family adventure

THE HELGESONS | HOLIDAY TRADITIONS AT WHISPERING PINES TREE FARM | OCONTO, WISCONSIN

Every Winter since the year before I was born, my family has set out to the Tree Farm when the ground is frozen and there's a chill in the air perfect for being warmed up with some hot cocoa. This family tradition started in Missouri at Pea Ridge Forest, it was over an hour away and worth the drive. Our entire family would gather together at the farm on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we would enjoy shopping at the adorable gift shop and always picking up their personal Pea Ridge Ornament for that specific year. Sip hot cocoa, given out by the same cute old lady every single year since I can remember. Play in the creek our parents wished was frozen, because someone would always fall in. And wandering all over the property searching for that perfect pine tree to call ours. Everyone has their idea of the perfect tree. Mine is short and stout yet perfectly shaped, much like myself (yay, i just busted up laughing at myself there too). Before we left and tied our tree to the top of our toyota we took a photo with Santa and told him what we wished for him to bring us that cold winters eve. On the way back up the hill we said our goodbyes to the reindeer. And we're pretty excited to venture back home to decorate.

We have made it a point to continue this family tradition but of course the way we do, we put a spin on it. Whispering Pines is the perfect place to keep our tradition alive. A trip to sit on Santa's lap, listen to singing reindeer (these are stuffed, but cute & do the trick - please laugh with me of how terrified Cole looks ), the multiple rides on Thomas, James, and Percy. Yeah, I know! Cool right?! They have freaking trains - Thomas & Friends none-the-less, and the most beautiful property full of the most perfect pine & fir trees I've ever seen. 

This year we brought Pa pa, since he's Cole's best friend and finds himself still believing in these magical moments of the season. The boys played with left behind pine swords, played hide and seek, and we even caught some decent family photos of us. Andddddd! Cole even was sweet enough to take a few with me. He surprised me with some kisses and that made this Mama very happy!

THE HELGESONS | PORCUPINE MOUNTAIN VACATION | PART III

Have you been following our Vacation through the Porcupine Mountains & Copper Country? If you'd like to see our night at the beach and all the waterfall chasing we've done you can read more at Part I & Part II

We headed out of the Porcupine Mountains and up along the Keweenaw Peninsula towards Copper Harbor. We took our good ole' time climbing around and enjoying the restful rhythm of the water at a few waterfalls along the way. Our first falls of the day was Bonanza, it was a short walk with a steep but easy climb down. This falls was peaceful and fun to take Cole across the rocks, he had fun crossing back and forth over the flowing water and watching it rush by and down the next set of falls.

While on our way to our next stop in Eagle River, we attempted to find some off in the backwoods waterfalls and it didn't work out quite so well. We felt like we were in that movie "The Hills Have Eye's," and finally I was lucky enough to talk Troy into turning around after about an hour of driving down dirt roads in the middle of who knows where along the edge of the scariest bluff I ever want to be on. We finally made it to Eagle River to check out the Eagle River Falls waterfalls, eat a delicious lunch at Fitzgerald's attached to the Eagle River Inn, and enjoy some country store ice cream on the iron bridge. I even made a new chipmunk friend that was clearly not threatened by me even a little.

We quickly jumped out of the car snapped a photo of Jacob's Falls and ran back to the car. There's a great little gem there called the Jampot ran by some local Monks, if you like baked goods, it's a must see.

We finally made it up to the Brockway Mountain Scenic Drive were you can pull off and see some spectacular views down the mountain of pine trees, golden grass, and flowers. All the way down to Lake Superior and out across the waters. One overlook you could see Copper Harbor below, it reminded me of one of the old mining towns I had seen as a kid in the hills of Colorado.

After forcing ourselves to leave the Mountain Top and venturing down the drive back down to the Lakeshore. Our next stop was Fort Wilkins, an early Army post set up to protect the local Miners in the late 1800s.

The sun started setting and it was a race to Hunter's Point, a spot Troy insisted we had to make it too before the evening was over. Apparently, it's a must see spot. We ran through the rough root and rubble covered trail to get to what was the least breathtaking spot our entire journey. I had to laugh after being initially annoyed. My foot some blisters and my knee was giving me heck after all the hiking we had been doing, plus I'm old and I was tired and cranky. But Cole enjoyed tossing rocks in the waters and we watched the sun set behind the rocks on the point across from us where I caught a sweet silhouette of a couple watching the setting sun as well. We then had to race the last of daylight left to get back to the car before it was pitch black. We also found a dog that we thought was a wolf at first. It was quite a little adventure of it's own. But we all enjoyed the day and it was a lot of fun.

We woke the next morning to dash out the door of our lodging, which was the cutest mid century motel the King Copper Motel. We spent the morning navigating two track roads to even more waterfalls and the great Estivant Pines. Heading back to town at lunchtime Cole got his picture on the giant rocking chair and we had a great lunch at Zik's. It was finally the time to start heading back down the peninsula, but first we had to make a stop at the Delaware Copper Mine, where we got to explore the mine shafts on a tour guided by Cole himself. How cute is he in that hard hat? 

After a tiring walk up the 100 steps back to the surface around the ruins and through the rock piles we set out to search for the ghost town of Mandan, where the Mandan and Medora mines operated in the mid 1800s. What you see in the pictures below is all that's there and it was hard enough to find the road leading to them.


Once back in Houghton, we enjoyed a movie night and pizza in our hotel. Our last day in the Upper Peninsula we found and played for hours at the Shoots & Ladders Park on the river, checked out the Quincy Mine, then took a scenic drive along the river to the Calumet Waterworks Park where we spent several hours scouring the beach for agates and digging mounds in the sand while playing TMNT. It's sad to say this was the end of our trip and all that was left was driving back home.

If your interested in some of the Lake Superior Falls here is a great guide with directions and photos. And if your interested in reading more of our waterfall chasing or playing at the beach you can find that in Part I & Part II

Let me know if your a waterfall chaser as well, and the biggest falls you've seen. If the biggest one isn't your favorite, which is your favorite falls? Comment below!

 

THE HELGESONS | PORCUPINE MOUNTAIN VACATION | PART II

THE HELGESONS | PORCUPINE MOUNTAIN VACATION | PART II

After spending the first half of the day chasing waterfalls, we set off in hopes to view the highest point of the Porkies at Summit Peak. We didn't spend very long there before we were off in search of good food and then Troy suggested finding a beach to watch the sunset enjoying each others company while the tide came in for the evening. 

THE HELGESONS | PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS VACATION | PART I

THE HELGESONS | PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS VACATION | PART I

Last weekend we headed up to The UP for our summer vacation. We spent four days hiking and chasing waterfalls throughout the dense fern filled woods. I'm splitting this post into two sections for Day One and then there will be two additional posts for the other days. Be sure to check our the additional posts to get a glimpse of our Bear encounter and to see some glorious mountain top views. 

THE HELGESONS | DANIEL TIGERS HALLOWEEN | ALLOUEZ, WI

THE HELGESONS | DANIEL TIGERS HALLOWEEN | ALLOUEZ, WI

All year Cole has had his eye on a Tigey the Adventure Tiger costume for Halloween. I have never heard of a kid this young having his sights so honed in on one costume and not once changed his mind throughout the full year. 

What kind of Mom would I be if I didn't make his little dreams come true?!

THE HELGESONS | WHITEFISH POINT VACATION | PARADISE, MI - PART II

Family Adventures into the North Woods of the Upper Peninsula is how we like to spend our summer vacations. We traded in trips to Florida beaches and staying at Resorts for cozy cabins deep in the woods and strolls along the lake shore searching for Lake Superior Agates. Life in up north is more relaxed. No more rushing to get every where and do everything first. It's a simpler way of life and we wouldn't have it any other way.

This adventure to Lake Superior we found ourselves at the far east end of the Upper Peninsula near the Canadian border at Sault Ste. Marie. Whitefish Point was a breath of fresh air. We took a quiet stroll along the beach uncovering gemstones, getting our feet wet, and observing the nesting birds. This is where I found my first Lake Superior Agate and she is a beaut, perfectly polished by nature.

Cole loves every second we spend on the beach so when we go on our trips we spend the majority of our time right there enjoying the cool breeze and the soft white sand. But when we leave the comfort of our favorite shoreline we head to some hole in the wall eats and settle into our cozy cabin. Check out our cabin in Part I of our Upper Peninsula Family Adventure and next week on the blog will be our excursion to Tahquamenon Falls in Part III.

THE HELGESONS | COZY LAKE SUPERIOR CABIN VACATION | PARADISE, MI - PART I

Each summer we take a few small trips. Since living in Wisconsin, our trips have been resting along lower Lake Superior on the Upper Peninsula. We can't get enough, obviously. 

Dense woods, fresh air, insanely gorgeous waters that wash away all thoughts of ever wanting to go to the ocean again. We love it Up North. The only thing I dislike at all, is the caution we need to take hiking since all the wildlife is a bit bigger and more dangerous than in our old home state of Missouri. Although, I have had a run in with a Mountain Lion climbing once but we'll save that story for another day. Bears, Moose, Wolves, and probably Sasquatch...actually definitely if Sasquatch exists, he's in these woods and he doesn't have to worry one bit about being found because these woods will separate you from your hiking partner five feet away dense.

One of our trips this summer was to Paradise, Michigan. Paradise describes this place perfectly. You will be seeing two more posts from this vacation because there is so much to share. From roaring waterfalls that toss the most pleasant mist upon your face to the calm evening waters on Lake Superior we adored every inch of this area.

Here is a bit of the cozy cabin we called home. It was nestled in the woods on the shore of Lake Superior with Canada in sight. The time we spent at the cabin was relaxing and still. We enjoyed waking up to the sun rise, sitting on the deck, me avoiding mosquitos, watching the ships pass thru the canal, and then at night we watched the sun set, and I even stayed out late to catch a few shots of the full moon and stars above.

Check out our excursion to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Part III and our relaxing stroll combing the beach for agates and gemstones in Part II.

THE HELGESONS | ROMBACH'S PUMPKIN FARM | CHESTERFIELD, MO

THE HELGESONS | ROMBACH'S PUMPKIN FARM | CHESTERFIELD, MO

Our little monkeys first trip to the Pumpkin Patch. The Pumpkin Patch that my family has been going to since I was born. Rombach’s is a part of our autumn as much as Halloween and a family tradition we hate to see end. However Rombach’s has been forced out of their property by the ever growing Chesterfield Valley. What once was a family farm on the outskirts has become in the middle of the now shopping mecca. It’s sad to see such memories fade away and we’re forever grateful we got to share it with Cole.