Archive for July, 2017

  • Chapter 145- Tamarack Loop Trail at Mauthe Lake

    On our way back from a trip to see my folks in Appleton, I took the back roads to the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest to check out the Mauthe Lake Recreation Area.  We’d been researching hikes in my new favorite book, Best Hikes Near Milwaukee by Kevin Revolinski, and narrowed it down to two hikes in the Northern Kettles.  The kids decided they’d be up for a flat 2-mile hike!

    When we arrived, the kids lamented that we weren’t camping and begged me to come back and stay SEVENTY nights at Mauthe Lake.  There’s a beach on the lake, a playground, and even a teepee to reserve.  The camping sites looked fairly small and close together near the lake, but we didn’t have a chance to see all of the loops.

    We did, however, ignore the sign that said flooding was present on the trail and started out going counterclockwise on the Tamarack Loop Trail.  I prepped the kids for a wet hike, and everyone said they were up for soggy shoes.

    We crossed a few puddles and found Queen Anne’s Lace and other pretty flowers.  We sang songs and took turns holding the backpack.

    At a small log crossing, we noticed some really interesting designs in the wood.  We talked about invasive species and the kids guessed that perhaps it was the box elder bug that made these marks.  However, I can’t identify trees yet so I couldn’t confirm that we were looking at an elder.  I’d really like to start learning about tree/plant/flower identification in Wisconsin, so if you have any tips please let me know!

    We made it through the white cedar forest when people started to get irritable.  It was around 11am so it was very hot, sunny, and humid.  The buzzing flies didn’t help.  The first wooden bridge over the Milwaukee River wasn’t too far ahead, but people were starting to fade.

    And so it was after this giant puddle that we had a board meeting to discuss the pros and cons of this hike.  It was a unanimous decision to head back to the car.

    We walked (ran) a little bit through the campground to avoid the same flooded spots we’d already navigated, and eyed up the teepee we plan on staying at next summer.

    The fishing pier provided us with a great view of the lake, and also the beach.  My people were DYING to go swim, but since I didn’t have swim suits or towels, I promised them with the deliciousness of cold ice cream on the way home.

    We peeled off our shoes and socks, and headed out with the intention of hiking the loop in early fall when it’s more dry.

    Like 100ft after exiting the recreation area, we came across Parkview General Store with a big “ICE CREAM” sign!  My kids tried bubble gum, rum cherry, chocolate and bee-nilla ice cream.  All gave an enthusiastic thumbs up!

    We’ll be back to explore when it’s dry, or when we bring rainboots.  The trail was really nice and flat, so I’m bummed to have not experienced it in entirety.  But this adventure served as a teaser for an even more enjoyable hike!

    Hope you’re taking advantage of summer, and if you have suggestions for hikes/other adventures, I’m all ears.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 144- Discovery World (New Exhibit!)

    We recently decided to check out Discovery World’s newest exhibit, Zoo in You — The Human Microbiome.  Little T got a family membership last year, so we can come and go as we please without worrying about getting our money’s worth at each visit.  Which is awesome.  Because some days we stay for HOURS upon hours, and some we can only adventure for 45 minutes before people melt.

    When we entered, we went right to the new exhibit.  It is contained in one room, and has about 10-15 stations where kids can interact with the hands-on models and displays.

    The first stop we made was to a cool DNA puzzle, which challenges kids to connect nucleobases to create nucleotides.  Brought me right back to high school biology class.  Except way more fun!

    We learned how to build viruses and bacteria, and what they do.  Not all bacteria are bad, of course, and in fact we need some to digest food and create a balance inside our bodies.

    Little T had loved the microscope, which was easy for kids to manipulate.  She also loved the green screen where she got to pretend to be a newscaster reporting on the microorganisms in our bodies.

    Little A and I had a serious competition with the pinball-like game where we learned about places that humans can pick up microorganisms.

    I think the most eye-opening station for me was the interactive video, where we got to zoom in on a single cold virus.  We started out looking at objects like a penny, a grain of salt, a yeast cell, a skin cell, and a mold spore.  I made my kids watch that about a hundred times because I was astounded at how small that cold virus was!

    After spending about 30 minutes in the exhibit, we went to see the Challenger boat and snag a photo.

    And then, because it’s summer, we climbed trees and ran around in the grass outside of Discovery World.

    I’ll be back with more hikes and adventures soon…it’s been a hectic summer with a few setbacks, but we’ll keep exploring our city, parks, museums and trails!

    A. Storm