Thursday, January 28, 2016

Outdoors Whenever Possible

After David's pair of hiking boots arrived, you could find us about four or five nights per week walking outside. Sometimes we went to a trail, sometimes we hiked after dark on the streets of our town, and sometimes we didn't use our hiking boots at all and instead walked laps around the inside of our church building due to extremely cold temperatures or a schedule which didn't allow us to walk till late into the night.

We loved the boots. We loved hiking outside. Who needs snowshoes? Apparently, we did, which we found out real quick when we decided to try hiking on a trail in a state park near our home. It was not packed down and we realized with each, slow, prodding, step, that snowshoes would make it much more enjoyable.

So look what we did!
It is even in one of my favorite colors!
The first day we bought them we went to a trail near the store. Figuring out how to tighten the straps was much easier thanks to a fellow hiker who kindly offered us advice. Strapped on, poles set to the right length, off we marched. It was loud. Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. But it was fun and we were glad to get them.

The very next day we decided to try again the trail near our home which originally made us aware that the money should be spent on snowshoes.

At the trail head waiting for me to stop taking pictures

We had gotten another inch of powdery snow during the night and we quickly fell in love with snowshoeing. Wow! Easy, smooth, and more quiet, hiking on fresh snow as opposed to packed snow was fun. Off we hiked and often commented on how much easier it was to hike this trail than the last time.

At one point we reached the junction where the first time we chose to turn and go back to the car, but should we go straight and hike longer this time was the question. I said yes as quickly as a child who is asked if they would like some ice-cream.

On and on and on we hiked, enjoying the quiet woods, the trail to ourselves, and making connections on where we were in relation to the lake near-by.

We started to get hot. Hats off, scarves untucked, sometimes gloves removed as we continued down the trail wondering just how far this went before it turned to the left and wandered back toward the car.

It began to snow lightly and I thought this was the most magical experience. On we hiked, not meeting another soul. David's app told us we had now hiked 2 miles. We were tired. Realizing that we were out there longer than I anticipated, we stopped so I could call the kids and give directions on finishing supper. We also took a selfie.

Notice our red faces glowing from the exercise and being outside
Finally after another half mile we arrived at the car. We took off our snowshoes, loaded them and ourselves into the vehicle and drove the short distance home. For the rest of the night, we sat in our chairs drinking water wondering why we had gone such a long distance. Whose idea was it to go straight? But we both agree, this, to us, beats any indoor exercise, and our mantra has become outdoors whenever possible!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Off My Tush

Walking during the spring, summer, and fall has been a great joy of mine. Putting on my tennis shoes, starting one of my favorite albums on my iPod, and hitting the streets or trails around my house has done wonders for my heart, legs, and especially my peace of mind. I also had walking partners the last two summers, David in 2014 and Hannah in 2015 which was a nice way to pass the time and chat with two of my favorite people.

Unfortunately winter has interrupted these enjoyable conversations and walks. Although I knew that I needed to do something to continue this heart-healthy, mind-saving activity, I had yet to hit upon a winning idea. In the past treadmills and elliptical machines have tried to keep me going through the long winter months. The winter of 2014-2015 I bought and used the PiYo dvd's from Beach Body. None of these lasted, I came to dread them and easily found excuses to not do them each and every day.

Last winter during Christmas break, we went once again to camp with our good friends. We've done this in years past, but this one was the best week ever. The snow was perfect for daily enjoying the tubing runs, walking around outside, enjoying the fireplace, plus our friends and family and of course the food. One day we all tramped down to put on skis and tried cross-country skiing. It was marvelous. Easy to learn, invigorating to do, I couldn't get enough. I was hooked. Coming home from camp we were ready to go buy ourselves skies and hit the trails in the state parks around our area. But we didn't. Not much snow the rest of the winter, plus the cost, led us to wait.

Along came summer and I was back to my daily walks with tennis shoes, my daughter, and forgetting winter would come around again. Winter finally arrived in late December. David and I spent New Year's day trying snow-shoeing in a state park where we could rent the shoes and see what we thought. It was great fun. We were hooked. Let's buy some we said.

David began his research and although we have good, heavy, snow boots, which hooked onto the snowshoes at the state trail, there are better, lighter, hiking boots that would be easier. Plus, we could use them just as hiking boots around the streets of town when we couldn't get to the trail. Off to the store we went and I came home with a pair. David came home with an order slip since the store didn't have his size in stock.

I couldn't wait to use mine. Friday found me hiking down the trail among freshly fallen snow. Perfect temperature of about 32 degrees which meant I could wear only fleece pants and not my snow pants and I found my winter happy place.

My new hiking boots

Me - happy hiking

Great traction, easy to walk-in, and warm to -25 (yet to be tested by me)

Even shoveled or non-shoveled sidewalks or sloppy streets will be hike-able in my new shoes

Two miles later I was glowing from the walk and knew hubby had hit on how to keep me happy and walking in the winter. His should arrive in the next day or two and he is looking forward to joining me on the trail. Amazing to me is how much I am excited by being outside enjoying the cold weather and the snow. It makes me as happy as my walking all through the summer. Fortunately a benefit is that I am now motivated to get off my tush and keep active during the winter.

Friday, January 08, 2016


I have decided to arrange my book challenge for 2016 different from past years. Having really enjoyed my Year of the Re-Read, I knew I wanted to add other books to that list for this year, and instead of listing books I plan to read or sign-up for any specific challenges, I am simply picking a number.

52, on average one per week. Since that is the number I read in 2015, I know it is doable. If it is more, than I'll be thrilled!

Here are what I have on my list so far.

Vince Flynn novels: 13 total
C.S. Lewis - The Space Trilogy
Why We Get Fat - Gary Taubes
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Friends (mainly my kids):
Mysterious Benedict Society books
The Book Thief
Gregor the Overlander

Vince Flynn's latest, which was my Christmas gift from the children
Katie Shcuermann, "House of Living Stones" and "The Choir Immortal"
Maeve Binchy: "Mindy Frankie," "Full House," "Echoes"
Jane Austin: as many of the following as strikes my fancy this year: "Mansfield Park," "Northanger Abbey," "Persuasion," "Lady Susan"
C. S. Lewis: "Till We Have Faces"

There will be book club books picked for me as well. The first will be Virginia Woolfe's "Mrs. Dalloway."

Already I'm reading "Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child" by Anthony Esolen which is part of my responsibility as a board member liaison on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee for Wittenberg Academy.

I purposefully did not make a whole list of 52 books. It is my hope that having freedom to pick things amongst the ones I need to read will help me keep interest in reading and not only reach but exceed my goal of 52 in 2016.