Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 2, Photo A Day

We drove up to Hartford to have lunch at the Mineshaft and let the kids play in the game room. Captured a few pics to and from the restaurant.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 1, Photo-a-Day

I know I'm technically supposed to start this on January 1, 2013... but I couldn't wait. And I probably won't always post just one photo each day. I love taking pics, so that is hard to do! The photos will probably be primarily around the Waukesha County area, but we will visit lots of other areas throughout the year and I will take pictures wherever I can. Thanks for following! Be sure to check out the book!! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Badger State of Mind - NOW ON SALE!

The book is officially for sale!!

It will also be available through Amazon in about a week and I will be working on the Kindle version too! :) 

Those of you who are waiting for your already purchased copy, I am ordering them and will be getting them to you ASAP!

Thank you for your support!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last Call!

This is the last weekend to order a book via PRESALE! $10 off and free shipping to you before Christmas! Great Christmas present for all Wisconsinites! Just click on the PRESALE tab to buy your copy/copies!

Here is a preview of the actual cover...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Since I consider you friends and family...

Get 50% off your order at!! Hurry because you can only use it until 10/18/12!! Get all of your Christmas shopping done for half the price and in one place. :) Stock up on Packer, Badger, Brewer and Bucks gear.

Use promo code PTI50

Friday, September 28, 2012

Think you can kayak Lake Superior?

Prior to our northwoods trip to Lake Superior last week, I thought I was a fairly experience kayaker. I've kayaked the lakes and rivers all over southern Wisconsin and I've whitewater rafted in Colorado. Easy peasy. 
I was determined to rent a kayak and check out the Lake Superior coastline during our trip. I thought it would be fun to rent a 3-seater and take my husband and kids with me too. 
When we got to Little Sand Bay, not far from Bayfield, I stopped to read an informative board they had posted near the water. My dreams dwindled more and more as I read, not that I will never ever get to do the kayaking in Lake Superior... but it wasn't going to happen this trip. I will need some training, and I am certainly not taking my 4 and 5 year olds with me. 
This was the first thing I read... which was quite startling: 
The 1-10-1 Principle
Upon sudden immersion in cold water, a person has about…
• One (1) minute to gain control of their breathing. The
shock of immersion in cold water causes gasping for air and
• Ten (10) minutes of meaningful movement to attempt self rescue.
The rapid loss of control over your hands, arms, and
legs leads to swimming failure.
• One (1) hour before becoming hypothermic and losing
I went on to read about the highest average surface temperature of Lake Superior is 61 degrees, and that is in August! Brrrr! They consider 70 to be cold... 70 is a very cold body temperature. At 70, the body cannot generate enough heat to keep warm.
Then I went on to read this: 
Kayakers Die From Hypothermia

There have been two fatal kayaking accidents in the Apostle Islands in the past two years, On Friday September 10, 2010 two kayakers departed from Little Sand Bay to paddle to a campsite three miles away on Sand Island. Increasing wind and wave conditions on Lake Superior caused the paddlers to become separated about 4 pm.
One of the paddlers reached Sand Island and reported that his companion was overdue after 6 pm. An extensive multi-agency search continued unsuccessfully through the evening until deteriorating weather conditions forced its suspension near midnight. The body of the missing paddler was found floating near Sand Island the following morning. The victim was wearing a life jacket over a full wet suit.
The cause of death was determined to be hypothermia.
Against recommendations from park staff, a group of four college students launched kayaks from Little Sand Bay on the afternoon of June 7, 2011. Two of the four kayaks capsized during the crossing to Sand Island sending the paddlers into 49° water. Three of the paddlers eventually made it to shore and used a cell phone to report they had lost sight of the fourth man. The Coast Guard found the missing man unresponsive in Little Sand Bay at about 8 pm, with a blue life jacket and the bottom half of a wet suit on. His friends reported that, when last seen, he was wearing the life jacket, swim trunks and a t-shirt. The paddler died from hypothermia.
These tragedies might have been avoided if the paddlers took the following precautions:
• Use the proper equipment in the proper fashion. Several of the kayaks in these incidents were too small and not properly outfitted for a trip on Lake Superior.
• Use the buddy system. Stay together with your group.
• Check the latest weather forecast and pay attention to existing lake conditions. In both incidents, paddlers ignored warnings to delay their trip.
• Wear a wet suit or a dry suit and a brightly colored PFD with reflective material.
• Be capable of re-entering your kayak from the water.
• Do not overestimate your skill level.
Okay, then. Point taken... no kayaking on this trip. And maybe I will never have the opportunity to kayak Lake Superior, though I certainly hope I can someday. 
To make up for not being able to kayak, we chose to take the Apostle Island Cruise which was a much safer alternative for us and the small kids. We were able to see much more coastline in one day than we ever would have by kayaking. Not as up close and personal, but we are alive to tell about the beauty we discovered on our trip.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New bathrooms in some Wisconsin State Parks

Now, I don't know if this is a plan for all state parks with camping facilities, but we just camped at Governor Thompson State Park in Northeast Wisconsin and the shower and flush toilet facilities were amazing! 
Governor Thompson State Park is fairly new as it is (established in 2000), but since camping there last week, I have also heard that Wyalusing's new facilities are the same. 
I almost felt like we were cheating because these bathrooms and showers were so nice... but now it is going to be hard to go back to your typical pit toilets or showers you have to pay for at other campgrounds. 
The building is a large square, and in the front are normal mens bathrooms to the left and women's bathrooms to the right. Around the outside of the building are 7 individual bathrooms that contain a shower, sink, mirror, benches, and a flush toilet. There are 2 handicap accessible rooms. When the room is being used there are locks that say in gree -"vacant" or red for "in use." 
The shower, itself, requires no money, has one temperature setting at a nice warm flow and you push one single button for a high shower head and another button for a lower shower head -- yes, two shower heads! They run for a few minutes and stop automatically. If you aren't finished, just push the button again. Each individual bathroom was as big, if not bigger, than a typical home bathroom. I was able to bring my kids in and have them sit on the bench while I showered and got ready. With the number of showers available, you didn't feel rushed, and I could even blow dry my hair. (again, camp cheating:) 
I'd love to hear from you if you have encountered these new facilities at other state park campgrounds in Wisconsin!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A day's difference...

This is from January... remember how warm our winter was last year. Think we'll get another like it?

This is what it is like living in Wisconsin... 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fountain City, Merrick State Park and Hawks’s View Cottages

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family and I took a camping trip up to Merrick State Park… which is north of La Crosse and situated right on the Mississippi River.
Our camp spot was great, right on the water, only one neighbor, right across from the men’s pit toilets and not far from the women’s and a clearance in the brush so we could fish right from our site. We were in the South Campground with no electric or flush toilets, but we used our vehicle to drive up to the North Campground a few times to use the cleaner flush toilets. They also have decent showers there. Firewood is available for purchase at the park until 11pm and there are canoe rentals available for 3 hours at a time. 
While we were there, friends of ours reserved a cottage at Hawk’s View Cottages and Lodges right in Fountain City (about 2 miles from Merrick State Park). They happened to have one of the cottages still open for the weekend, even though it was last-minute and a holiday weekend. We met them at their cottage to shower and check the place out. 
Our friends warned us ahead of time of “death hill”… the curvy, steep driveway that you need to take up the side of the bluff to reach the cottages. Whoa. The worst part about it was that we only one parking spot when we reached the top. To park in the tiny bluff-side lot, you have to maneuver in an impossible lack of space, with the threat of a straight dropoff glaring at you during every move. Backing into your space is required so you can get back down the hill when you need to leave. I’m just glad my husband kicked me and the kids out of the car before he attempted to turn the car around. 
From the parking lot, it was 84 stairs up to the cottage. Once you get in the cottage, the worries and complaints about the driveway and climb up seem to disappear. The cottage was gorgeous with lots of windows. Through the treetops, you can see parts of the Mississippi and boats in the water. Both levels of the two-level house had a deck, upstairs there was a master bedroom with a whirlpool tub and master bath. Downstairs was a kitchen and living room with fold-out futon and another bathroom. A perfect space for this little getaway. 
Hawk’s View also has a winery in town, so our friends were greeted to their cottage with a bottle of wine as well. In town, there was a tasting room that offered free wine tastings from late morning until 7pm. 
There were three restaurants in town that we noticed on the main-drag. We got the pan-friend Haddock at The Golden Frog… YUM! We would get that again in a heartbeat. The drink prices, although we’re not sure exactly what they were, were super cheap. Our meals, including the kids’ and their drinks, came to only $44. Between me and my husband, we had 5 alcoholic beverages. 
The next morning we went to The Monarch Public House (an Irish joint) after my husband had read great reviews on the place. We were sad that they didn’t have any breakfast buffets, so we ended up with lunch food. My husband liked his corned beef, but I ordered a chicken breast and it was like a processed, minced chicken patty. I was kinda grossed out. And their fries weren’t very good either. Overall, we were kind of disappointed. Later that day we stopped at WingDam, hoping they would have a nice patio overlooking the Mississippi for some drinks and apps. The patio went along the side of the building, not a great view, and the train ran right next to the building… almost literally a foot from the patio. So Loud! So we decided to just head back to The Golden Frog and we enjoyed our time on their fenced in patio. The kids were able to play, we got drinks and apps. Then we stayed long enough to get dinner. Another great dinner. I had the pizza, which was great. Our friend had the beef tips, which he raved about. Another great experience there. I’d recommend The Golden Frog. 
For groceries, it was a short jaunt to Winona, MN to find a grocery store. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters

My family and I spent the weekend in the northwoods. We camped in Lac du Flambeau (Broken Bow Campground) and spent some time driving around the area. We ate breakfast at Little Bohemia, known for the John Dillinger shootout and featured in the movie Public Enemies. Our waitress gave us a tip to stop in at the Discovery Center, just a short drive from the restaurant. 
When we got there, we were pleasantly surprised and excited to be there. We were greeted by one of the people working on the grounds and she filled us in on all of the things to do. There was a nature center with a few animals and some learning tools for the kids. There were miles and miles of various trails. We hiked just one of them, called the Interpretive Trail. There were little stations along the trail that shared information about the nature around us.
When we returned from the hike, we headed down to the lake. Here they had row boats, canoes and kayaks... FREE to use at your leisure! They also had a full shed of nets, fishing poles and beach toys. Everything was FREE to use. The water was nice and clear and, other than two other people laying on the beach, we were the only ones there. We have no idea if that is typical or not. We would expect the place to be super busy because of how great it was. We weren't going to complain. A whole lake to ourselves... yes, please!
We couldn't get over how immaculate the grounds were. Not a weed in sight, not a blade of grass overgrown or out of place. Even when we went into the bathrooms, they couldn't have been cleaner. The bathrooms were even air conditioned! There was a changing area and several showers in the restrooms as well.
If you're looking for a place to stop and spend the whole day while in northern Wisconsin, the Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters definitely gets our recommendation. They have a beautiful set up that would be perfect for a wedding ceremony as well, overlooking the lake.
Have you been there before? Do you know what I'm talking about? If you visit, please let me know. I'd love to hear how your experience was.