Monday, November 30, 2020

My Everyday Life [Week 48]

Week 48 was a 2.5 day work week and a nice 4.5 day weekend! 

This juice from Costco is pretty good! I'm not a big ginger fan, so I didn't realize the juice contained it until I got home. It still tastes yummy! 

My intern likes to sit on my desk lately. 
And he stole my seat when I got up to stretch.
It snowed and then promptly melted, but I had a pretty view out my window for the day. 
On Thanksgiving day, we went to Stigler Nature Preserve to hike. Craig didn't know where we were going and I knew we were walking behind my old house, but I had no clue it was actually the woods I used to walk in when I was young. It was fun to see the creek and landscape I explored with my family growing up. We also walked close to my old house and saw the back of it. The trail is about a mile long loop and the paths are wide, which is great for social distancing.
Since we were in New Berlin, we decided to surprise Craig's family with a quick socially distanced visit on Thanksgiving. We hadn't seen them in 11 months. 
Mom and I took advantage of the free entrance to Waukesha County Parks and hiked at Fox River Park. It was her first time there and she enjoyed it. It was my first time hiking through the woods there. 
I Am Greta was excellent! What an inspiration. 
This was really good! 
Typical napping positions. 
I love my WFH lunches. 
I haphazardly threw a blanket on the couch and came back to find Shiva sleeping on it like this. 
Currently reading. I'm halfway through and enjoying it. It has been a very hyped up book this year. I'm hoping the last half is better than the first though.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

My Everyday Life [Week 47]

My everyday life posts will probably look the same most weeks (expect lots of cat photos, books, walks, hikes, and vegan food), but I'm going to bring them back and record what it's like to live in a pandemic.

These two bring Craig and I so much joy every day. I'm so thankful to still be working from home with them.

I had a PTO day on Monday and Pema was so snuggly. I couldn't resist that adorable face and let him cuddle with me as long as he wanted to. 
PTO days now include going to the grocery store when it's slower to avoid being exposed to as many people. I finally found this and it was ok. Definitely satisfied my chocolate craving. 
After the kitties eat breakfast, they like to sit on top of the couch and bask in the sun.
Now that I have my portable heater going off and on again, the cats curl up under my chair and fall asleep there. 
I listen to podcasts during my work day. Here are my two favorite episodes of the week.

This was an excellent podcast episode. It was about political divisiveness and The Better Angels Society
This was very sad and maddening. 
Our wonderful President-Elect celebrated his birthday on Friday!
I had book club via Zoom on Tuesday and we discussed Verity by Colleen Hoover. If you haven't read it, I recommend it for a fast and easy suspenseful title. We all liked the book for once!

I started reading this title and I really like it so far. 
On Saturday morning, mom and I headed out to Oconomowoc and I picked up Barack's new book at Books & Company. I could have purchased it for less at Costco or Amazon, but I wanted to support a local indie bookstore instead. I'm looking forward to starting it this week.
Mom and I walked north of downtown Oconomowoc and checked out the gorgeous mansions along Lac La Belle and Fowler Lake. 

This beauty has an amazing history, including the fact that Mark Twain once stayed there. I might not work in the history field anymore, but I still get so excited about the topic. When I go home from walks like this one, I immediately do research on the houses and people who lived there. 
I'd love to sit on that huge porch and read a book. 
More views from our walk...
The Oconomowoc area's first physician lived here and those columns are from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition!
My mom liked this swinging bench. It'd also be nice to sit here and read in the summer or fall. Such a gorgeous view of Lac La Belle. 
Poor mom had to deal with foggy glasses because I made her wear a mask while we walked. The COVID positive numbers are high right now and there were too many other people walking nearby or running past us. 
This is the sprawling Knollward Mansion. When we walked by it, I had no clue it had a neat history and former owner. Just read this article on it and check out the amazing photos. 
We walked around downtown Oconomowoc too. I always forget the worldwide premier of The Wizard of Oz took place there! 
This was so sad and impactful. 
Do yourself a favor and go watch this movie for free using the Peacock app! It's about former Reagan and Obama White House photographer Pete Souza. I cried a handful of times, even when they talked about the Affordable Care Act, as it was so refreshing to see politicians with empathy, humor, and intelligence again. Pete lives in Madison, WI now, so I am hoping he speaks somewhere nearby once this pandemic is over.
Most weeks, I'm composting my coffee beans, fruit peels, veggie scraps, etc. Trader Joe's now has compostable produce bags that you can throw in your at home composter. I do have reusable produce bags, but the pandemic has forced me to use the store's. 
I made Nora Cooks's vegan banana muffins and they're delicious. I like having a snack mid-morning with my coffee during the work day, so these will be nice to look forward to all week. 
Pema and Shiva both love banana bread. Pema really wanted to lick this bowl. 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Hiking 40 miles in October! Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Mammoth Challenge Recap

The Ice Age Trail celebrated their 40th anniversary in October and hosted a 40-mile hike challenge during their anniversary month. You could sign up as a team or individual and hike out and back segments or do the whole 40-mile hike at once. 

While Craig and I hike quite a bit, we hadn't explored much of the Ice Age Trail. And while my mom loves walking, she wasn't much of a hiker before. When I saw the challenge promoted on social media, I decided it would be a great way to socialize with my mom during the pandemic. It didn't take much convincing to get her to sign up with me.

We hiked eight times and checked out the Ice Age Trail communities of Delafield, Hartland, and Slinger. The black segments below are rough estimates of the segments we completed. 
Our first hike on Saturday, October 3rd was on the Lapham Peak Trail Segment from Wales to Waterville Road and back. The Ice Age Trail and Glacial Drumlin Trail are combined on this stretch and it was a flat, paved trail. It was rainy towards the end, but we managed to get in 4.75 miles. 

Loved the chalk message below which says "you're awesome!" It was a nice encouraging message to see on our walk. 
On Friday, October 9th, Craig joined us back in Wales again for a 3.08 mile sunset hike on the Lapham Peak trail segment. You can get access to the trail by parking in a small but free lot (no state park pass required) on Summit Avenue and you take the trail north into the beautiful woods.
 It was a nice trail that was pretty flat until we got closer to Lapham Peak itself. 
The next day, Saturday, October 10th, Craig, my mom, and I set out to hike a longer stretch in Hartland and check out a trail community. None of us had ever been to Hartland before, so it was fun to explore somewhere new. We had a gorgeous day for logging 4.17 miles. 
We parked for free at the Maple Wayside which is part of the Ice Age Marsh. We had a nice small trail to walk here and then went north into downtown Hartland. 
One of the requirements of visiting a trail community was to support local businesses. While I wasn't very keen on this requirement because of the pandemic, I was willing to go into small coffee shops and grab a treat. Mom and I got smoothies at Birch & Banyan coffee. My mango smoothie was delicious!
The trail through downtown Hartland wove through a couple of pretty parks and past the cute library, so we snuck in there for a short visit. 

The fall colors were definitely at peak on that weekend and were amazing! 

Next up was a Wednesday, October 14th evening hike at another part of the Lapham Peak trail segment. We parked in a free lot off of Cushing Park Rd and managed to get in 2.08 miles just before the sun was setting. This was the last of our evening hikes and it made me sad as it was great stress relief to walk after work!

Craig joined us and we brought our new Leki trekking poles for my mom to try out. Thanks to Craig's workplace wellness money, they ended up being free! 
Typical Craig did thorough research on how to use trekking poles and taught mom how to properly hike with them. Here is a link to a good article about the pros and cons of using poles. 
Mom got the hang of it pretty quickly!
We came to a hilly section with a big group of cairns in the woods.  
The trail was mainly a grassy path, but we came across some rocky paths in the woods. Mom was lucky to have the trekking poles in that section. 
I took a vacation day so we could hike more during the week and we set out to hike the Ice Age Trail community of Delafield on Friday, October 16th. Mom and I started by parking at the Nagawicka park and ride and walked the paved path west into downtown Delafield. We continued west past downtown Delafield and went south on Cushing Park Road to walk the path we previously hiked. This was our longest hike at 8.04 miles. It also was pretty cold out, but once we were a couple of miles into the walk, we were warm. At the end, we were determined to get to over 8 miles so we had to walk the path back and forth a few times! 
The boardwalk path just west of downtown borders a couple of ponds and rivers and offered some pretty fall foliage views. 
These wildflowers were so pretty! 
I was getting hungry on the way back, so I ordered a delicious green smoothie at Blue Collar Coffee Co in downtown Delafield. 
I don't know how we did it, but after that 8 mile hike, we woke up the next day on Saturday, October 17th and hiked again in the trail community of Slinger! This was our toughest hike yet at 6.05 miles at Pike Lake State Park. The fall leaves, rocky paths, and hills made it a challenge at times! We stopped at The Organic Market in Slinger so I could support a small business by buying a kombucha. It was a cute little health food store that featured a nice selection of brands I love. They also sell some vegan bakery, but much to my dismay, were sold out when we visited. 

I tried out the trekking poles for the first time until the trail got to be more difficult and mom needed them more than me. 
What a beautiful path to walk in the fall! 
The most southwestern part of the segment we reached was really tough. It was connecting through private lands that the Ice Age Trail has permission to include as part of the path. The trail was narrow and rocky. Those poles were really wonderful to have here. 
Our second to last hike was a total of 6.46 miles on the Eagle and Stoney Ridge segments on Tuesday, October 20th. I wanted to head north but we heard gunshots and we both did not feel comfortable walking near hunters. We didn't wear orange and call me a hippie vegan but I hate hunting, so we had to try to avoid it all together. While planning, I checked out this link on where hunting occurs during the seasons, but I didn't think the trail we went to was a hunting area. 
The change of plans worked out for the best! The Stoney Ridge segment was pretty and quiet. There were gunshots in the distance from a nearby shooting range, but it was better than hearing them right along the trail. 
The Ice Age Trail borders the edge of where a glacier settled in Wisconsin. It's been a while since I took geology, so correct me if I am wrong, but I think that's why we encountered some sandy paths. 
The Eagle part of the trail went through prairies, which were sometimes boring to walk through, but also offered sights of beautiful little bluebirds.
Our 8th and final hike was on Saturday, October 24th and we covered 5.44 miles back on the Lapham Peak segment. We walked the paved path again and then went into the pretty woods off of Summit. 
Celebrating being done with the challenge!
Our final total was 40.07 miles and I was so proud that we managed to hike that much together. What a great way to socialize, stay active and positive during the COVID pandemic! So thankful I could do this with my mama!