Tag Archive | hiking

Adventures in Travel Tips and Hints

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Our travels have taken us from Florida to northern Minnesota in 16 years of marriage.  Each experience has enriched our lives and we learn more about our great country and the people in it. One thing we have learned is, “Every town has its story” and part of the fun is learning what those stories are.  We have met people who’s ancestors has lived in these towns for many generations and have told us of their ancestors having a large part in their community’s founding.

Most of our travels have been in Wisconsin due to time restraints but we don’t feel limited by that.  There is so much to see and do here!  In our 15 years of  marriage, we have developed a list of tips to make our trips successful and nearly free of frustration.   For all trips with enough advance notice, I contact the area’s Chamber of Commerce to send us a publication. If the trip is planned less than a week in advance,  we make sure we get to the chamber when we are in town.  We learn a lot from talking to the staff who work there too, so go in if they are open.

If you happen to be traveling further afield and may need to rent a vehicle at your destination, I recommend Turo.  Check out the airport car rentals at your airport.  More are added frequently so check often for updates.

 One Week (or More) Out

 Research where you are going.  I keep a stenographer pad on a clipboard and make a page for the town we are going to. We make a list of points of interest and try to find them in advance, getting addresses. I look for historical markers in the area that we are visiting at this site:


Check your own state for similar sites. A state’s Historical Society is a great resource. In addition, I look for a town’s Historical Society (if any) and check for buildings of interest.

 Day of Trip

 Choose clothes suitable for weather

Many of our adventures are outside all day, especially in summer.  We dress for sun protection and comfort. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, I especially like Columbia hikers. Moisture-wicking socks (not cotton) go a long way in helping your feet feel good all day.  The shirts we wear are also non-cotton. Gander Mountain and Travel Smith have great shirts that protect us from the sun.  We  have often found such shirts at thrift stores for a greatly reduced price.  We also wear hats with brims going all the way around and a bandana around our neck to prevent sunburn. Also sunscreen and sunglasses of course. For people who need to wear glasses at all times, bring a spare pair in case of breakage. It is also good to carry a spare set of clothes if you get wet or dirty.

Be sure to tell family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back. Also leave them numbers to contact you in case of emergency and have them do the same. Plan for delays, it is hard to be precise even with a timetable mapped out.

Other Essentials

1. Food – Pack a lunch or snacks, you WILL get hungry, sometimes when you are not near a restaurant or gas station.

2. Water – Bring refillable cups that fit in your vehicle’s cup holders and a gallon insulated water jug with more.  You won’t always be near drinking water on your travels at all times. When we hike, we wear a Camelbak Hydration System filled with plenty of water for our hikes.

3. Garmin and road maps (if the Garmin fails) – Our Garmin nüvi has been ESSENTIAL for helping us plan our trips, as well as Google or Bing online maps for planning routes. We can even input addresses in advance on the Garmin to save time on the road. You save a lot of money and time by not getting lost.

4. Road Emergency Kit – Spare tire, First Aid Kit, blanket, winter wear, tire jack, flares and emergency flashing lights, flashlight, crank radio, hand warmers, etc. for winter travel, also include a small shovel and cat litter to give tires traction in snow if you get stuck.

5. Stand-alone portable device charger – Both vehicle-powered and not. Don’t be caught with a dead phone when you need it the most. We recently acquired some solar powered chargers too.

6. Camera – An important part of your trip, it pays to invest in a quality camera. My primary camera is a Canon Powershot SX500 IS, 16 MP. I have had it for two years. I saved over $50 on the camera on a sale just before Thanksgiving.  Get plenty of extra batteries, I have six. Also have a lens-cleaning cloth handy in your camera bag. Also invest in an inexpensive tripod for a great self-portrait or when you need the camera to be rock-steady.

All these tips have helped us to have stress-free adventures and we go home with many great memories to share.  Happy travels!

Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville

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It was time for our annual Fall Color Tour,  and go to Governor Dodge State  Park for the first time together.  It’s close to Dodgeville, where we went after visiting here.   The colors were near peak and quite beautiful.  we also were there to see two attractions that are there, Stephen’s Falls and the Rock Spring House .  We had a drought last summer so the falls were greatly diminished 😦

We returned spring 2014, what a difference in the falls. Plenty of water was flowing this time. The waterfall was nice enough to pose for a selfie with us 🙂

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Al and Laurie Stephens Falls

The Spring House was impressive.  Here is a view inside also.

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This time, we went up the hill above the Spring House and discovered more that we didn’t see before. The falls were named after a farm family that once lived here, the Stephens.

Stephen's Farm sign

Stephens Farm site

We had a great visit here, This is a very pretty park, especially in fall. Plenty of hiking trails to explore too.

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Hike Around Devil’s Lake

Welcome to Devil’s Lake State Park! We have enjoyed coming here since 1997 when we met and got married here in 1999.

Al and Laurie Kutil vows


On the way there are the Baraboo Narrows, essentially the outside of the “bowl” that Devil’s lake is inside.

Lower Narrows

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Now we are headed to Devil’s Lake for to hike all the way around.  It’s beautiful any time of year that you go.

Devils Lake sign

Here is a map of the park.

Devil's LakeMap

We are heading the concession area first on the north end of the lake. It was especially beautiful there this October.


Here is a rainbow sailboat in the summer.

Devils Lake sailboat

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Now we begin our hike around the lake beginning on the East Bluff Trail. Plan to take the day to do this. First Al and I pose for a self-portrait.

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East Bluff Trail sign

On the way up we first encounter Elephant Cave and rock.

Elephant Cave 2

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At the top of the bluff trail was a spectacular view of the whole lake, especially the north shore where the concession building is. This picture was taken in Fall 2010.

Devils Lake Fall 2010

Further down the path near the south end are three interesting natural rock structures. The first one is Devil’s Doorway.

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Another one is Balanced Rock.  That day there were lots of people getting their picture with the rock. We did too with a new friend we met on the trail.

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Also a great view of a rock face.


We went down the CCC Trail back behind the lake. There is an interesting history behind that as well.

CCC Trail Map



CCC statue plaque

Working our way back to the south end of the lake, there is a smaller concession building and another beach. You can see the north end of the lake.

South Concession


Now we will follow the path next to the road on the south end of the lake.


Here is the trail head for the Tumbled Rock Trail, leading us back to the north end of the lake.



We work our way back to our starting point, we pass several cabins that have been there a long time.  Here is one of them.

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We pass a couple kayaking and a dad and young daughter fishing.

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Now SOMETIMES, we take the West Bluff Trail that is high like the East Bluff Trail.  They have a lookout station in about the middle of the trail looking towards the East Bluff and north end.



Almost back, we see 3 people in kayaks, each a different color.

3 Kayakers

We make our way back to the north beach area and find someone doing a painting of the lake.


Al and painter 2005

We are back in the parking lot. I hope you enjoyed walking around Devil’s lake.

North Parking lot