Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall into Winter with the Gal Pals

Last weekend five good girlfriends joined me on some fall adventures around town. They've all met before at previous lose-yer-mind weekends, and this one proved just as fun, just as adventurous, and just as fulfilling as the weekends of yore.

But if I'm really honest, it left me wanting more. More time with my friends. One more day to truly just veg out in pajamas all day, eating dip, telling stories, playing games, drinking wine. Because we didn't do enough of that.

Er maybe not the latter. Some of us (ahem) drank plenty of wine.

Since this is now our official home, Mr. Musky got a taste of what goes on during one of our weekends. He promptly left to have a drink at one of his favorite bars, chatted up the other gents doing the same, then returned home to eat his fish. In the basement. Alone.

Meanwhile, I caught up with two of my pals who arrived first while preparing some dinner and just enjoying the company of great friends while we texted nonsense to the other two on their way.
The one thing I miss about Illinois is the deep and wide friendships I've cultivated over the years. I know I'll have that here too and I look forward to those relationships, but I sure do miss the ones I walked away from.

After a positively leisurely, slow start to Friday, we finally headed out to Northwoods Zip Line in Minocqua for a fun-filled afternoon.
How do I describe some of these gals? Hmmmmm. Let me just say that they take raunch to entirely new levels, aren't afraid to trash talk one another to the cringeworthy point of eyes squeezing shut, but also love and adore each other until death do us all land in the nursing home 40 years from now, happy we laid it all out there and acted like annoying teenagers.

Due to knee-jerk decisions that seem like a really good idea at the time, the names on all of our hard hats have been removed for this post, because we came up with new names for our zip line head gear.
My mother would be very disappointed in me if I didn't remove those names. I love my mother. I don't want her disappointment raining down on me. Not now, not ever. Thank goodness she wasn't present to see her daughter on Saturday evening. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
 The sixth in our group met us there, and eventually we found ourselves deep in the woods
climbing a tower built around a tree,
clinging to one another for dear life despite the fact that we were always, always safely tethered to a cable overhead.
Ryan, our trusty launch guide, confidently and reassuringly moved our hooks from one cable to another,
finally securing us to the gilded one stretched into the woods to another tree in the distance,
and reminded us which hands go in what order over the gold slider of death, then sweetly told us we were ready to go.
Then he waited, and waited, and waited until we summoned the courage (or idiocy) to actually remove our feet from the platform. For some, he became a personal therapist for the day, convincing us all to actually slide down onto a thin wire through the woods.
We held the important responsibility for "braking" ourselves to ensure we didn't need an ambulatory woodsy EMT to come save us from whiplash. On the other end of the line, trusty guide Josh alerted to when we should start breaking with the stressful job of safely directing us to the platform to wait for the others to speed down.
For some, zip-lining was old school.
A few ladies in our group already did this at various vacation destinations and they knew the drill. For others, including me, it was a first time thrill ride. Then for others, it was a harrowing, terrifying, positively tortuous way to spend a brisk Friday afternoon in October.

The greatest character of the day showed off the entire time.
Autumn brought its A game last Saturday, and the colors were positively breathtaking.
Tunnels of firey orange, brilliant yellow, and magenta reds backdropped by spruce green invited us to leap forth on those cables and go for it!
So much so, it almost distracted us from the chill in the air and the amped up adrenaline. But not enough. I found the bridges between some of the runs to be most terrifying.
And even I lost my marbles a bit on station four. I remarked, "It's a little unsettling, being off the ground for so long. It's nice to have the ground underfoot."
"YA THINK!?!" She wasn't too happy with me.
That one was super scary, extra fast, and gave us all a jolt of queasiness. But in the end, we did it. On the last run of the day, I felt comfortable enough to do this - check me out with my buddy Carrie!
I would absolutely do this again.
She, however, would not. And I quote, on run number 6:
"I'd pay $1000 for someone to come get me and end this, right now!" I got the finger from her a lot on Friday.
But she persevered, and we all reaped the rewards of our chilly excursion in the way of a warm restaurant, Friday night apƩritifs and wine, and a yummy dinner before heading home to a movie that only one lone ranger made it through before passing out from sheer exhaustion.

The next morning we rallied early to experience a little Zen at Rezyn Yoga in Eagle River. Laura calmly and peacefully guided us through a delightful hour of stretching our bodies and minds before we embarked upon our next adventure.
 Maybe I should say, our next disaster.
We rented a UTV from Trackside!
This and the zip lining are big bucket list items for me, but I know absolutely nothing. So on Thursday I walked into Trackside in Eagle River, and thank God...a female was behind the counter. I knew right away I could lay it all out there for her. It went something like this:

"Hi, I'm Jen. I need to preface this with the fact that I don't know the difference between an UTV and an ATV, don't even know if trails are still open, and can one of your UTVs really hold six people at once?"

Jenna gave me a reassuring laugh, and proceeded to answer all my questions and made me feel 100% at ease about the possibility of renting their big rig. She even took it out on the trails once herself and assured me it would be great fun.
Imagine herding 600 cats into one 6 foot by 6 foot spot. That's about how it was herding us six into that vehicle. If someone covertly took a video of our sheer ridiculousness, I'd love to see it. But we finally got all buckled in and away we went.
People. If I thought Friday was chilly on those zip lines, NOTHING prepared me for the open wind against NO WINDSHIELD speeding down a side road at 35mph. The first fellow UTVers we saw stopped us because they simply had to know what the hell we were doing. Chuckling along with our obnoxiousness, they kindly noted: "You know they make these with windshields, right? In fact, our friends over there even have heat in theirs."

We looked at one another, yelled "PANSIES!" and drove away.
Along the way, we hooted and hollered and waved at every passing car, bicycler, mail-getter, you name it. Once we got on the trails though, the mud started flying.
It rained five out of the previous seven days. I knew the trails would be muddy, and I told everyone to bring clothes that could get trashed. But Nelly...
... the mud was insane. Everywhere! Did we really have to go fast through all those puddles?
Hell no. And we probably shouldn't have. It was kinda dumb on our part. We should have waited to really go for it until we were on the last leg home.
And we did. Boy oh boy, did we ever. But thanks to a wine and cheese stop before the mud bath...
...a warm up at the Burnt Bridge Tavern with some very necessary cocktails...
...and another bottle of wine to pass around on the way home...
....I pretty much didn't feel a thing.
After panicking slightly because I thought we were off course (sober Jen would've known better), we eventually stopped some VERY kind fellow mudders who told us we were, in fact, on the right course. Thankfully some of my friends managed their liquor intake a bit better so rest assured, we safely arrived back to the rental store.
After returning the UTV we stopped for one more unnecessary cocktail then finally made our way home to horrible dancing and stupefying antics to wrap up a most excellent, adventurous weekend.
I know you have many questions, but I'll only answer one. No. There was no key.

On Sunday I wrapped myself up in a blanket and rewatched the videos and took in all the photos over and over, the weekend already conjuring sweet memories with friends who I know will be there for me for life. It also didn't hurt that they brought enough food for an army, and I'm gratefully still eating it, happy to be taking a break from the kitchen.

All that said though, here's my favorite two things of our three day buffoonery:

At dinner on Friday night, if the topic of conversation went a little south for one of the ladies, someone else deliberately changed the subject, allowing for some relief for the other. I'm not saying we bash each other or anything like that, but sometimes the focus can turn negative or just "not right." And TWO TIMES I saw two different friends bail out someone when it got a little icky. I love that. I will remember it forever, and really think in future engagements: "Is this really helpful? Kind? Going anywhere good?" If not, I will deliberately change the conversation to get that person out of the hot seat.

At the Burnt Bridge, our server bid us goodbye with this: "Keep encouraging one another, Ladies. Keep encouraging."
And that I vow to do with all my friends until I die in that nursing home. You can bet your sweet raunchy cheeks on that promise.



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