Bookworm Workout

Once Upon a Time…

like just this week, I was struggling to find my normal workout determination and motivation. I was looking for adventure, a unique and fit activity that would occupy both mind and body while enjoying the spectacular fall weather…so I did a little brainstorming.

And lately, Friends, I’ve noticed some super cute little book houses popping up all over town. So I decided to do a little research to learn more. I was intrigued to discover that some of these neighborhood libraries are part of a nonprofit organization initiative that fosters free neighborhood book exchanges around the WORLD! I found this information about Little Free Library here. And upon doing a search of my hometown of Rochester, MN, I found this…

But when I took a closer look at the map, I realized there were quite a few more around town I had seen that were not on this map. So I dug deeper and did a little search for Rochester neighborhood libraries and was sent to my local library’s website that provided me a map with even more options…

I enlarged the map enough to jot down multiple addresses in an area I wanted to explore and my adventure took shape. I made a mental map of the route I would take on my bike considering safety and distance. I filled my waterbottle, tossed a snack in my backpack, secured my bike helmet and was ready to ride! I rode for only a couple blocks before I came to the first one.

Now keep in mind, the selection is small, but changing daily. Also, the cost is free and there are no due dates or late fees…my kind of library! I was impressed with what I found within in terms of something for everyone. Friends, there were board books for babies, picture books for toddlers, early readers for preschooler-primary, chapter books for the more experienced, adult non-fiction and fiction…so many genres in one little place. I didn’t find a book that sparked my interest, but no worries…I had several more addresses to explore. So after a big drink of water, on I rolled!

This little library was color coordinated with the owner’s house…how cute is that? And again, a wide assortment of titles for all ages. Still nothing for me, but I was just getting started.

This one was painted to resemble some of the flowers in this owner’s beautiful garden. This was beginning to be somewhat of an art tour as well. I think how excited my boys would have been if these had been around when they were little. I imagined them popping out of the bike trailer to see what fun things awaited them at each stop! Just thinking about it made me smile.

What inviting little places to pause! This house offered a bench to enjoy the library’s contents right then and there in case you wanted to stop by for a quick little read. I took the opportunity to hydrate before moving on.

This library was perched on the edge of an enchanting garden with a welcoming bench lining the sidewalk and driveway…how nice is that?!? I’d put several miles down between these stops and was beginning to get hungry, so I sat down to enjoy my snack while perusing a Minnesota wildflowers book. I’d yet to find a book that called to me, but I wasn’t done yet, and I was getting one heck of a great workout! Time to hydrate!

Stop after stop, I was becoming more excited with each library I arrived at because this was like a fun little treasure hunt. I knew, eventually, I’d find a book or two that were meant for me!

And there it was…just the inspiration I was hoping to find! I popped that baby into my backpack, excited to find something that will light my motivational fire. I could hardly wait to get home and start reading, but I had a few more addresses to go. I marveled at how many miles I’d gone and how much fun I was having. Could this really count as a workout lol?!? Another drink break and I was back on the road.

The more I stopped, the more I found myself thinking about putting one of these babies in my front yard. I would LOVE to share the gift of reading with my neighbors! As I starting considering the possibilities of what ours might look like, I arrived at the final address on my list. I was grateful I had found a book, but figured it would be the only one I was returning home with until I spotted this…

I LOVE when the universe works in this way because as I spotted the title, I knew that book had my name written all over it; it was there just waiting for ME! Not only had I enjoyed an amazing outdoor workout, I found just the thing that will keep me motivated for many rides to come…a biking trail guide for Minnesota and Western Wisconsin! BOOM!

I rode home with renewed energy. This had turned out to be a great day…getting fit with lit hahaha!

Friends, if you are in need of renewed motivation and a creative workout, look up your community’s neighborhood and little free libraries, map them out and get moving. This bookworm workout is one more way to put our Best Foot Forward and…

Live Happily and Healthily Ever After!

 

Great Lakes Gelatin to the Rescue

Friends, I happened to glance through my Facebook memories this morning and got hit with a biggie…

This was kind of the beginning of the end, so to speak. A year ago today my knee decided to show me who was in control of my upcoming race schedule; unfortunately, it wasn’t me.

 

I did some physical therapy, consulted sports med, got a juicy dose of cortisone injected all in aim to put me at the start line of last year’s Marine Corps Marathon in October. Somehow I crossed the finish line that day too, but it was the end of far more than that race.

I’m not a great patient, nor am I patient, so the rest of the story is my own darn fault. My next option for treatment was a round of more injections, but that didn’t appeal to me at all, so I limped my own direction. I was dealing with pain from a combination of a mad meniscus, patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) and a raging mad case of osteoarthritis.

My running came to a screeching halt. I was frustrated but did what I could to keep moving. I’ve continued to strength train the best I can. What I did enjoy about being slowed down was catching up with friends. Those who were intimidated by running have joined me for walks. Others have shown up on the mat next to me for some restorative yoga. I was able to keep the swelling in check by frequent icing and modifying my activities, but no matter how easy I’d been taking it, I couldn’t get relief from the pain.

I worked turmeric and glucosamine chondrointin supplements into my diet, but they never seemed to make much of a difference.

I continued to hobble around until July when I schlepped myself to Blogfest at IDEA World Convention…all things Fitness and Nutrition in Vegas. All those workouts and walking, boy was my knee angry! I looked at a lot of products designed to ease my discomfort, but when I literally stumbled upon the fine folks of Great Lakes Gelatin and read about their Collagen Hydrolysate, I was intrigued. But when they generously put the product in my hand and encouraged me to give it a try, of course I had to! What did I have to lose but pain and inflammation! They told me to give it a month to 45 days to notice a difference. I was grateful, but skeptical…why would this be different from what I’ve tried?

I started mixing the powder into my morning coffee at the end of July and within a week’s time I already noticed a marked reduction in pain and increased mobility. As the days went on, I no longer needed to ice my knee because the inflammation was gone! I continued to take the gelatin and in August I was traipsing around the Boundary Waters with a canoe on my shoulders!

Although my knee got kind of cranky from this epic trek, the inflammation never came back! A few days of rest following that trip and it was feeling fine again. I felt foolish at the beginning of this month when I looked closer at the can and realized I could have been taking it TWICE a day, so I’ve started doing that to experience its full effect.

Friends, I must admit I am not cured. I still experience some stiffness and discomfort when the clouds and thunderstorms roll through, but NOTHING like it was. I’m back doing almost everything in the gym because not only does it not hurt, the tightness and thickness that previously grounded me has diminished!

I plan to continue using this product because I am astounded by the difference it has made! I should tell you too, that I’ve noticed some bonus benefits of a great complexion and stronger nails and hair. And for a lady in my mid-40’s…I’ll take all the help I can get!

If you’ve been struggling with age or sports-related collagen loss/cartilage damage or joint/pain discomfort, consult your physician. But also keep Great Lakes Gelatin in mind for what your doctor-recommended pain relievers can’t help!

I whole-heartedly give this stuff the FIT BFFs stamp of approval!

Fine Tuning my Hospital Strategy

Friends, I drive past Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys Hospital Campus frequently. I was born here, had a fractured arm reset in second grade, visited the ER more times than I would’ve liked including my auto accident trauma drama. I honestly admit that each time I drive past, I thank the man upstairs every day I’m not there. I also send some positive thoughts upward for those that are.

I feel the heaviness of others when I pass by because I recall gut-wrenching days spent there with pretty heartbreaking outcomes for loved ones.

Unfortunately, yesterday found me there around the clock as my mother-in-law underwent a very delicate surgery. A day like that reminds me how fortunate we are to have world class medical care right here in our own backyard.

Before my weight loss journey, I would treat this day as the enemy…sedentary for hours in the waiting room, emotional binge eating to no end and panic stricken with worry and anxiety. Thinking back to my dad’s lung surgery simply haunts me. Thankfully I’ve learned to approach this kind of day with a more mindful strategy…take for example how I handled my husband’s surgery a couple years ago in case you missed it…

Despite the outcome, that turned out to be a pretty successful day. Recalling that experience, I was able to face yesterday’s uncertainty by putting my needs first, to take great care of myself so I could be stronger for others. Here’s what that looked like…

Once we got my MIL checked in and off to surgery and enjoyed a cup of coffee with her sister, I did something postive to feel helpful in this setting.

Someone will be receiving a pint of high-octane enthusiasm!

Next, I hydrated and fueled on something smarter than a blood donor center cookie…what better snack than an RX bar at a hospital haha?!? After a quick recovery I wandered upstairs…

The chapel was a beautiful place to release my concerns, leaving them to the guy in charge. Feeling peace filled, I returned to the waiting room for an update from my husband and his aunt. I spent some time blogging a great recipe, then it was off to lunch. I advocated for a place across the street, an escape from those four walls where I chose a nourishing lunch to be proud of…salmon salad for the win!

We were already starting to feel some exhausting effects of being up at 4 am, but our day was far from over. Heading back to the waiting room to find surgery was still underway.

I find it so interesting that if the Mayo Clinic calls sitting the next smoking, why in the world are there no treadmills in waiting rooms? Think of the power they could generate to make Mayo greener too?!? I mean, just a thought, Friends.

It was time for me to move more, so I racked up some steps exploring this fine historic piece of Rochester like a tourist.

The courtyard was a great place to breathe deep!

Then back inside for an educational look at St. Marys beginning, like this first operating table designed and constructed by Dr. Charles H. Mayo in 1889! There are some pretty cool relics in that heritage hall.

Back upstairs to the waiting room where it is now well into the afternoon…still in surgery. I take some time to catch up on e-mails, school notifications, scheduling, snack. This place is still filled with nervous people and energy and it isn’t long before I’m back out wandering the halls to avoid them.

A stop in the gift shop for an essential oil boost gave me some energetic support I was hoping for. I continued out onto the grounds to this amazing little place.

What a thoughtful spot for some peaceful meditation. I sort of lost myself there, lost all track of time. I received a text that although surgery was still in progress, we were being moved up to the ICU floor, so I headed that way. And just like that, I was validated for my efforts…

Hit my 10,000 step daily goal…BOOM!

More family joined us and soon I was feasting on a well-balanced, calorie counted hospital cafeteria dinner that was AWESOME. It was time to settle in for some relaxation and zone out on the NFL Kickoff.

We didn’t get word from the surgeon until nearly 9 pm that the day’s efforts had been a success…nearly 12 hours I might have spent worrying, I left the impatiens to the flowers outside lol!

We knew she was in the hands of one of the world’s finest neurosurgeons…so thank goodness I’ve learned that worry changes nothing but my blood pressure and weight!

After some reflection and time spent within those walls, I am fired up, now more than ever, about wellness as a defense against aging/illness. It was an exhausting day for all of us, but I slept well knowing I had taken great care of me…put my Best Foot Forward!

I look forward to driving past that hospital again soon, filled with gratitude for what miracles they work there but thankful every day that I don’t need one!

 

Buddha Garden Salad

Friends, I’ve been playing around with Buddha bowls and various salad recipes all summer.

Now, with the bounty of cherry tomatoes in my garden kicked into high gear, I’ve had ample opportunity to craft the pinnacle recipe. This salad is bursting with freshness; the flavors vary from one bite to the next, but each is equally refreshing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Print

Buddha Garden Salad

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 7
Author Carla Anderson FIT BFFs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried quinoa, prepared
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 medium avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small sauce pan, prepare according to package directions.

  2. In large bowl, combine blueberries, cherry tomatoes, corn, cucumber, garbanzo beans, garlic, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Add cooked quinoa and mix.

  3. Salad can be refrigerated at this point until served; mix in avocado just before serving.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Info...

Calories: 147 per 1 cup serving

Fat: 4.4g. Fiber: 5.8g. Protein: 5g. Carbs: 25g. Sodium: 66.1mg.

Win-It Wednesday Shugar Soapworks Winners

Happy Win-It Wednesday, Friends! I want to take this opportunity to thank the generous folks at Shugar Soapworks for providing two collections of their wonderful soaps for this week’s giveaway…if you missed my review of their products, you can check it out here.

And the winners are…

Karen P. & Kimberly P.

Congratulations! I’ll email you for shipping info, Karen and Kimberly.

Many thanks to all who entered! If you didn’t win, you are still very lucky because you can find these great soaps at a retailer near you.

If you haven’t experienced Shugar Soapworks and Venezia Soapworks, what are you waiting for?!?

My September Goal…Back to Basics!

Happy September, fellow FIT BFFs! Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. They’ve survived another action-packed summer and it’s time for the kids to go back to school! It’s time for students to be reunited with friends and return to a predictable schedule.

This becomes the perfect time for parents to return to themselves, so to speak. Back-to-school season is a great time for parents to get motivated, to refocus on their own personal goals…that’s what I’m doing.

Although I’ve lost a significant amount of weight within the past 5 years, I’ve experienced the slow and silent creep of partial regain. Hey, it happens, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. Instead, I’m reminding myself (and anyone else who’s interested) just what it’s going to take. This is what I’m calling my…

Brightly Colored Childrens Toy Magnetic Alphabet Letters on White Background

A is for Attitude, make sure it’s the positive kind.

is for Breathe…take time to quiet your mind and soul.

is for Calories, yeah, they count. Read those labels and stick to a serving size. One.

is for Determination. Some days will be easy but others you’ll need to dig deep. You’ve got this!

is for Every Day…a fresh new opportunity to be successful, so go for it!

is for Food! Remember it’s fuel and your stomach is not a garbage can!

is for Goals. Set them. Reach them. Set more!!!

is for Hard! Heck yeah, it’s hard! If it weren’t, everyone would do it!

is for Inspiration…look for it in others, never stop seeking it out. Soon you’ll be inspiring others too.

is for Journaling. Write down everything you eat…EVERY. SINGLE. THING!!!

K is for Keep Going! Start over as many times as it takes…just keep going!

L is for Lifestyle Changes…lots of little modifications make big differences. Huge.

M is for Mindful Eating. Eat at the table. Don’t rush or distract yourself with TV, computer or phone.

is for Never Give Up. Ever!

is for One Day at a Time. Results take time; be patient! Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so focus on today.

is for Promise…promise yourself that you will see this through. All the way!

is for Quit, don’t you dare! And, for Pete’s sake, quit saying ” I can’t.”

is for Reward Yourself. You’re working so hard and you deserve it; buy that new pair of (running) shoes!

S is for Sleep! Get it. Lots of it. You need it….enough said.

is for Try New Things. Try it all…new activities, classes, ideas, foods and recipes.

is for Unstoppable. Convince yourself that you are, and you ARE!

V is for Vegetables. Eat them, all kinds of them; they are a weight loss friend!

is for Water…drink it often. Lots of it!

is for eXercise. Often. Do the active things you enjoy frequently.

is for You Are Not Alone. Many are on similar journeys. Find them and support one other.

Z is for Zero Regret….what you will have when you give it all you’ve got!!!

Although this may seem a vague goal, I’ll be reminding myself of these ABCs daily to move forward in the month of September, mind, body and spirit. I’d love to hear from you…what’s your plan this month?

Win-It Wednesday Shugar Soapworks

Happy Win-It Wednesday, fellow FIT BFFs! Earlier this week I reviewed some great products from Shugar Soapworks. If you missed it, you can check that out here.

Thanks to the generosity of the kind folks at Shugar Soapworks, we have partnered to give away an entire BOX of their product to TWO lucky readers!

To enter, simply leave a comment below between now and Tuesday, September 5th, midnight central time, sharing which scent you are most eager to try.

Want an extra entry? LIKE this Win-It Wednesday post on the FIT BFFs Facebook page.

Giveaway open to US residents only. Randomly selected winners will be announced here on Win-It Wednesday, September 6th…good luck!

Shugar Soapworks Review

Friends, I have a little confession to make; it’s time for me to come clean about something. Last month an aroma-filled package arrived in my mailbox from Shugar Soapworks. They generously provided me with a full-sized sample bar of each of their eight regular line soaps…

I thought I could provide a better product review if I shared with others, so I enlisted the help of my friend Angela and my mom. They were both as eager as I was to test drive these soaps! Before I tell you what we thought, check out what I learned about them on the company’s website…

  • made only from the purest plant-derived ingredients and never contain sulfates, parabens, colors or animal by-products
  • each bar is tripple milled to ensure a rich lather, then hard-pressed so it won’t crack or fall apart
  • vegan friendly/no animal by-products/cruelty free
  • made in the USA…in a sustainably-driven manufacturing operation in Commerce, CA
  • available at Dollar Tree and Dollar General (and more) stores across the US!!!

Size matters, Friends, when I opened the box of the Oatmeal & Lavendar bar, I was immediately struck at the enormous size of it…7 ounces!

Both my mom and Angela were both surprised by its size as well. I stayed in contact with them over the next couple weeks to compare their impressions with mine. My mom quickly noticed how the Rose bar’s scent seemed to freshen the room and she really enjoyed its fragrance on her skin. She appreciated how nicely it lathered and how well it rinsed off. She expressed how well the bar held up to daily use, not getting mushy. After several weeks of use, she is completely satisfied with the product and continues to enjoy the experience.

Angela gave the Honey Almond a try. She found the scent of this bar to be very subtle.  Angela wasn’t left feeling at all perfumed after use and would have preferred for the waning scent of that bar to be much stronger. What she liked was how she felt like she had lotion on following use. She stated that since she’s the only one using it, the huge-sized bar is going to last her the rest of the year!

I have pretty sensitive skin, so I was a little hesitant, but I am really enjoying the Oatmeal & Lavendar bar. I’ve noticed zero irritations. Its subtle scent is pleasant, yet not overpowering. I like how quickly the bar lathers and easily rinses off. Because each bar contains a blend of pure essential oils, my skin is left feeling well moisturized. I’ve noticed despite weeks of use, the bar is still enormous. And I’ll admit, I have never really stuck with any particular brand of bath soap and after trying a number of brands, I’m impressed with the longevity of this particular bar’s life

I’m downright fascinated by this product’s great value! It’s hard for me to believe that a soap of such generous size and such long life costs just a dollar, so I took a little trip to my neighborhood Dollar Tree, and there it was! I love a good deal, Friends!

But if that isn’t reason enough for me to be sold, a quick visit to Shugar Soapworks’ website sealed the deal!

They are doing some amazing things with charity work across the country with their Clean Hands Save Lives initiative. You can even take the opportunity to nominate a charity, Friends!

Great company, great product…but why take my word for it? You can find out yourself for just $1! So what are you waiting for?!?

 

I

 

Life-Changing Adventure

I’ve been quiet lately, Friends…recovering from an unforgettable expedition and struggling to encompass my myriad of thoughts into words that would adequately express a recent experience.

First, let me back up to remind you of the mentorship I was involved in with this young lady. This link describes an important year we shared.

Upon graduation from the program, we were encouraged to continue meeting. So when I read about an all expenses paid 5-day/4-night Boundary Waters Canoe Area adventure offered by our mentor organization, Bolder Options and partnered by Quetico Foundation US, I could barely believe it! I quickly pitched the idea to an apprehensive mentee, explaining this trip would be an opportunity of a lifetime. It took some convincing because some of the details were beyond her comfort zone, but she bravely agreed!

I wouldn’t have pressured her if I didn’t think she could handle it, but I knew from my many adventures as a Boy Scout Mom the lasting impact this experience would leave!

I picked her up insanely early the first morning to travel to Minneapolis in time to meet the rest. We then caught a van with several other mentor pairs and our fearless guides. What I didn’t know until we arrived at Seagull Outfitters later that evening…the men and women would have separate journeys. This simply meant I’d have to brush up on my toughness, bring my A game. I mean, there are moose and bears out there, Folks!

It’s not like we signed up for any old walk in the park. As our Bolder Options shirts remind us…All it Takes is All You Got!

No worries, Friends, I slapped on my confidence mindset to assure the others (and me) that everything would be fine! I took comfort in knowing this was not the other ladies’ first rodeo either.

We spent the evening packing only our basic essentials into dry bags, then adding them with our gear into mammoth camp packs.

 

It suddenly became very real as we double and triple-checked our lists.

Once we ventured out that next morning, there was no turning back…we either had everything or we didn’t! We caught a ride with our gear and canoes to our starting point…

Where we transferred to tow boats and where it got extremely real!

 

Parting from civilization can be quite intimidating, but we are all strong warriors…resourceful, resilient WOMEN! We were dropped at our starting point to regroup and find our rhythm.

And wouldn’t you know, before I even began to paddle, I spotted my first sign of many that everything would be perfect (thanks, Dad)!

And so it began, our journey was in forward motion. I couldn’t help thinking how cool it was that these three generations of remarkable women, each walking vastly different paths in life, converged in this moment. How blessed we all were to have come together, immersed in nature.

It took some time to find confidence in each endeavor; paddling and portaging took some fine-tuning, but we soon found our groove.

 

We each learned lessons, acquired new skills. Our comfort zones grew and stretched as we attained new competancies along the way. There were canoes to secure, tents to pitch, a quick dip!

 

Latrines to find, water to filter, food to prepare, dishes to wash…we were finding our way together as a tribe.

 

And between the work came moments of deep connection. This glimpse right here, this is exactly the soulful experience I hoped would happen for Kiara on this trip!

But she wasn’t the only one deeply touched by our surroundings. There were a multitude of breathtaking views like this throughout our sojourn for all to consume with our whole hearts. Looking back, I almost forgot how the mosquitoes terrorized us!

No matter, it was all part of the experience! Night turned to morning and it was time for this well bonded clan of nomads to pick up camp and move on!

Another day of much the same…

 

Hours on the water gives one time to reflect; I was deeply mesmerized by it and found myself thinking what a NSV…non scale victory this was for me. I never could have considered mentoring at my starting weight of 246, would never have had the strength or endurance this trip required. It also filled me with such gratitude knowing I’d survived that car accident a few years back too. My broken ribs/sternum, my constricted shoulders, neck, collarbone…all healed and stronger than ever. The proof was right there before me…

And my recent knee injury, well I just told that thing to shut up; I mean when else would I be able to do this?

We continued to experience victory after marvelous victory…check out this girl’s first fire!

Not only did she rock that, she proved her toughness when she withstood a foot covered in leeches…all the props, Girl!

We perfected campsite feng shui…

 

There was ample opportunity to bare our vulnerabilities to one another, freedom for each to openly shine their bright light so the rest could find their way. We laughed, we cried, we laughed a bunch more…what beautiful, wonderful women inside and out!

  

We continued to read each little sign along the way.

 

It felt like Mother Nature herself had planned every detail of this experience for us, granting profound abundance for all.

 

She practically serenaded us to sleep!

Or maybe that was the hum of the bazillion mosquitoes just outside our tents lol! Haha, either way, she took wonderful care of us, she even aligned the storms to strike at just the right moment…not only did they hold out until after we were off the water, they gave us time to be safely tucked in too.

 

I think we all would have enjoyed another day or two out there, because it felt way too soon to return to the outfitters to join back up with the guys. I’m sure they were left with awesome memories of their own.

I’m grateful we got to share this leg of our journeys together, and hope we cross paths again, Bolder/Quetico Friends! No doubt we each left BWCA profoundly changed, and I don’t just mean those mosquito bites!

Crushing My August Goal

Recently, my friend Katie and I loosely planned an outdoor adventure on Minnesota’s North Shore with the option of a visit to Canada because the call of the wild loudly beckoned both of us! Incidentally, this fit quite nicely within my August fitness goal to embrace summer before it’s gone!

My temperamental knee behaved well during training sessions in the weeks leading up to our adventure. I set an intention to experience everything I could, but to listen well to my body…a simple mindset.

I was nearly giddy with anticipation on my drive to Minnespolis. Katie was kind enough to put me up for the night so we could get an early start the next morning. This was to be a whirlwind of a weekend trip…non-stop from beginning to end. And, we were off! As we caught up with each other, the miles flew by…

Our energy was through the roof and we were ready to conquer the world! With no concrete plan, we were free to explore at will. So we hopped out at Jay Cooke State Park so Katie could get a taste of what I love about that place!

Yeah…I think she liked it!

We took advantage of this magnificent backdrop to enjoy a quick hiker’s lunch on the banks of the Saint Louis River. And then is was back in the car to put down some more miles.

Next stop, the SHT office…(careful spelling that one) the Superior Hiking Trail office in Two Harbors.

The woman there was a wealth of wisdom as we considered our options for the weekend. I’m not sure if this stop solidified our plans or overwhelmed us with countless more ideas, but we left with expert info. Back in the car! Next it was Katie’s turn to introduce me to a thoughful spot.

 

Yeah, I might have enjoyed Palisade Head just a little haha! What a perfect place to stretch our legs before jumping back on the road. Katie’s so full of surprises because she knew what was just ahead, and I’m so glad she did…

Seriously! What an extraordinary peek through a bridge!!! And then back on the road because we were headed to one of our best kept secrets…the Hungry Hippie Hostel just outside of Grand Marais.

This place had everything we needed and more. I’d never roomed in a hostel before but after this experience, I’d do it all again!

 

The ambiance was so “summer camp” reminiscent. We were very comfortable there and enjoyed the exquisite view of Lake Superior and the sunset.

 

And that was my sign to head to bed!

Because we had some pretty extraordinary plans early the next morning…

Plans that involved a sunrise and some sun salutations on the tranquil shore of Lake Superior…ahhhhh.

It was a quick savasana though because we had some international plans…how namaste?!?

We quickly traveled up to Ontario where we stopped to savor one of Katie’s family “up north” traditions…a smoked fish. It’s what’s for breakfast lol!

 

Yum! Well fueled, we headed into Thunder Bay to explore a bit of the Canadian lifestyle. Then stopped at a Gouda cheese farm; it was gooood-a (see what I did there?)! And then we were off for the real reason we crossed the border. We were on an elusive waterfall hunt and Pigeon River was home to this!

We weathered quite a rainstorm to behold this beaut, but so glad we did! I am in love with waterfalls, the roar of the water, the kiss of the mist, the energy you feel from your head to feet. SWOON!

My how the time was flying! We headed back to the states and Grand Marais, enjoyed some local fare despite the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Picnic Weekend; time to rest up for our last action-packed day!

This one started bright and early because there was still much to see! We had the amazing Judge C R Magney State Park to ourselves and beheld the mysterious Devil’s Kettle…

The gorgeous morning seemed to cheer us on in our endeavors as we took off for our next destination. Dear God, the stairs…these views did not come without a price and my knee was beginning to pay.

But the effort was well worth it! Cascade River State Park did not disappoint!

The climbs and decents were worth it every time! Check out the view on our next hike at Temperance River State Park!

There was beauty around every turn! This state of ours is such a playground, and such soul food too. But heavy-duty hikers can’t subsist on that alone, so refueling was necessary, but so welcome in a dining room like this…

Our legs were pretty fried at that point and we were feeling pretty weathered too, but there was one more waterfall we refused to miss, so we decended and climbed some insane terrain to take in our final award for our efforts…

  

Wow, Tettagouche State Park. Just Wow!

Sadly, our North Shore trek came to a close as quickly as it had arrived. Friends, we left everything we had on those trails but would do it all over again.

Because what this wildnerness sojourn took from us physically replenished so much more.