Well, I think we can all agree winter has arrived. It has been a chilly week here in Green Bay, but that outstanding win on Sunday delivered a temporary sense of emotional warmth these last few days. What did you guys think of the throwback uniforms? I liked them quite a bit and was a little jealous I didn’t get to sport one myself. What about that catch and run by my fellow veteran teammate Donald Driver? Donald has defied the odds since breaking into the league in 1999 there is no better embodiment of that than his 61-yard touchdown catch and run that electrified our sideline and stadium. That just goes to show that seventh-round picks can make a big difference.
The calendar has turned to December and the temperatures have dropped across the state. A few snow cameos in recent days made me think that this would be a perfect week to share some of my favorite places I have traveled to and experienced during the winter months in Wisconsin.
One of the first things that comes to mind are the miles and miles of perfectly groomed snowmobile trails that our state has to offer. Wisconsin has roughly 22,000 miles of trails, and I have to give a round of applause to all the local snowmobile clubs for doing such a great job of grooming the trails. My favorite area to take a weekend ride with friends and family is the 30-mile stretch in the north central part of the state near Minocqua, St. Germain, and Eagle River. I love this area because of the beautiful scenery, with trails winding through the forests, around and across the lakes, and through the little towns that thrive during the winter months.
One of my favorite stories to share from the great Northwoods was a trip that started in St. Germain. After arriving late, my buddies – Benny and AJ – and I decided to sled out for a burger and took the trails up to Sayner where we made a stop. While I willingly admit that I am terrible with directions, my assumption was that Benny and A.J would lead us back to the cabin. Two hours and many wrong turns later, we turned what should have been a 20-minute trip into a two hour voyage. I swear we heard wolves and bears, and while we were starting to get concerned eventually we made it back without a scratch. The next morning before starting a full day of snowmobiling we continued the tradition of a great breakfast at the Wolfpack Cafe. We then headed to Heckels to make sure our snowmobiles were running well after our long trip the night before. There was a woman working who turned out to be a big fan of mine and we exchanged pleasantries, and while I thought that would be it, she came back into the story later.
The trails were amazing and well marked, and even though we were having a great time, after eight hours of snowmobiling Benny decided it was too cold and we needed to get back to the cabin. We were flying to get back to get out of the cold as quickly as possible, but as we approached the main road which was part of a trail, we didn’t see that the speed limit had changed to 25 mph. All of a sudden, we were passed by a truck with snowmobiles and a few minutes later were chased down by what felt like a convoy of snowmobiles. We did not know what was going on and luckily we decided to stop. It turns out you can get a speeding ticket on a snowmobile, which was an unfortunate realization. The officers were polite and explained our violation, and that was that. We decided to go grab some pizza a few hours later and low and behold we see the officer that pulled us over and gave us the tickets at the restaurant. He generously bought us a slice of pizza which instantly improved our mood. On our next trip north it was rumored that the officer was married to the woman that I exchanged pleasantries with at Heckels. After learning that her husband pulled me over, the Packer fan in her, made him sleep out in the garage. Just for laughs I would like to think that rumor is true.
Another winter leisure activity that is great for taking in our state’s breathtaking landscape is snowshoeing. The time-old tradition dates back to our ancestors and today it is still enjoyed by thousands of people across Wisconsin. While I haven’t found time to make it to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, I have heard tons of positive things. There, you can visit the caverns that were left by the glaciers years and years ago. The Superior area gets a lot of snow each year nearly - 13 feet - and the Lakeshore trail offers a variety of options for people of all ages. I am definitely going to get up there as soon as possible.
Speaking of history, dog sledding is still used in parts of this world as a means of transportation. Winter enthusiasts have transformed this transportation method into racing. While the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race isn’t the length of the Iditarod Great Sled Race, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the hard work each musher and their dogs put towards winning the 80-mile competition. I think this year I will have to get the full Superior experience by snowshoeing and watching the race in early February.
Sarah loves cross-country skiing, so I tried to keep up with her on the Hartje trails in Reedsburg. If you are looking for a great workout and a great sweat in the winter time, this is the sport for you. I loved it but I would have preferred to stay on my feet a little more. I also love snow tubing and Powers Bluff in Arpin was my favorite place to tube as a kid. I still love to go tubing as an adult and we try to make it to Cascade Mountain outside of Madison with a group of friends at least once a year. You can also ski at Cascade, reminding me that skiing continues to be something I wish I had mastered.
Well, those are my suggestions for how to best enjoy yourself while passing these cold, blustery days during the winter. A big divisional road game is ahead for the Packers on Sunday this week against the Lions team that has a number of near misses this season. I know the guys are focused and hopefully we’ll come home with a win. Until next week, get your snowmobiles, skis, and sleds out because more of the white stuff is on its way.