5K in Every State: WI (and a trip to Door County)

~update at bottom of post~

Long story short, I finished the 5K! Woot woot! And even better, no search & rescue! BUT, before the running there was camping. I know, you’re thinking either I really hit my noggin or had some bad mushrooms on my salad. I’m not a camper; I pretty much have a no-camping rule, but I can be talked into just about anything once. So off I went to Door County to camp with my nephew and his family. In Wisconsin. In October.

Although I don’t see myself doing the camp-out thing again, I had a great time and it was good to see the fam. It was simply too cool for my comfort. The verbiage was different when I stepped out of the shower on day 2, but for the purposes of this blog, it was “too cool for my comfort.” Cell signals don’t exist out there, so I wasn’t able to check the temp, but I took a peek at the forecast before I arrived which said 50 daytime and 30s at night. I’m pretty sure we didn’t hit 50.

Keeping the fire burning
Nephew keeping the fire burning

The campfire was stoked, food grilled, and beer sipped. We even had live music with my niece playing guitar and singing. I brought my ukulele and she had that sounding sweet in no time too. Two more nieces arrived the next day and more catching up, singing, and a sitting-around-the-camp-fire-game I readily put out of my mind. I was already in Auntie heaven when things got really crazy and the holy grail of Auntie-ness was bestowed upon me: I was told I am hip. I’m HIP! That’s like having your selfie get a 100 likes. A HUNDRED!

Campfire music
Campfire music
LOVED the Auntie time
LOVED the Auntie time

Door County was either on the upside or downside of peak Fall colors, but I still got a pretty show on a morning run–which was cut short because I was startled terrified by a deer (another reason I’m not a camper).

People were actually tent camping
People were actually tent camping. Brrr!

On the spur of the moment my niece and I ran through the woods to catch the back side of a sunset. We got there maybe 5 minutes late, but it was worth the sprint!

Tail end of a sunset
Tail end of a sunset

We checked out a couple of towns in the area. Fish Creek is adorable with lots of little shops and places to eat. We had some tasty burgers and of course, cheese curds, at the Bayside Tavern. On my way out of town we stopped at the Wood Orchard Market in Egg Harbor where they put out samples of just about every food item they sell. Apples, jellies, pumpkin butter, salsa, and stuff I didn’t even look at. They got me on the apples, pumpkin butter and cheese curds. Could not resist. Then we hit Egg Harbor’s quaint downtown for their annual Pumpkin Patch fall festival. It was pretty darn cool.

Scored some hot tea at the Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor
Scored some hot tea at the Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor

But this was a three-pronged trip, and I had to say my farewells and be off. It was so nice to see my nephew and his family and sad to say goodbye. I don’t get to see them near enough.

Stopped in Green Bay to lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in 10 years. We talked about old times, caught up on the present (a whole lot of medical talk at this point in our lives). Lots of laughing and not much eating. We picked up right where we left off when we last saw each other. A sure sign of a true friend.

Then I made my way further south to the Madison area where I have more family (another nephew and his family), and it’s also where I booked the 5K. The Trample the Trails run at Donald Park in Mt. Horeb slapped me in the face with a starting race temp of 36 degrees. Geez! About half of the run was through grass, so the feet got right dewey wet and then the toes went a little frosty. It was a beautiful run through the park though.

Donald Park, Mt Horeb WI
Donald Park, Mt Horeb WI
Donald Park, Mt Horeb WI
Donald Park, Mt Horeb WI

The scenery was gorgeous and I couldn’t help but take some pics. Probably not what the typical runner does, but then again, I lean toward atypical most days. Ha! My two little nieces ran out about 50 yards from the finish line and crossed with me–my all-time favorite running moment! I’d like to bottle that and keep it with me forever. They were too cute for words and later gave me a mani/pedi, and special up-do, and made me bracelets. There is nothing like being pampered by the littles. I finally get Tina Fey’s toddler yogurt facial commercial.

Hair by Nine-Year-Old
Hair by Nine-Year-Old

Madison is a great little capitol city/college town, but the surrounding area is really interesting. Mt. Horeb is a Norwegian settlement, and the Chamber of Commerce has kept true to its heritage with the giant “Velkommen” sign out front. It’s also the troll capital of the world. Who knew? I had no idea the Duluth Trading Company was there. I’ve been all over their site and assumed the store was in Duluth. Makes sense, right? It’s like a Great Outdoor Provision Company, but more focused on clothing than gear. I’m glad my backpack was full when I arrived as I’m still trying to get to that minimalist state of being.

We checked out New Glarus, which is “America’s Little Switzerland.” Authentic Swiss bakery, shops, restaurants, and painted cows. Even on the bank.

You thought I was joking
You thought I was joking

My favorite part of New Glarus was the New Glarus Brewing Co. I’m not a craft beer kind of girl, but these I liked. Maybe it was the post-run high talking, but the Spotted Cow hit the spot. Beautiful place to taste some brews, and they even provided live alpenhorn music. It doesn’t get much better than sitting in the sun, catching up with family, and sipping a beer with the alpenhorns in the background.

New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus Brewing Co.
Alpenhorn players
Alpenhorn players
Staghorn, Raspberry Tart, and Spotted Cow
Staghorn, Raspberry Tart, and Spotted Cow
Our view while sipping beers
Our view while sipping beers

So my first out-of-state run is on the books and only 48 more to go! Was a great trip, especially spending time with family I don’t often get to see. The littles are adorable, and the older nieces are growing up. It’s cool to see them becoming young adults; to hear them talk about their ideals and the decisions they’re making now that will shape the rest of their lives. I kept it together while I was there, but now I get a little teary when I talk about them or replay the videos. I’m so sentimental over these moments now. All part of my much better perspective.

Cheers!
Kelly

UPDATE:
I initially thought my time for the 5K was over an hour, but thank goodness I was wrong! The official time for my first trail run was 53:29. Considering my times have been hanging around the 45 minute mark (and that I stopped to take photos), I am down with the digits, diggin’ the duration, copacetic with the clock…ok I’ll stop!

One Week in Wisconsin

Although I’ve been in North Carolina for nearly 15 years, my roots are Midwest. I did most of my growing up in Wisconsin (I’m a bona fide cheesehead), and most of my family is there, in Illinois and Minnesota. Last week I headed to America’s Dairyland to visit with Mom.

You wouldn’t think getting from here to there could be such a production, but Mom lives 2 hours from the nearest airport and there are no direct flights, with connections being 40 minutes (too risky) or nearly 3 hours. It makes for a long travel day, but a nice plate of sushi helped me pass the time. Thank goodness major airports have turned into shopping malls with terminals. Kayak told me I could actually get to Alaska in the same amount of time it takes to get to Mom in Wisconsin. How crazy is that? And yes, on April 29, it was snowing when I arrived.

But it’s all worth it to see her. Just look at this cuteness!

Looking good at 85!

Mom and I have always lived near one another with the exception of the past 5 or 6 years. It’s been tough for both of us. Sometimes we cry when I arrive or when I leave, and this time we cried when I called to say I had arrived safely at the airport on my way home.

It’s been quite an adjustment now that we’re 1,200 miles apart, but since we have so little time together these days, I try to make the most of what we have. And no matter the distance, we’re always with each other in our hearts.

During this visit, we took a day trip to see one of Mom’s closest friends. Mom and Clara have known each other since they were young girls, but hadn’t seen each other for at least 25 years. It was so sweet to see them together, chatting and laughing like they hadn’t missed a day.

Mom and Clara

We met Clara’s daughter and grandson who were about the nicest people I’ve ever met, and were treated to an incredible home cooked meal. Another evening we drove a full two blocks (it was raining) to see Mom’s sister who had a meal waiting for us too. You can’t drive across the street back home without a whole mess of food being put on the table. I’m all right with that. I cooked dinner for Mom one night complete with sparkling wine – we did it up nice!

I got to catch up with some dear friends of my own, my sisters, and my brother-in-law even took me out for a Friday night fish fry. One thing I miss is a good fish fry. I didn’t realize until I moved south that the Friday fish fry wasn’t a staple everywhere. It’s a Midwest and Northeast thing because of the large Catholic demographic in those regions (no meat on Fridays). The other thing I miss is a nice big bag of cheese curds. These too are found predominantly in the Midwest, Northeast, and Quebec. My opinion: everyone ought to add a bag of fresh, warm, squeaky curds to their bucket list. Seriously.

I had breakfast with friends at the Pal Cafe.
My Grandmother worked here circa 1930s/1940s.
With Sister Jude at the local lanes for a fish fry
Deep fried cheese curds. They make life better 🙂
Fresh cheese curds. Salty, squeaky, and not found in NC.

It was wonderful to see Mom and spend precious time with her. Going home always throws me into self-reflection mode and this time was no different. Life is fragile and fleeting and I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to realize that. But it’s not productive to dwell on the past, so I’ll cherish the present and embrace what the future holds.

Cheers!
Kelly

Improvised and Inexpensive Closet Organization – Mom’s Place

Yep, another closet. Everywhere I turn, there they are. Even at Mom’s. Back in October I took a little trip to visit Mom in Wisconsin. It was too cold to enjoy the outdoors (26 degrees for my a.m. run), and Mom goes to bed early, so I was itching to find a project. My shopping options were limited since she lives in a small town. There was a dollar store, a Shopko, and down the road a hardware store. I made use of all three for this little fix-up.

Mom and her dog, Beamer – they are a cute pair.
26 degrees, but the sunrise was beautiful!

I hadn’t planned on doing a before and after while on vacation and had only my cell to take pictures. And the lighting was not so good.  But you’ll get the idea.

Anywho, I spied a really messy closet (I lit up like a kid on Christmas morning!). Actually, two closets that are kind of one. It’s an odd set-up. I deemed the right side a broom closet and the left side a storage closet. Mom was hanging her coats on nails in the broom closet, stacked her cookbooks on the shelf above, and had a ridiculous number of plastic bags tossed in with a lot of other stuff.

The storage side was even worse. It’s a good-sized closet given the size of her apartment, but there was a lot of wasted space. There are two shelves along the back wall, and the rest of the space is open floor. Not even a place to hang coats.

The split closet was a mess. Mom needed help!
Coats on nails and cookbooks piled above.

So the first thing I did was install a tension rod supported by end brackets. Back up, the first thing I did was ask Mom if I could organize her closet. Then I installed the tension rod. Finally she had somewhere to hang her coats – and all of them, not just a couple. Above that, I attached a wall-mounted coat rack (similar to this one) for her purses. I did some good old cleaning out and organizing (like putting the cushion for the sofa bed on the sofa bed) and things were looking better.

Coat rack and place to hang purses!

I bought some white plastic bins from the dollar store to wrangle the smaller, everyday items Mom was always searching for and made labels from a paper grocery bag and string.

Dollar store bins handle small items.


I pulled everything out of the broom closet, and without the coats hanging on nails, there was room for – of all things – the mop and broom. I straightened up the cookbooks by putting the loose recipes in a bin and setting the books upright.

Finished product – not perfect, but much better!
 

 

A little funny, but not surprising, that I was organizing while on vacation. Even when I’m shopping I’ll tidy up products on the shelves. I can’t help myself. But, when it was all said and done, Mom loved it. She still uses the bins and is so happy to have a coat rack. I was kept busy and Mom is happy (and a wee bit more organized). That, folks, is called a win-win!

Cheers!
Kelly