This is the first time in two years I am home, having a white Christmas in Wisconsin. Pretty much all of the typical traditions and family celebrations happened early, this weekend. But I thought I would take some inspiration from my years in Australia to mold some new traditions for the holiday itself! The first step was loading my pup in the car and getting outdoorsy!
A short drive away led us to Point Beach State Park, where the office fortunately was open so that I could snag a 2014 annual Wisconsin State Park Pass (woo!). Oddly enough, this state park is practically down the road from me and I'd never been here. Crazy! So after realizing how big this park actually was, I took some notes on dog-friendly trails, donned my snowshoes and we crunched our way through the miles of forest and beaches.
It's amazing the transformation Sadie goes through when I get her out of the house and take her for an excursion, she goes from a grumpy old dog to a springy, young pup. It's taken her about ten years to be the perfect combination of lazy and energetic which in turn has made her a prime, leash-free hiking buddy. She is also patient enough to not wander too far while I snap photos like crazy of the thickly blanketed woods.
This wasn't my first time going hiking or to a beach during Christmas. In fact, what inspired this outing was my past couple years' holiday experience as an expat in Oz. With it being summer in Australia this time of the year, staying inside and huddling around a fireplace, drinking hot chocolate while watching Christmas movies isn't exactly ideal when you have blazing temperatures and the Pacific at your doorstep.
In 2011 I experienced my first Sydney, summer holiday season. I was still pretty fresh to the area and was with my then boyfriend who didn't celebrate it, meaning it was pretty anticlimactic. Though the day was gorgeous and perfect for strolling along the beach and seeing all the families having their Christmas barbecues while the bay was busy with jet-ski's and windsurfers.
Last year, in 2012, one of my best travel buddies and fellow international student planned a couple days stay in the Blue Mountains where we'd spend Christmas hiking the trails. We left sunny Sydney on train and two hours later landed in Katoomba, where the thickest, most eerie-looking fog had taken over the town and surrounding mountains. Being an avid lover of fog, I kind of loved it.
As we approached the viewing platform of the mountains and literally only saw white, we starting getting nervous about the conditions for hiking. We did one of the smaller trails, not impressed with it's drenched conditions, especially with our novice hiking gear of tennis shoes and rain coats. But, we made the most of our couple days by admiring store displays and discovering cozy coffee shops to kill time in. Our hostel even had a fireplace and a full, festive lobby. We took over a couch and read most of Christmas night, feeling more like Christmas than we had expected.