Category Archives: Adventure

“Hit the Road Jack” Camping Trip

 

How many of you have been on a vacation that you really looked forward to and yet the outcome was full of unforeseen problems? That is what this blog is about. No matter what comes your way in life, you can learn from the situation and move forward. Here’s our story.

The year was 1987, we had just purchased a used pop-up camper. After packing it with all our belongings, we were finally ready for an exciting maiden voyage out West.  Our plan was first to make our way to see my roommate from college and her family in Denver and then to Kingman, Arizona where Larry’s family resided.  I had started my career as a high school teacher in 1985 and Larry had a good year in construction.  There was finally money for a camper instead of pitching our tent often in wet conditions. Our children, Deb, Julie, and Aaron, worked hard in school and looked forward to this family vacation. What could possibly go wrong?

While singing the top hits on the radio, we were just 30 miles from Denver when we saw a storm ahead. Unlike the Midwest, a storm on the horizon was easy for all of us to see. We had a contest guessing how long it would take for us to enter the storm. “I say it will take 15 minutes,” said Deb. “No, said Julie, “20 minutes”. Aaron just looked ahead in wonderment as we got closer and closer. I was keeping track of the time for the contest.   Ray Charles was singing“Hit the Road Jack” while we counted the minutes. All of a sudden, a gusting wind unfolded sending us directly into the eye of the storm.   “Oh No!” said Larry as he looked out the rearview mirror to see the top of our camper sliced off like a can of Campbell soup and flying onto the road. Fortunately, there was no one behind us. Larry had his head on the steering wheel crying out, “Oh God Why?”

The storm had also blown our personal belongings onto the highway. As we gathered them up, two hippy guys stopped to give us a hand. “Don’t worry, be happy. These things happen all the time,” they chimed.  “We are here to do our good deed for the day.” You can take it to the Camper Repair Shop in town and they will fix it for you.” The rain tapered off and overhead we could see a magnificent double rainbow.  Maybe there was hope. The helpful hippies gave us a hand putting the wind-ripped camper top back on and we made our way to downtown, Denver. Deb reminded us that the song during the storm was, “Hit the Road, Jack.”

Even though our used camper looked good from the outside, we had missed seeing the rotting wood under the metal which was unable to take the impact of the storm. Knowing that there was no way to fix our camper, we dealt with the loss of $675 (a lot of money for us) and took the top to the scrapyard for disposal.

In the Schuerr book of travel, one never turns back but continues ON! Our children were able to experience first hand how to deal with unforeseen problems. It was time for creative thinking. We put our clothes in black garbage bags and we raised the poles and covered them with Visqueen.  We had recently seen the movie Family Vacation as they traveled to Wally World What more could possibly go wrong?

We made our way to my friend’s beautiful neighborhood pulling our decapitated popup camper.  We were greeted warmly by Carol, Skip, and their two boys even though we were the eyesore of the neighborhood. Our closet folded down and I had to raise it in order to get our belongings out. Later, while at the campground we staged pictures of me swatting flies while eating at our table. We were a family that loved to laugh and used humor and ingenuity to deal with our situation.

We were heading to Arizona next where we planned to see the Grand Canyon.  We had heard that the sun would always shine. But instead we had rain on the way to the Grand Canyon and when we arrived, we felt like the Griswalls making It to Wally World, and finding it closed. We got out of our van and peeked over the canyon—but it was engulfed in heavy thick clouds. “Now what,” I said. “This might be the best time to see our former neighbors that moved to Sedona,” said Larry. It should clear up in a day or two. We returned in time to see a beautiful sunset that painted the canyon in shades of pink, purple and gold.

Now fast forward to recent times when my daughter, Julie, and her husband, Geoff, were on their way to Texas. The engine light went on.   With a moment of contemplation, Geoff said, “What would the Schuerrs do?” “Go on, of course, said Julie. “What could possibly go wrong?”

camping in Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Travel to Kettle Moraine WI/Ottawa Lake

Life with Larry-Sun at Last

“The sun is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.”

After a month of rain, the sun is on the horizon—-a big yellow-red ball finally making its appearance and guiding us to our favorite place—Kettle Moraine, WI.  Larry wanted to take his Goldwing and camp in a small tent in the woods. But I know that we will never shed our winter coats (extra pounds) by riding a motorcycle; we opted instead to take the trailer and the tandem bicycle. It was a good choice since we did have a few sprinkles during the night.

At Ottawa Lake Campground, we were greeted to a symphony of birds.  Over the lake, we saw the return of the herons and sand-hill cranes. We have been coming up to Kettle Moraine now for over 39 years. In my mind, I can still hear and see our red-headed 4-year-old shirtless Julie giggling nonstop while spinning around on the merry-go-round. We gave our toe-headed son, Aaron, an Indian name—because he had such short legs compared to his long torso—just like his dad. We called him Little Silver Top–whose crotch runs close to the grown. Deborah, our oldest, was nicknamed– Bear.  It was a derivative of De/Bear/ah. Her long blonde hair would blow in the wind while chasing her brother and sister in a game of hide-and-go-seek.  We also ran up and down playground equipment playing “tag” with our kids.  While hiking, we would stuff our backpacks with undomesticated apples savoring the thought of the delicious applesauce we would later make after cutting out the rotten spots. As a retired couple, we still cling to the memories of our children’s faces and voices. Our grandchildren are now enjoying the beauty and wonder of Kettle. ( See pictures)

Larry and Elliot

 

On one occasion, we could not get a campsite—the park was full. We thought we’d make the best of the day and head home that evening. But it wasn’t long before our kids were splashing around with the local Kettle kids. Julie, the most gregarious one, must have shared the fact that we were soon going home because one of the Kettle parents invited us to set up our tent on their property just a few miles from Ottawa Lake.  A family friend was born and Larry ended up going fishing later that summer with the father.

Larry and Sue with Nata and EB

Now fast forward to May 2013.  We hopped on our red tandem bicycle and cruised up and down the winding roads pass lakes and fusions of blue and yellow flowers bending their faces to the sun. We rode pass Pine Creek Campground and inhaled the awesome smell of freshly cut pines in the tree farm across the street from the camp.

Soon we could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and baked goods at our destination spot—–The Old Milwaukee Trade Center Coffee House in Delafield, WI. There are three spacious rooms with large windows and outdoor sitting at this coffee house on steroids. We hardily recommend it to all.  It was a wonderful 25-mile round trip ride from our campsite.

Here are Julie, Geoff and Nata

We found ourselves laughing a lot as a result of our first local get away in the sun.  Being in nature is like taking a shower and ridding oneself of the dust of daily living.  It refreshes the soul and brings one closer to God and His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of god; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech,” Psalm 19: 1-2. We love the harmony and tune of nature—it always seems to refresh us. Kettle Moraine is the cure for any ailment. Now next time, we’ll hop on our Gold-wing and I’ll let Larry have his wish and camp in the pines under the stars.

Picking Wild Raspberries

Kettle Moraine is located North of Lake Geneva. Take Rt. 12 up there and be sure to see the La Grange Store on the way up. It’s a restaurant/bike/health food store. They can give you directions to great hiking, biking and camping just s short distance from their store.  If you camp at Ottawa Lake, be sure to go to either Delafield or Oconomowoc. Both towns have great stores, restaurants and coffee houses, and you won’t want to miss the beautiful beach outside of Oconomowoc.

Here’s a low-cost vacation full of surprises.

Face Your Fears in the New Year

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” Yesterday, as part of our  Christmas present to our grandkids, we took Natalie and Elliot downhill skiing with their dad up at Wilmot in Wisconsin. It was the warmest day in over a week of below 0 temperatures.  As a result, a record number of our best friends joined us on the hills.  Finally, we made it to the magic carpet where Nata’s lesson began. Geoff and Elliot took off for higher terrain while Larry and I started teaching Nata the fundamentals of skiing. She listened carefully and progressed quickly to the chairlift. Now skiing for me was not as difficult as learning the fundamentals of the chairlift.  The first time I skied, in my 30’s, I was told to wait until my feet touched the ground to get off the chairlift. Being less than 5 ft, I  never touched the ground, and I could see vividly the hills of unknown destination ahead. As we started to make a turn,   I did the most sensible thing, I jumped off. Fortunately, I was ok but this memory has always stuck with me. I wanted to make sure Nata knew how to get off the lift which she navigated well. Lesson 1-We  learn from our mistakes. 

“Point in the direction you want to go,” said Larry as he gave Nata skiing instructions. “Go across the hill and not straight down.” Before we knew it, she was making perfect turns. Lesson 2-Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take one step at a time. To reach your goal,  set much smaller ones to achieve first. Now Nata was developing some self-confidence. She knew we had her sandwiched in with Larry ahead and me in the back. She was protected and assured of protection. Lesson 3-Find a mentor to help you reach your goal. I remember skiing at Steamboat, which was a big step from skiing at Wilmot. My friend and ski instructor, Cleora, was in front of me and my friend Lynn, an experienced mountain skier, was behind me. I skied better than I ever did because of my mentors and those who believed I could achieve success.

After lunch, Elliot wanted to head off to the terrain park which takes the skills of an advanced skier. When Nata saw the hill, she froze and started to whimper. It was too much too soon. Lesson 4- Set attainable goals in your comfort zone. We took off our skies and made our way back to a familiar hill.  It was a “green”. Toward the end of the day, we challenged Nata to try a “blue”, a more difficult run. I said, “Let’s just go over and look at it.” You can always turn around and go to the easier hill.” She said, “I think I just want to stay on the greens today.” Larry said, “This is all in your head, Nata, you can do this one.  Trust me, You now have the skills to do the blue run. I know you are up for this one.” Lesson 5-Trust your mentor and plunge into a challenge using your newly acquired tools.  With Larry leading and me following, Nata fought her fears and turn by turn mastered the difficult hill. She actually sped up at the end of the run, out of our control,  with arms up in victory. It was the end of a great day which will stay with 11-year-old Nata as she faces the future challenges of life knowing she conquered the blue.

The Blue Run!

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind ” (2 Timothy 1-7). 

 

What To Do When Your Goal Is Just Around The Corner

We signed up early for the Oct. 7th/8th Hilly Hundred Bicycle Ride near Bloomington, IN knowing that having a goal in the summer would motivate us to build endurance through exercise and good nutrition.  The huge hills were no surprise to us since we have been doing this ride most years since 1992.  As seasoned seniors, we knew that without training, we would never succeed.  When setting a goal, expect interferences.  Larry was having problems with his shoulder and an MRI confirmed that surgery was needed. The surgeon Larry trusted the most had an opening Oct. 9th. “What,” I said. “That is cutting it close.” To do 50 miles on Sunday and then turn around and drive 5 hours home for a Monday surgery was a super human goal. But we booked the surgery. 

Day one arrived with hot temperatures in the mid-80’s.  We encountered some difficulties such as the chain coming off twice and getting a flat tire.   We biked 53.7 miles with an elevation gain of 3229 ft. while sweating profusely.  I was pleased that my training rides with my good friend, Cleora, had paid off. Unfortunately, Larry and I did not get as much training on the tandem we ride for the Hilly.

Day 2 arrived with the promise of cooler temperatures.   I had a good night’s  sleep and was ready to tackle another day; but my tandem partner had a bad night with his sore shoulder and was not in any condition to ride. Instead of reaching our goal, we drove the 5 hours home with a sense of wisdom and disappointment as well. We  talked about what we could have done differently. We could have lost more weight with less to carry up the huge hills. We could have possibly rescheduled the shoulder surgery. But that didn’t seem like a wise option.

So what did we learn from this experience? We learned the importance of setting goals.   “Without a vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). We learned to be satisfied with  reaching the half way mark. We learned that we are a team and we need to respect the needs of one another. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up, (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)  There will be other opportunities to press on. In the words of Martin Luther King, JR. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience , but where he stands at times of challenge. “