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Archive for the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Category

Spring break has one child heading for urban adventure in Washington DC, and the other headed to outhouse and campfire cooking on an island west of us. Two backpacks, two slightly different packing lists.

Usually we write out a list (4 pairs socks, polypro underlayer top & bottom, warm hat, etc.) and the child collects their choices into a pile on the floor. Then a parent takes a quick look for adjustments (“How about choosing some of your older t-shirts?”), adds equipment, and the child packs it into their backpack. We have been practicing this method since they were pre-school age – though then we helped fit the items into their packs or ours.

Now that they are teen and pre-teen, the packing goes quickly and I can appreciate all those little gear management techniques that have become second nature over the years. They know that the sleeping bag goes in first, to roll up their pants and shirts, to stuff their socks and underwear into the little crevices, and to put their book and journal in a sealable plastic bag for weather protection.

Launching ourselves out the door is becoming easier, but the self-reliant also have a lot more opinions on where they want to pack for. Thus, some different directions for us. Begun by school schedules that don’t have all of us on the same spring break, family adventuring this week means everyone is adventuring, just not in the same places. Wonder what memories everyone will pack to bring back home.

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We’ll be presenting our Go Local Bike Tour at the Bellingham REI on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30pm. Also being presented that evening is a bike tour from Bellingham to San Francisco.

Last summer we pedaled away from our house, and focusing on using bike trails and ferry links, two parents and two pre-teens pedaled 400 miles in a circle tour from Bellingham, Washington to the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver Island and back home.

While we have a few tips for thinking local, and a couple funny stories to relate, mostly we want to encourage other families to cycle tour. It is an amazing way to travel an area, meet interesting people, and spend time together as a family. We find bicycle touring to be incredible do-it-yourself family adventuring. Hope you’ll try it!

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While the Seven Natural Wonders of the World is probably a well argued list, my daughter discovered sevennaturalwonders.org‘s list this week. She was surprised and delighted to discover she has experienced two of the seven: the Grand Canyon (USA) and the volcano Paricutín (Mexico).

I say “experienced” because we didn’t just take a look, we hiked them for hours and days, got dirty with their rocky dust, and marveled from many angles because we were involved for many hours.

Oohing and ahing outdoors together is an aspect of family adventuring you can experience almost anywhere if you look and listen. Try your neighborhood and region for easier access, as there are many wonders beyond the supposed Seven. In fact, the organization has sublists by continent as well.

What do they name as the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? In addition to the Grand Canyon and Paricutín, they cite the Aurora Borealis, Victoria Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, and the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. My daughter thought our family ought to try for the Aurora Borealis next.

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Our holiday adventures included picking oranges and tangerines in my sister’s neighborhood. A year ago, she noticed the citrus going to waste in her southern California town and thought about her social work clients who need food.

To help connect the going-to-waste fruit to those who would welcome eating it, she created a little project she calls Backyard Bounty. She coordinates groups of friends, or her daughter’s Daisy troop, to pick the trees of people she has approached about getting their excess produce to those in need. So on Christmas Day, 10 of us picked three heavily laden trees. My kids and their cousin reached what they could and then climbed into the trees, handing fruit down to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

It was a different type of family adventure for us, but sold me on doing charitable work as a family. We helped contribute 8 bins and two 5-gallon buckets of fresh produce to the local food bank. Good work, and good work together.

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P8290688Late summer and autumn hiking? It’s blueberry heaven out there. We picked cupfuls to have in pancakes or on cereal for breakfast, and everyone participated.

We had blue fingers from picking, and blue tongues from eating, and a certain girl in our party had blue lips from constant blueberry consumption. We wondered how bears eat blackberries. Do they aim for the berries but end up eating a mouthful of leaves most of the time? Do they somehow run their teeth across the plant stem, loosening the berries but not the leaves? Do their mouths turn blue too?

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We didn’t see any bears, but we did see some very blueberry-influenced bear scat. There was an abundance of blueberry plants, so maybe the bears were working some other area. Like in the old children’s book Blueberries for Sal. I certainly thought of “kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk” from that book (the sound the berries made dropped into Sal’s pail), even though that wasn’t really the sound of blueberries dropped into my plastic cup.

Mostly we picked while wandering near camp, but of course on the way out people stopped even with their loaded packs on. No one even tipped over. Just touched up the blue on their mouths and fingers.

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backtoschoolckAs a writer mama, I have learned from and been supported by Christina Katz’ Writers on the Rise, then Writer Mama, and most recently Get Known Before the Book Deal books and websites.

This month, for the third year in a row, The Writer Mama, Christina Katz, is giving away thirty books in thirty days. All you have to do to enter is answer Christina’s question of the day. At the end of each day, a winner will be randomly chosen from those who posted responses -and there is no limit to how many days you can enter. You don’t have to be a mom, of course, though the event is created with moms in mind. Stop by, be inspired, and maybe even win a book!

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P8030564The new bicycle configuration, with Noah on his own bike, means that he’s quick on the uphills but the loaded bikes get far ahead of him – or need to brake a lot – on the downhills. This makes for interesting riding if it is very hilly, as it is hard to keep the group together.

We rode about 120 miles in the first 3 days. And then Noah was really tired. Even with Dana occasionally trading places with him, that was too much too fast.

So we’re feeding him much more (above he even has a lollipop in his mouth), scaling back the mileage, and planning some rest days.P8020553 There have also been a few unplanned rest stops. We’ve had a flat tire every day, with two for me in one hour, until we figured out I actually needed a new tire. The tube was bulging out through a thin spot in the tire sidewall, and when I applied my brakes it was just enough additional pressure. Next came the unpleasant pop that signals another flat.

Tom patched the tire with the largest patch we had, even left the backing on for more strength, and we bought a new tire at a nice shop in Sequim, Washington. We’re now hoping for more planned, rather than unplanned stops, although the one in the photo was a good spot – even had a little bench to sit on.

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