Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kayaking Essentials - Short Trip

Don't be surprised but around my neck of the woods if it is a sunshiney day on a summer weekend that you will usually find me in a boat.  I love being in the glorious pink princess stalking various animals on our way down the river.
Today I bring you my must have trip down the river kayaking essentials.  Now when looking at this stuff, remember we are only going down the river approx 2-3 miles (1 1/2 hours).   Clearly if I was out longer or in an area that we did not know the list would be slightly longer.  Ok...on with it.

1.  Floating Dry Bag - This holds the cell phone and my Kleenex.  Allergies have been fierce.

2. The pink princess aka the kayak - Hello, you can't get down the river on a floating dry bag.  Clearly my numbering was off as this is of course the number one item you need.  If you are in the market for a kayak, you will definetly want to look for one with adjustable foot pegs.   Also make sure you are getting one that works with the type of water you will be spending the majority of your time on...going to sea, get a sea kayak.  We tinker down the rivers, so this one works for me plus its pink.

3.  Paddle - Floating is fun and all, but if you really want to go places a paddle is helpful. 

4.   Throwable, floating seat cushion - Not only does this help in case of an emergency it also helps keep the bootie happy during your time in the kayak.
The little thing on my "dash".  It is a compass, temperature gauge, and clock.  Discovered this in the automotive section of the store.  How is this helpful?  You know: 
  •  Your direction if you get turned around or lost
  • Why you are feeling a hot spell or chill
  • Most important you know what time it is and if you have to paddle quicker as to not be late for some family BBQ at your in-laws that you may have kind of forgotten about while taking the in the glories of the river.  Not saying that ever happened.
1. Flip Flops - These are my preference to wear in the kayak.  Or some form of water proof sandal.
2.  Snacks - Paddling down the river can be hard work and a girl gets hungry.  Or if being attacked by a killer turtle, throw them snacks.  They probably were just hangry.
3.  Filled Water Bottle - Much to some people's dismay, it should be filled with water or a sports drink.  Save the wine for shore or pack in an alternate container.
4.   Beach towel - Aside from drying off, I use mine for a back rest sometimes.  
1. Water shoes - I will change into the water shoes when taking out or putting in the kayak.  The traction is much better then my flippie floppies.
2.   Life Vest - You never know what could happen.  Carry a life vest...period.
3.  Neosporin antiseptic spray to go - This is small enough to toss into the dry bag or hatch.  It is a must have for when you scrap up against something in the dirty water.  Take care of those scrapes and cuts better then a bigger problem.
4.  Waterproof Camera with a Float - By far one of my better purchases last year.  I love not having to worry about water getting on my good cameras or smart phone.  You seriously can just drop this in the water, take pictures under water..you name it.  Absolutely awesome for water activities.
5.  Sunscreen - Bright red nor getting skin cancer is on my goal list.   Sunscreen all over every inch and remember to reapply.  Suffering for days after a few hours of fun is not worth it.  Sunscreen use it.  That concludes our public service announcement on sunscreen usage.  
And last but not the least kayaking essential
Family and friends....having fun, conversation, and sharing moments on the river really is my favorite part in our kayaking adventures.

Get your stuff together, grab your people, get out there and enjoy some summer kayaking water fun.

* Kleenex tissues and neosporin were products I received complimentary for testing from inluenster. All opinions are my own.
* repost from Life in the Sack
* Please note I will be updating this post later in the year after adjusting our "necessities"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cave of the Mounds : House on the Rock : Mustard Museum

Today I am going to continue doing some throwback for you.  This one is related to our first backpacking experience.  Aside from backpacking and some hiking, we made sure to stop at some points of interest along the way.

After we visited here Travel Wisconsin put this on the list of the 7 natural wonders of Wisconsin.  More on this list and my goal of seeing all seven at a later date.   The cave was rediscovered in 1939 when they were blasting for limestone. It is listed as a "National Natural Landmark".   The cave has the same temperature all year round of a balmy 50 degrees.  So if you go take a sweatshirt.  Now without further delay....pictures from our day.

This was the main cave and where our tour started.  It took millions of years to form this cave.

Visitor are led throughout the cave on lighted paths.  The formations of the cave are fragile and to not disturb them one should not touch them.

Outside of the cave there is also activities and trails.  One of the activities is the gem mining.

And now the details (current as of 03/26/2015):

Tours are available year round and last approximately one hour.

Tour Schedule 

SPRING: March 15 - Friday before Memorial Day Weekend
Weekdays - Tours on the hour, 10am to 4pm (last tour 4pm)
Weekends - 30 Minute Intervals, 9am to 5pm (last tour 5pm)
SUMMER: Memorial Day Weekend - Labor Day
Weekdays and Weekends - 20-30 minute intervals 9am - 6pm (last tour departs at 6 pm)
FALL: Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend - November 15
Weekdays - On the Hour, 10am to 4pm (last tour departs at 4pm)
Weekends - 30 Minute Intervals, 9am to 5pm (last tour 5pm)
WINTER: November 16 - March 14
Monday through Friday: 11am and 2pm tours, please call ahead to reserve
Saturdays and Sundays: Tours on the hour, 10am to 4pm (last tour 4pm) - No reservations are needed.


(includes one hour guided Cave Tour)
Adults ........................$ 16.95
Children (age 4-12) .........$ 8.50
Children (age 3 & under)...free with paid adult

So go and experience one of the seven wonders of Wisconsin. 

Address: 2975 Cave of the Mounds Rd, Blue Mounds, WI 53517
ph. 608-437-3038


Another stop on our trip was the House on the Rock.  Due to the darkness of the interior of the house, there were not many photos to share.  My description of this house is that has the most expansive collections with a gigantic amount of items in the collection that I have ever seen.  the world's largest carousel is here along with a 200' sea creature.

The tour is divided into three sections.  Within the 1st section, you will find the original house and the infinity room (shown above). You can walk out there and it is amazing and scary all at the same time.

The 2nd section of the tour includes the streets of yesterday, which is a basically a tiny town, the heritage of the sea, and the carousel.

Section 3 focuses on the organ room, the doll carousel and and doll room.  If you are scared of dolls, I wouldn't recommend this section of the tour.

Since it is self-guided and very large place, the wizards are there to help give you some directions and get around.

Now onto the details....

    2015 Regular Season Dates and Hours
    March 12 - May 3, 20159 am to 5 pm
    (Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

    May 4 - May 21, 20159 am to 5 pm
    (Open Daily)

    May 22 - September 7, 20159 am to 6 pm
    (Open Daily)

    September 8 - October 18, 20159 am to 5 pm
    (Open Daily)

    October 19 - November 15, 2015 9 am to 5 pm
    (Cosed Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
Regular Season Ultimate Experience Admission

    The Ultimate Experience is a self-guided visit of all three sections of The House on the Rock during the Regular Season. Four (4) tokens are included with each paid full price adult and senior Ultimate Experience Admission. We recommend at least 3 to 3 1/2 hours for the Ultimate Experience Admission. The last Ultimate Experience Admission ticket is sold 2 hours prior to closing
    Adult (age 18 and over)$29.95
    Senior (age 65 and over) and Military$26.95
    Children (age 4-17)$15.95
    Children (3 and under)FREE
  • Section 1 - Includes the Asian Garden, the Alex Jordan Center and Sculpture Pavilion, the Gate House and the Original House and the Infinity Room.

  • Section 2 – Includes the Mill House, Streets of Yesterday, Heritage of the Sea, Tribute to Nostalgia, Music of Yesterday, Spirit of Aviation and the Carousel.

  • Section 3 – Includes the Carousel, the Organ Room, the Doll House Room, the Circus Room, the Galleries, the Doll Carousel Room and the Japanese Garden.

Regular Season Other Admission Options

If you are short on time or looking for a shorter experience, we offer two other options:The Highlight Experience Admission which includes Section 1 and 2. Visit is self-guided. We recommend you allow at least 2 hours for The Highlight Experience Admission. The last Highlight Experience Admission ticket is sold 1.5 hours prior to closing time.
    Adult, Senior and Military$24.95
    Children (age 4-17)$13.95
    Children (3 and under)FREE
The Original House Experience Admission which includes Section 1 only. Visit is self-guided. The last Original House Experience Admission ticket is sold 1 hour prior to closing time.
    Adult, Senior and Military$14.95
    Children (age 4-17)$8.95
    Children (3 and under)FREE
Address: 5754 State Road 23, Spring Green, WI 53588

On our way back home we decided to take a side trip to Mount Horeb for the National Mustard Museum.  If there is anything you wanted to know about mustard you can find it here.  Basically it was the love of mustard that got this place going...and if you love your mustard this is the place to stop.

Seriously this is a vending machine the dispenses...mustard.

And he played a game to win his very own bottle of mustard.  They have a store where you can purchase and sample various varieties of mustard.  So if there is a mustard lover in your life...stop here.

Hours of Operation

The National Mustard Museum & Gift Shop is open 7 days a week — except New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The online store never sleeps.

Standard Hours

When we’re not under extended Summer Hours (see below), we are open 7 days a week 10 am to 5 pm.

Extended Summer Hours for Thursday!

When it’s summer, we’re open with extended summer hours until 7pm each Thursday night all summer long through Labor Day! Stop in at America’s Favorite Condiment Museum…
While the Mustard Museum is summit of mustard love, it should be noted that the City of Middleton also has many of other attractions to round out your visit.


And that sums up the outings that were associated with our first backpacking adventure.  And without even knowing it, I managed to check off a natural wonder of Wisconsin

** please note that information here is subject to change based on the venue.  I am providing information that is current as of the date of the blog post.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Governor Dodge State Park : First Timer

Welcome to my first throwback post of sorts.  I wanted to share some of my past adventures here since it was because of all of these adventures, mishaps, and shenanigans that have brought me to this place.  Plus I am not sure if or when I would get back to these places...since I truly love exploring new places.

Governor Dodge : First Time "Backpacking"

How did I get here?  Where did I find my stuff? That constitutes a whole blog post in itself.  For now I will just be focusing on our very first experience "backpacking".  Let me introduce Forest.....

All that stuff we had jammed into the car for our little "backpacking" excursion screams inexperience.  Now let me get to some of the details:

Date: June 2009

Site Information:   Backpacking Site #806

Duration: 3 nights / 4 days

Trail Length:   Approximately .5 mile to the campsite

Altitude/Elevation Conditions:  For this only being a .5 miles, the trail was fairly hilly. Governor Dodge is located within in an area that was not touched by the glaciers.  The area it resides in is called the driftless area.

Nature and Critters:  Call me slightly obsessed, but it was all about the butterflies.

 And the best creature that came to our camp every single night.

 Trail Talk:   For our first time out, the hike was a little rough.  The hike to the campsite was basically  uphill.  Our site was one of the last ones and set apart from the others.  This made a huge difference when people came in on the third night. 
    The very first night was horrible and scary.   We basically did something that looking back now was a bad idea.  As we lay sleeping, rain began to move in.  Then the storms.  In the distance, we heard tornado sirens.  At that time we decided to walk out in the middle of night during a storm with the tornado sirens blowing faintly in the distance.  Our though process was to at least get to some lower ground.  It was a crazy scary hike out.  Once we made it to the car, we decided to head to the hotel down the road for the night where it was safer.  A huge shout out to my son who was completely cool, calm and collected threw the whole ordeal.
    On Day 2, we hiked back to camp only to find it appeared untouched by the weather that came thru and nothing was soaked.  We went ahead with our days plans of going to House on the Rock. (I will be doing a side story of the trips on this adventure).   With Day 2 looking like it was going to progress into a night like Day 1, we opted to stay in the motel for the second night.  
     Day 3 was a hiking day.   We did the 3 mile lost canyon trail.  It was certainly a showcase of beauty.  Here we are in front of Stephens Falls.

The hike on Day 3 was wonderful. On it made you feel so very small amongst the landscape. We stayed the night in the tent on Day 3 and everything went perfectly.  Well except for a moment when I thought I lost my son.  Somehow he turned himself around in the tent and was laying by the door on his pack...weirdo.

Overall we survived our very first "backpacking" experience.

What would I do different aka What I learned:  One of the biggest things was the importance of a weather radio.  Shortly after this trip I bought a weather radio.  It also gave me a perspective on what I thought I needed versus what I really needed.  Since this was basically a walk to site, I invested in a garden cart to aid in carrying wood to the site. Also, the importance of keeping a pair of back up clothes in the car.  My son ended up wearing some of my clothes since he basically walked out in his undies.  The last thing was to create a small jam bag.  Basically put absolute necessities into a small bag or butt pack in case you have to go.

This was such a great learning experience for us.  I hope that I will be able to visit Governor Dodge again someday.  There were so many trails that we did not get to hike. 

Hope you enjoyed the first trip recap...and if there is anything you would like to see, please let me know.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Hitting the ground running...

I am declaring today as the official launch day of this blog.  Today seemed to be the perfect day, as it is the first day of spring and a new moon.  Pardon the roughage of my little shack currently.  She will be undergoing some changes improvements etc. in the very near future.

My hopes for this blog is to be able to share some of my adventures and my love of the outdoors.  Ok just going places in general too.  For the most part the blog will be geared to Wisconsin, because for some reason good ole' Wisconsin's outdoors get overlooked as people yearn for the thin air of the mountains.  I love the beauty that our state has. 

Now to business, first and foremost, my name is Dawn.  I am most content when I am moving in some way shape or form...and I love being outside, exploring new places.  My goal will be to post about two times per week.  You will find talking about backpacking, kayaking, camping, and just random places we decided to go check out.   My plans are to do some recaps of past trips, updates on some of our current trips, and then tips/tricks/foods or whatever seems to fit.
Oh and that is my fave adventure dog Bullet...he may stop by with talk from the trails also.  I hope you find this blog fun and inspirational. 

As Emerson once said, "live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air".