Mini Waves

Julie is visiting me all week and we took a mini roadtrip in Wisconsin yesterday that included Amnicon Falls State Park, Ashland, Bayfield, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Here’s one of my favorite photos of the day from a stop at Meyers Beach in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore area. Such a beautiful day!

Lake Superior Apostle

Feeling Refreshed

I’ve been at UMD for just over a year. Can you believe it has been that long already? I can’t. Yet, at the same time I feel like I’ve been here for years. Not that long after I started at UMD, one of my dear friends became engaged and asked me to be in her wedding. I was honored to be asked and whole-heartedly accepted. The only snag in this otherwise glorious opportunity was that the wedding was to take place in the Milwaukee, WI, area…a whole 7-8 hour drive from Duluth. A weekend trip would not be enough time for really anything. So, my plan was hatched, save up vacation time (we earn a certain number of hours with each pay check) so that I could take the week before and week after off. During that time I’d relax and reunite with friends and family that live the SE Wisconsin area. A roadtrip, if you will. 🙂 Now that I’m a few days into my second week of vacation, I’m feeling fantastic about this decision. I’m feeling refreshed and re-energized. Reuniting with people has been great. My time away from the office has helped me to disconnect (as much as can be possible) and step away from the projects I’ve been immersing myself into this summer. Now that I’m in the calmer week of my vacation, I will be logging some time for my MBTI certification course. I’m excited to see how I feel once I’m back in the office. I hope the renewing sense extends through the rest of the summer and into the new school year.

Here are a few things I’ve done so far while on vacation. I’ve done more. These are just some highlights.

Wine tasting & tour of Wollersheim Winery with Ashley

Reunited with Ashley from grad school after a year of being apart.

Reunited with Kristen in Madison…the half-way point between Duluth & Toledo, OH.

Bascom Hall – Showed Kristen UW-Madison and we lunched with our friend Steph (another grad school classmate of mine).

 

Jenny & Marcus right before they exchanged vows. Such a wonderful day to witness a new family being born. 🙂

The Bride & Bridesmaids! L to R: Me, Julie, Joann, Jenny, Jenise, Rachel, Becca, Jaimie

 

Did some exploring in Milwaukee and made my way to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

 

Pattison State Park Hike

This past Saturday I was able to explore yet another state park. I hung out with some distant family members/friends (Kendra works at UMD in a different department than me and her husband Eric is a distant cousin of mine). We wanted to take advantage of the nice weather before it went away for a couple months. Originally we had thought about heading up the shore or to another park north of Duluth…and then we remembered that Saturday was the opening of gun deer hunting season in Minnesota. In MN, parts of state parks can be used for hunting. Instead, we drove down to Pattison State Park just south of Superior in Wisconsin. Pattison SP plays host to the highest waterfall in Wisconsin – Big Manitou Falls (165 feet). These falls are also the 4th highest east of the Rocky Mountains according the park’s website. The falls were beautiful and I definitely want to visit the park again when they are full of snowmelt in the spring.

While Kendra and I hiked, Eric went running on a different trail. Kendra and I were in “break out your cameras and leisure hike” moods on Saturday. It was great! After checking out Big Manitou Falls, we continued on the trail to see where it would lead us. The trail lead us down into gorge for the Black River (which is the river the runs over Big Manitou Falls). Once we were down in the gorge we took some time to enjoy the nature and to photograph the lovely afternoon light.

After having some fun with our cameras in the bottom of the gorge, we realized that we had 15 minutes before we had to meet up with Eric again. We busted a move to hike up out of the gorge. 🙂 At the very end of our trail we came across a porcupine having some grass for lunch. We couldn’t resist breaking out our cameras once again.

Here’s Kendra in action getting some good shots.

While Kendra was having her porcupine fun, I found this solitary leaf just hanging out on the trail. I thought it was so structural and pretty. Side note: the trail was only paved to the viewpoints for the water falls, after that it was dirt and leaves. 🙂

And finally, here’s my required photo with a sign for the park.

After we met up again with Eric, we did some more hiking on a different trail. No pictures though. I just enjoyed being outside, breathing in the fresh air, and not having to listen to gunshots in the distance (as we have had to do if we went to a MN park). All in all, a wonderful day spent with friends.

Nordic Hiking

Finally, yesterday we had some decent weather. It was upper 60’s, sunny, and slightly breezy. It was a perfect day for a hike. After work, my sister and I decided to go hiking at the Nordic trail that is a couple miles outside of Whitewater and part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. It was a great way to enjoy the weather while also practicing for our trip next week. I don’t know exactly how much hiking we’ll be doing as we head out to the Dakotas, but it’s nice to get a hike together under our belts before going. While we were hiking, I had my camera out (of course) and here are some of the results.

First 2011 Hike!

This past Sunday marked my first official hike of 2011. We’ve had some funky weather in Wisconsin the last week or so and I really didn’t know if I’d be able to get a hike in this weekend. Luckily, the wind calmed down enough to enjoy a nice walk through the woods. Currently, I live near the Kettle Moraine State Forest and am only a 10 minute drive from some decent hiking trails. I chose to hike on the Nordic trail and hiked on here last October as well. I like this trail because there’s a nice mix of hills and flats and also the trails are wide. The trail is used for hiking and skiing (hence, “Nordic”) and are well taken care of. I was hoping to try out my new camera some more…and I discovered the battery was dead when I got on the trail. So, I used my phone to capture my hike. It’s not the best quality and it does well in a pinch.

The trail - not a whole lot of green just yet.

One of the "hills"

Happy Hiker!

Map of the trails

So all of this fun was on Sunday. On Monday, this is what I woke up to:

Snow in mid/late April

Granted, it did all melt during the day. What hurts is that a week ago we were enjoying 80* weather and then it snowed. 😦 Today’s weather included ice pellets and rain. Ick.
Also, check out the Travels page. I did some updating over the weekend and attached blog posts to various places that I’ve visited during the past year.

Walking Along the Mississippi River

Today was the beginning of the WI Association of Colleges & Employers Conference (WI-ACE) in LaCrosse, WI. I promise to reflect on the conference at a later date once the event is finished. I had some down time during this afternoon and I decided to take a walk outside. I decided to brave the cold because our hotel is located right next to a park that is on the Mississippi River. The location and the setting sun were just screaming to have their picture taken. Plus, I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get some fresh air and sunshine. Here are some of the results of my outing.

Photo Contest

Over the past few years, my bank has sponsored a photo contest with the chosen pictures ending up in the bank calendar. The first year I entered, none of my pictures were chosen. Last year, one of my photos was chosen as a runner up and was published in the back of the calendar.

Last year’s runner-up winner:

 

Taken at Janesville’s Rotary Botanical Gardens May 2009

I just found out the other day that I had another runner-up picture for the 2011 calendar! Since the bank I’m with is a Wisconsin bank, the photos have to be of Wisconsin. I will admit that I struggled to find pictures to submit this year because most of the awesome pictures that I have taken in the recently have been of places outside of Wisconsin (I’ve been doing a lot of traveling). The picture of mine that was chosen for this year was pulled from my archives. 🙂

Taken at Janesville’s Rotary Botanical Gardens July 2008

My goal for next year is to make it into the actual months of the calendar!