Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School + Book Reports

I don't have kids but I've noticed the neighborhood grow much quieter over the past few weeks as children are now back in school and not riding their bikes in circles around the block. And as September marches on much more quickly than I'd like it to, this time of year always brings back my own memories of childhood and heading back to school.

New clothes, crisp folders, clean paper and sharpened pencils. And books. Lots of books!

I've always been a "reader" and always seem to be reading a couple of books at a time. I carry books with me in my purse (you never know when you'll have a minute to read!), a couple on the nightstand next to my bed and I subscribe to an assortment of magazines which pile up all around the house. You get the picture - I like to read!

So when Tim Fox contacted me about his book, Journeys: An Ice Age Adventure, I was excited to accept a complimentary copy. And although this book is aimed more at the middle-school age bracket, I read it from front to back and loved the story.

And since I have actually been to Natural Bridge State Park, where the story takes place, I could imagine being there in the story as I was reading.

If you have kids or nieces and nephews or grand-kids, I highly encourage you to get the kids in your life excited about reading... and there's no better way to do that than to take them on a field trip where they can experience the setting of a book in person! Children are encouraged to explore and really dig into a story when they can have a hands-on experience to bring the story to life.

If you haven't been to Natural Bridge State Park, I recommend taking a road trip and checking it out. It's an easy hiking adventure for kids of all ages and comes with some really interesting history of Wisconsin. This is an experience you can share with a child that both of you will cherish and reminisce about together.

Get outdoors, get active and find an adventure in your area. You won't regret it.

Tim's inscription inside my book sums it up perfectly... "Enjoy the adventure!"

Check out Tim Fox's website to learn more about the author and his book. Tim is also available for classroom visits to bring the journey to life!

I was provided a free copy of this book but the review and my opinion are all my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Merrimac Ferry

The correct name for the only moving section of the Ice Age Trail is the Colsac III Ferry, but most people refer to it as the Merrimac Ferry.

I have several childhood memories riding this ferry across Lake Wisconsin on our way from Madison to Devil's Lake or Parfrey's Glen.

It's funny how this ferry ride always seemed longer to me as a child, and perhaps it was. I'm not sure if any modern changes have been made to the ferry in the past couple decades, but the trip I took across the ferry last weekend seemed to be only a few minutes; barely time to get out and stretch and take some photos.

If you're curious, or want to relive childhood memories through my lens, here's a video for you:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gibralter Rock

Last weekend I had to leave Charlie home while I went to Madison for a family visit. I wasn't sure if dogs would be welcome at this particular event and didn't want to take a chance that Charlie would have a problem when we got there. Plus it was a hot day and I wouldn't be able to leave her in the car.

Since I was going on a road trip without her, I figured I should take advantage of hiking at Gibralter Rock, which was on my way. This is one of those places that I would not be comfortable taking Charlie to and I knew, unfortunately, it would be a segment of the Ice Age Trail that I would have to hike without her.

But as I drove away from the house looking at her silly face as she stood up with her paws on the screen door, my heart literally broke into pieces and tears streamed down my face.

Obviously we don't do much apart from each other and it was extremely difficult for me to leave her behind. But I cheered myself up with the prospect of taking the Merrimac Ferry, the only moving part of the Ice Age Trail, across Lake Wisconsin on my way to Gibralter Rock and reliving childhood memories along the way.

The last time I was at Gibralter Rock I was a child hiking up there with my family and I have a clear memory of my mom getting a bad case of vertigo and constantly pulling us back from the edge of the trail.

I've had a fear of heights my whole life - probably inherited from my mom - so I was curious how I would feel revisiting this place.

The trail leading up to the top of the rock is winding and steep in some places, giving my lungs a good workout, but within 15 minutes I was at the top. That's when I realized that my happy-go-lucky hiking was at an end and I needed to really pay attention to my footing.

There are no guard rails and the trail winds very close to the edge in several places. There are flat rock outcroppings from which to get a great view or just sit and contemplate the turkey vultures floating below. But I get nervous out on those areas... I'm always afraid this will be the day that the rock ledge breaks free and tumbles below with me on it.

Regardless of my fear, I stuck it out and kept my GoPro camera rolling so you fine readers could get a sense of what it's like up there. But I have to admit I was relieved to head back down and get my feet on lower ground. I guess I'm just better-suited for hiking forests and river valleys; I'm not a mountain hiker.

Enjoy my little video...


p.s.  If you see my hands waving off-screen once in awhile, I'm swatting away bugs since I forgot to bring along bug spray! I tried really hard to keep my hands out of the picture, but I'm pretty sure I failed a few times.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Go To Wisconsin

I'm a big fan of WPR - Wisconsin Public Radio - and whether that changes your opinion of me one way or another, I don't really care. I haven't always been a willing listener though. In fact, I can recall being subjected to public radio during road trips with my dad throughout my childhood and being VERY irritated having to listen to it. I had difficulty understanding the programs and was a bit unnerved when my dad would laugh out loud at some of the segments.

But now I listen. Almost every day. I enjoy listening and I understand the programming. I also laugh out loud sometimes. It's weird how that happens... when we become our parents. I get it now.

So the other day, while at work, I was listening to NPR on my little desktop radio and was enjoying one of the segments so much that I almost started laughing out loud. When I got home later that day, I looked up the segment online to listen again. And I laughed as loud as I wanted to.

It was such great segment (and I could relate so thoroughly to it) that I feel the need to share the link with you here. So, if you're up for a little Wisconsin humor, click the link below!

(Listen to the MP3 version if you get a chance - hearing it is WAY better than reading it)

And if you're not from Wisconsin and wondering if this is all true, I can assure you as a resident and someone who LOVES living in Wisconsin, this is definitely all true. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did... even if you're not a fan of WPR.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Charlie in the Jungle

Charlie tried to sneak up on me while I was eating my bowl of cereal on the window seat in the living room. Doesn't she look "stealthy?"

Then she gave up looking "stealthy" and decided to try a more direct tactic... begging!

It worked. She got a milk-soaked mini-wheat cereal biscuit. So stealthy. But seriously... could YOU resist those sweet brown eyes???