Adventure in our own backyard

We love adventure. And we love to explore and travel. Sometimes we just can’t get away. But adventuring doesn’t demand a long road trip. Other plans kept us close to home for the weekend but we still needed to get the pulses racing.

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We decided to check out Sand Creek Adventures just south of Jordan, MN.

Sand Creek offers experiences for individuals and groups for teams building, confidence building or just plain thrill seeking.

Zip line Adventure

Exhilarating and beautiful, experience our three canopy zip line tour. Spanning up to 1700 feet (combined) across the Sand Creek bluffs, with a 100 foot vertical height over the water, you are in for a thrill.

High Ropes Challenge

The high ropes challenge course will test the confidence and determination

of every participant at every level.

Low Ropes Connection

The low ropes course focuses on unifying your team by stimulating

mind and muscle to work in unison to solve complicated maneuvers.

Designed for 5 or more people.

We had such a fun day on Saturday, even though it was windy and blustery it was still a fabulous time. Paying attention to the request on their website we arrived 15 minutes before our scheduled time. Friendly staff invited us to look around for a few minutes while the other party was still arriving.

Once we were all together we suited up into our harnesses. So much more comfortable than the rope Swiss seats we wore while rappelling with our ROTC group in college. Once our seats were on and we were given a safety briefing on the handling of our “life line” it was time to climb the first tower. AJ volunteered me to go first. Thanks pal. I hope I’m well insured. ( You are 😉

There were four of us in our group. AJ and I, and what looked to be a younger grandfather and his granddaughter. The girl was fitted with a weighted belt to ensure that gravity would bring her all the way to the next platform. The rest of us would need no such assistance. Being well into adulthood we, we had already added weight to our middles.

The first zip line was a straight shot down along the bluffs of Sand Creek. We were told, “don’t jump, just step off.” I did so and felt a drop unlike anything I’ve felt since Jump School in the Army, not as dramatic as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, of course, but still a rush. Trying to be braver than smart I stepped into a great big nothing. A sudden drop, the zip line catching, I felt wind whizzing past me, I heard the high-pitched scream of the zip line or was that me? This leg, I was told by the receiver or “brakeman”, is usually the fastest leg and people can be surprised by the speed of that first descent. Today strong cross winds would slow me down a bit, but just a bit, mind you.

On the second zip line they told us “get a running start”, and I did! I did a nice full spin and a half sailing down the zip line and I came in “hot” to the platform. The staff was on it and those brakes do their job! The fastest zip of the day! Now this is adventure!

The final zip line is a bit shorter but gives you the chance to swing back and forth a few times at the end before coming to a stop. A children’s slide gives you the chance to slide or “ski” off the launch platform. Giving me a chance to try to show off.

We had so much fun together and only a ten-minute drive from our house. We will be back again. Sand Creek Adventures will be great for entertaining visiting friends and family. Next time we’ll try the high ropes adventure. We’ll be sure to blog about that as well.

Hints from the road

Come 15 minutes early but no earlier.

No sense trying to get anything from your pockets once the seats are on.

Valuables should be locked up (if it falls from your pockets on the zip line …it’s gone)

Bring a GoPro, they have mounts on the helmets or you will have a free hand for a selfie stick.

If you drop your phone it is pretty much lost, and there’s no good way to secure it. AJ passed hers off to a mom from the other group who kindly took some snaps for us.

 

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Running my own race

9:45 June 5th 2017

I made the break from the rat race. A break from fulfilling someone else’s dreams and ambitions to start chasing my own.

One month ago my days were taken up with soul crushing corporate nonsense; this morning I was instead in the garden with my wife AJ planting Roma tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, gourmet lettuce and two types of sunflowers in the raised flower beds I had built with my son last weekend. I also filled my bird feeders and planted grass seed to repair a trail my German Shepherd made while running back and forth in our yard.

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PTO day you ask? On a stay-cation? No, this is now my “new normal”.

My job was paying the bills, but crushing my soul. One month ago at this time I was prepping for my morning purchasing team stand up meeting, bracing to hear what electronic parts were now moving from a reasonable 8-12 week lead time to an unrealistic 26 weeks or 52 weeks or longer. You know, “Do the impossible.”

Everything was high priority. We’d hear about how despite our heroic efforts to meet “our numbers” last month/quarter even more was expected now.   I’d listen to impassioned pleas to control inventory while trying to tell those non purchasing types that “ demand is demand” in my system and we REALLY don’t want people “gaming” the system it must be accurate and trustable. Really guys? We make widgets.

I’d been a Soldier for 31 years, on Active Duty for the last 14 years. I’d prepared Soldiers for war. I’d trained for war myself and deployed to Iraq in 2007-2008. I’ve worked with grieving families over the loss of loved ones. I had dealt with my own issues over separation and distance from family, isolated on a base outside which, for $25.00, people would lob mortar shells in on us. Now that was serious business.

I’m not asking for sympathy as my brothers and sisters outside the wire endured much worse and performed their duties with courage and honor.   I’m just saying I was there, and now back in the civilian world my managers wanted me to be excited over the manufacturing of widgets???

It seemed so ridiculous.

My managers were workaholics, devoting far more time and energy to the company than to their own families and lives, demanding more than I was willing to emotionally offer, but I had been playing the corporate game along with them, but becoming like them looked more like a nightmare than the American dream. They couldn’t imagine as they sat me down to break the news that inside I was feeling a weight lift from my shoulders. My employer, “after conducting a white board exercise matching personal with required skill sets” determined that my position was no longer required. And they we were falling all over themselves to tell me that it wasn’t me, they were happy with what I had been doing, everyone liked me, yadda yadda, but they would not be needing someone in my current position anymore, due to a restructuring.

My boss was promoted a few months back and I discovered that tasked three of MY buyers had been tasked to interview her replacement, without telling me. Well, that was all made clear when I sat down with my boss, her boss and the HR VP. My position was being used to pay for her replacement. And they felt really bad about it. Really they did me a favor.

My wife had suggested several months earlier that we develop a plan to free ourselves of our wage-slavery and start some kind of venture of our own. We had tossed several ideas around about doing things that we found meaningful and important for our lives. So as they were breaking the news I was trying not to show my relief.

Really I’m not whining. I’m actually glad, because we had been talking about working a plan to better our lives, but every night after work we were too worn out to do more than talk about it.

So now instead of working for the widget makers, I’m working the plan. Creating a life of more meaning and excitement that we call The Adventuring Project. In addition to the planting, in last month:

We have focused on healthier eating and are already seeing positive results. I’m down 14 pounds.

My son and I built those two raised flowers beds and now have an intimate appreciation for what three yards of topsoil weighs.

We rode 3000 miles to ride in the Rolling Thunder demonstration ride in Washington DC. We also visited the Flight 93 Memorial on the way there and the Antietam National Battlefield , scene of the bloodiest day on American soil, on our return trip.

We cleaned, de-skunked, (a story just on its own), and sold my parents cabin in Ladysmith Wisconsin. This sale makes possible purchasing land for a scaled down energy efficient home we want to build.

I took a long-needed refresher course for motorcycling including a skills range in the rain with AJ as my passenger on the Road Glide.

We rode to Central Wisconsin for the Honor the Fallen Ride in Ladysmith, a memorial ride benefiting local medical education and honor local men and women who lost their lives in service to this country.

We moved my son back to college and his own apartment, starting our de-cluttering project.

Now I finally have the time to learn something about social media and blogging. I’m still a newbie when it comes to Instagram and hash tags but we now have a Facebook page, an email address, this blog and soon will be adding videos to a YouTube page.

Most important of all, my soul is being filled and nurtured again. I’m growing more confident with each new phase. It’s so exciting to be venturing off the treadmill.

There are many lessons to be learned ahead but we are blazing our own trail now.

I made the break from the rat race and now I’m really living my life, not merely existing.

The Apple Blossom Trail

Riding our way from the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis we tooled along country roads passed farms fields and those “blink and you miss’em” small Midwestern towns.

ab # 1After spending the last fifteen years on active duty with the Army Reserves it was time to retire back in Minnesota. One thing about Minnesotans, we are fanatical about our summer hobbies because our warm seasons are so short.   Some of us ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles and some swing a club at a little white ball but those are stories for a different kind of magazine.

We hit the road, fortified with coffee and leathers on, as soon as the ice is off the lakes and hopefully after least one good thunderstorm to wash away the sand and salt.

My loving bride, Antje, and I took advantage of a warm May Sunday to roll down the Mississippi River just south of our alma mater in Winona, Minnesota, to tour the Apple Blossom trail. The Apple Blossom trail starts where U.S. Highway 61 meets County Road 3 in Winona County and ascends through the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota to meet up with County Highway 12.

Riding our way from the southwestern suburbs of Minneapolis we tooled along country roads passed farms fields and those “blink and you miss’em” small Midwestern towns. Minnesota Highway 19 is just one such road, a peaceful two-lane road that begs to be ridden on two wheels. We passed through Northfield, a quiet little town with a “Mayberry-like” charm and home to two colleges, St. Olaf and Carleton College.

After passing through Cannon Falls, Highway19 meets up with US Highway 61, the Minnesota portion of the Great River Road, just north of Red Wing, Minnesota.US Highway 61, like its sister road on the other side Wisconsin 35, shows off its spectacular views of the Mississippi river and bluffs and offers the traveler small town attractions like antiquing, ice cream, apples and wineries. Down US Highway 61, south of Red Wing, we passed through Frontenac, home of the Whistle Stop Café, featured in Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt.

As we neared Winona, we stopped for gas and a quick drink of water.   We had just gotten a text that our friends from Chicago, Kathy and John, had just crossed the river into Minnesota to stay a few days in Winona before coming to visit us. We quickly invited them to join us in Winona, to view the apple blossoms on the trail. They eagerly agreed and offered to trail us taking photos and video.

Continuing down 61 we passed the Harley Davidson Shop of Winona, could only wave as it was closed and they were no doubt out enjoying the fabulous Minnesota Spring weather as we were.

It’s easy to miss the northern part of the Apple Blossom Trail if you don’t keep a sharp eye. You’re only clue is the Winona County Road 3 sign; if you see signs for Dakota you’ve gone too far. Country 3 climbs from river level to the scenic bluffs that rise above the Mississippi. At Highway 12 we saw our goal, the sign pointing us south down the trail.

Once on Highway 12 we cross under Interstate 90 with its cages and semis, grateful for the refreshing Zen-like moments we were enjoying smelling apples blossoms and leaning into the curves of the road.The road’s seductive curves, with the fragrant aromas of the apple trees and beautiful bluff-top vistas of the valleys below invites a stop to take it all in from one of several outlooks.

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We were sorry to see the Trail’s end after 17 miles of farms, orchards, and breathtaking views of the river below as we arrived in a final river town, La Crescent, MN. We thanked our videographer/photographer with some darn fine pizza at Corky’s Pizza.

After dinner we said our goodbyes and started back up the trail, since you can never get enough of scenery like this. This time we hoped off on Interstate 90, cause now it was time to eat some miles and get home to let the dog out.

We’ll be back this fall when the blossoms have turned to apples. By then it will be time for the fall colors, Apple fritters, caramel apples, and maybe some hard cider.

All in good time, there’s a whole lotta summer riding ahead first.