My favorite place to visit (so far)

I love the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I have had a membership for years, but mostly I would only go for conferences or seminars for work. One of the many things I loved while working was joining committees to plan conferences, workshops and seminars. I was a member of a number of committees for these during my career in water resources. For a while, every fall we would hold a stormwater or shallow lakes summit here at the Arboretum and I would renew my membership at that time. I would intend to come out to visit or explore afterwards, but rarely did. Until COVID that is. During COVID this became my go-to spot for exercise! And I truly fell in love.

This month I have gone for an art class (drawing a stem of lilacs), Art in the Park, membership day and just a nice long walk on a sunny day. This whole experience has left me feeling like even though my job entailed going out and visiting with residents, teaching workshops or reviewing wetland delineations, that I have gotten out of touch with just being outside. I love it (other than the mosquitoes) and hope to visit many parks during my trip to Europe!

Here are some photos to enjoy and maybe entice you to stop by.

Now I am going back to plan my trip to Europe with all the changes I have made!

My backpack packed and ready to go

Confused and dismayed

I am deep into planning a trip to Europe for an extended amount of time (posts will be forthcoming as I get there). My housesitter is lined up, my neighbors all know what is happening and almost everything is paid for and scheduled. Whew. But….. Unfortunately I made a last minute change in schedule, opting for Toulon instead of central Marseille as a base of operations. I panicked to be honest. I had one person too many tell me how unsafe Marseille is for a woman on her own who doesn’t really speak French hardly at all. So, cancelled there and reserved a spot in Toulon in an apartment building that has a staffed lobby, yet is still within walking distance of a train station and the port. I feel so bad for the place I cancelled as I am sure she will have a tough time renting the unit so last minute, but they had free cancellation until September 1st. So here I am feeling guilty, but at the same time relieved at the decision. Does that make sense?

Forever Website Update

I have a teeny tiny professional website for Forever, a memory preservation site. Recently they did a major upgrade of their main website to try and make it easier for potential clients to find the services you need. You can purchase permanent storage; create and print albums or keepsakes (such as wall art, puzzles up to 1,000 pieces in size, mugs, glassware, cards (Christmas is coming!), photo gifts, and others); digitize photos, albums, or videos; or get assistance with filling out your family tree! I have had a lot of good luck with this company, so much so that I signed on as a Ambassador. To be honest, mostly to get the discount (I have a total of two customers, so I am NOT in it to make money). But I highly recommend their services, and they are always growing and adding on to the types of products they offer. Here is my website:

Life does happen in the blink of an eye, as they say. But as time goes on it can get fuzzier and fuzzier and you want to remember it all! Through Forever you can also purchase permanent storage, you don’t have to rely on Amazon or other photo storage service to remain in business in the future. In fact, your heirs can even inherit your account after you are gone! Always remember to label your photos or albums for the future. To learn more, go to:

However, you don’t need to purchase storage to use their services! You can use their free storage (2 mb) to upload photos to create pictures, albums, or other products. A new product, great for the family, are puzzles!

If you need help with a gift or project, please drop me a note and I can help point you in the right direction. If you have a lot of projects, that might even mean becoming your own Ambassador! Otherwise, I can sign you up to get notifications on upcoming events and specials. They also have a program where you can put away a small amount each month until you have enough saved up for a bigger project. I am starting to post some examples here:–2

Family Cruise – Wall Art Example

By the way, puzzles, photo gifts and drinkware are currently Buy One / Get One (BOGO) through August 8th. 🙂

Up Next?

Home from travelling and trying to recover while planning where next. My mind is not as exhausted and I am more present which is a big help. My goal now is getting into a better schedule for waking and sleeping (and cleaning). Some days I just want to stay up all night and sleep all morning, then get frustrated over how much I am missing out on. Motivation is coming in fits as I try to adjust to being home and not working. Being retired is starting to become more of a reality and I will need to figure out how to find purpose after work while being stuck between adventures and trying to not do a lot of shopping. (Unfortunately for me, shopping has become more of a boredom solver than something I truly enjoy doing, contrary to what everyone thinks.) Next up, finding ways to get out and enjoy!

The fun part, I got to babysit my grand-kitten Freya over last weekend. She is a joy and this time I was more present mentally and able to more fully enjoy my time with her. However, I did forget my cup (shown below with Freya) at my fitness club a couple days ago, not too mentally present as much as I think maybe?

For a restaurant recommendation, I suggest Big Bore BBQ in Hanover, MN. My son-in-law chose this for his birthday party and it was really, really good. I had the ribs and the fries with queso dip (yum!). They also did a great job with the birthday dessert presentation.

Log Cabins and bears = oh my!

I am sitting here, trying to recollect when I started coming to the Log Cabin Resort here in Trego, Wisconsin. My daughter, Tanya, found this place first, starting in one of the smaller cabins (the Pine Cabin, an efficiency really) with no working television but at least electricity and water. The draw was always the Namekogan River, the resort staff and the surroundings. And my daughter and son-in-law love to go tubing on the river.

Namekagon River – Wisconsin’s Moving National Park

I would camp in Shell Lake at the Red Barn Campground while they would come and stay here at the resort. Always the weekend of July 4th. Then in 2014 they weren’t able to make it and to maintain our reservation I stayed here, and that was that. Tanya had put our name on the waiting list for a 2-bedroom cabin which we got in 2015. So this is my 7th year in the Bear Cabin here at the resort. The current owners purchased the resort 5 years ago (awesome!). This is just something my daughter and I love to do together each year. Relax and cook and sample surrounding restaurants. Mostly for pizza and cheese curds! The staff are friendly and watchful; the tubing and canoeing operations are well-oiled machines; and the beach is great for swimming (just need to be careful of the current). I plan on coming as long as I am able to drive and lug up all my supplies!

Camping | Trego | Log Cabin Resort and Campground (

Trego is a small SMALL town. Mom and Dad used to own a home on the Namekogan River flowage, just upriver of the dam. My siblings and the grandchildren loved to come and visit in the summer. Being so close to the dam, the current was much tamer and we loved to swim there. The water was cold, but nowhere near as cold as Shell Lake! We were very sad when they sold the house and moved to Florida full time.

What is there to do in Trego? It has a great breakfast spot (The Prime), the river and national park land. Not much else. But it is between Hayward and Spooner as well as on the road from Eau Claire to Superior, Wisconsin. During the fourth of July weekend you see a lot of license plates from Minnesota! It is a great place to stay and you can find a lot of wonderful spots to eat, hike and visit. I definitely recommend a stop at the Lakeview in Shell Lake and a trip out to What the Heck in Spooner for sure, I always stop at these two and go from there. The Shell Lake Arts Center (Home – Shell Lake Arts Center), Perlick Distillery (Perlick Distillery), Pine Brook Farm and the beach in Shell Lake are also great places to stop. To burn off your food, try one of the local hiking trails, such as the the Trego hiking trail; visiting the Wilderness Walk in Hayward; shopping in Spooner; fishing or sailing in Shell Lake; swimming; or floating down the river. Just relax and breath.

What the Podcast? Part 2

I am now up in northern Wisconsin at a cabin in the woods, continuing to recover from my trip down south and back. My hands are starting to feel normal, my left knee is no longer numb from all the weird positions I had it in to drive so much and I am not so worn out. My mind is still locked in on some of the drama and unfortunate circumstances encountered during my trip, but family can be family! I love them so but we do drive each other nutty once in a while.

All I have to say regarding my recent trip, getting old can really take a toll when you just want to wander! I love driving and taking the scenic route. You see so much more than you do on the highway. The other side of driving so much, it is so easy to drift off mentally. Podcasts are a great way (for me) to help keep my mind in the here and now. Nothing that is too riveting, you are after all driving, but interesting.

New Favorites:
– The Join Us in France Travel Podcast – This is by Annie Sargent and gives you perspectives on on all things France! Her voice is wonderful to listen to which definitely helps. I am planning a trip to France in the future, and I definitely need to learn more.
– Donna & Steve – I know, I know, why recommend a local radio show podcast? But really, they are so fun to listen too. Funny, light-hearted and yet a bit competitive on their contests. Most of what they talk about is not so local that someone in another state couldn’t listen and understand what is going on. For example, the latest episode they talked about Tim Allen and Lightyear; hot dog toppings, Slow Jam and Beck. Not exactly local! They are on Talk Radio 107.1 here in town. All of the shows are great, but this is the one that I have tuned in to via podcast lately.

But now I am back home and planning my next trip! Reading all about train travel in Europe!

Book Review – Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews was a great summer read. A couple twisty mysteries to solve, a strong female lead, an unexpected friendship, and a few challenges to solve on the way to a new life after a tragic accident. When I first purchased the book, after recommending it for my book club sight unseen, I was a tad worried. It was definitely a heftier book than I expected so I took a little longer to work my way through it, but it was worth it and I loved the ending. Great for summer!

Stiff and Sore

This is another list, this one of what I do to help keep me moving and somewhat flexible while traveling. My body is a mess. I have scoliosis in my spine, fibromyalgia, severe tinnitus (with some hearing loss) and “extra deep” hip sockets (the surgeon said good news, no arthritis, bad news, nothing he could do to help). And why I get so paranoid about bonking my head (twice in the last couple weeks)? I had a subdural hematoma three years ago on my left side. Bonking the left side leads to a lot of anxiety and tight muscles in my neck. I try not to talk about it or complain, but I hurt all over all the time and it is a battle to move properly and easily at times. Move too much, wham, move too little, wham. So, spending a lot of time driving, or sitting, can be a challenge. Here are a few things that have helped me during this trip. And don’t get me started with physical therapists who say don’t do it if it hurts, I just want to laugh maniacally and then ask what????

  1. YouTube – Bob and Brad (
    Bob & Brad are two physical therapists who were recommended to me by a physical therapist I was seeing many years ago, when we were trying to figure out what was going on with my hips and legs. They are funny and offer a lot of quick videos on how to stretch, move, sleep and even crack your back when there isn’t a chiropractor near by. I love them!
  2. YouTube – Lynn Schuck (
    Lynn teaches a form of yoga called Eischens Yoga. She calls it yoga “… for the tired, the desk-bound, the stiff, the injured …”. I took some classes from here a few years ago and loved it. Her focus is on balancing the pose with what your body can do, that modifications are natural and you shouldn’t force yourself into what you think is the correct way to do a pose. She also has a variety of short sessions on YouTube to help with specific body parts. And I still hear her in my mind whenever I try to do certain yoga poses.
  3. YouTube – Laura Erdman-Luntz (
    Laura is an excellent yoga coach and she loves mixing essential oils with your practice. I haven’t kept up on using essential oils, I do use them occasionally to relax or help with my allergies, but not like I did while I was actively taking yoga classes with her and others. But long story short, she also has some nice short takes on moving with yoga and I recommend trying it out.

My goals is to find things I can do in a small area, in a hotel room, with no equipment. If you have any suggestions for others to try out please let me know! I could use them on my next road trip!

Now I am off to do some gentle movements and physical therapy exercises after sitting and resting all day! Allons-y mon ami!

UPDATE – I finally went in to the Emergency Room to get my head checked out. Good news, no sign of a new subdural hematoma or a stroke. Bad news, well it is still cranky old me. 🙂

Sevierville & Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Unfortunately, between a touch of altitude sickness after the mountain driving, being so stiff and sore from driving, and just mentally exhausted after the past month, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the area and stuck mostly to the towns. WOW what a tourist trap!! It was tough to find a place to eat or things to do that didn’t involve events or compounds. I had some great food here, don’t get me wrong, but wow. If I came back, it would be to totally avoid Gatlinburg proper and spend all my time out in the mountains or on the river.

What did I enjoy?
1. Scenic helicopter tour – This is more of a conquering my fear of heights more than a relaxing time up in the sky. But the staff were wonderful and the helicopter was comfortable. They put me in the front with the pilot, which not sure that was a good idea? There was open glass under my feet and I was so scare to touch anything! So I just gripped my seat and hung on. Sadly, it is a bit expensive, between the equipment, location and insurance I am not surprised. I did an “extended” tour and it lasted about 10 minutes and covered about 16 miles. The pilot was very helpful and calming and I am glad I went. I now have 4 helicopter flights under my belt, this was by-far the largest helicopter so far.

2. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
For my second day out I went to the Smoky Mountain Welcome Center and hopped on a trolley to go into Gatlinburg. Do NOT drive into Gatlinburg! The traffic is horrible and it is packed tourists, plus you will likely have to pay to park. Riding the trolley is free! The museum was fun, I love his museums so no surprise here. Gatlinburg is all about Ripley’s!

I also meandered down the streets after the museum, including a stop at Paula Deen’s store. Gatlinburg is a cute city, lots of fun shops, distilleries, and restaurants to check out, as well as a beautiful creek flowing through the town. To wrap up my day I had a really good dinner at a Mexican restaurant next to Ripley’s Aquarium (Jose’s).

I was thinking about going back into town for my last day here, perhaps to try out one of the ski lifts up the mountain, but decided I really just needed to rest today before pushing home. So I settled on some ice cream instead. 🙂 I asked about getting a massage close by but the hotel said they weren’t aware of anywhere reliable to recommend. So sad.

Bon soir, mon ami!

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

Up and down we go! Beautiful drive but tough on the noggin. Ears popping in and out, headache coming and going. But loved the scenery! Kind of a mixed bag I guess. And, I was sad at leaving my mom.

I have driven portions of the Blue Ridge before (1994 maybe?), from the north side of Virginia down to the south end of Virginia during fall leaf-peeping season, at that time I also stopped at the Luray Caverns. Someday maybe I will be able to connect the two journeys! Now I started at the beginning point in North Carolina before heading up towards Kodak, Tennessee. I did stop at the Folk Art Center, how can you resist? Such beautiful crafts and a nice little museum even. Definitely a recommended stop!

Here are some pictures from the drive.

I also saw some of Stan Tekiela’s books in the store! He was a co-worker, before I retired, and I love seeing all his books out in the world.

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