Winter Camping ~ Take 2

After my first successful winter camping trip last year, and pouring over plans with my friend Bre for several months on another trip this year my husband also became highly interested in the idea of winter camping and suggested we go winter camping ourselves this winter as well! Two trips in one year? I’m in!

So – on Wednesday February 15 we schlepped the kiddo off to my moms and the dogs off to Jason’s parents, and took off for the north woods – Ely area to be exact on an overcast Wednesday morning.

When we arrived to Ely we stopped by Piragis first to pick up our negative 30 degree sleeping bags and a Nemo Moki tent. We set it up at the store to ensure we knew what we were doing. It was a little clunky, but got it figured out fairly easy.

After we checked everything out  we drove by Whiteside Park where they had these amazing snow sculptures! I walked through, snapped some photos, and marveled at their creators handy work.

Next we checked into the Adventure Inn, a divergence from our usual bunkhouse lodging. It was a basic, but snug hotel with the most delightful (elderly) host Louise.  She was a doll, and was always so excited whenever she saw us. We promptly decided this would be our new go-to place when we stayed in Ely.

FINALLY, we ended the night by having dinner at Insula. I ate here twice with KC back in 2015 and fell head over heels in love with the joint, but hadn’t made it back since. After an a great hamburger (with Ghost pepper cheese) we went back to the hotel, got settled, and snuggled in for a night of RoboCop while I read my (William Kent Krueger) WKK book, Blood Hollow.

Deciding where to go on this trip was quite the challenge. I longed to see any kind of pictographs, so I had been thinking a nice and easy trip to Hegman Lake – with camping over on Little Bass Lake to provide a bit of solitude might be nice. After all – we probably wouldn’t do this trip in the spring/summer/fall months, so this was really interesting.

Another thought was Wood Lake – this was an easy one with the plethora of Northern available in the lake and we hadn’t been there before.

Finally the idea of heading to Snowbank and camping on Parent or Disappointment was also really intriguing. With Snowbank being a popular trout lake and us not having fished for trout before this was really really interesting.

All in all – we decided on Snowbank to Disappointment.

Thursday February 16

brittons
So – our alarms were set for 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Britons,  and were on the road by 9:00, and crossing Pickerel Bay of Snowbank by 10:00 a.m. The crossing proved mostly uneventful, but more tiresome than we expected. We finally found an ice road which was much easier to walk on since the snow was all packed down. I decided against wearing my life jacket when I saw cars on the lake, but still had my ice awls around my neck as we tromped across with my Frost River Isle Royale Jr pack strapped to me, and Jason pulling our sled.

We decided to take the shorter portage from Snowbank to Parent, and give up on Disappointment all together. In the future we agreed we’d both take a sled to spread out the weight a bit more. It was piled high, and heavy.

Crossing over by the portage to Parent we noticed a plethora of houses. Something new that we haven’t experienced before (houses so close to a portage). We got on the portage and immediately took in all of the devastation from last July’s blowdown.

There were trees down everywhere. Some of the pines were only blown over at the top making them look like they were straight out of Whoville and a Dr. Seuss book.

whoville

The portage was a bit up and down, but manageable.

Once we arrived on Parent we were completely alone. No boot, ski, or animal tracks. We were alone.

Jason wanted to camp on the ice, but I wanted the bathroom nearby since I was a bit shy to just – go on the ground. (Perhaps Quetico wouldn’t look good on me…) so we settled for a campsite taking care to not disturb it too much.

The site was full of blown down trees, including one that fell over right over the… modified fire-pit/kitchen area.

Someone had gone to great lengths to create a full size bench that could easily accommodate 6, and carved in the back to make it look more… luxurious. We were taken aback quite honestly.

bench

Then we saw on the tree that had fallen across the fire pit folks etching their initials in the wood. This made us sad, and equally less guilty feeling for camping at this summer site.

tree

Jason went to work drilling some holes nearby to get some tip-ups in and I organized our supplies.

The wind had picked up something fierce, and I started getting very – very cold. I made the very silly mistake of putting on too many tight layers, which is exactly what you DON’T want to do. There was no room between layers to warm me up. Luckily we had a bunch of handwarmers.   Jason and I started looking for firewood, and it appeared that down the shoreline there was a good deal of downed deadwood, so we hauled it back over, and started to get a fire going as we got our tent ready to set up.

This tent, while somewhat “easy” in the store to set up, is a total a$$hat in the field. The internal poles would not set up where they were supposed to. We had no trouble in the store, but they kept popping out of place in the field. Eventually we got them to stay after taking a little break, and trying again.

The fire was a bear to keep going. It was starving for oxygen, and the wood would not catch. We got it started enough (or rather threw enough small stuff at it) to boil some water and heat up our food and that was about it. While tending to – said “fire” we heard a mans voice behind us. We turned suddenly to find an old man and a dog in our camp thanking us for blazing a trail. He was on a day-ski to disappointment with his very large black Sheppard.

He was a local guy, and warned us that with the warm up, the whole area could be a nasty slush field. We shot the breeze a bit, and he was on his way.

Dinner was a super easy Prego Ready Meal, and enjoyed some hot cider with it. After the dishes were washed we went to bed around 6:00 p.m. since keeping a fire going was futile and listed to the wind howling as we tried to get warm in our sleeping bags. I definitely need to get different mittens. My hands, and frankly entire body was dangerously cold, and it was thanks to hand warmers that kept me going. I put some down on my femoral arteries, and the others in my armpits, and I was golden!

We both agreed that winter camping wasn’t exactly for us. Perhaps too much effort for the reward… No fish, no fire on day 1.

Friday February 17
After a fairly amazing night sleep in the woods (the best so far) we slept in a bit, and woke up around 8:00 a.m. which is crazy for us since we’re always up early in the field. Perhaps no kid- no dogs really did the trick! I read my WKK book and waited for the sun to come up higher and warm us up.

I noticed some frost on the ceiling of the tent, and it wasn’t until it started dripping on us, that I realized it was inside from condensation.

tent-frost

Shortly after our little “condensation rain shower”, we got up, loaded the sled, and went to the other side of the lake to do a little day fishing. Thought I heard some wolves howling. It started out as one. A long howl. Then eventually more, and more. Strangely I was not scared. Not even at all. I was curious. They were getting closer. In the end we decided it was most likely a dog sled team.  Out to the middle of the lake we brought our stove, some wood, and our breakfast out with us.

This. Was. Awesome.

I read my WKK book, and we enjoyed some coffee, and a Kind Breakfast bar in the middle of the lake while Jason worked the fishing.  Brilliant blue skies, and a silence that was the biggest comfort of the entire trip.

blue-1

blue-2

blue-3

blue-4

blue-5

As the day lagged on – and fishing proving futile, and our stove which was a pistol to boil water (never had such a hard time in our lives).. we decided to actually head back to Ely around 4pm, get a hotel room at the Adventure Inn again, and call this trip good.

So. That’s exactly what we did. We bused everything down, loaded everything up and headed back. The slush was getting pretty significant by now after a 50, or near 50 degree day on the lake, and we were glad we pulled the plug early. Peace out Parent Lake. May you give the spring and summer anglers better luck than us. And folks  – treat your campsites better.

We got back to the car with no trouble, and luckily Adventure Inn had one more room. A last minute cancellation! We took it, and actually got the same room we had two days before. From there we walked up to the Ely Steakhouse, and enjoyed a nice meal with some adult beverages.

We spoke at large about our summer trip, and our keen interest and excitement to get into the world of Hammock camping! This will be a good way to distribute our tent weight which is currently 12#, and will be very helpful for me in the summer as I hike the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). Lots to explore here, but we’re about 97% sure we’re going this route starting this spring!

The service at the restaurant was pretty poor/slow, so we will probably not be back. We were there on our first trip with the same issues. O’well.

After we got back to our room we promptly fell asleep and set no alarm.

Saturday February 18
Woke up leisurely around 8:30 a.m. grabbed the hotel coffee and pastries, and headed up the Echo trail to the Hegman entry point. Pulled in and two other cars were parked. A leisurely day trip out to the pictographs.

We walked along a very packed, very noticeable trail from the parking lot, all the way out to the pictos. It was a gorgeous walk, and I immediately regretted wearing my jacket, and hat. My wool sweater was plenty, so I took off my coat and carried it like a baby.

Finally got to the pictographs on the north end, and it was amazing. I was surprised at how high they were up and marveled at the artists drawing. To me – it was God the creator, or the Gitchi Manitou looking over his creation.

pictos

Finally we turned back, and saw scores of people walking in to see the great pictographs too. We estimated about 20 more people were hiking in after us. Definitely busting the rules and regs in the BWCA. The parking lot was completely full so people were parking on the Echo Trail!

Lastly we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Grilled Cheese Emporium with amazing service, dropped off our gear at Piragis, and headed home.

While winter camping may not be for us, the BWCA and wilderness adventure definitely is.

See ya in the summer Ely! See ya in the summer!

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Whole30 – Back Again

Whole30 back again
Check its records let’s begin
Party on party people let me hear some noise
W30’s in the house jump jump rejoice
There’s a party over here
A party over there
Wave your hands in the air
Shake your derriere
These three words when you’re gettin’ busy
Whoomp there it is
Hit me

Well – this girls dietary habits have been all willy-nilly since our spring BWCA trip when everything went to hell. In the back-country I was eating gluten every day, and hardly turned back since then.

Its been like a bulldozer of culinary Standard American Diet (SAD) over here and my body has definitely taken notice!  For me – eating Paleo is bliss and completely eliminates weird sneaky symptoms that I won’t bore you with right now. Of course its hard to get over the hump of the “I want to kill all the things“, but once you do, and I did – GOLDEN!

w30-timeline

For many people Whole30/eating Paleo can be expensive. The meat alone is enough to turn most people away, but I’m a lucky girl. We butcher our own pasture raised chickens, my husband got a deer this year, and we bought 1/4 of a cow, and 1/2 a hog at the beginning of December. While I won’t have that weekly expense – we still had to pay for it albeit much lower than grocery stores, but at top notch quality, and humane raising and butchering. #WinningAllAround

I start this adventure in eating and culinary bliss on Sunday! I know – a weird day to start anything, but last time I started on a Friday, and that’s kind of weird too. Today I hauled my butt to the grocery store(s) to stock up on a few groceries for the week.

We are hosting an NYE party at our house tonight so I wanted to have all of my ingredients needed for my first W30 breakfast rip-roaring-ready to go.

Here are a few of my favorite commercially prepared items I scored!

w30prep

Goals this time around:

1.) Finish – Okay – duh… but what I mean by that – is there is an awful tendency with round 2 Whole30ers bending the rules. I am determited NOT to be one of those people. My husband fully renovated our kitchen, I got a gorgeous new cutting board from Williams Sonoma, an Instant Pot, and a new kick ass Calphalon pan… So my goal is to stay on track, don’t cheat, don’t make exceptions, and finish again!

2.) Not going to take initial stats/measurement. This time around – weight loss isn’t a goal of mine. I just want to feel the best I can, and know I’m preparing healthy full rounded meals.

3.) I really REALLY want to do a Whole60, or at a minimum a Whole45 this time around – that is my BHAG (big harry audacious goal)… but we will see. I have two winter camping trips, and we all know what happened last time I went camping right after my last Whole30….

4.) Learn and experiment with some sustainable meals – that I CAN eat out in the back-country.

So that’s it. Short and sweet. I’m sure I’ll post next week on how the first week went. Happy New Year!

~ Until next time.

LA

Jesse Tree ~ Day 25

Day 25: Light of the Whole World
Luke 2

Merry Christmas to you – and yours! Thank you so much for tuning in and joining me over these past twenty-five days! I’ve never blogged so consistently before! It certainly was a task, but it was also so much fun looking for videos that tied into the daily scripture.

Thank you for allowing me to completely turn this into a Kid-Friendly series that you could share with your own families. I think that was the point anyways.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 ESV

Have a wonderful and blessed Merry Little Christmas!

Jesse Tree ~ Day 24

Merry Christmas Eve!
Day 24: Mary; The Miraculous Conception
Luke 1:26-38

Today is my absolute FAVORITE day of the entire year. Yes – tomorrow is Christmas, but there something pure and Holy about today!

God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she was going to have a
baby even though Mary was not married yet. The baby was going to be God’s son, Jesus. God, thank you for Jesus’s special birth. He was not born in Adam’s sin like all other men. He was the perfect lamb.

A little bonus – this is hands down my FAVORITE song! I’ve been listening to this on repeat this week, and usually post this on Facebook each year around this time. I have a more thorough blog post for adults here.

Jesse Tree ~ Day 23

Day 23: John the Baptist; Baptism with Water
Luke 1:57-80, 3:15-18

The first prophet in more than 400 years! In fact he is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth whom we learned about yesterday. John preached to walk away from the bad choices we make in our life, and turn towards God.

He wasn’t the messiah, but he paved the way for the true Messiah!

Action item: What would you tell people about Jesus if you had the chance?

where feet may fail – revisited…

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! This day ~ these past three years have been bitter – but always end up with a sweet lining. I often fret, and worry about this day – leading up to it… You see… today is not only my birthday – but also my Dads…

I swear… I was the luckiest gal to see the Outcry tour with my great friend Vanessa last April 2016. We saw Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, and… Hillsong United LIVE – front – row. Yes – Taya Smith in all of her God given vocal glory – belting out Oceans, literally 50 feet from me.

To say that wasn’t a moving experience…. well – there are just no words…

I’ve now been reviewing these lyrics on a near daily observance since 2013, and…

I thought it would be good to review this song once again – especially since it holds such anchors in my life, and within my own story.

By now, you know the story,and if you need a little history lesson you can always rewind, and take a peak here.

The lyrics of Oceans are still playing out wildly in my life. God never fails. I can say this with assurance. Though He doesn’t always play the chords I expect, the notes he chooses are always right, and always deliberate.

{I Invite you to hit play and listen to this song for the rest of the post}

Sometimes this is hard to swallow.

I often grow and birth such an anxiety about today… worrying relentlessly that my dad is not here to celebrate with me…

I know he is in a better place, but I long to see him. Though intellectually I know he is in a far better place, I want him here. Everything you LOVED about Zeek, you loved about my dad.. If there was ever a TV show about MY family ~ it WAS Parenthood, and my dad WAS Zeek. He was the bedrock of our family… our Zeek to our Parenthood.

He was my anchor – here in the flesh – here on earth.

But I realized today that I need to trust God in this area of my life too. I never saw it before – but right now – right here, he is asking me to get out of the boat, and I’ve been terrified like the other disciples, and stayed put.

Several days leading up to today leave me wondering, and drunk with fear on how am I going to get through today… but.I.always.do. I need to capture these thoughts of anxiety, because today – I realized these feelings of fear and anxiety are not from God.

Today – when things went amazingly well – I realized I can be Peter. I can get out of the boat, and walk on water too. Because Jesus is here right with me. Right now – during these times. God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Today I renew my prayer.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
                  Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Lord – I trust in you – that I can and DO still have a happy birthday. Thank you for those people that you’ve placed around me – that hold me up, and remind me that You’re right there waiting for me… on the water… with Your hand stretched out… ready to catch me if I should fall. Take away these feelings of fear and timidity.

Thank you – that Heaven is a real place – where my dad actually is. Though I have to remind myself that today is my birthday…. July 2 is my dads birthday now. When he entered into heaven – to an eternal celebration that is far better than I could ever imagine.

Help me to celebrate that you granted ME life, for a purpose – and I can feel okay celebrating that – and enjoying that. 

Thank you for your truth- and for speaking so clearly to me today.

I will call upon your name…
and keep my eyes above the waves…
My soul will rest in your embrace…
I am Yours… and You are mine…