The Notch Trail #TripTip #NationalTakeAHikeDay (3 photos)

If you ever find yourself in the Badlands National Park, South Dakota, there is one view you shouldn’t miss, that is, if you are not faint of heart or afraid of heights.

The trail is 1.5 miles (round trip) and is provides a dramatic view of the White River Valley once you get to the top. The trail includes climbing a log ladder and follows a ledge to “the Notch.”

I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but at times found myself clinging to dirt walls as I navigated my way along the thin ledges or taking it real slow so as not to trip.

#TripTip: Plan this hike for spring, summer or fall. Be sure to bring water and think twice about bringing your small children on this trail with you.

DSC_0362 Website
Kristin reaching the top of the log ladder on the Notch Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
DSC_0381 Website
View of the White River Valley. You can see the Visitor Center, just off to the right on the Notch Trail in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
DSC_0394 Website
View looking toward the log ladder. I placed a red arrow to show the top of the ladder to give some perspective of how high the ladder is.





Library of Congress Treasure Hunt! (6 photos)

This last summer, I had the chance to go to the Library of Congress and #NationalAuthorsDay is the perfect day to blog about it! I’ve always wanted to go there… I mean, it’s the library of libraries being that it’s the largest in the world!

AND, I wanted to make sure to go “inside” the Main Reading Room like in the movie “National Treasure,” when the treasure hunters are looking for the infamous “Book of Secrets” that holds all of the U.S. presidents’ secrets from alien autopsies to the truth about the JFK assassination, as well as the location of buried treasure. Of course, we know that’s not true, but the Main Reading Room does exist!

And let me tell you! Getting into the Main Reading Room is similar to a treasure hunt!

TripTip: In order to go into the Main Reading Room, you first need to have a Library of Congress library card. And, of course, it’s not easy to get one! First, you have to fill out an online form before your visit (found on their website). Then, you have to go pick up your library card in one of the nearby Library of Congress buildings. Here they confirm you are who you say you are using your Driver’s License, take your photo and Voila! They make your library card while you wait.

And, in order to get into the Main Reading Room once inside the Thomas Jefferson Building, you have to go to the first floor, walk through this winding hallway under the Main Reading Room, then back up one floor, to the entrance, where you sign in, walk through a detector and you’re in!

Yes, it is like all libraries, quiet! However, I felt like every whisper echoed off the walls!

Worth every effort to experience being in the “big room.”

You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the Reading Room, but they have an overlook, which is where these photos were taken.

Enjoy these photos!

P.S. On this #NationalAuthorsDay, be sure to purchase some books by your favorite author to support them!

The Great Hall
Me standing in the Library of Congress Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington DC. I’m holding the two children’s books I wrote.


Below are photos taken from the second floor looking into the Main Reading Room.Main Reading RoomMain Reading RoomMain Reading RoomMain Reading RoomMain Reading Room

The Rock in the House #TripTip (6 photos)

If you find yourself driving along the Great River Road along the Mississippi River, there’s a quick stop you must see. The Rock in the House on the north side of Fountain City, Wisconsin.

For $2.00 a person from 10-6pm, you can see where a 55-ton boulder rolled down the cliff and crashed into a house on April 24, 1995.

It’s amazing that no one was hurt when this boulder rolled down the hill and crashed into the house. The people who owned the house on April 5, 1901, weren’t so lucky when a 5-ton boulder rolled on to the house (where the garage was in 1995), killing Mrs. Dubler, but missing her blind husband who slept next to her in the same bed.

Read more about The Rock in the House.

With two boulders hitting this house, we didn’t linger very long.

Enjoy the photos!

2640 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017-Edit Website
The boulder that rolled down the hill into the house came from the area circled in red. View of the house is from the front.
2661 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
Back of the house view. You can see the boulder just under the window.
2639 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
This is a view looking into the room where the boulder landed.
2649 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
To the right is the view into the room where the rock landed (photo above). Kristin is touching the rock.
2651 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
Back of the house view, where you can clearly see the boulder. Kristin is standing next to the rock so you can see how large it is!
IMG_3810 Website
View of the rock inside the house.





Weekend Fall Getaway #TripTip (10 photos)

This past weekend, we stayed at the Hawks View Cottages and Lodges, which is tucked away on top of the bluffs along the Mississippi River in Fountain City, Wisconsin.

Getting up to the cottages is, let’s say, a steep encounter. We brought the Jeep for the steep drive up, then schlepped our things up about 85+ steep steps. The Redtail Cottage we stayed in was cozy and offered an amazing view of the Mississippi River between the tree branches.

#TripTip: Book early! We booked in March for October. We wanted to book the Coopers Hawk Cottage at the very top, but it was already booked. We also hoped the fall leaves would still be changing colors, but we missed the peak fall colors by a few days.

Enjoy the photos!

IMG_3558 Website
From our Jeep looking up to our cottage from the parking lot.
2635 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
At the bottom of the stairs, looking up to our cottage.
IMG_6506 Website
Half way up the stairs to our cottage!
2669 FountainCityOctober 21, 2017 Website
View looking toward the Mississippi River from the end of the front deck.
2665 FountainCityOctober 21, 2017 Website
Looking down at the parking lot where our Jeep is parked.
2666 FountainCityOctober 21, 2017 Website
From the front porch looking toward the other cottages.
2668 FountainCityOctober 21, 2017 Website-2
The front porch of our cottage, Redtail Hawk Cottage.
2670 FountainCityOctober 21, 2017 Website
First floor of our cottage. Kristin is resting on the couch.
IMG_1985 Website
View from the living room. You can see the Mississippi River through the tree branches.


2622 FountainCityOctober 20, 2017 Website
Close up of a Nuthatch, who was curious about us being in the treetops.



Split Rock Lighthouse #TripTip

One of the most well-known landmarks in Minnesota is Split Rock Lighthouse located on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Just south of the lighthouse is a state park for hiking and camping. Hands down, cart-in camping spots #19 gives the best vantage point from atop the bluffs. The second best cart-in spot is #18. You have a gorgeous view of the lighthouse. And, in the morning, it’s just a quick walk down to the small bay where you can capture sunrise photos.

To snag either of these campsites, you need to book a year out, so plan early!

Enjoy these photos!

DSC_5964-2 Website
Photo taken along the shore just south of Split Rock Lighthouse.
DSC_4220-2-Edit Website-2
Photo taken from the small inlet south of Split Rock Lighthouse.
DSC_4056-2 Website
Photo taken at sunset from cart-in campsite #18.
DSC_6127-2 Website
Photo taken at sunrise from cart-in campsite #19.




Be Proud. Be Strong. Be Yourself.

#DayoftheGirl #IDG2017 #IDG17 #GirlPower #GirlsDay

Fun taking photos of this statue this past summer in New York City.

9578 NYC June 15, 2017 Website9622 NYC June 15, 2017 Website

July 4th – Liberty’s Symbols (15 photos)

From her toes to her crown to her torch, Lady Liberty has many messages of freedom. And what better day to celebrate freedom than July 4.

During our recent trip to New York City, we snagged “crown” tickets to the top of Statue of Liberty. (Trip tips: You need to purchase those tickets early, at least six months in advance since they only let about 100 people go to the crown each day. Go early in the day to beat the crowds!) There are 377 steps (equal to 20 stories) to the top… with the very last steps winding through a very tiny spiral staircase that has one side going up, the other going down.

The messages of freedom from the Statue of Liberty ring true for today:

  • Broken shackles at her feet signifying escape from tyranny
  • A tablet of law in her left arm bearing in Roman numerals the date of the American Declaration of independence – July 4, 1776
  • Crown’s of seven rays represent a sunburst spreading enlightenment and reason throughout the world
  • And, of course, the most significance of all, her torch and flame symbolizing truth and justice enlightening the world

Enjoy the photos!

Statue of Liberty Sunrise Starburst
The morning sun creates a starburst on the Statue of Liberty, New York City.
To the Crown
Looking down from the first staircase before we begin the tiny spiral staircase to the Statue of Liberty crown. In the lower middle is a group of people looking up toward me.
The Spiral Staircase
The spiral staircase leading up to the Statue of Liberty crown on Liberty Island, New York City.
Crown View
View from the crown looking toward lower Manhattan, New York City.
Tablet View
The Statue of Liberty’s tablet of law in her left arm bearing in Roman numerals the date of the American Declaration of independence – July 4, 1776, New York City.
View from Lady Liberty
View of Manhattan, One World Trade Center and Ellis Island from Lady Liberty, New York City.
Crown View
View from the crown looking toward Brooklyn Bridge in the distance, New York City.
Crown to the Ground
View from the Statue of Liberty crown to the ground where people are walking along the path below on Liberty Island, New York City.
Crown Torch
View of the Torch and ray from the Statue of Liberty Crown, New York City.
Inside the Crown
View inside the Statue of Liberty crown showing the waves of her hair, Liberty Island, New York City.
Spiral Staircase
The spiral staircase from the top, showing the staircase going up and down Liberty Island, New York City.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty in the morning sun, New York City.
Lady Liberty
A view from below. The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, New York City.
9164 Statue of LibertyJune 14, 2017 Website
View of Manhattan, One World Trade Center from Lady Liberty, New York City.
Queen of Hearts
The Queen of Hearts Paddle Wheel in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, New York City.

Happy and safe July 4th everyone!



Honoring Veterans

Memorial Day – A day to remember our veterans, service members and emergency responders.

A photo at the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial in Washington, DC, a few years ago.

Successful agate/rock trip

We drove to northern Minnesota for the weekend and found some “spring” agates and other rocks along the shore of Lake Superior.

The weather was a bit chilly, but we still drove the Jeep with the top off.

#buildscharacter #agate

Mom with a Cub in Tow (2 photos)

Our Polar Bear mom walking on the ice with one of her cubs right next to her.

#PolarBear #cub