Weekly Wrap-Up: May 28, 2016

It’s graduation week here, last week of school, celebrations everywhere, at all moments. Who has time during this time of year to focus on anything BUT the school kids? It’s been a great week for me, my little family, and friends as close as family. So, for something a touch different this week, I’d like to put this week to music:

FIELD DAY w/ my Little Bit13248563_10209569232491923_2143438404320452081_o

Although this song is no longer new, the kids at my youngest daughter’s school are still completely obsessed with this song, so any event features this song endlessly and the majority of the kids are up on their feet dancing, so full of smiles and happiness. It’s completely adorable!

WISHING I COULD BE EVERYWHERE AT ONCEwp-1464444917866.png

A year ago, I was living life with little to no sleep, squeezing the absolute most out of every hour, as my time in Wisconsin was coming to a close. These four girls, my co-workers at the neatest little coffee shop I’ve ever come across were with me every step of the way. I treasure these four ladies beyond words. This week, they’re doing the same without me, as one more of our tribe opens a new chapter in her life. I am incredibly excited for her, but it’s so bittersweet to miss them so, and know I am not there with them right now. LOVE YOU MEAN IT!!!!!!!!

EVERYONE GETS A YEAR OLDER AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEARwpid-img_20150502_120750.jpg

Birthdays are one thing, but one time of year all school-aged children get a year younger…and that’s on the last day of school. I have one who is now a senior, one now a junior, and one now a fourth grader…and I really can’t have this thought without choking up a bit. The end of the school year is a mental aging. It’s a beautiful, painful thing, as we celebrate the accomplishments and growing up of our amazing kids!

GRADUATION VIBES13308514_10209603835116967_7326999077241083041_o

Last night, one of my oldest and dearest friends’ oldest graduated. She is a lovely young lady, destined for a beautiful life. Sitting up in the stands, watching these young people 20 years my juniors graduate high school and turn that tassel was so fun.

Then, I saw that their class graduation song was…


…and I had to take a moment to mentally send them good vibes that do NOT speak “stressed out” over their futures.

IT’S SUMMER, Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Jade Wilkins Graduation 05272016 626 2

This is going to be a busy, beautiful summer for me and mine.

I’m sending YOU all smiles and dancy-good times with this, my official song choice of summer by JT.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Who Is Your Favorite Musician?

Who’s your favorite singer? Favorite band? Favorite lyricist? Favorite musician?

This kind of question has always been a difficult one for me. Usually, my answer of my favorite singer has been P!nk or Alanis Morissette. Favorite bands still have to include the Dixie Chicks, Matchbox 20, The Police and Fleetwood Mac.

I often also find myself going into a whole diatribe about appreciating artists like Madonna and Usher’s musical talent paired with seemingly timeless business sense. Or singers I love for the nostalgia like George Jones, Neil Diamond and Christopher Cross.

With all of these artists mentioned, however, even at the very top of my musical love list, I often have to hedge because as much as I LOVE so many of their songs, I don’t love them all.  I can’t listen to them on non-stop album repeat because I may only LOVE half the songs on any given album. I mean, I REALLY love those songs, but then there are songs that feel more like “fillers” and I just don’t feel ’em.

There is one artist, however, who I’ve only been introduced to in the past few years who I can listen to on constant shuffle, and although I may not always be in the mood for every single one of her songs, I do really, really like ALL of her music. All of it. Every song. Including covers she has done of other artists, which aren’t many, but I love her rendition of those, too.

Brandi Carlile @ the Stoughton Opera House, Wisconsin

Brandi Carlile @ the Stoughton Opera House, Wisconsin

BRANDI CARLILE!

I was introduced to her music a few years ago while we still lived in Wisconsin. While working at the most charming coffee shop you’ve ever seen, I had a customer who I ended up talking music with one day. We discovered that we both had an affinity (OK, in all fairness, she had an obsession…a step above an affinity 😉 ) with the music of John Hiatt.

Much to my surprise a couple of weeks later, I was invited by this customer to see Brandi Carlile. It turns out this customer and her husband had tickets to see Brandi, but the hubby had to work so there was a free ticket, and this awesome customer thought of ME!

That evening, as I was getting ready to go to the show, I downloaded Brandi’s “Bear Creek” album and fell in love. The band’s performance that night at the Stoughton Opera House in little ‘ole Stoughton, Wisconsin, was magical. I now have every one of Brandi’s CD’s downloaded on my phone and can honestly listen to the entire list on shuffle and never skip a song.

She has the coolest rasp, she belts out notes, she has such a cool harmonizing background with her band, she writes, she entertains, and she makes you feel what she’s feeling.

So, after a couple of years and still not tiring of her sound, I can emphatically say that Brandi Carlile is my favorite musical artist!

Who is yours?

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

To find out more about MY favorite musician, check out Brandi’s website: brandicarlile.com

RECIPE OF AWESOMENESS: Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

This homemade pasta salad recipe is just as easy as any boxed mix, and tastes 100x better! It is full of flavor, and even sneaks some delicious veggies and clean proteins in there for those of you with picky eaters!

I originally found this recipe on AllRecipes.com, then I made my own set of Marilyn Modifications to better suit my family’s taste. Either way, it’s sure to be a new family favorite around any dinner table and would also be GREAT for pot-lucks and picnics!

Are you ready for a quick, tasty pasta salad that will have you turning away boxed varieties forever??? Oh yeah, it’s that good!

wpid-img_20150805_192118.jpgFirst, completely mix the following ingredients in a LARGE bowl…the largest you have, really, as this recipe needs growing and scatter room:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Now, start your pasta of choice cooking, while you dice and chop the next set of goodies. I prefer to use bowtie pasta because it’s fun and showy!

  • 11 ounces pasta–corkscrew, bowtie, elbow, whatever your family likes best (or, whatever you have on hand!)

While the pasta is doing it’s thing, chop, crumble, and dice the following ingredients…BUT DO NOT add them to the mayo mix, yet:

  • 8 ounces Muenster cheese (trust me, I’m a Wisconsin girl through-and-through…Muenster is a GREAT choice for this recipe!)
  • 1 bunch of celery (because who wants to measure celery??)
  • 2 nice-sized orange bell peppers (because they’re sweet and add such gorgeous color to this dish!)
  • 16 (or so) slices of crispy cooked bacon. BTW…Did you know that you can purchase pre-cooked bacon at the market? Oh yeah! This was such a happy surprise for me because I LOVE bacon, but HATE everything about cooking it (the smell, the feel, the smell, the grease, the way you smell it’s residual odor for days…ug). As an absolute last resort, I suppose you could use good old dried Bacon Bits in place of real bacon, but it’s pretty strong-flavored and salty, so I’d cut the amount in half if you’re going to go that route.

By now, you can totally drain your tasty pasta, and add it to the mayo mix. Stir well to fully coat the pasta.

Next, add the following to the mayo/pasta mix:

  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded or chopped (depending on your personal preference)

Once the mayo mix, pasta, and chicken are fully coated, we can put the rest together! Add the cheese, chopped veggies, and whichever bacon option you went with, into the BIG bowl. Stir gently to coat all of the new additions.

Last but certainly not least, add the final two ingredients and lightly stir to incorporate them into the dish:

  • 11 ounces grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium-size avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped

This dish is best served cold, so I suggest allowing at least 30 minutes of refrigeration time before devouring…if you can wait that long 😉

My wish is that your family loves this dish as much as mine did! ALSO, if you’re on AllRecipes.com, feel free to hook up with me over there. Who knew that social media would also extend into our cookbooks?!? But, I love being connected, and it’s a great way to continue to share my passions with whoever is interested, so I’m game! You can find ME at: http://m.allrecipes.com/cook/15611560/

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Maril!yn

You can also follow me on Snapchat @ MarilynHorton78

You can also follow me on Snapchat @ MarilynHorton78

NEW VIDEO UP: Texas Truisms Confirmed

Hi, Y’all!

Texas is such a fun state to be from, and it’s an even funner (yeah, I said funner…deal) state to return to after living in the Midwest. Since returning to the Lone Star State, I’ve seen things that used to be the “norm” and now stand out to me, and usually also make me laugh a little.Where else would I choose to share these insights, but right here with y’all?!?

Enjoy the hilarity that is this collection of hilarity: Texas Truisms Confirmed!

Until next time, folks…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Find me elsewhere online:
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FACEBOOK @MarilynHortonChronicles
INSTAGRAM @MarilynHortonDotCom
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Moving, Doors & Dreams

I like the saying, “When life closes a door, open it again. That’s how doors work.”20150714 MHC new space

It makes me giggle because even though I believe all of the “everything happens for a reason” clichés, I also believe that just because a door shuts in your life doesn’t mean you have to just sit there and take it. Sometimes that door needs to be reopened, sometimes the hinges need a little oil, sometimes patience and time open the door…and sometimes that door really just isn’t meant to be open.

As I’ve shared previously, my family has moved from Wisconsin to Texas. I actually feel sorry for any and all of the people I’m closest to because for the past three months I have done almost nothing but whine about leaving Wisco. The people, the job, the community, the region, the coffee, the cheese, the activities, the schools, the ___________…you name it. I just wasn’t ready yet and everyone knew it!

A door was shut for me, and instead of looking for an open window, I kept trying like crazy to get that dang door back open! I looked EVERYWHERE to find the magic key that would open that door back up. I explored every option. That door wasn’t coming back open, at least not right now.

So, here I am, standing outside of a locked door, but not really seeing any available windows, either. What else would I be doing??? Duh–I’m having an impromptu dance party outside!!! Instead of wearing my knuckles out banging on the door, I’m making the most of the move, the new location, the opportunity to spend time with family and reunite with friends I’ve known for years but not seen in a while. I’m laughing and dancing and playing outside the door while I patiently wait for it to reopen or for another door/window/swirly-fun-slide to appear to me!

One of the ways I’m celebrating my new chapter of life is by enjoying the time to focus on this community. For the past year, especially, I’ve felt so busy with my busyness that spending time doing this thing that I LOVE and am passionate about (this website, my YouTube channel, YOU) has been ignored. Now, I am able to refocus my attention and develop this MHC community into what I dreamed it would be years ago. This makes me smile and crank up the dance party tunes!!!

Expect changes that are still evolving to come to fruition over the coming weeks and months. I’m getting my dance groove back and I’m super excited to share my new moves 🙂

Thank YOU for tuning in, being there (here), and enjoying what I do here. Keep doing what you do, and I promise to keep working at getting better and better at what I do! I’m tired of knocking on that door…but I know it’ll open when the time is right. Until then, let’s party!!!

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 3

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Representing the Brazen Dropouts on this overcast May morning!

I’m so proud of my son! His final stage road race today wasn’t without frustration, but he is a champion cyclist at heart so he has dreams too big to be brought down by a single race.

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The walk to the car after the road race, with his head still held high!

Morgan had a great weekend of racing and still, on our way home asked for a detour so he could get back on his bike and ride three miles uphill through Amish country. He never ceases to amaze me!

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Family selfie!

Everything about our traveling race weekend was terrific. I’m so blessed to be able to make these jaunts in support of my kid’s adventures! I know I’m TOTALLY “that mom” but I love it and I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything in the world!

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Captains America 🙂

Thank YOU ALL for joining in our journey! Until next time…

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 2

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Morgan, his coach, and teammate Sam

Crit day rocked and Morgan did a great job. He ended up 5th in his field, which was certainly a solid placement in a strong field!

The kids and I have been having so much fun in LaCrosse, playing, cheering, exploring, and eating (which we call “refueling” to make it sound more cycling official)!!!

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We’re having a terrific time and are liking forward to tomorrow morning’s long road race.

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Make it a great day,
Marilyn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 1

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Morgan & his entourage

What a great first day of racing! Morgan is so excited to have a second year in a row at the LaCrosse Omnium 3-day stage race! Today, it’s all uphill!

2.3 miles straight up Grandad Bluff. The two mile bike race length makes it sound minor, but this hill/mountain/bluff is NOT for the faint of heart. Thankfully, Morgan’s favorite part of cycling IS the climbing. So, all this proud mom has to say is “Go, Morgan, GO!!!”

In the end of day 1, Morgan felt great! He shaved two minutes off of his time from last year in the same course. He is rested, with muscles rolled, kinesiology tape in place, and compression socks working their rejuvenating magic! Day 2’s crit is right around the corner!

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Post race glow

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

Doing My Civic Duty…Jury Duty, That Is

As I sit in the 300+ head herd of dutiful citizens summoned today for jury duty, I can’t help but people watch. It’s one of my favorite games.

There are men in ill-fitting suits and comfort-dress shoes walking around, blending in perfectly with the beige walls and understated furniture.

A woman in a Disney character jacket sitting next to me cannot be still, and incessantly shakes a foot, which–in turn–makes some little metal piece of her bedazzled jacket rattle. The sound causes the man across from me to notice and we exchange a comically annoyed smile.

Most of us waiting are on some sort of device to pass the time, and even those who felt the need this morning to haul plump briefcases and backpacks are not using them, instead opting to play Candy Crush or check their Facebook news feed until our juror numbers are called. I resist the urge to check on my Clan and instead turn my phone off all together.

A few are reading actual books with real pages, which actually looks odd in this day and age.danecountycourthouse.png

Two people in the entire group sit quietly, with nothing to do yet not appearing bored or impatient or anything but resigned to wait.

One woman makes idle small talk with the court clerk, and I wonder at her angle. Will this act get her number slipped onto a more exciting case? She runs out of silly questions and returns to her seat.

The coffee is burnt but still tasty until I regret not packing minty gum to eliminate the lingering flavor.

Sirens roll by outside and I look up to see a middle-aged woman carrying a shiny golden tote bag, wearing a mini skirt, suntan colored panty hose, and sandaled feet. This especially strikes me as most of us are still sporting layers and coats in our lingering 35 degree Wisconsin spring days.

After a few hours of waiting, the herd starts to get restless. People get up, some stretch, most have found restrooms or snack machines or new magazines to peruse. I look at the clock and realize that on a normal day I would be home by now and today, in particular, would be enjoying the first day of spring break with my children.

A series of juror numbers is called for the first round of eliminations, mine is not among them so I sit.

The woman is still tapping her foot, her jacket still tink-tink-tinkling. I refuse to change my seat to get away from her rattle because I’m otherwise comfortable and warm in front of the large picture window. I will her to either stop shaking or change seats herself. We’ll see if it works.

It surprises me how many people in this herd of strangers leave their purses, cases, devices, and other personal belongings in their chairs as they seek out excuses to move about. We’ve all claimed our spots and that is, apparently, more important than trust in this room full of strangers.

Every once in a while the silence is broken by a gregarious courthouse worker or high heels clicking down the linoleum clad hallway. The distraction doesn’t last long and the large room returns to a quiet stillness that would rival any library.

I am hungry, but it’s probably more of a boredom hunger than real.

Black and white framed portraits cover the walls in neat grids. They are important people in Wisconsin’s judicial history and they look so serious and distinguished staring down at me in my chair. Most wear glasses.

My travel cup of green tea is calling to me from my car parked a block away and two more stories up. Having it would occupy me and give me something warm to hold, but then I would just have to make more trips to the restroom and risk losing my seat. The struggle is real.

Yes. She’s still there and still tapping.

The tapping foot woman is also thirsty. I almost laugh out loud when she pulls a long swig from a canned energy drink. Sitting, sitting, sitting, sucking up sugary caffeine, tapping away, and unable to hold still. Go figure.

Exactly the opposite, across the room another woman naps. She seems quite comfortable to be off from work and be minimally paid to chair nap among strangers.

Random coughs shatter the silence. Those who have been here before begin quiet, knowing conversations, regaling others of us with their fascinating tales of jury duties past. I say a silent prayer to either be excused quickly, or chosen to serve on some enthralling criminal case. I am a cop’s daughter, after all, so being a part of this process could be really cool–especially if I can serve to preserve the law and be a voice of fairness at the same time.

Tappy Tapperton stretches, yawns, puts down her iPad in exchange for her iPhone, taps some more. Her leg never tired. Never. It must be the energy drink.

My mind turns to lunch spots. I’m rarely downtown so this could prove a rare treat opportunity to check out a new-to-me lunch spot in downtown Madison. A juicy cheeseburger sounds good!

Another series of juror numbers is called. There are questions that make me wonder what some otherwise intelligent-looking people didn’t learn in kindergarten. Q: “My number is 218, do I go, now?” A: “No, sir. We announced numbers 1 – 80, you can return to your seat.”

I brought a book with me to read, and I do read some, but mostly I just watch my fellow jury duty friends. No one seems as curious about me as I am of them; if they are they hide it well.

The first round is excused. They get to go home, go to lunch, resume their day. This makes the rest of us fidget a bit. The clock ticks on and Tapping Disney keeps double-time.

Bored, I visit the restroom…mainly as an internal excuse to stretch my legs and count the remaining herd. As I stand, I sarcastically ask the older gentleman sitting across from me to watch after my chair, to which he replies, “A special seat for a special lady.” Awww.

When I’m away, another huge group of possible jurors is excused, and yet we continue to wait.

At this point, there are only about twenty of us left, so we give in and begin to chat. Television shows. Growing Madison area communities. Restaurants. Until we finally get around to speculating on our juror fate. A retired insurance adjuster predicts that the case we are slated to sit through is settling rather than battle it out in court. “Whoever plays chicken first wins,” as he puts it. Within an hour an announcement is made that we–the last of the original 300+–are excused.  We are excused from jury service for at least four more years, which I calculate was one year per hour we waited…sounds fair. We are thanked and we are sent on our merry ways.

Those remaining rush the elevators, suddenly itching for fresh air. The last words I heard from my juror friends was, “By the way, you’re pretty easy on the eyes.” I responded to the elderly gentleman with a laughing “Thank you,” and ran to cross the street back to the parking garage that housed my freedom.

Touring Wisconsin on Two Wheels: Southwest Loop

The greatest thing about moving north to an entirely new state that spends half the year (a slight exaggeration) completely hidden under snow cover is that when the snow thaws, everything is brand new, again! As it is now my family’s second Autumn season in Wisconsin, we see patterns emerging from memories of a year ago when we were finally either unpacking the last of the moving boxes, or wondering why we had bothered to move this or that in the first place, and rather than further deal with it, shove it away in a dark corner of the storeroom. We see the geese beginning to practice their flights instead of their continual summer grazing and lazy swims on neighborhood ponds. The farmers are beginning to cut the crops of corn and soybeans that fill every unpaved spot on the landscape. Wood is being gathered and chopped for the coming winter fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and backyard fire pits. And, the last of the fruits and veggies are being canned and jammed to be enjoyed throughout the coming months of barren ground.

As a way of fully immersing ourselves into our new community, my son, Morgan, and I took to the plethora of multi-use trails around our area. We love living near the capital city of our state for several reasons, and the exceptional trails in our new home state take the cake for this bike-loving clan! Mid-winter, when we were missing the beautifully lined paths, Morgan and I started dreaming of these wonderful trails, wishing we could explore them every day and see how far they would take us. That’s when we came up with a wonderful idea: a cycling vacation to explore Wisconsin!

Our guidebook for the journey. We referenced the maps and charts in this book often throughout the trip!

Our guidebook for the journey. We referenced the maps and charts in this book often throughout the trip!

A quick look at Google Maps (with the cycling paths highlighted) reveals a nice loop through the southwestern corridor of our cheese-loving state. Roughly 131 miles from Fitchburg to Dodgeville, then south to Darlington, over to Monroe, and completing the loop (rather–it’s more of a square) by heading north back to Fitchburg. It was a genius idea!

Morgan and I started dreaming through the snow-lined streets, of a summer vacation on bicycle. And, like one of my all-time favorite motivators, Zig Ziglar, said many times, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Achieve it, we did!!!

We also recruited a friend and fellow cycling enthusiast, Zach, to join in the fun.

We put together packing lists and to-do lists. We met over coffee and scones to discuss and plan. We checked and double-checked everything from tires or water bottles. And we set out on a journey we will not soon forget.

PACKING LIST (in no cohesive order):

Carrying all you will need over the course of a vacation really keeps your "needs" in perspective!

Carrying all you will need over the course of a vacation certainly keeps your “needs” in perspective!

  • Our homemade guidebook
  • Cash, ID’s, and credit cards
  • Backpack to hold all necessary possessions
  • Quick dry shirt
  • Quick dry pair of shorts
  • Sleepwear
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes
  • Extra bike tubes
  • Athletic tape
  • Energy gels and snacks
  • Phone chargers
  • Bike tools
  • Helmets
  • Bike lights and/or flashlights
  • Pepper spray
  • Water bottles
  • Bike pump and/or CO2 cartridges
  • Socks and underwear
  • Bike locks
  • Sunblock
  • First aid kit
  • Plastic shopping sacks
  • Pen/marker
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
My ride for the trip. It's a simple Trek, but I LOVE IT! The smaller woman's frame made for some modifications like the new water bottle spot. And my road tires were replaced with hybrids to help stand up to the rocks, silt, and unpaved glory to come!

My ride for the trip. It’s a simple Trek, but I LOVE IT! The smaller woman’s frame made for some modifications like the new water bottle spot. And my road tires were replaced with hybrids to help stand up to the rocks, silt, and unpaved glory to come!

TO-DO’s PRIOR TO LAUNCH:

  • Wisconsin state trail use pass (purchased through WI Department of Natural Resources)
  • Full bike inspection and tuneup
  • Hotel reservations (because at the end of the day, we wanted showers, beds, and cable)

Check. Check.. and Check…all the way down the line.

The day we took off from our designated starting spot–a convenience store–the weather was still chilly and quite windy. The first half of the day was spent in some pretty open areas where the crosswinds made us question our sanity pretty often. But, we knew ahead of time that we would each have our doubts along the way, and that it was each of our jobs individually and collectively as a group to keep the momentum up and the spirits light.

For three days and two nights, we had no responsibilities or obligations beyond riding from one point to the next. Stopping along the way whenever we were tired or saw a pretty spot to relax and stretch, or a random stray kitten crying out to us from alongside the path. Our only “job” for three whole days was to enjoy the journey.

Wisconsin has some wonderful trails to offer even the most casual of rider! They're well-maintained, well-marked, and well-loved by this group!

Wisconsin has some wonderful trails to offer even the most casual of rider! They’re well-maintained, well-marked, and well-loved by this group!

The first day began in Fitchburg and ended in Mineral Point, travelling through Verona, Mount Horeb, Blue Mounds, Barneveld, Ridgeway, and Dodgeville along the way. We stopped at a wonderful hidden coffee shop tucked into the back of a convenience store in Mount Horeb called Mary’s Coffee Express, and enjoyed lattes and scones to pump up our energy while we sat and charged our cell phones. Morgan–ever the seeker of future Tour de France mountain climbing glory–took a few additional detours when we came to side-shooting climbs around Blue Mounds State Park. And in Dodgeville, we had to take to the streets where traffic doesn’t seem as accommodating to those of us using two instead of four wheels for our travel. That evening came and our hotel in Mineral Point had an indoor swimming pool/hot tub combination, a Subway next door, and a marathon of Dance Moms on TV. All was right in the world.

We allowed ourselves a slow start on our second day out on the bikes. It was nice to just kind of hang around, eat a slow hotel lobby breakfast, load our bikes back up, and remind ourselves that we weren’t punching any time clocks and could relax into the trip. We had no idea how grueling the second day in the saddle would be, but we were soon to find out.

A ride through the Wisconsin countryside wouldn't be complete without walls of corn for miles and miles!

A ride through the Wisconsin countryside wouldn’t be complete without walls of corn for miles and miles!

The Cheese Country Trail, which stretches from Mineral Point to Monroe (our entire second day’s journey) would be a fabulous, teetering on “heavenly” ATV trail. However, as a bike trail it makes life pretty difficult. It’s very rocky with a loose, silty (is that a word?) under-layer, so on our bicycles (even on Zach’s mountain bike with big, knobby tires) we were literally “spinning our wheels” and getting nowhere. We had a couple of issues over the course of our second day out on the trail. We’d fall over from trying so hard to move forward but going nowhere and just toppling. We’d get angry and yell at the trail when forward progress got really frustrating. And, we’d celebrate when little towns would pop up with their hometown food, benches, and patient folks.

Day two took us from Mineral Point to Darlington, through Gratiot to South Wayne, and on through Browntown to Monroe. We’d never been so happy to see a hotel before in our lives as we were when we reached our destination in Monroe just as the sun was beginning to settle on the horizon, but once we finished the 50 mile day relief kicked in and we felt like we could conquer the world!!! Out of nowhere one of us would exclaim something along the lines of, “If I can do that, I can do anything,” and we’d all chime in, all so proud of our day’s work. That night we loaded up on all the Italian fare we could get into our bodies at a wonderful restaurant just around the corner from the hotel, Vince’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzaria. It was the tastiest way to end the day!!!

Zach, myself, and Morgan--three faces full of pride and joy!!!

Zach, myself, and Morgan–three faces full of pride and joy!!!

Our final day out was also the shortest, with only the last 30 miles left to cover and a beautiful day ahead. Riding the Badger State Trail from Monroe, through Monticello and Belleville, and into Fitchburg was such a relaxing break after the day out on the ATV trail!

We stopped along the way a LOT in this last day. Sometimes, when we’d stop, I’d smile to myself because this journey that we’d imagined had been such a neat adventure that none of us were quite ready for the adventure to end, so we’d let the smallest things distract us and be a cause for pause along the way. My riding buddies are such neat guys; these teenage boys who still aren’t even old enough to drive cars had to dig deep on this trip to keep going and they did so without ever really considering quitting. Quitting just wasn’t an option, and although we had some bumps and tired times, we were operating as a team out on the trails. At one time we’d be laughing and joking around, other times we’d each be playing music for the rest to hear blaring from the tiny speakers on our cell phones, and still other times we’d be riding in perfect precision and harmony like a pro cycling team, sharing the workload in the front of the line and riding in complete silence but for the sound of our tires and trail meeting.

Storm clouds circled overhead and the air was heavy at times, but we never had so much as a drop of rain while we were out on the trails. The weather was just perfect for a little bike ride!

Storm clouds circled overhead and the air was heavy at times, but we never had so much as a drop of rain while we were out on the trails. The weather was just perfect for a little bike ride!

Finally, however, each journey must come to a close, even if it’s just to ask, “Same time next year?” We arrived back at our convenience store in Fitchburg to cheering family, fresh bottles of water, and car air conditioning!

Even though there are more serious riders who will easily get our 130+ miles into a single day’s ride, ours was an adventure of epic proportions to us! Perspective is key when your dreams take you over hurdles or on adventures you never imagined before that you could actually accomplish. Whether it’s your first 5k or scaling Mount Everest, if it’s a BIG accomplishment in your eyes, and you’re proud of yourself, then that’s all that matters in the world!!! Keep your head high and your dreams higher…and just keep peddling 🙂

Until next time…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn