Huntin’, Fishin, & Lovin’ Everyday!

FINALLY!!!!

I got back to the BWCAW!!! I absolutely can’t believe I only took one trip last year! Two trips per year should be the norm from here out.It was time to do a little…. Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ every day! (minus the hunting part).

This past Labor Day weekend we headed up to the Gunflint Trail (which was a first for us). Destination – EP #47 Lizz/Swamp with hopes to basecamp on Horseshoe!

Unlike prior trips we elected to wait to pack everything until just a few days before we took off! Again we took my CCS pack, Frost River Pack, Mr.MN’s pack, and MiniMN’s pack. We re-distributed the weight from our Spring 2016 trip, and things were looking good!

We also took only our JRT (Jack Russell Terrier) and left our GSP (German Shorthair Pointer) back home with the boarder!

Wednesday evening we left home around 6:30pm and headed up north towards Superior Ridge Inn off Hwy 61 just south of Schroeder, MN. We wanted to get a nice head start so that we didn’t have to leave the Twin Cities at 3:00 a.m. to make it up north by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.

Coming down the big hill to Duluth while it was all light up was quite a site, but it was weird driving on the north shore in the dark! I saw loads of deer in the ditches, so I was a bit cautious of pushing the speed lest they jump out at me.

Superior Ridge Inn was a fine place to stay, though we only stayed about 7 hours (sleeping 6.5 of them). We rolled in around 10:30 p.m. after stopping for Hardies for dinner (husbands request).

We all fell fast asleep since our alarm was set for 5:30 a.m.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and I was ready to roll! Mr.MN scooped MiniMN out of her slumber, and carried her to the car and we were finally off! It was still mostly dark , but we got to watch the sun rise over Lake Superior which is always a treat.

We did make a pit stop however at Java Moose and Worlds Best Donuts for breakfast in Grand Marais which was great. My co-worker mentioned that the donuts were small, but I thought they were big enough for us to each have one. We’re not huge breakfast eaters though.  We then blazed the trail up the Gunflint to Rockwood outfitters to pick up our permits, and hopefully some leeches since all of the bait shops were closed so early in the morning.

Unlike the Ely side, everything is fast asleep off the Gunflint until 8:00 a.m. In fact Rockwood Outfitters were the only ones we could find that opened at 7:00 a.m. We were used to outfitters (specifically VNO) opening at 5:30 a.m.  and staying open until 10 p.m.in the busy season. Here everything closed down at 6:00 p.m.

We pulled in and the owners greeted us. We unloaded everything right there after they announced we could park with them vs. the public landing down the road for a flat rate of $10. We were in. They also had some leeches, so we grabbed about two dozen of them as well. We unloaded our vehicle as other folks started waking up to put in. We worked quickly after learning they were headed to the very location we were.

They provided us clear, and easy directions to the Lizz portage, and even helped us push off and get MiniMN in her seat. Talk about full service! I’d recommend this helpful bunch if you’re looking for an outfitter on Poplar Lake.

The directions couldn’t have been easier, so we found the portage to Lizz without any problems. MiniMN was happy to see that it was simple land mass that separated the lakes vs. rapids and a water fall requiring a portage. We got everything unloaded and took a look back without any sign of our “same entry permit day” comrades.

The portage to Lizz was easy as could be! Husband and kiddo saw an oversized deer hoof track in the mud (which was pretty solidified) and determined it must be a moose hoof. At the end of the portage we met a group of young canoeists who looked to be about college age. In fact we learned they were entering freshman at St. Scolastica who offers incoming freshmen the opportunity to go on a BWCA trip to meet new friends, and form bonds. I thought that was pretty darn awesome.

Lizz was a super easy paddle, and the other portage to Caribou couldn’t have been easier to find. The muck on this end was a little more legit, but still wasn’t as bad as my recent hike on the SHT after Silver Bay received 6″ of rain… but I digress.

This was a little more of a “hike” but the 65-70 rods (depending on which map you consult) with little log “bridges” on them in the lower areas that looked more prone to being muddy, but everything was hard packed when we walked through. It was very easy, and MiniMN took it like a champ without even a peep. She was very pro-portaging this time, and I didn’t even have to bribe her with candy or Girl Scout Cookies!

Caribou was a beautiful lake. We “parallel parked” the canoe and hopped in. My feet got a bit wet, but I didn’t mind since I had new hiking sandals, so most of the time I just walked into the water up to my knees which was much easier than teeter-tottering on a rock trying not to get wet. This is definitely the way to go!

That first site on Caribou was open, but we decided to head to Hoseshoe instead. That 20 rod portage was the easiest one we’d encounter on our entire trip, and very soon we arrived on Horseshoe. The first two sites were open, but we were really hoping for sites 675, or 674 as it was primo moose viewing areas… but they were both taken, along with 673! We paddled down one of the arms, and that site was open!

We all got out and walked around, but the firepit was secluded from the water, and the path to the toilet was very rocky. It didn’t have that magical feel to it, so we paddled back north to one of the (hopefully still open) sites. On our way back towards site 675 we noticed a flotilla of four canoes (the ones we saw at Rockwood) with loaded gear also looking for a site. The race was on!

We mentioned to them the site we just left was open, and paddled north while they pondered their next move. From this angle site 672 looked awesome. One walk around and it was going to be home sweet home for us for the next few days. We threw everything up on shore, and cracked open some wine (and Koolaid) to celebrate!

Later that evening we tried our hand at fishing (success but small), and had bratz for dinner which were amazing! This is the way to go for meal #1 of the night. Jason missed his steak, but I still loved the simplicity of the bratz, and lower risk of blood all over everything else!

After we got camp cleaned up (in the dark) we came back out towards the fire pit, and noticed a gorgeous display of northern lights, stars and the visible milky way! I was so glad to have my good camera with, though I am still a novice at nighttime photography.

We all popped a melatonin and fell fast asleep.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Friday we slept in a tad – well by our wilderness standards of 6:30 a.m. – we all slept in until 8:00 a.m. or later. We had a good rest, but our tent was pitched on a slight slope so we all kind of rolled at night.Sadie our JRT demands to sleep in my sleeping bag each night, so we rolled together depending on how she wanted to sleep.

Once emerging from the tent, we lazily walked back to get our food bag, and had an amazing breakfast of oatmeal and coffee! (ha!) (The kiddo got hot cocoa though). In the future we might try to bring our farm fresh eggs with us since they don’t require refrigeration. We’re also planning to invest in a bear vault or hope to get one for Christmas (wink wink).

After breakfast was cleaned up thanks to Kiwi (MiniMN’s nickname), and promises of extra snickers bars at night, we were off for Vista lake, which MiniMN wanted to visit after seeing this video.

The paddle past site 675 on horseshoe was amazing, and very moosey feeling. Loads of lily pads and vegetation. The paddle was very enjoyable, and the portage to Vista was very easy to find.

The portage itself was a rocky mess though. The take out of horseshoe wasn’t too bad, but lots and lots of rocks to contend with towards Vista. It reminded me of the first portage from Mudro into Fourtown but on a lighter scale.

Soon we arrived to Vista and the entry in was much trickier with all of the rocks.

We paddled down to the 5 star campsite towards Misqua lake to have lunch. That was the cats meow of all sites! The views were awesome, the tent pads close to the pit and level, and the path to the potty closer than at our site. It was very enjoyable to relax and borrow another site for an hour or so. We didn’t see anyone else on Vista until we were nearly finished with lunch when we saw our Rockwood friends fishing nearby.

All, but one of our leeches got out of our leech locker (we’ll need a more sophisticated one in the future), so we fished with fake bait, and lures. We decided to fish the eastern bays and I got an eater smallie on the north-eastern bay on a Fliker Shad lure!

Finally – we were going to eat a bona-fide fish from the BWCA!

We let the wind, which had picked up by now,  blow us back to the portage to horseshoe.

Anchors down, we fished the lower part o Horseshoe, and then made a right hand turn to the far eastern arm of Horseshoe where Jason accidentally hooked his other pole and threw it out into the lake!!!!

Luckily for us/him the water was pretty shallow and it was resting about 3 feet on some vegetation. Phew! We paddled down towards that other campsite, but it was taken, so we turned around before we got there.

On our way back to the main section of the lake we noticed two otters grunting at us, and played peak-a-boo as we paddled by.

Once we came back towards camp we realized we had some new neighbors directly across from us. They had three canoes and from what we could surmise, a truck load of kids with them.

We pan fried the fish in some ghee and lemon juice and made mac and cheese to go with it. It was absolutely wonderful!

After we got dinner all cleaned up we were back in the canoe for an evening paddle and fishing until dark. We could hear our new neighbors hooting and hollering, and making all kinds of noise. We thought maybe they were a Boy Scout troop and hoped that they had a curfew.

We made a decent campfire that evening, drank wine, and played Yahtzee.  Our kiddo fell asleep mid-Yahtzee while Jason and I stayed up to plan future trips. He challenged me to reserve our days off from work,but NOT reserve a permit until the day before we leave, and leave it up to chance where we go…. At first I thought he was nuts, but then the idea started to really grow on me…So – that is my 2018 goal since I already have two spots in mind for the 2017 season! (Somebody stop me!)

We carried little miss to our tent, and we all fell fast asleep.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

This morning we slept in even further! Even Sadie wanted to sleep in, which is another reason why she gets to come with us on our trips. Today we hoped to go up to Caribou Lake to fish some spots I learned about on bwca.com.

The portage back over to Caribou was like going to the State Fair. So many people on this portage that we gave each other the: “this is crazy” look. Perhaps in the future we’ll skip the Labor Day weekend trip and plan a mid-October trip instead when MiniMN is out of school again. We crave our solitude that we’ve gotten on our previous pre-Memorial Weekend trips, and loved them!

It probably took us 30 minutes to get through that portage,but finally we made it. We worked our way along the lake, cast, nothing, cast, nothing, cast nothing…..

This continued for the whole day which was overcast, and very very windy. MiniMN fell asleep in the canoe after complaining that her ear hurt. I was worried she was going to have a full blown ear infection and was planning on how we were going to get through the night, or pull out if it turned into such. I encouraged her to nap, so she did for about 2 hours while me and Jason fished. That was awesome, because Sadie was sleeping too, so we got some REAL quiet as we saw nobody on Caribou for the day.

After we had enough of cast, and….. reeling back in empty handed we paddled back towards the Horseshoe portage with whitecaps and wind in our face. That was a workout, but thankfully everyone else was still asleep so nobody rocked the boat.

Upon return to Horseshoe the wind was still whipped up pretty bad, so we decided to gather some firewood, and just relax on the rocks and read, finish our Yahtzee game from the night before and relax.

We noticed our neighbors, which now no longer appeared to be scouts, but rather two dads and about 6 kids between them were in groups of kids in the canoes and fishing. They’d yell across the lake, “Got one….” “What?”, “So and So got a fish”, “What kind?”, “A northern, its huge… probably… 6 inches!”…. It was kind of cute… but mostly annoying.

After listening to these kids reel in fish after fish in front of our campsite we decided to head back out on the lake once our fire had subsided and extinguished. We paddled the northwestern arm of Horseshoe all the way down past the narrows which were really rocky paddling until we were completely secluded. Peace…..

With that came loads of lily pads however,and fishing was no longer feasible, so we turned back for dinner. The thing about Horseshoe is that each little arm of it, and section of it is wildly different from the next. The northwest arm reminded me of Ely Lakes, while the southeastern arm was almost swampy looking.

Dinner was Teriyaki rice and chicken, and some Snickers. We organized everything for our departure the next day and relaxed by the fire to play some cards. The sky was cloudy so we did not see much in the way of stars. It would be an early bedtime for us, as we heard our neighbors STILL shouting across the lake at dark.

 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

We didn’t set any alarms to set out, but I woke up around 7:00 a.m. to the light of day, and picked up my book to read a bit while I waited for Kiwi and Jason to wake up.

Around 8:30 a.m. or so everyone else woke up and we began the process of tearing down camp.

Our neighbors to the east seemed pretty quiet, which is probable since I swear they were making noise past 11:00 p.m.!

The paddle out was pleasant, and we only saw two groups on the portages, which was very nice compared to our day trip to Caribou the day before.  We compared notes with one couple who had paddled through Horseshoe, Gaskin, Winchell, Jump and Allen, and every site they had passed was taken!

Caribou lake was of course windy again, but this time, no white caps to contend with. On our way out of Caribou I looked back to that first site (which was taken now) and was really glad we didn’t stop there. The whole site looks really exposed, and who wants people looking in on you all day? That’s what William O’Brien State Park is for right?

Little miss nearly got whiny on the 65-70 rod portage from Caribou to Lizz, and tried to drop her pack and “quit” mid-portage, but daddy got her re-situated with a canoe on his shoulders, and she was back in business.

We met a group of three older ladies coming out of Lizz who were on their annual girls only trip. They had loads of gear, but looked like professionals! (I guess this was their 20th year or so).

The paddle on Lizz was uneventful. I wonder what the fishing would be like on this lake. I wonder if it ever gets any action with people just passing it through. We did see a couple perched up on an island on the northern end with a cooler, and sunbathing.  Perhaps “cabin-ers” or locals from Poplar.

The kiddo was pro-portage since it was the last one, and fairly easy. Right once we got to Poplar she dropped her pack and announced, “Last portage of the year!”.

For the size of Poplar lake, it was rather calm paddling, which was nice. We looked for the green cabin with the flat roof, took a right, and were headed back for Rockwood Outfitters where our car awaited. Once we got close the owners came out and greeted us, and helped us unload! Talk about full service!

We mentioned to them how busy it was, and they told us about a group that had put in the day prior, couldn’t find anywhere to stay, so they had to camp overnight on a portage, and then paddled back out the next morning since there was “no room at the inn”. I’m starting to think mid-October is sounding better and better!

We got loaded up in a jiffy, and were headed for Trail Center!

I pulled in, and noticed a firm sign on the door that insinuated that pets were not welcome… We’ve had bad experiences leaving Sadie put, and the deck to eat out back wasn’t accessible from outside like the Chocolate Moose was in Ely. So I walked in to have a look around, and came back out with a hungry belly. We’ll be back in Mid-October – dogless… so we’ll have to check it out more thoroughly then!

Instead we opted for Dairy Queen in downtown Grand Marais, and ate out on the rocks near the breakwater. The kiddo earned a blizzard which she was really pumped about and I earned an iced mocha from Java Moose for the drive home!

We had a blast on this trip, but I don’t think we’ll visit this particular area again at this time of year. Just too busy! I used to think I didn’t mind seeing people, but that’s when we only saw one or two people per day, verses one or ten per hour.

All in all, we liked the Gunflint side, and I’m sure we’ll be back again, but we did miss the nostalgic canoeing town of Ely with all of its shops right there, and their overly pro-BOUNDARY WATERS feel versus outfitters scattered along the Gunflint Trail. They are definitely different, and for now, we are team Ely!

 

 

 

 

captain

two years ago today marks the date.

of those non-stop phone calls I kept ignoring.

listening to Oceans by Hillsong United. praying those lyrics and etching them into my soul.

two years ago – reminds me where i’ve been

and where I’m going…

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where i’ve been –
Way back in May of 2013 My co-worker and friend Vanessa had sent me this song over Spotify message that simply said, “Today’s song“. Little did I know that the moment I listened to those lyrics I would make them my life prayer over the next several years.

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To be a woman of God who would get out of the boat and follow Jesus onto the water. To have faith that ran as deep as the Mariana Trench and beyond.

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Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark

After several repeated phone calls from my mother on July 1, 2014 – I answered the phone. Nothing but Jesus could have prepared me for that proverbial gut punch. “Your dad has choked on his breakfast… lost consciousness…heart stopped…. on a ventilator….in a coma…. come quickly.” The words bled together.

Tearing my laptop out of the wall at work – just ahead of the Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon that I am Course Chair for – I ripped off to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN.

… and waited

… prayed

…begged

…bargained

…and while my heavenly Captain knew where we were going, I could not understand the course that He charted for us.

Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north

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I believe to this day, that singing those lyrics to Oceans – over and over and over the year prior kept my entire focus on Jesus during the months after. Not projecting, or burying the hurt, but fully trusting that God had it all figured out, and not carrying the burden of trying relentlessly to understand why this happened. Just simply getting out of the boat, and grabbing on to His hand.

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In 2015 I heard this song – Anchor also by Hillsong. Classic. Now that I took the step out of the boat – I had an amazing Anchor of faith to help hold me steady. I knew, whatever the storm was, my vessel would not be blown around, but conversely would stand the test of time.

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That year I saw anchors everywhere. On billboards, Facebook posts, a wedding invitation, and a random gift from my friend Vanessa of an anchor bracelet (which I’ve now turned into a necklace) that I wear to this day.

It’s a glorious reminder that I am anchored in Christ’s amazing strength through any storm, that I won’t blow away, and an abundance of grace and relentless love – each and every day.

where I’m going –
Held up in genius fashion, yet another song from Hillsong for 2016. And isn’t it kind of weird that they’re all so eerily related, and similar, and perfectly progressive?  All relating so perfectly to water. Perhaps this is a spiritual baptism I’m encountering, slowly being transfigured into a new creation.  As if that God of ours knew, and knows exactly what course He is charting.

Like the wind
You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea

My eyes are still focused straight on him.

I am not saying in the least that its easy, or that I never shed a tear. I shed a lot of tears when I allow myself to think about the tragedy that occurred, and I do allow it.

After all – Jesus wept too.

I find myself completely stunned however –  every time I play back the memories. That really… this was My dad. and he really IS gone, and now this is really MY story.

Knowing though – that I have a Captain that knows the path set before me, and how to navigate through the tough waters makes all the difference in the world. I can glide this craft through all waters with Him.

Just shy of three years ago thirteen of us embarked on an epic houseboat adventure in Voyagers National Park! My dad – the captain…

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There was this spot coming out of Crane Lake into Sand Point Lake called the King Williams Narrows. Now – this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but with our huge boat we had mere feet on either side to clear the passage.

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It took knowledge of the distance between the land masses, the specs on the boat, a steady hand, practice from driving river boats in the Navy – trust – lots of calm and patience, and a whole lot of praying to make it through. We all trusted Captain Rich as we knew none of us were skilled enough to clear that tiny passage.

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In the same way, I trust that God, my Captain knows the specs on my life, and the passages I will go through. “I’ve got this”, he says.

The destination that I’ve ended up thus far has been more mind blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds odd given the circumstances, but my faith has exploded, and the peace I have is unexplainable. While darkness separates me and my dad for now – I know we will meet on the shores again. I’m so thankful to Jesus for giving us the opportunity.

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Keep Calm & Paddle On

 

Truth be told, I kind of hate these, “Keep Calm & _____” fill in the blank posters that were going around Facebook last year, but when looking back on our trip  the sentiment was just about perfect and I couldn’t think of a better title for our trip report!

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Pre-Day Friday May 20:

Technically, this is pre-entry date, so I will call it pre-day.  My husband took the day off, we shuttled the kid off to school for half a morning, and I did some final work for my employer before “shuffling off to buffalo“.  We blazed out of the Twin Cities around noon on Friday the 20th and began our 3.5 hour journey up to Ely, MN. Saw lots of “Flying Moose” stickers on cars, and swung into Spirit of the Wilderness to talk with Steve! His enthusiasm is always infectious!

Realized we forgot the kennel so my dreams for eating at Insula that night were completely dashed since we didn’t trust our dogs in the Bunkhouse by themselves. To say I was not disappointed would be a lie, but decided to eat on the patio deck at the Chocolate Moose and the dogs could be just off the deck next to us. The food was alright. I had Thai Lettuce Wraps trying to be GF still. Husband had a burger, and MiniMN had a hot dog. The wine was lovely on the deck along with the pleasantly warm weather, which really elevated the place and experience.

The waitress even gave us some water bowls for the dogs! A nice touch indeed.

After dinner I convinced Mr.MN to head out to Kawishiwi Falls for a night hike. We brought the fishing stuff with us, but had no luck. The waterfall was bursting with water, and my heart was set in the right spot.

It was very hot out. Unfortunately we packed a lot of long sleeves, and pants, but I did have a tank top on – so I wore that most of the night, and now I think I actually have a sunburn! ha.

Later on I talked with Lynn at VNO. She has to be one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever encountered. She gave us lots of great tips, and recommended the longer 40 rod portage from Upper to Lower Pauness. She also practically assured us we’d hear wolves howling in the area. This terrified me, but I knew they don’t eat humans…😉

The dogs slept like rocks,and I was kept awake by bunkhouse neighbors who were all excited for what laid ahead of them on their trip. Around 11pm there was a stampeede of people upstairs of us. It was highly annoying, but I knew that VNO was housing several Hot Shots for the Foss/Crab Lake fire – so I tried not to be too mad.

Saturday May 21 – Day 1:
I’m no dummy, I know the Spirit of the Lord is everywhere, but oh how I feel it so much stronger in these pine stands, balsam, granite outcroppings, and tannic waters. A combination of no cell service – so the phone goes instantly into airplane mode to conserve batteries, and Gods amazing creation so immersed in your every being its hard to not recognize the Spirit of the Lord directly in front of you.

We had a quick and easy breakfast in the car this time of cereal bars, coffee from the gas station, and donuts, and blazed up the Echo Trail. We passed by the Mudro access and I remembered fondly our trip last year. This time we had a much longer treck up the Echo Trail to the Little Indian Sioux River – North.

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I thought of my bwca.com friend Kanoes. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 57. I thought how weird life is. How we’re here one minute, and just like water flowing over the rocks with rapids – gone the next.  I couldn’t help but think about my dad dying suddenly at 64.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but today I get to witness creation in the flesh.

Told Mr.MN about this trip report I head read on bwca.com and how they had forgotten their paddles and life jackets had to drive all the way back to Ely! We both agreed that would be maddening!

Got unloaded quite a bit quicker than last year despite having more things. The morning was a little chilly, and realize I had forgotten a regular coat for MiniMN but had an extra coat myself – so I gave her that, and it wasn’t too too big.

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Saw another van pull in of 3 soloists. Suddenly heard a loud F bomb. Followed quickly by several more F bombs…. Apparently they too had mis-matched solo paddles and had to drive all the way back to Ely!! I would be irate.

Grabbed the Frost River pack and headed down to the river. This FR pack is decidedly not fun to carry. Its heavy, and my pots and stove are gouging my back. The dog is pulling me on the leash, despite having the gentle leader, and he keeps stoping to try to shake it off. I’m already annoyed and we’re not even on the river yet.

Paddle up the LIS is a nice, quiet,  meandering river .Saw lots of Red  Wing Blackbirdsd and a pair of Trumpeter Swans. Settled in and my mood brightened!

Saw the Elm Portage clear across the river. The entry for it was very obvious. Walked the first treck over and Crosby is constantly pulling on the leash ripping my arm off or stops abruptly as we’re going downhill.

We are double portaging this time, which I wasn’t too excited about, but everyone assured me, the walk back is usually pretty nice.

Saw a man on the portage, Crosby stared at him incredulously. I noticed this, but thought the man seemed really nice so I wasn’t sure why in the world he was so freaked out. Suddenly, Crosby bolted backwards nearly tearing my arm or dislocating my shoulder in the process. Now my mood is soured again.

Grab my CCS pack, which is decidedly more comfortable, but all that it has in it is clothes, and sleeping bags etc, so its a treat to portage. Crosby continues to be a pain on this portage, and I ended up having a bloody nose on the portage. Of course I don’t have a kleenex on me, and the last thing I’m going to do is wipe my nose on my sleeve.

So I try to tip my face upward and keep it in. The waterfall on Elm portage is gorgeous and stunning. Trying to look on the bright side of things.

At end of Elm portage we were met by couple of guys daytripping that told us about the shorter portage to LP and some beaver dams ahead that we have to strong arm across.

We decide, even if we have to tripple portage, the shorter portage was the way to go. I hadn’t really researched this one, so I didn’t know if the portage was on the right or the left. They both looked plausable, but we chose the left. We hiked up a steep hill and at the top saw a campsite that was unoccupied. The treck back down to the lake was like a billy goat portage! Short, but really steep. I kept Crosby on a short leash, and we all did okay. We didn’t have MiniMN portage anything on this one, since it was technically difficult.

The paddle through Lower Pauness was pleasant. Saw a husband/wife that were camped at the lower site just north of the short portage. It looked nice, and they gave us a wave.

Began looking for Shell portage on our right. The guys we met on the Elm Portage said it was a sandy landing, but kind of tucked behind some trees. We didn’t see it. Kept consulting the map, but didn’t see anything that resembled the portage.

Someone had a red canoe and we found it! Praise Jesus! Thank you Red Canoe man for helping us spot the portage!

This portage was beastly. The entrance was a total muck field.  Lost of people on it, so we all shared glances of misery and “oh yay – downhill now” commentaries. We passed the Sioux Hustler Trail (SHT) and MiniMN announced how badly she had to go to the bathroom. Her and I hiked down the SHT a bit and took an off trail potty break.

Finally came to the Beaver pond very annoying. Second part was nice but longer than I thought.

 

Guys from the parking lot (that had to drive all the way back to Ely) caught us. WTF. Made me feel like we are the slowest people in the world, but they don’t have two dogs and a kid with them right?😉 One of the guys were impressed with MiniMN as she did the 220 rod portage and stoked her up a little bit. He then asked how much longer and I said just over the hill….

Mr.MN went back for last pack & I rewarded K with Thin Mints.

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Shell is a beautiful lake. Lots of people were paddling around, and we decided to try and make it to Lynx.

Passed between Con Island and the smaller island and made our way East. Consulted the map but didn’t know exactly which way to go. Suddenly this floating rock appeared and I knew after watching all of the SHUG videos that this was the way to go. It was now referred to as the Shug Rock.

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Just to the left of this rock you come to a little bay with a campsite, and the portage is directly at the end of the bay. We saw a group camped there of 6 in Hawaiian shirts, swimming having fun. They paddled out to the glacier rock and were jumping into the lake. They said it was slightly warmer than Lake Superior.

Found the Little shell portage easily. The portage itself is not hard, and probably our favorite. This would be the last portage we’d have to do before arriving at our camp on Lynx.

Passed the Sioux Hustler Trail again on this portage.

Little Shell is beautiful! Very clear water. Would consider camping on this lake in the future. The pathway was  open to paddle to Lynx so we didn’t have to do the 4 rod portage. Took the lower east campsite after knowing it had good reviews. Lots of folks said it was a beach site, but I’m not sure what “beach” they were talking about. Slight sandy bottom so maybe that’s what people were talking about?  Sprawling multi-level site with a grand view of the lake. Fished a bit off shore, drank 2 gallons of water.

We made the mistake of not having full water bottles and were practically dying of thirst. Definitely were dehydrated. Saw a crayfish swimming right by our boat landing.

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Got things set up lazily, and found the toilet. This one had no lid, but there was a nice tree next to it to bungee our toilet paper to.

For the size of this site, there was really not many level root free tent pads available, but it would more than do for our family of three.

Entertainment for kiddos in the northwoods:

Eventually decided to get dinner out. Tonight was supposed to be Steak, baby red potatoes, and asparagus. Opened the stuff sack and dinner was an absolute mess.  Potatoes and asparagus were dripping in blood, our lemon for fish was burst open, and ruined. The steak bled over everything. I’ll never do this again. I was very parinoid, but we got things cleaned up, or burned some of our food. It was sad. Had just steak for dinner.

I definitely want heliniox chairs, or some kind of chair option.

Compared to last year’s trip, the bugs are horrible! These little black flies are mean. They land on you and bite you!

We are the only ones on Lynx from what we can tell which is odd for the size of the lake.

After we got our steak mess cleaned up, we went to hang the rest of our food. Couldn’t find any good places to hang our bag. MiniMN had an idea so we let her try to help us find a tree. Had to walk 1/4 mile away from camp, but alas, this would do. Now I want URSACK bags too with odor proof stuff sacks so we don’t have to worry about hanging our food.

Enjoyed our fire and the sunset. Even at dusk it was still hot out.

Mr.MN leaned into me…. “What does it do for you…tripping in the BWCA?” One look over the lake said it all. Part of it is the planning which I absolutely love, and part of it is the challenge and learning to overcome. Not having any cell phone service, and relying on what is right in front of you. Plus it is so darn quiet.

After we had enough of the night sky, we retreated to our tent. MiniMN begged us to play yatzhee, so we did. Mr.MN won.

Head lamps went off, and the wheels started turning. Suddenly looked around the perimiter of our tent and began worrying about bears and wild life. Dreamed a pack of Lynx (who are solitary animals) would tear into the tent as well.

Tossed/turned in my 5 degree bag. Definitely too hot for this trip. I was in a full body sweat around midnight/1am as the full moon rose across tent.

A nearby Loon couple was going absolutely berserk in the moonlight for over 20 minutes.  Prayed I wouldn’t hear any howling wolves, and drifted off to sleep.

Sunday May 22 – Day 2:

Woke up to a quiet world. Sadie snuggling MiniMN in a deep sleep.

Arose to no Mr.MN. I climbed out of the tent and looked around. He must be out fishing. Wrote in my journal on the rocks.  MiniMN really sleeping in. About 45 minutes later spotted Mr.MN by the Little Shell portage/path fishing in peace.

It was a quiet beautiful morning on Lynx.

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I was in much better spirits today.

Didn’t want to leave camp to get the food bag and have MiniMN to awake to nobody in camp, so I waited. She finally woke up, we got bag down from tree to get breakfast. Hot Cocoa/Coffee/Oatmeal. It was good. Instead of the regular Instant Quaker Oats we did last year, I made up these packs from this website.  I even added raw almonds to mine which gave it a nice crunch.

Here is a quick video from the perspective of a child in the BWCA:

Cleaned camp. Went fishing in E. Bay just north of the southern campsite. Forgot our anchor bags, so we paddled back to camp get them as there was a nice breeze on the lake. Thanks Ducks for the tip! Works wonderfully!

Fished nearly the whole bay with all that we had, topwater, spoons, Gulp on bobbers, nothing. Had a snack in canoe, and just sat for a while and enjoyed each others company.

We were going to fish the west side of lynx but the wind was getting so bad, and the dogs were growing restless, so we decided to head back to camp and make up Mac & Cheese. Relaxed under my CCS tarp & listened to pair of loons romance each other and MiniMN  entertain herself. She was talking to her imaginary friends and pretending she was a singer song writer at a book store.  She announced to everyone said she had to sing about “The Strawberry Patch” because her manager already promoted the song…then said, “alright everyone, will you help me sing this next song?” and proceeded to make up some words to the Strawberry Patch song. MR.MN took our rainfly off the tent and took a nap in there, and the dogs were splattered about camp in a mid-afternoon slumber.

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I studied the map for a bit to see about possible ideas for moving or day trips. Definitely want to eat a little more before we move to lighten the load. Maybe Tuesday…. We will discuss once Mr.MN wakes up. The girl and I try fishing off shore and not a bite.

Mr.MN wakes up, we discuss going out to Lake Agawato for some SMB fishing. The water is still way too whipped up to go anywhere so we decide to prepare dinner which is Tacos tonight. We get to lighten the load of jalapeños and onions at least. We make the tacos, which was freeze dried chicken & Trader Joes seasoning. One bite & MiniMN’s mouth is on fire! We had never used TJs taco seasoning before and it was hot hot hot.

Luckily I packed extra freeze dried chicken and its  super easy to reconstitute. I could just kick myself for trying something new in the boundary waters.

The wind settles down so I go to get some water & check out the portage to Lake Agawato. I sat backwards in the bow seat and paddled to the middle of the bay – but man I got hit by the wind at the front of my canoe and started swinging and came dangerously close to tipping.

I paddled & dug deep with all my might. Finally scooped up some water & abandoned checking out the portage. Kept trying to get to camp, but I could not get back to the landing so I shouted for MiniMN to get Dad… he comes to shore with a puzzled look and says, what do you want me to do and I say I don’t know but I’m getting blown all over the place.

Eventually a small path away from camp before some huge boulders I spot a landing & dig. Mr. & Mini run over and got me safe. Mr. paddled back to the real landing just fine.

We will defnitely want to wait until aflter dinner to go anywhere.

Later after didnner the lake was like glass. A strong contrast to the whipping waters of earlier.

We paddled south from our campsite all along to the western shore of Lynx .We tried wounded minnow, spinners, fishin’ off the bottom & fishing with a bobber and not a single bite! A gorgeous sunset was painted on the night sky!

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The dogs were getting restless which interrupted the peace however. Once we got back we had a roaring fire as the moon rose. Went down to the boat landing and went hunting for crayfish. Saw frogs, toads and a wolf spider. That sucker was HUGE!  Eventually fell asleep. Sadie (Our Jack Russell Terrier) was snuggled in with MiniMN in her sleeping bag, laying on her back and snoring logs!

Monday May 23 – Day 3:

Arose to the sound of the wind and the sweet elixer of sleep tempted me to rest longer, but once I’m awake I find it tricky to fall back to sleep. Across the lake the sky fell grey and threatened our chance of moving. Mr.MN wanted to stay put, but we were giving this lake all that we had without even a nibble. The clouds blew north and Mr.MN made the announcement, “Pack this shit up – lets move.”.

We got camp busted down & ready to go in 1.5 hours and we were off. The wind had really picked up and we were paddling directly into the wind. Like my friend Canoearoo said of her biggest pet-peves, no being a fake paddler today! We were digging hard but made it over to Little Shell unscathed. We found the portage and made it over. Shell looked pretty darn wavy but no whitecaps we were hoping and praying one of the Con Island sites were available but nobody else was paddling today so we weren’t too hopeful.

As we rounded the corner near the glacier erratic to the right towards Con Island our hearts sank as we saw the south site was taken. Almost assuredly the north site would be taken as well since that’s often noted the best site on the lake.

The waves really kicked in and soon we were paddling white caps! I prayed so hard to make land safe and thought how dumb it was to move at that moment. Father keep us safe. Do not let us tip and oh Lord let one of the other two island sites be open or we have a strong paddle into the wind and waves.

Phew, the middle site was free – in a pinch we could stay there, but it didn’t look very nice. As we paddled north, I prayed fervently the north site wouldn’t be taken. I kept expecting to see a tarp or tent, but never did. We docked the canoe to get a look & I jumped ashore to ensure it really was free and sure enough, it was ours for the taking! PTL Thank you Jesus! Its free! its ours!

The site was gorgeous and tucked back into a little cove making the lake feel small.

We got set up.

After some searching found the toilet, which the FS really needs to address as it is almost full. At least to ground level!

Lunch, was summer sausage, nuts & cheese, but we were still hungry so I made up some Cous Cous & Vegetables with soy sauce. That hit the spot!

Fished from shore and saw a whole nest of frog eggs in the water!

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The water on Shell is dirty and more tannic, but not as much as I expected.

A lovely bench seat by the fire

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Saw a few wrapapers of tootsie rolls/tea bags by the fire, so that lost a little of its magic. Packed them up in our own garbage bag.

Under the bench we found matches & cigars which Mr.MN helped himself to.

Got our tarp hung beautifully over old an log.

It was much cooler today but still in tank top. I’m noticing that I’m getting sunburned I look like I spent a week in Mexico instead of the Northwoods of Minnesota.

Saw storm clouds rolling in to the west so we decided we better get dinner going. Pad Thai. It was very good!

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Got in a panic trying to find a tree as the storm pushed in Con Island N has zero trees for bags. The rain came in huge drops, just as we finished and darted for the tarp as we watched the rain pour down.

Decidedly at this point in our lives 6-7 day trips aren’t for us. We think a 4 day or 4 night trip is about perfect and will plan for that in the future. After the storm passes we get out in canoe & fish the ^ shoreline near Heritage. Crosby lost his balance sitting up in the canoe, and almost tipped us over. Hearts are pumping.

MiniMN is working on casting lures and has a spoon she likes casting.

The lake was like glass. Jason gets a huge fat northern,but I can’t figure out the net so it gets away! I did get a video on the GoPro though.

 

We came back to camp & got a fire roaring. We tell stories about Elanore the man who sells coconuts…. as we grow tired.

We cozied up in the tent and fell fast asleep.

Tuesday May 24 – Day 4:

Felt like we really slept in today. Mr. MN woke up with a horrible headache, and burning eyes. Took some advil and slowly felt better.

Crosby ran off into the woods, and had to hike around looking for him. Trip has been stressful and not too relaxing with him. He is officially uninvited from future trips. His food is heavy, pulls on the leash too much, running off, restless in canoe.

Try to hike the trails on the island with Sadie, but they all peter out. We have a lazy morning to try and recapture our spirits.

We decide to cut our trip short and leave tomorrow to meet up with our friends and family for dispersed camping in the Chippewa National Forest. (CNF)

I definitely want to hit up Heritage Lake before we leave though and on our way out tomorrow I want to see Devils Cascade.

Portaged into Heritage. Portage was pretty flat, rocky in some spots. Landing kind of tricky. Muddy, but not too bad. 3/10. Heritage lake is beautiful. One of the most beautiful lakes I’ve seen. Fished like heck with NOTHING. Storm clouds rolled in and we headed back to camp.

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Noted some guys fishing on Peninsula next to our campsite. Said they’ve been skunked on the fishing too.

Read BWJ under the tarp and watched the rain fall. Garbanzo Bean size hail. The CCS tarp held up like champ though.

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Had Mac & Cheese for lunch. Sorted out our dinners/food bags for CNF.

More relaxing around the tent & look at maps & plan future trips. Definitely want to plan shorter trips, and less portaging.  Snowbank to Parent & Disappointment, or  Little Gabro to Gabro to base all look like good options, but also really looking forward to going to the Gunflint, or Sawbill.

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Got everything packed for the hike/paddle out. Everything loaded into Frost River Pack much smarter and it is so much more comfortable now without my pots & stove gouging my lower back. Dare I even say I really like this pack now!

Had Tuna Alfredo Parmesan with Frenches Fried Onions. Thought of Kanoes from bwca.com as it was his tip to make this and was one of his favorites.

Head to the tent and play 2 games of yahtzee. I got 222 on the first round, and MiniMN got 307 with a bonus Yahtzee on round 2.

Alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. for an early morning break down since we want to make a quick pitstop to Devils Cascade on the way out.

I’m excited to get to the 220 rod beast portage out of the way right away! After that we’ll do the 40 rod to Upper Pauness, and back down the LIS to the car where I have an entire roll of Thin Mints waiting for us as a reward!

Wednesday May 25 – Day 5:

Alarm goes off and everyone wants to stay asleep. I read the Falls Chain article in the Spring 2016 issue of BWJ while I wait for my family to arise.

After I finish reading I woke them up and we got on the water by 7:30 a.m.

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The paddle to Shell was uneventful. We didn’t have the strong waters, but there was a light breeze.

The portage sucked as bad as ever. Its very very muddy on both ends, and the beaver dam is damn annoying. MiniMN had a positive attitude on it, and carried her pack, and the Thwart Bag/Map Case across.

We swung to the right to check out Devils Cascade. We could hear the rushing water, but the landing was very obvious. The landing was a beautiful sandy beach landing, which was nice. We pulled everything up on shore, and left lots of room for others if they were going to be arriving or taking out.

The hike/portage was very well maintained and had a few ups and downs. Maybe because we weren’t carying anything I thought it was pretty easy. We hiked to the campsite that over looks the cascade and the rest of the LIS to the North. It was a gorgeous campsite, but had a severe drop off which would make me nervous with exploratory dogs and kids.

Back to the canoe we went. The peninsula campsite was occupied but looked very nice on Lower Pauness. It had a great view, and just across was another campsite. It didn’t look too special, but would do if you needed to.

We found the portage over to Upper Pauness and it looked steeper than my notes had made it sound. It really wans’t bad though, and we were across in no time. Rocky on both sides. We were exited to get paddling for a little while instead of portaging.

As we came towards the Little Indian Sioux River though the wind picked up from the south, and the current seemed much stronger than before. We paddled like the dickens, and within 15 minutes I thought my arms were going to fall right off.

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We paddled with all of our might over the beaver dams, and only rubbed the bottom on one once.

The wind picked up and we were digging! The way the sun was shining on the river though we missed a big submerged boulder and before we knew it we were stuck right over the top of it like a teeter totter! I prayed so hard that the dogs, and kiddo would be calm….. keep calm I kept thinking, keep calm. Slow, and calculated movements were key. The river was about 10 feet deep in this location, and we could not push off the rock which as best we could surmise – was right below the bow seat.

We had MiniMN move to the packs behind her seat, and tried to carefully wiggle backwards… nothing. Finally, I too moved on the packs behind me and we gently wiggled backwards, and we were FREE!!!!!!

I was never so thankful in all of my life.

I was actually happy to see the Elm Portage so I could give my sad arms a rest. The portage was met with happy spirits, and we commented that Elm Falls looked like Root Beer bursting over the brink!

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Back into the canoe we went, but I knew there weren’t rocks south of Elm Portage that we had to be concerned about. The wind settled some, but it was still a paddle.  Finally as we came close to the LIS entry portage the wind died, and the river was glass. Figures.

We hauled everything up to the car, and left the Little Indian Siox River behind us.

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Got a shower at VNO which felt like royal spa treatment,and loaded up on some groceries for the CNF.

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Spent the next 5 days over in the CNF with our family and friends. Caught lots of crappie, sunnies, and LMB on topewater lures. It almost wasn’t fair how much fish we were catching.

We enjoyed our time with them, but we were also excited to get home. Sunday we finally crawled into our own beds. I was never so thankful to get off my Exped, and see running water!

Sunday night, I booked our BWCAW trip #2 of this season! We’ll head up to the Lizz | Swamp entry point, and basecamp on Caribou Lake, taking day trips into Horseshoe, and Vista. All of the portages are short, and easy, and it should only take us 2 hours or so to get to our campsite.

Looking on the horizon to the next trip!

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Living the Paleo Dream

Hey Guys,

Now that I’ve officially finished my Whole30 its time to re-introduce some of those foods to:

a.) see if it has any effect on me
b.) loosen the reigns a little bit.

I really wanted to give this section its due honor and not kick off my heels to much. I wanted to take each food group I spent the last month avoiding and evaluate it slowly. So that’s what I did over the past 10 days. Here are the categories, and how they affected me.

Wine:
As a glass + of wine per night girl, I was excited to jump back into a world of wine… My first wine back I had a Pinot Nior by Erath and it was DELICIOUS!   A sleep disturbance was definitely noticed. After just one glass of wine I was BUZZIN’! I also had a bad headache and felt crappy. Over the next week and half I enjoyed more wine on the weekends, and while I can say, I enjoy wine… I can also honestly say I no longer WANT wine every day…   Definitely part sugar, and part alcohol, this “food group” did a number on me, and this is why I’m limiting my wine consumption to just Friday-Saturday or special occasions! In some ways I felt like I was breaking up with wine, but we can still hang out… just on a limited basis… which is what I would want anyways.  I was very shocked that I could no longer “handle” my wine – even after abstaining for 9 months while pregnant with my daughter – after just 30 days I really experienced a major tolerance set back.. but I did some serious changes within my system detoxing of sugar, and my body definitely took notice. With that almost assuredly adding to (gulp) slightly tighter pants, and general feeling of sluggishness, brain fog etc, I do not want to affect my daily life anymore!

Additives:
Additives with too much sugar are definitely impacting my sleep. While I feel I can loosen the reigns a little bit with this one, its best to avoid when I can, and purchase (sugar free) when available… but I don’t think I’ll make homemade ketchup anymore. (Though I did find an amazing avocado mayo that is to die for!)

Peanut Butter | Legumes:
I enjoyed some PB with some apples, and tried some beans. The PB tasted creamy and almost chocolaty. I made a bean salad and noticed that I felt extremely full (uncomfortably so) after eating these. For this reason, I will skip beans in the future. On occasion I may have some peanut butter, but since I really do love my apples and almond butter it won’t be a common indulgence.

Non-Gluten Grains:
CORN: Finally – Taco Tuesday with the taco shell! But an hour or two after dinner I had knots in my tummy that didn’t feel good. Several days later I had a corn shell tortilla with no ill effect, so perhaps I will just limit them. I’m in the process of deciding to NOT do Tacos every Tuesday anymore!

QUIONA:
I hit this one with dairy for Sunday night homemade pizzas! Read below in my dairy response! Seemingly went alright!

Dairy: Had some homemade pizza on a quiona crust and I didn’t notice any side effects. I did end up with a bloody nose though later that night. Coincidence? I’ll have to play around occasionally with this one some more.

Gluten:
Dun-Dun-Dun – oh the “dreaded” gluten! I wasn’t even going to add this one back  based off several symptoms that have mysteriously disappeared over the past 40 days – that haven’t returned with adding in dairy, non-gluten grains, sugar etc I’m convinced now, more than ever that gluten was definitely a culprit to several of these symptoms! I won’t bore you with all of the details, but here are a few…

  • Daily nosebleeds
  • Keratosis Pilaris (which has gotten significantly better)
  • Iron-Deficiency anemia
  • Reflux
  • Dental issues, including canker sores
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brain Fog (I would be in the middle of a sentence and forget what I was saying)
  • Scary dizzy spells
  • Dry Hair

Okay – that last one seems silly, but my hair was always extremely dry! I didn’t even realize this was abnormal until I went gluten free for 40 + days! So one of our planned meals out in the BWCA will have gluten in it… so I decided to jump back into gluten to make sure I didn’t have any ill effects…. no lie. Within 30-40 minutes I had searing pain in my neck and shoulder blades. Did a google search and found this, and this, and this,and this!

Now, I’m not claiming to be celiac, or even say I’m “gluten intolerant” at all – I haven’t had any tests done, or gone to the doctor whatsoever besides a 40 day elimination diet, and betterment of my Keratosis Pilaris which has plagued me for my entire life, no more dizziness or reflux, no canker sores, more energy and no shoulder/neck pain (that almost hurts with breathing) and then suddenly blearing shoulder/neck pain, bloating and complete brain fog? I’m not sayin’ – I’m just saying I think I can break up with the gluten.

The opposite of Addle’s Hello.

Goodbye Gluten….Its no longer me…..

They say that time’s supposed to heal yah – and I have DONE some healin’.

 

Sweets & Treats: I didn’t really hit this as hard as I thought I would. After loosing some weight, and returning to pre-baby weight, and a noticeably smaller tummy – I just don’t want to go back! With that said… an indulgence here and there (not daily) is something I don’t want to have handcuffs on for the rest of my life though. I’m glad to know I can exercise self control in this department!

Friday the 6th I had my first dabble in a pure sugary treat which was a mini s’more on a gluten free graham cracker. The marshmallow sent me in to sugar overdrive and I felt like I was going to puke! Haha. It was delicious though. This will definitely help with a “one bite” is enough. I guess technically with the milk chocolate I had dairy but didn’t notice any ill effects.

Final Conclusion? Have you tried the Whole30? If not, I definitely recommend that you give it a go. All in all it was a neat experience. It helped that I am a maniacal food planner to begin with. You don’t want to find yourself in the morning, staring down the fridge wondering what you’re going to eat for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner for that matter.

Plus – everyone complains about the amount of dishes they will now have to do, but I always go all out on my dinners, so that didn’t change one iota.

Find your grooves. I found I really, really LOVE baked eggs, or over hard eggs with cut up mini-peppers in them – EVERY DAY! I love this so much, that I don’t mind eating eggs every single day! I’m slightly cringing for our BWCA trip when I’ll be eating oatmeal every day, but it’s just 6-7 days and then I can go back to my beloved eggs!🙂. — Good thing I have my own chickens!

I also found a few favorites I made several times, such as this delicious shrimp skillet, that you’ll see I Instagramed several times, and Cracklin’ Chicken, which might take over as a weekly menu item like Taco Tuesday did!

It also helped that we butcher our own chickens, and deer/venison,and have purchased 1/4 cow, and 1/2 pig… and oh yeah did I mention we have our own chickens for my daily egg breakfast? Oh – okay… so I guess these things make Whole30 and a Paleo Lifestyle MUCH easier to obtain. I used to sell 75-80% of my eggs, and now I sell only 20%!

Without going overboard and developing orthorexia, I do plan to follow a “fairly strict” paleo diet. It honestly seems to suit me, and I’m working on finding my groove without breaking the bank! All of these amazing cookbooks I’ve come across like Nom Nom Paleo, Against All Grain, and Well Fed have me wanting to try all kinds of new recipes, but I know now I can make a simple yet delicious dinner with the very simple, meat, and two veggie side! Can you believe that my food budget has actually decreased?

While I won’t be as hardcore as the “Whole30” rules, and I may have wine DURING the week, and the occasional GF grain,  I realized in these 30 days that it IS possible to have self control, feel better, and gain perspective.

 

Whole30 – Week 4 and Conclusion

Hey Guys!
I am officially done with Whole30!

Firstly, I found out I could give up my beloved wine for an entire month, and don’t even miss pasta or rice, which was a mainstay (and definite over-consumption) in all of my meals!

Here’s how the final days went…

Friday April 22
B Two Eggs, baked over hard with peppers & coffee
L – Cold Tuna Salad
D – Sausage, Pepper & Onion

Finally got a good dose of Tiger Blood today! I had so much energy it was as if I had drank at least 2 pots of coffee! I think my co-workers were wondering…. 

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Saturday April 23
B – Skillet Breakfast
L – Snacks of Lara Bars, Cashews & Mango Jerkey
D – Apple Sausage, Pepper & Onion.

Tonight we got invited over to our friends house for dinner. Being so close on my journey I decided to bring my own dinner! I felt slightly awkward about it, but I didn’t get teased as much as I thought I would. The meal itself would have been fine on a regular “paleo” diet, but the spice rub did have some brown sugar in it, so for obvious reasons – its not Whole30 compliant.

Sunday April 24
B – Sweet Potato, Apple, Sausage & Egg Skillet
L – Snacks of Lara Bars, Cashews & Mango Jerkey
D – Hamburgers on the skillet

Spent the afternoon today (and yesterday) at seminars, so my lunches have been less than amazing, but I’m excited that I’ll have a nice clean paleo lunch for when we go up to the BWCA!

I’m in Love with lettuce wraps on hamburgers! I’m also becoming a total pro at making hamburgers on the cast iron skillet, (since i’m not hugely confident on our gas grill). I’m glad I’m able to make “grill” food without the hassle!

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Monday April 25
B: Two Eggs, baked over hard with peppers & coffee
L: Salad
D – Mexican Monday: Tacos

Decided to revert back to Tacos on Monday for this week! I’m excited to finally try corn-shells next week once I’m off Whole30!

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Tuesday April 26
B – Two Eggs, baked over hard with peppers & coffee
L – Salad
D – Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Walking through the house this afternoon smelled amazing! The parsnips were a good alternative to the standard potatoes that accompany most stews! I used sugar free chicken broth and thickened with some arrowroot.

Wednesday April 27
B – Coffee & Tea & my 2 eggs.
L – Frozen Vegetables, Orange, Mango Jerky & Cashews
D – Spice Thai Zoodle Salad

My zoodle salad sauce didn’t set quite right this time. It was strangely thick, but I did skip adding in the lime juice. I will definitely add that in next time!

I completely forgot my lunch at home today, but my co-worker surprised me with an Admin Professionals day including my FAVORITE Mango jerky!

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Thursday April 28
B – Two Eggs, baked over hard with peppers & coffee
L – Left over slow cooker beef stew
D – Shrimp & Sweet Potato Skillet

This is definitely a new family favorite! Its so quick and easy to make too! Comfort food at its best!

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Friday April 29
B – Two Eggs, baked over hard with peppers & coffee
L – Cold Tuna Salad
D – Cold Tuna Salad

I’m loving my new Cold Tuna Salad! Its so delicious, that I don’t even miss the pasta in this dish!

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Saturday April 30 – FINAL DAY
B – Fried eggs over hard with peppers & coffee
L – Cold Tuna Salad
D – Cracklin’ Chicken

I made it – I made it – I made it!!!!! I feel like a kitty cat grabbin’ the unicorn by the neck with guns blazing!!!!

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Final Thoughts –
1. It was easier than I thought
2. It helped that I’m an obsessive meal planner to begin with
3. It helps that I cook huge meals and dirty my kitchen anyways
4. I plan to keep MOST of the “rules”/best practices of a Paleo lifestyle!
5. I lost 8lbs! This was awesome! I’m back down to my pre-kid weight and on the cusp of just out of the Navy weight.

I will add back in wine, but just on weekends. Strictly Friday-Sunday I’m very glad I can live without it for a month. I love the taste of wine, and wanted to make sure that it didn’t have a stronghold over my life. Sure… there were some meals along the way I thought, wow, this paired with a buttery chardonnay…. or sauv. blanc, cab… you get the idea… but I’m glad I can strongly say – I enjoy wine but not for emotional purposes

I do not plan to add back in gluten, specifically bread and pasta, since I absolutely LOVE my Zoodles. Maybe it was the lack of daily wine or bread, or pasta, rice and processed foods, but I’m definitely starting to see my “muffin top” fade away and I’ve been very pleased with that.

Re-Introduction….

Stay tuned for my next blog post!

Thanks for all the support. Have you tried a Whole30 yet? What are your thoughts on the whole processes?

 

Whole30 – Week 3

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone….

Friday April 15, 2016

Breakfast – Two eggs cracked, with peppers & onions and baked till done
Lunch – Final batch of left over chili
Dinner – The most amazing Spicy Thai Zoodle Salad

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I absolutely adore Pad Thai! The flavors and umami involved tantalize my taste buds, so when I found this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo I was very eager to try it! Since I’m now half way thru I treated myself to… the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook written by Michelle Tam & Henry Fong!

 

Saturday April 16, 2016

Breakfast – Adele Sausage over some Kale, onions & salsa
Lunch – Trail Snacks
Dinner – Pan Seared Salmon

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I’ve never really liked salmon, but a trip to Whole Foods to find dried porchini mushrooms had me passing by some yummy looking salmon so I decided to give it a final try! I’ve tried salmon on several occasions, but never really LOVED it. Today I found a yummy marinade involving balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. First I noticed the skin was still on the one side, so I decided to filet that off! I know some people cook with it on, but I was creeped out by it. My daughter wanted me to save the scales and sew her a mermaid costume, but I told her that wasn’t going to happen! HA. I pan seared it in some ghee to get a nice crust! I also whipped up a nice kale salad and some roasted tomatoes. It was fairly good, but I think my [short stayed] love affair with salmon has come to a close. There are so many other species of fish that I enjoy so much more!

 

Sunday April 17, 2016

Breakfast – Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage skillet
Lunch – Salad
Dinner – Cracklin’ Chicken

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After subscribing to the Nom Nom Paleo podcast (do you see a trend here folks?) and hearing that Lil’ O started out not wanting to eat paleo I needed to find a POW WOW dinner to get my daughter on board! (She is for sure a sugar addict and I’m trying to help her quit that!) So I made Lil’ O’s favorite Cracklin’ Chicken! It is now also Lil’ K’s favorite as well! My daughter exclaimed, “Mom, I want you to make this again soon! But not regular soon – VERY VERY soon!” She also demanded that I pack it for her lunch the next day! I call that a win.

I also was so excited to eat this – that I forgot to snap a photo until after my meal was over, but I found this hilarious e-card which has described my relationship with Whole30 so far!

 

Monday April 18, 2016

Breakfast – Left over Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage skillet
Lunch – Left over Cracklin’ Chicken
Dinner – Egg Drop Soup

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Tonight I had a meeting that would go from 6pm-8 or 9pm, so I threw a Lara Bar in my bag knowing I was going to make the ever so quick Egg Drop Soup. Last summer I was going through our freezer chest and found 5 chicken backs. For those of you who are new to my blog, our friends raise our chickens for us, and we help process them. They are humanely raised, and humanely processed, abx free {ranging} chickens! So what to do with chicken backs? They don’t really provide a lot of meat, so I took 5 days, my crockpot and lots of yummy herbs and veggies from my garden and made bone broth! Froze them into little batch bags, and forgot about them until today!

I ran down stairs, thawed a bag out real quick, whipped up some eggs, sliced a scallion, and jalapeno to crank up the heat, and topped with a little cilantro for a Thai tasting Egg Drop Soup! From start to finish I think it took me 10 minutes to whip this up. That’s what I call a week night or emergency dinner!

 

Tuesday April 19, 2016

Breakfast – Left over Sweet Potato, Apple & Sausage skillet
Lunch – Left over Egg Drop Soup
Dinner – Taco Tuesday of course on Romaine Boats

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Wednesday April 20, 2016

Breakfast – Two Eggs baked with peppers and scallions
Lunch – Taco Salad
Dinner –  Tacos

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Thursday April 21, 2016

Breakfast – Two Eggs baked with peppers and scallions
Lunch –  Two Eggs baked with peppers and scallions
Dinner – Cauliflower Pizza Bites & then Sausage in Marinara

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How I feel!

Mind My mind is pretty clear. Gone away is the brain fog that plagued me. I used to joke [shame on me] around pretty heavily that I probably had early onset Alzheimer’s because I could be in the middle of a conversation and completely forget what I was talking about. Or I would forget to do stuff that was pretty routine stuff.

 

BodyDo you know the muffin man? Well – for a long while (since my mid 20s at least) I’ve slowly been developing the dreaded “muffin top”! I’m noticing finally this week that ever so slowly that is trimming itself up! Its true what they say, “Abs are made in the kitchen”. Recent studies show that nutrition is nearly 90% important when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight vs. 10% exercise! While I don’t plan to be a strict “WholeLifer” I do plan (as of now) to maintain a fairly strict Paleo diet as my body seems to really like being treated this way. 

I’ve also been sleeping like a ROCK! Gone is my nighttime sugar rush rollercoaster which would ALWAYS wake me up nearly every night around 2-3 a.m. I now sleep soundly into the morning. I do still wake up tired, but that’s because I’m an infotainment addict, and love reading, and catching up on my social media outlets. I’m slowly getting better at that as well! My new bedtime is usually around 10:30pm!

 

Soul My soul is refreshed right now! Nearly 10 days ago I attended Outcry a Christian Worship concert that renewed the Holy Spirit in me and refreshed any parts of me that were growing dull, or complacent. My annual trip into the BWCA is coming up soon, and I’m looking forward to attending that as well! Obviously I know that God exists outside of the BWCA but something about really getting out into the wilderness amps up His energy in my life. When I tune out the static I can actually hear from Him! Funny how that works!

 

Overall things are good. Life is good! Its now coming into the last week on Whole30! I will wait to post until the 30th instead of next Thursday/Friday and close out this series. I will continue to post my journey, and I’m already thinking about how I want to carry these new healthy behaviors into my daily lifestyle. Towards the beginning I mentioned something to my husband about, “Well once this is over I can have xyz… “ and he says, “Wait a minute… after 30 days you’re just going to go back to what you used to do?…”

Even if I don’t have any yucky reactions to certain foods I think I’m going to carry most of this lifestyle on.  After all if I’m feeling this good on the program, why go back to unhealthy behaviors if I’m thriving without?

Until nextime.

Whole30 – Week 2

I’m pretty sure week 2 was supposed to be the hardest week, and I was like screw that – I’m going to make the most delicious food in the universe so that I can fly right thru this phase!

After all – I’m looking forward to the  Tiger Blood phase which will be coming up in a few more days!

Friday April 8, 2016
Breakfast – Mini Fritatas
Lunch – Chicken Salad
Dinner – Sweet Potato Kale & Shrimp Skillet

Friday

Saturday April 9, 2016
Breakfast – Fruit, almond butter & Black Coffee
Lunch – Meatloaf
Dinner – This AMAZING Chocolate Chili!

I did miss my standard cheese on top, and saltine crackers, but made it crunchy by adding raw onions and jalapenos to it! Not bad! Not bad.

Saturday

Sunday April 10, 2016
Breakfast – AMAZING Potato & Italian Sausage skillet
Lunch – Left over Chili
Dinner – Pork Ribs with potato and italian sausage and a side salad.

Sunday

Pan seared the pork ribs in some ghee for a nice crunch, and finished in the oven. These were so good, I only wish we had more.

Monday April 11, 2016
Breakfast – Left over Potato/Sausage skillet & Black Coffee
Lunch – Chili
Dinner – Whole Chicken in Crockpot, with multi-color carrots & salad

Monday

Added just a pinch of sugar free chicken broth to the bottom of my crock-pot, sprinkled both sides of the chicken with cinnamon, and zested some lemon over the top. The chicken was out of this world! 

Tuesday April 12, 2016
Breakfast – Left over Potato/Sausage skillet & Black Coffee
Lunch – Chicken Salad
Dinner – My first meal out in the world!

Tuesday

I was really concerned how I was going to handle this. My friend and I were headed to a concert, so I didn’t have time to go home and eat, and didn’t want to just bring my dinner to work, so I called ahead to Rusty Taco after seeing the ingredients on the Picadillo Taco – I was confident I could make it Whole30 compliant. I spoke to the chef about what ingredients they use in their seasoning for the beef/potatoes, and what if any oil they cook the beef in. To my delight all I had to do was ask for it sans taco shell, and I was good to go! I did sneak in my own salsa though.

Wednesday April 13, 2016
Breakfast – Eggs, peppers, black coffee
Lunch – Left over chili
Dinner – Chicken Stir Fry

Wednesday

Can you tell I love jalapenos? I threw all of this into a skillet (left over chicken from Monday) along with my favorite veggies, and stir fried them in some coconut aminos, and garlic. Topped with my favorite cilantro over cauliflower rice!

Thursday April 14, 2016
Breakfast -Eggs, peppers, black coffee
Lunch – Left over stir fry
Dinner –Sweet Potato Kale & Shrimp Skillet

Thursday

Made the Sweet Potato, Kale & Shrimp skillet again! This photo is so much better than last Friday’s photo! But I swear it was the same food, and looked the same in real life. This is a super quick and easy meal that is from fridge to plate in about 20 minutes! That’s what I call a week night meal!

All in all – week 2 went amazing. So far I’m digging this. Of course there are nights when I think a nice glass of wine would really compliment my meal, but I am also enjoying life with no alcohol. My sleep is certainly improved without the sugar peeks and crashes.

Finally on April 14th I was hungry for breakfast, which I never am… so that was pleasant. I’m thinking my cortisol levels are finally normalizing.

I tried my first two Lara Bars in life. Cashew Cookie, which was okay, and Carrot Cake which was much better and tastier. In the evening before bed while watching shows sometimes I have a little bowl of cashews, blackberries and apple slices. I think that also has been helping me too!

Excited for the Tiger Blood now!

Tiger