/regulations on it. For anyone who is planning on traveling to New Zealand (the South Island) the best advise I can give to you about freedom camping is that IT IS ALMOST EVERYWHERE! Most of the cities/towns do not allow it when you are within city limits, but they have signs everywhere telling you where freedom camping is and is not allowed. Some of Kwin and I’s best camp sites were ones that we found freedom camping!

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Our Itinerary 

Day 1: Christchurch- Bike to New Brighton Beach

Day 2: Glenntanner Holiday Park- Lake Tekepo and Lake Pukaki

Day 3: Queenstown Holiday Park- Mt.Cook and Walking around Queenstown

Day 4: Freedom Camping along Lake Te Anu: Milford Sound

Day 5: Queenstown Holiday Park- Nevis Bungee Jump, Paddle Lake Wakatipu

Day 6: Arrowtown Holiday Park-White Water Rafting, Queenstown Hill Hike

Day 7: Freedom Camping in Mountains- Bike Wine Tour (Arrowtown, Queenstown)

Day 8: Freedom Camping along Ocean-Roys Peak Hike, Swimming in Lake Wanaka

Day 9: Greymouth- Fox Glacier Helicopter Hike

Day 10: Freedom Camping, Craigburn Skiing Area-Arthurs Pass Hikes

Day 11:Christchurch-Botanical Gardens & Historical Museum

 

 

 

 

Do We Have Everything…I Hope So! New Zealand, Here We Come!

Where in the world are Kwin and I going now? Here is a little hint….it’s where both of us have ALWAYS wanted to go; It’s the adventure capital of the world; and it’s where Lord of the Rings was filmed…NEW ZEALAND!

To be specific, Kwin and I are heading to the South Island of New Zealand for two weeks! We will be making our way from Christchurch to Queenstown, Lake Puringa, and so many other towns in-between.

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So Excited to have some amazing sunsets like these along the coast<3                        Photo Credit to Kelsey Frankhauser!

What’s our agenda you ask…that’s a good question, and unfortunately I don’t have an exact answer! New Zealand has so many things to offer (if it were up to us, we would be staying there a heck of a lot longer than two weeks,) but we plan on doing a lot of hiking, biking, white water rafting, paddle boarding, diving into the culture, going to local mom&pop shops, and most importantly relaxing! When Kwin and I travel we don’t like to have everyday planned to a ‘T’, instead we have a backbone of where we are going and things we would like to do. We like to ask the locals about hidden gems, and places that they recommend! It’s out honeymoon, so unplugging and just being present with one another is a HUGE plus for this trip.

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I cannot wait to be doing this!                                                                                          Photo Credit: Kelsey Fankhauser

Like our trip to Kauai, Hawaii, we rented a camper van (Check it out here) to live in for our two week stay. This time we did upgrade to a bathroom, thank goodness! One thing we like most about staying in a camper van versus a hotel/Airbnb and rental car is that we don’t feel obligated to be somewhere every night. This allows us more freedom and flexibility.

Freedom Camping

Camping in New Zealand has become quote popular, drawing in people from all over the world to vacation! This is wonderful for the New Zealand economy…but can be pretty harmful to the environment. In order to preserve the beauty of New Zealand, the government passed a new law (Freedom Camping Act 2011) limiting ‘Freedom Camping.’ With this new law, they made it a little bit harder to camp anywhere in New Zealand     (This link explains it a little easier!).

This did put a little damper on our complete freedom while in New Zealand..but I just made sure to look into what cities had “Freedom Camping lots” and which ones required you to book ahead of time!

What All Are We Bringing? 

Since we are traveling by plane we do have to somewhat limit what we bring…no bikes, not all our camping gear, and no dogs :(.

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  • It will be summer over in New Zealand during our trip, so most of out attire is bathing suites, hiking clothes, and comfortable gear.
  •  Tahoe SUP Inflatable paddle boards!
  • GoPro, and all it’s accessories
  • Karma Drone
  • Passports!
  • Books! Kwin and I love reading and are looking forward to sitting on-top of a glacier with our books.
  • Hammocks

Kwin and I are so excited to finally be taking out honeymoon and going to such an amazing and beautiful place! If anyone has been to the South Island of New Zealand please feel free to share some of your favorite things! We plan to unplug completely while over there but cannot wait to share our adventure when we get back!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and see you all in January 2018!

Home Sweet Home, Fall Colors Style

This past weekend was nothing short of amazing! Full of weekend adventures with my partner in crime.

Like I said in my last blog, the fall colors in Northern Lower Michigan are usually “peak” a week after the UP. So, Kwin and I spent all weekend searching out the best colors near home: paddle boarding, biking, and hiking around.

We started the weekend with a morning paddle on some close to home inland lakes. Despite the windy conditions, we could not pass up the opportunity; Especially with this amazing 70 degree weather and the colors popping like they are!

 Man, I’m really enjoying this Indian Summer we’ve got going on.

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We then made our way to an awesome hiking and biking trail. It is pretty swampy, but has some fun wooden planks weaving through the woods. The trail ends at a great overlook of Lake Skegemog.

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Saturday ended with a relaxing hike ending along Lake Michigan. We enjoyed a nice picnic on the private beach that Kwin found. He is pretty good at staking out the off the beaten trails!

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With the combination of rain and wind the next few days, Kwin and I fear that the fall colors may be coming to an end. So, this morning we decided to hop on our bikes again and cruise around the back roads/two-tracks by his parents house. We are so lucky to live where we do! Having the accessibility to find such secluded areas and being able to enjoy the great outdoors that we live in. This might have been my favorite part of the weekend! 

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After a long, adventurous and fun weekend, it’s time to relax next to a hot fire along side our freshly carved pumpkins. Weekends like these are what we live for!

I hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy this amazing October weather and the Fall colors!

PS. Shoutout to our friends John and Kelly for having a fun pumpkin carving and chill cook-off today!