Pewit’s Nest

Recently, I met up with a friend from college and spent the day with her by Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Before meeting up, my friend had found a “hidden” place called Pewit’s Nest that she wanted us to visit.  I looked at the link she sent me and the pictures were breathtaking!  Still, there wasn’t much information about it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  However, it was supposed to be 90 degrees that day and it looked like their might be swimming involved, so I was excited to check it out.

That morning, I stopped at the local coffee stand, got a blended latte and a banana and headed north on my two-hour journey .  About an hour and forty-five minutes into it, I was lost.  My GPS didn’t recognize the address of the place and I hit a detour in the country. With no signs or towns in site, I continued on the road in hopes that I would run into some sign of life eventually.  Thankfully, I did!  However, it was not what I expected.

I imagined a multiple parking lots, a stand to buy my State Park pass and signs to mark the trails.  What I found was something completely different.  The “parking lot” was a small dirt patch on the side of the road with spaces for about twenty cars.  There was a small sign at the entrance and at the opposite end of the lot was a cattle fence.  Hoping I had the right place, I parked and began to gather my things.  It wasn’t even noon yet and it seemed to be at least 90 degrees and unbearably humid.  A few minutes outside the car and I was already sweating.  I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be able to hike around in this weather.  My friend arrived, we exchanged hellos, put on our swimming suits, went through the cattle fence and into the woods. The air was still heavy, but the trees provided a nice shade.  As we came to the end of the trail, I could hear people laughing and talking and I was excited to see the splendor that the internet had promised me.  What I saw was so much more.

Between two rocky cliffs was a large pool of clear water.  The water was about knee-high and became more shallow as it flowed to the right.  I didn’t explore that area because I only had flip-flops on and it was rocky and shallow.

(Caution: I would not recommend flip-flops if you go.  After a bloody stubbed toe and many slippery instances, I ended up just going barefoot.  Even that was uncomfortable, though.  Water shoes are a must if you are going to explore around!)

Anyway, back to the story.  So, this place was awesome!  We decided to hike up on the side of cliff to see how far the stream went back.  That’s when we found the swimming hole.  We were on the ledge of the cliff and saw people jumping below into a circular swimming hole.  These people were jumping from about half the way up the opposite cliff and it looked fun, scary and dangerous all at the same time.  Of course, we decided to check it out.

Our first problem was how to get down the edge of the cliff.  The trail along the cliff seemed to go pretty far back and there was no visible way to get down to the water. Others at the top of the ledge didn’t seem to know either.  We walked around a bit and didn’t see the cliff ending anytime soon, so it was decided that we were going to scale down the side until we reached the water. With our flip-flops and tie bags in tow, we scooted on our butts down the slippery side of the cliff all the way down.  This probably wasn’t the smartest plan, but it was the quickest.  Once we got down, we placed our bags and shoes in on top of a large ledge and started exploring around.  There were people up and down stream from us.  Kids, teenagers, families, people with dogs; Pewit’s Nest brought all sorts.

For the next 20 minutes, we simply sat in the swimming hole getting adjusted to the water and watching people jump off of the ledge.  Each person had the look of excitement and terror on their faces.  My friend and I both agreed that we had to try it.  We had made it down the edge of the cliff, so we had to take the jump.  After watching a few more minutes of jumping, we made our way through the swimming hole and over to the small waterfall.  Up the smooth, slippery rocks we went.  Then, we scaled the cliff using rock ledges and tree branches to assist us on our way over to the “jumping ledge.” Two young boys were climbing ahead of us.  At that point, I knew if they jumped, I had to jump.  The wall was slippery and my friend and I had to cling face-to-face with the wall while we waited for the boys to jump.

The first boy jumped after only a minute or so of building up his courage, but the second boy was more scared.  Hell, I was scared!  The swimming hole looked more like a puddle and we were a lot higher up than I thought we’d be.  I was contemplating turning around, so I didn’t mind standing there for awhile.  Finally, the boy jumped and survived and now, it was my turn.  I carefully spun around and faced the water.  There were people climbing up behind me and others sitting around the perimeter of the swimming hole.  The pressure was a lot higher now.  My heart was racing and I was sure that I was going to hit the rocks on my way down.  I gingerly brought my hand up to my nose, expecting to plug it before I hit the water.  I looked back at my friend, counted to three, let out a little scream and jumped.  The fall was scary and exhilarating.  When I hit the water, it was refreshing and slightly painful at the same time.  I won’t go into detail but water was everywhere. Everywhere.  And even though my top was askew, my body kind of hurt and I had cut my forehead with my fingernail on the impact, I had made it!  I didn’t hit any rocks and it was actually really fun!  It wasn’t quite fun enough to do it again, though.  After my friend jumped, we decided to walk upstream and explore what else Pewit’s Nest had to offer.

We walked up the stream through shallow pools.  We passed people with babies, dogs and friends.  It was peaceful and adventurous and the entire time I was wishing that I had water shoes.  This weekend is supposed to be really warm, so if you’re in the area and want to experience wonderful swimming without the tourist rush, Pewit’s Nest is a must!  There were more trails that we didn’t even explore, but from what I saw it was quite the site! Check out my pictures and link below:




The Farmer’s Market in Good Olllllll’ Dubuque

I was a little skeptical when I first heard about Dubuque having a farmer’s market.  Living in Madison for the past four years has taught me that farmer’s markets are much more than the amazing produce.  They involve tasty on-the-go breakfast foods, local bands and artists selling anything from homemade marbles to tie-dyed underwear.  Alas, the bar was set pretty high.

Since learning about Dubuque’s, I have gone at least four times and all misgivings surrounding it have gone away.  Dubuque’s market is every Saturday from seven to noon and is located in the up-and-coming Millwork District.  Let me tell you, I was impressed!  Dubuque can kind of seem segregated at times with much of the housing located far away from the culture that’s present downtown.  The market gave me a fresh look at Dubuque.  The various vendors (up to 150 available spots according to their website) is a lovely reminder of the local, hard-working farmers, craftsmen and artists in our area.  I’ve had gooey cinnamon rolls from an Amish family, coffee that was hand-brewed right in front of me, green peppers that didn’t wilt in the fridge for two weeks and a sugary snow cone for only $1!  Aside from the act of buying anything, I find it just as fun to walk around and observe.  The market extends down Iowa Street but also veers off onto 11th-13th with vendors located in alcoves in between.  It can seem a bit like a maze at first, but the winding placement of the stands helps the traffic of people move by leisurely without creating a sidewalk pile-up.  It’s great to have a space that is pet, family and community friendly.

If you’re in the area on Saturdays or live in the Tri-State area and haven’t gone yet, it is worth the trip!  You have to try the vegetable egg rolls from the vendor at the intersection of Iowa and 11th.  They’re homemade, fried on the spot and come with an array of amazing sauces for dipping.  I’d also recommend getting a bag of popcorn from Freddie’s Popcorn stand.  Their flavors range from Pink Lemonade to Bacon Cheddar Cheese and they make fresh kettle corn right in front of you.  An additional perk is parking!  I have never had any issues with parking and it’s so convenient to find spaces.  My secret?  I go for the lot across the street from the library and walk one block down the road to the market.  It’s metered which I just found that out a few days ago!  I thought that the red flashing expired sign meant that it was out of service (oh, self).  Sorry, City of Dubuque! It was an accident!

Finally, the Millwork District is a great area of Dubuque to check out in general.  There are a lot of restaurants, shops and businesses that I didn’t even know existed.  So read my blog today, pack up your things and get to Dubuque tomorrow morning!  I try to go as often as possible and never leave hungry.



This post is dedicated to Maxine, a dear friend and former co-worker.

Maxine only worked on the Twilight for two seasons, but she made quite the impression.  Maxine, my uncle, Fritz, and I all worked in the galley together.  I wasn’t an official employee at the time; I was only 14.  More of a sous chef to the sous chef, if you catch my drift.  Fritz was the head chef, so while he prepared the hot food on one side of the counter, Maxine and I palled around on the opposite side of the counter decorating desserts, plating salads and preparing the snacks.  In our time together, I became pretty close to Maxine–we all did.  She reminded me of an older Natasha Lyonne except with a curvier figure and darker hair.  She spoke with a thick southern drawl and never spoke bad about anyone–from fear of karma or because she was a devout Christian, I’m not sure.  She was provided light as we worked long hours underneath the Mississippi River.

She taught me the perfect portions for our vegetable dip, how to use a knife properly and the easiest way to pipe frosting.  I was young, awkward and barely fit in the aprons we shared, but Maxine treated us like equals.  She also helped me in more subtle ways. Whenever we were plating meals, she would always volunteer for baked potato duty–a task not meant for the weak.  I remember her wincing from the heat as she sliced open the fresh, hot potatoes.  She was at least old enough to be my mom but she insisted on doing all of laborious tasks.  I never touched a bag of garbage, never had to lift meals into the dumbwaiter and I know that she did most of the cleaning while I was on break.  The best part?  She loved her job.  She was so grateful for anything and everything around her.  I didn’t really notice all of this until now.  When I was 14, it was just nice enough just to hang out with adults all day and not censor themselves around me–not that she ever swore.

I remember one day, I was cutting celery for the veggies and dip snack that we were serving that afternoon and I cut my finger.  I get pretty queasy and light-headed when it comes to blood or needles–a fact that I didn’t know at the time.  A few seconds after realizing what had happened, I called over to Maxine.  She must have noticed the amount of fear in me, because she acted fairly quickly for what ended up being a minor cut.  She continued talking to me, saying it was going to be okay and she would help me if I just walked over to the sink so she could rinse off my hand.  Then the world started to fade away and I realized that I couldn’t move.  I wanted to tell her sorry as she continued to encourage me to walk over towards her but the words wouldn’t come out.  I could only stand and stare, my wounded hand being the only thing holding me upright.  Then, the world went black.  The next thing I remember is blubbering my words and waking up–still standing somewhat–in my uncle’s arms.  I had never passed out before and I had no idea what had happened.  I couldn’t have been out for more than a few seconds, but I was completely disoriented.  I felt embarrassed and started to cry.  I continued to try to tell Maxine that I was sorry for not being able to get to her sooner.  My uncle let me go and they both guided me to the small set of steps in the galley.  Maxine instructed me to take some deep breaths and she got a damp, cool towel and placed it on the back of my neck.  She told me to close my eyes as she worked on bandaging my finger and I obeyed.  I was still pretty shaken but she let me sit there for as long as I needed and fielded questions from the other workers when they came through the hatch to get their lunch.

I am so sensitive that typing this has made me want to pass out again, but at least I’m already sitting down.  More importantly, it made me remember Maxine.  Sometimes, the minor players in our lives can make the biggest impacts.  I heard from my uncle that she moved to Oklahoma and is now a grandma.  I haven’t seen her since our last summer together but I still think of her from time to time.  If you’re out there Maxine, I just want to say thank you, I hope you’re well and if you’re ever in the area, come take a riverboat cruise. <3

Somewhere Over the Weekend

This weekend, I ventured from my homestead and headed up into Wisconsin.  I explored the Madison Farmer’s Market, had a tasty sandwich on State Street and watched my friend get her hair cut.  That night, I went swimming for the first time this summer! I am kind of a wimp when it comes to cold water, but once I got in it was really fun.  (My 9-5 work hours kind of prevent me from being out in the sunlight.  Feel free to forward all complaints about my working conditions to my mom).

The rest of Saturday was filled with a PBS special called Circus–quite good–and some spinach and artichoke dip.  I love spinach and artichoke dip.  Especially from Applebee’s.  Quick tip: if you go there after 10 pm, all of the appetizers are half-off and they don’t downsize the portions of spinach and artichoke dip.  They do that for all of the other appetizers, so beware!  Can you tell I have been to Applebee’s a lot?

Sunday, I found a glass bowl to put my plant from the Farmer’s Market in.  It was only 49 cents!  Thank you, Goodwill.  That evening, I met the Twilight in Dubuque.  My dad’s family was riding that day to celebrate my grandpa’s 80th birthday, so I stopped down to say hi to everyone.  My uncle, Dave, is a good photographer and he got a picture of me, my brother and all of our cousins with my grandpa.  He took a lot of other great photos that trip–of my family and the boat as well.  Take a look on our Facebook page!

The rest of the night went by pretty quickly.  I had dinner with my roommate.  He cooked for once!  Then it was off to bed shortly after that.  I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could walk a little bit before getting ready for work.  I actually woke up at about 7:15 and walked for 20 minutes, but, hey, baby steps!  This morning I walked for 50!  We’ll see how long I can keep this up.  I give it about a week.

Hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Here’s my new plant in it’s glass home.  It was a gift, which makes it that much cooler!