Camping at Devil’s Lake State Park

By , August 31, 2015 6:27 am

It seems like people have been giving us rave reviews of Devil’s Lake State Park (in Wisconsin) since we moved to Illinois:

“The hiking is amazing!”

“It’s beautiful!”

“The landscape doesn’t seem like it belongs in Wisconsin!”

“The lake and beach are great!”

And warnings:

“It’s very popular – you have to book your campsite months in advance.”

Hearing all that, it’s a place we’ve wanted to check out for a long time, and finally did this weekend, with Rachel and her husband! And we did book our campsite months in advance – at the beginning of April. Ha, gave us lots of time to look forward to it, right?!

Unfortunately, with booking months in advance (or really, a week in advance), you don’t know what the weather is going to be like, and our first night (Friday) at the campsite had storms so we decided to head up Saturday morning, instead of camping there two nights as planned*.

It was still really foggy and overcast when we got there, and I wondered if it would clear up! Rachel and I went on a run where we climbed and climbed and we weren’t even awarded with a view! Ha ha. The fog looked neat (and eerie!) though!

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We took the East Bluff Woods Trail up

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And I have to say, right away, it did feel like we were somewhere… not in Wisconsin. Ha! Devil’s Lake was created 12,000 years ago during the last ice age (source) when a glacier deposited moraines at two gaps between the Baraboo Hills. The Baraboo Hills have been there for over a billion years, and are known for their 500-foot-high quartzite bluffs! Bluffs like that are definitely not something I am used to seeing around here!

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Click on image to see larger

After our run, we set up camp, made lunch, and it started to clear up! Beyond the storms the previous night, the temperature was great for camping – we could hike without feeling horrible, and sleep comfortably (as much as you can in a tent, anyway). There weren’t even that many bugs! Whuuuuuut?!?!

Rachel and Steven and I set out for a hike on Saturday. Ha. It turned in to a bit of a epic hike, due to a trail closure. We started out on the easy East Bluff Trail, to get views of the lake and see rock formations…

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We saw a whole group hiking with their remote control cars! Fun!

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… then when we got to the trail junction, the trail we planned to take down the bluff was closed so we had to hike down a 400′ drop in .3 miles (on the Potholes Trail)! And Steven had his DSLR on him! Eek! That was interesting. I slipped twice, once grabbing a tree before falling, and the second time, landing on my butt. It didn’t help that the lady behind me would say “watch out!” Um… yeah, I am. It was still a bit slick out from the previous night’s rain. That hike down was SCARY! It definitely would have been easier to go up it. We couldn’t believe we saw people carrying babies, going up! I hope they took an easier route down!

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We were relived when we got to flat land, and took the long way back, along the Tumbled Rocks Trail on the other side of the lake. I thought it was really cool we got to go all the way around the lake. We hiked nearly 6 miles!

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Which means when we got back, we were exhausted. Steven and I took a short nap**, then we all started dinner when we got up. Rachel and I had discussed meal ideas earlier in the week, and she very helpfully made a list of who should bring what (with her bringing much more of the camping supplies – they camp way more than us and it was nice for us to rely on them for some equipment!). We had canned chili for lunch, burgers and potatoes for dinner, and pancakes and fruit for breakfast the next day.

Ha ha, now, a bit about the campsite. The campsites are nice, with lots of amenities at the beaches. We were close enough to a bathroom with actual plumbing (there were pit toilets as well), and single stall showers that were a generous size (!!!). However… we all decided the campsite, in general, was too open for us . We got a site (#163 here) on the very edge, next to the woods, which made it feel more private, but we were right next to a major part of the campground road. And we could still see and hear everyone and everything. Camping isn’t about peace and quiet at a place like that, obviously, but we’re all the type that desire a bit more seclusion.

And we think that because our campsite was really close to the woods, our fire pit didn’t have any holes in it to let air in (so as to keep the fire smaller and under control?), so keeping a fire going took a lot of work! We were able to cook all our food, but not without some frustration (on everyone else’s end – I was all “derpitty do”).

With no fire, and feeling so tired from hiking, we went to bed nice and early on Saturday night! Ahhh! We brought our big (now, only*) tent, and it’s comfortable to sleep in. I did have to get up twice for the venture to the bathroom though, and to get more blankets. And I was having really horrible dreams. Eek!

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But I woke up excited for pancakes, and to hike a trail on the opposite side of the lake!

This time, Rachel and Kevin and I went out for a hike. We took the West Bluffs Trail up and the Tumbled Rocks Trail back to where we started.

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It was a less challenging hike than the day before, but we still hiked almost 4 miles, and my body still felt it, ha! Rachel and I were really impressed to see people running up the steeper trails. And really, running down them – the declines are no joke! There is actually a race series on these trails – Dances with Dirt – and after hiking there, I just can’t imagine trying to go any long distance there. Although, the course map makes it look like the races stay away from the bluffs. Anyway. Totally not on my radar. Really, hiking made me feel a bit out of shape, so maybe getting a bit healthier should be on my radar! Moving on…

We packed up after our hike, checked out the beach for a bit (brrr! but it felt so good on our legs), then headed home. The campground is about a three hour drive from our house, and I could totally see us going there again – maybe for a day? Rachel was saying how beautiful it is in the fall when the leaves change color! I can only imagine!!!

It was a fun weekend and we would like to camp again with Rachel and Kevin, and I’d like to become a more efficient camping packer! I did really well this time – the only things I brought and didn’t use were some clothes and s’more ingredients (sadness) – but I feel like I could get better about packing. Despite putting everything in specific bags for certain activities and meals, I still felt like my stuff was all over and I was going back and forth to the car a lot. Hmm, maybe that is what this type of camping is all about?

*Ha, Steven actually camped the previous weekend too, and our small tent was destroyed by a storm the second night, so we were TOTALLY fine with not setting up our tent in a storm, then sleeping
**We woke up when someone drove by and yelled “I am going to eat every one of you!!!” Ha ha ha… ok?

Training Week 306

By , August 30, 2015 6:45 pm

Highlight of the Week: Checking out Devil’s Lake State Park with Steven, Rachel and Kevin!

Week306

Monday | August 24, 2015: teaching strength class + 2 m run
Strength: soft balls, Difficulty: medium, Felt: good
Loc: hood, Temp: 62°/61°, Time: 18:11, Pace: 9:04 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, but tired and thirsty

Tuesday | August 25, 2015: rest (migraine)
Wednesday | August 26, 2015: 4 m run + 6 m run (incl. 6×400)
Loc: Chicago Lakefront Trail, Temp: 66°/65°, Time: 38:15, Pace: 9:33 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: hood, Temp: 64°/61°, Time: 55:24, Pace: 9:14 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, but should have stopped at 4 repeats

Thursday | August 27, 2015: 10 m ride + 10 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail + hood, Temp: 65°/68°, Time: 43:42, Pace: 13.7 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 69°/68°, Time: 1:42:03, Pace: 10:12 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: spent

Friday | August 28, 2015: teaching strength class + 8.5 m run
Strength: soft balls, Difficulty: medium, Felt: okay
Loc: Des Plaines River Trail, Temp: 70°/72°, Time: 1:29:28, Pace: 10:31, Difficulty: easy, Felt: better than Thursday!

Saturday | August 29, 2015: 5.8 m run (w/Rachel) + 5.65 m hike (w/Rachel & Steven)
Loc: Devil’s Lake State Park, Temp: 60°, Time: 1:13:50, Pace: 12:45 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: tired
Loc: Devil’s Lake State Park, Temp: 60°, Time: 2:54:22, Difficulty: medium, Felt: decent

Sunday | August 30, 2015: 3.85 m hike (w/Rachel & Kevin)
Loc: Devil’s Lake State Park, Temp: 64°, Time: 1:45:47, Difficulty: medium/easy, Felt: good

Notes:

  • I had planned a bit longer run on Monday, but I got this strange aura that spread across my eyes during the day and had to take a nap after work (before teaching) to try to get rid of it, so… no long run. Luckily, it went away! But it turned in to a migraine early Tuesday am. Grrrr.
  • I’ve been so lazy with riding my bike since RAGBRAI. I still ride once a week, and get about 10 miles in, but I’ve totally prioritized running over riding. I no longer ride to train, but to cross train. I still really enjoy it and hope I make some time to do one or two more long rides before it’s too cold to ride outside!
  • My legs were DEAD this week. It’s likely from two 50 mile running weeks in a row, then a leg intensive strength class on Monday. Needless to say… my runs and hikes were challenging this week!
  • But, hiking! And running! At Devil’s Lake State Park! We camped there this weekend and had a great time. What a beautiful place to visit! And I actually got to RUN with someone – Rachel! I hadn’t run with another runner since we did the Full Moon 5K together! Guess that’s what happens when your running partner moves and you’re kind of a loner runner as it is…

Link to Training Week 305

Backsplash!

By , August 27, 2015 6:21 am

Last week was the new water heater, this week was the new kitchen backsplash…

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… next up? New kitchen and foyer floor! Muchos improvements en nuestra casa!

I am SO happy with how the backsplash turned out. And relieved. We spent quite a bit of time at Home Depot (three locations), Lowe’s and Menards, and felt like we couldn’t find anything we liked that was in our price range, that didn’t look cheap, and wasn’t too dark/in the right color range. We thought we were going to have to go to a tile shop and custom design something, when we ran across this tile when we were shopping for our new water heater.

It looked good taped against the wall that night, but the real judgement day came this week when it was installed (we contracted out). And… we both love it! Phew!

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My uncertainty with finishes makes me laugh, since my title at work is “Interior Designer.” Ugh. What a lie! I had to tell someone my job title the other day, and the conversation didn’t warrant me explaining what I really do, and right away, they responded with comments about how they could use someone like me to help set up their new house, how good I must be with finishes, and so on. That response makes sense given what that title implies!!! But then I feel like a jackarse when I tell them that’s not what I actually do at work. I suppose there is no reason to let on to my lack of interior design skills if it’s not someone I’ll ever see again. Ha ha.

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GC Data inspecting the work (before being told to get off the counter!!!)

Super easy cowl

By , August 26, 2015 12:30 pm

Now that my snister’s birthday has passed, I can tell you what I was working on with that jumbo yarn – a cowl for her!

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Doesn’t it go perfectly with the hoodie Mom gave her?!

This is the first time the photo on the yarn label (<— click there for pattern) has attracted me to the skein first, rather than the yarn itself. A project that only requires one skein, and just 17 stitches per row? Sounds easy-peasy!

It was! Easy enough that I got three done in three days, only spending a bit more than an hour on each.

I made another for my friend Dawn, for her birthday.

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That’s me, not Dawn, ha ha

Steven liked the way they turned out, so I bought a skein to make him one as well*! I might even make myself one. Can you believe, that with all this knitting, I haven’t made anything for myself, yet?!

*Although he keeps asking when I’m going to knit him the tie he requested months ago, hee hee.

Cat therapy

By , August 24, 2015 6:01 am

When I was a senior in high school, I had open lunch* (do kids still get that, these days?) and a friend of mine who’d graduated two years before would come meet me. Which was AWESOME because we were only allocated twenty-five minutes for break, and having a friend come with food meant I actually got to enjoy lunch, instead of rushing around to get food then scarfing it down. (SIDE RANT: I totally blame how fast I eat on this (among other things)).

But what was even better about her visiting was that SHE BROUGHT HER CAT!

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Pre lunch cat-ppetizer. His name was Peaches, afterall.

A mutual friend of ours found this cat when he was just a few weeks old. My friend adopted him and had to bottle feed him for several weeks! Craziness!

But the cool thing about adopting him so young was that we had a lot of influence on his behavior (well, as much as you can with a cat). So I told my friend “You should take him on car rides so he’s used to riding in the car and doesn’t mind it!”

An that is exactly what she did. And I got to see him on my lunch break. Some nice cat therapy in the middle of the day!

I randomly remembered this when I was driving to Iowa this weekend. And thought to myself, “Man, it would be so nice to have cat therapy in the middle of the day at work. That would really calm me down.”

Then… duh. I work from home a lot of the time. Steven brings Data over to my desk when he can tell I am stressed, and it DOES calm me.

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And sometimes he visits my desk on his own…

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Which is surprisingly NOT calming, ha.

But seriously, when is something like this going to pop up by my office?! I think I was on to something back in high school…

*I had it as a junior too, and sometimes took it as a sophomore (shhhh).

Training Week 305

By , August 23, 2015 10:11 pm

Highlight of the Week: Two runs accompanied by family on their bikes!

Week305

Monday | August 17, 2015: 5 m run + teaching strength class
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 81°/84°, Time: 10:42, Pace: 53:31 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: hot, but good
Strength: body bars and boxing bags, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Tuesday | August 18, 2015: 5.5 m run (incl. 10×1:00) + 4.1 m run
Loc: Round Lake, Temp: 76°/76°, Time: 54:21, Pace: 9:53 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: pissy at work but intervals helped
Loc: to Gerber, Temp: 76°/75°, Time: 42:15, Pace: 10:19 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Wednesday | August 19, 2015: rest
Thursday | August 20, 2015: 8 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 61°/60°, Time: 1:20:43, Pace: 10:05 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Friday | August 21, 2015: teaching strength class + 14.4 m run + 6.6 ride
Strength: body bars and boxing bags, Difficulty: easy (mostly observing), Felt: okay
Loc: Around Round Lake, Temp: 75°/80°, Time: 2:35:36, Pace: 10:48, Difficulty: easy, Felt: really good
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 80°, Time: 32:17, Pace: 12.3 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: so hungry

Saturday | August 22, 2015: 3 m run (2 w/Dad & Will)
Loc: Guttenberg, Temp: 78°/79°, Time: 30:31, Pace: 10:09 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: okay (bathroom emergency!)
Sunday | August 23, 2015: 10.6 m run (w/Dad on bike)
Loc: Guttenberg, Temp: 63°/60°, Time: 1:57:38, Pace: 11:06 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Notes:

  • The last two Tuesdays I’ve been lucky enough to run errands… literally. Ha ha. Last week, I ran to the studio to train a personal client, and this week, I ran to the auto repair shop to pick up my car. It feels so purposeful to actually run somewhere to take care of something. And people’s reactions to it can be amusing. I was hoping to run another errand tomorrow, but it sounds like it won’t work out. Bummer!
  • The sample cool weather this week has me excited for fall running! Not that I don’t get excited about running now, but not being completely drenched in sweat sounds p-r-e-t-t-y amazing!
  • I feel so grateful that my family members are willing to ride their bike with me while I run – it’s a fantastic time to connect without (m)*any distractions. And I feel so grateful, in general, that they support that I workout at all, and don’t mind if I take a bit of time to do it when I am visiting them. It means a lot to me.

Link to Training Week 304

*There was that cute cat we stopped to pet today, but that was a welcome distraction.

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My first knitted blanket!

By , August 22, 2015 8:42 pm

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to give Christina the blanket I knitted her for her birthday – Data was claiming it for himself!

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It does bring out the yellow in his eyes!

… which was funny to me, because he’s never shown an interest in any knitting project until this one. And even then, he just liked to paw at the yarn – he seemed intimidated by the blanket itself while I was working on it.

But once I was done? All bets were off. He snuggled right up.

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And played a little.

I actually felt kind of guilty giving it away, since he loved it so much. I guess I will have to make him his own. I mean, it’s not like this one is cat sized – it’s a bit bigger!

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So, last year, Christina showed me a blanket she liked that had such big yarn you had to use PVC pipe to knit it (similar to this)! Crazy! I’ve had the idea to make her “big yarn” blanket since then, and when I found out I liked working with jumbo yarn so much, I decided to make her one with that (technically though, this yarn is “super bulky”).

The blanket was super easy to make (It’s 76 stitches, 80 rows, all knit) and didn’t take me too long (seven days – started Saturday and finished Friday), but it wasn’t without its issues. The first being that I needed a ton of yarn and couldn’t find any place that could get me enough skeins in the same lot. I didn’t want color variation if I did a solid color, so I decided to do stripes (I used 5 skeins each of Yarn Bee Astounding in Teal, White, Charcoal and Mustard – interesting, there was quite a bit of white and charcoal leftover, but no teal or mustard. Each skein was 43 yards.)

Then I decided the stripes needed to be long and narrow and tried to cast on all four colors, um… big nope, that was a fail. Then I tried a lace pattern to make it more interesting, since I was doing the color blocks the other way, and that took way too much time and was confusing. So finally, I decided to knit all the rows. Ha ha. Nice and easy.

Then there were all the knots in the skeins. GRRRRR! And then I ran out of yarn at the end while I was casting off, so I had to take two rows out and cast off again (this was actually a blessing in disguise because I had one extra row in there, anyway).

But it’s finished. And it actually got cool out the last day I was working on it and it felt nice to have such a cozy, warm blanket on my lap! Christina will get good use out of it in the fall and winter!

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I gave it to her today and she loved it! Yay!

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Now, back to work on the baby blanket…

Glorious

By , August 20, 2015 7:24 am

60°F but feels like 58°F with winds? Overcast and gloomy?!

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Feels like fall!

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Ahhhhhhhh.

I could run in this all day.

(But not really – I had to get home and take a shower before the installers came to put in a new water heater. Ha ha, I could hear them banging on the old water heater to remove it when I finished my shower… good timing?!)

Knitter’s rage

By , August 19, 2015 6:32 am

And rage, in general.

You know what makes me extremely irate when I am knitting? Finding knots like this throughout the skein.

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GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

I understand it’s going to happen, but 3-4 knots per skein?! When I am already using 5 skeins and have to weave all those loose ends in?! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! This project will never be finished! Ha ha.

Deep breaths, Kim. You know things are pretty good in life when you’re frustrated by something as trivial as one of your hobbies, right?!

Unfortunately though, it’s not just my hobbies. I was so stressed out when I took my lunch break yesterday that I ended up doing speedwork during my run. It wasn’t planned – I was just that frustrated and needed to get it out. It helped. I was too physically exhausted to be mentally annoyed anymore! Yay, speedwork!

I don’t think that solution is going to help every day though. Hopefully knitting goes back to being my calming activity!

Endless possibilities

By , August 18, 2015 6:14 am

A friend of mine is moving her oldest child in to college this week, and of course, it made me think back to when my parents (and snister, and then boyfriend (eek!)) helped me move in to Iowa State University.

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This picture is nuts! Dad’s hair is so dark! Christina is playing with a generic version of a PalmPilot! That carpet is crazy! Why did I think it was necessary to bring a giant stuffed turtle to college?! Ha ha ha.

It blows my mind to look at this picture now, and think about how I had no idea what direction my life would take. I had no idea I’d meet my future partner two days after this photo was taken. That I would start this blog and make friends all over the country (and parts of the world!). That I’d get to travel overseas twice in college. That I’d end up moving to Chicagoland. That I would work in private industry for a year and a half after college then move to a public sector job. That I’d get so in to running and exercise and eventually become a personal trainer. Crazy crazy crazy.

I wonder if most people look back and think, “Wow, it’s kind of nuts how I ended up where I am.”

Or maybe most people actually have one of those “life plan” thingys and some idea where they are headed?!

Ha ha. That is SO not me. Life planning* and goal setting do NOT come naturally to me. It’s a struggle. I am more likely to just see where the endless possibilities of life take me. And for me (and maybe a lot of people?) that mostly started when I left the nest.

*I mean long term planning. I am decent with short term. But five-year plan? Ten-year? Twenty? No idea.

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