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Adventuring with Friends

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A few years back, I wrote a family adventuring article mentioning that we now have trip ideas for his (dad & friends), hers (mom & friends), and ours (the whole family, possibly with friends added in).

January brings the annual gals’ trip to Whistler, BC, Canada. I was lucky enough to nordic ski with friends three days in a row, and follow that with food and conversation as 13 of us shared a condo. We certainly talked about our kids, but it is a different adventure when they’re not there.

I would love to ski the Whistler Olympic Park with the whole family, though. And take a biathlon lesson with my daughter. His or hers trips as reconnaissance for family trips. Hmm.

What could be better than two teenagers on a cross-country ski trip? Four! We had so much fun last year nordic skiing the Winthrop, Washington area with another family, we decided to repeat the fun. Daily ski tours, an octagonal base camp cabin, and plenty of laughter.

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Solstice Ski

Solstice Ski: the longest ski on the shortest day, is my latest article in Adventures Northwest magazine. Last winter break, we were able to go on a terrific trip with another family, where we rented a base camp cabin in eastern Washington and nordic skied from it each day for four days. On the solstice, we skied into Winthrop and back, Christmas lights illuminating the way because of course the darkness came quickly that day.

The article also includes a few impressions written by my daughter. Which makes me smile. Like me, she not only enjoys the adventure, but the writing about it later.

Canadian Rendezvous

When our kids got invited on a sailing trip with another family, and we needed to pick them up in Egmont, Canada on the British Columbia coast, we started thinking about how we could fit in a little parent adventure as well.

We settled on a bike tour circumnavigating the area they would sail. So we drove to Egmont, took our bikes down off the car, and headed for the ferry to the next section of northward coast. We bicycled the curving coastal road and camped in Powell River, then the next morning took another ferry to Vancouver Island and headed south. Camping on Vancouver Island, we remembered our own previous bicycle adventures as we met German, Canadian, and American cyclists who were on the road for weeks or months.

We sorted our loonies and twonies (Canadian $1 and $2 coins) and enjoyed being in another country: the accents, the signage in French, the expensive groceries. Two more ferries later, we were again on the road to Egmont.

We arrived at the marina ahead of the sailors, and lazed in the sunshine until they arrived. It was amazing to see that little boat with four teenagers and our friends (the parents of the other two teens) aboard.

Two very different journeys – by boat and by bike – and one nice Canadian rendezvous. Our thanks to the Johannessens and their boat Mandalay.

Beach-based Adventures

The second half of our return to Mexico involved adding two more teenagers to our travel group, and heading for the ocean. We were so happy that our kids’ Mexican friends were willing and able to join us. The first adventure was driving from Leon (we rented a van at the airport) to Barra de Navidad via Guadalajara. Many board games were played in the back seats.

Once we settled into our budget hotel, we played in the ocean everyday (big waves at Barra, gentler at La Manzanilla), swam in the lagoon and the hotel pool, and wandered the area.

In fact, the teens had the pool to themselves. Many handstands and water-logged hours later, we headed back to Guanjuato – just in time to see the last Harry Potter movie on opening night.

The Spring 2011 Adventures Northwest magazine is out! This marks another turning point in family adventuring, as articles by both me and my daughter are found in this issue. Dana wrote a terrific piece about her experiences in the three-legged race, which is the second event the junior Ski-to-Sea relay. Her all girls relay team rocked last year, and she captures it well in “Elegant Rhinoceroses,” which is how she described herself and her three-legged race partner. Picture athletic girls, well-matched in height and stride, sprinting the half-mile course. Yes, sprinting. It was amazing to watch. And now to read.

My article is about racing car-free. That is, starting the run, bike, or multi-sport event from your home, with getting to the start becoming the first part of the fun.

You can pick up a copy if you live between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. Not available on-line yet, but until then, you can read my previous articles on the ANW website.

Many months ago, I sent my stories to Mina Samuels, who was collecting the athletic experiences of women and girls. I wrote about being the only gal on a men’s ice hockey team, about appreciating a less busty body, and about becoming an active outdoor family.

Now my thoughts and words are included in Mina’s Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives, published February 2011 by Seal Press. I’m excited to read women’s experiences, and once again reminded about the changes in opportunities within my lifetime. Title IV, which gave girls more equal opportunities in sports, came in when I was in junior high. There was no soccer for girls then, so I played on the boys’ team. Now I look at my junior high age daughter and smile at how different things are. She’s played soccer since she was five. With girls.

But Run Like A Girl isn’t about soccer, or any particular sport. It is about strong women making happy lives. And isn’t that what we want for our daughters? Whether with organized sports or through family outdoor adventure, I think the world is a better place when people are healthy, connected, strong, and happy.

Make Plans for Adventure

In January, I don’t make resolutions so much as travel plans. Since we do many of our adventures in the summer, the turn of the year means it’s time to start planning.

This January, my daughter and I each turned in articles on our Ski to Sea race experiences to Adventures Northwest magazine for their spring issue. Dana focused on her junior Ski to Sea adventures as a three-legged racer, and I mused about car-free eventing. When the editors asked us to write a bio together, it was another opportunity to think ahead about our future adventures.

The bio we wrote:¬†7th grader Dana, and her mom Laural, love reading, writing, bicycling, hiking, and bilingual adventuring. A runner even when her leg isn’t tied to a friend, Dana thinks she’d like to mountain bike in the adult Ski to Sea some day. Laural’s first experience with Ski to Sea was the sailing leg in 1989, but her last decade on the road bike leg was more fun, and the car-free team the best yet. Their summer plans include backpacking in Mexico, climbing Sloan Peak, and bicycle camping in the San Juan Islands. For more on their family adventuring, check¬†lauralringler.com.

Yahoo for adventure plans. I like those and we will be making even more, I’m sure. And that “bilingual adventuring” phrase? Dana’s. And I’ll surely be glad to share in those plans with her.

Team Spirit

Grouping up can be fun. As a family or a team, competing or just getting together, adding a fun and common element can connect the group. This winter, it was temporary tatoos.

With three generations, and an age range of four years to sixty-somethings, we went with the four-year-old’s choice. He picked out an insect or other animal character for each of us (individuality!) but everybody got one (team spirit!). We laughed and had fun with it, and I’m reminded of other team times.

I was part of an all women relay team for several years where we all wore tiaras and glued fake jewels to our race numbers. I was in for the road bike leg, so I affixed the tiara to my helmet with clear packing tape. Easy to identify my teammates, smiles from spectators, fun all around. In fact, a friend from that team and I went on to a new team sponsored by a local pretzel bakery. “What are we doing?” she asked, “Wearing pretzel hats or mustard yellow?” We didn’t. Just team t-shirts that time. Hadn’t thought about temporary tatoos…

Snow

Okay, so the snow in my backyard doesn’t look like this. We have had chilly weather and flurries for a week now, led off by a rainy freeze that has left the streets icy and walking the neighborhood a slippery adventure. Thanksgiving morning we awoke to real snow and went sledding, which is a pretty great way to start the day. Puts me in mind of my midwest childhood.

My last snow experience though, was a 5-day August trip in the Cascades mountains. With the kids safely at the grandparents, my husband and I headed off on a high traverse we’ve been wanting to do for years. We had an amazing weather window, and an incredible backcountry experience. Daunting that the glaciers are smaller, though – I feel so lucky to live near them and be able to get out into the mountains.

We traveled light, but with the glacier travel gear (ice axes, crampons, harnesses & rope), and wandered among the mountain goats, camping near alpine lakes.

Ah, snow.