Archive for the ‘Family Adventure’ Category

Once again, we stowed clothing layers, food, and water bottles in our backpacks, and headed into a big city instead of a nature area to adventure. Vancouver is still in the Olympic spirit, only there are the crowds are less dense for the Paraolympics.

After wandering Robson Square and the waterfront, we caught an incredibly packed bus for the UBC ice arena and picked up our tickets for USA vs. Czech Republic in sledge hockey. The weather had turned rainy, and so the bus ride was pretty steamy as we all stood pressed together swaying with the articulated bus’ motion.

Once inside the arena, we were in our seats minutes ahead of the game – and what a game it was. Sledge hockey players move with a double-poling motion using the spikes on the ends of their sticks, making swooping turns with one hand when they are carrying the puck with the other, and play as aggressively as stand-up hockey players. They move their individualized sleds with a lot of hip action – I bet they are good kayakers as well. We were impressed, the kids were awed, and we got to cheer a USA victory. The Paraolympics are inspiring.

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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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While we welcome good food, a cozy fire, and time with extended family as much as anyone, we also think a break in the kids’ school schedule allows for a little outdoor adventure.

So we added Grand Canyon backpacking to our road trip of visiting friends and family.

We started down the 9.5 mile Bright Angel trail in a snowstorm, camped at the Colorado river, and then were lucky to have a bright and beautiful second day for the 7.5 mile South Kaibab Trail. The kids were amazing backpackers, interested in the layers of rock and the ever-changing terrain, and able to hike for several hours between packs-off rest stops. I was proud of their accomplishment and impressed by their fitness.

We trekked the most utilized trails in the Grand Canyon, but doing so in winter made the experience feel more remote than it was. Three days there wasn’t enough, and I think all of us would welcome more Grand Canyon adventures.

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Making Tracks

I’m working on an article on scat and tracks, and I find it is affecting how I see the world.

I like to think of myself as a noticer of details, and hope I am passing that along to my children. But I hadn’t really thought that much about how the world looks from the point of view of other animals in it. The tracks remind us they pass by, but they don’t tell the whole story. If I were a real tracker, I’d have a sense of the when and why of a passing animal, but I’m not.

So I’ll concentrate on identifying the scat and tracks for those I share the area with, and otherwise simply muse about who went by and what they were up to. And then I’ll hope to add those thoughts to conversations with my kids, so they too can identify more than those tracks in this photo.

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I’m thankful for curiosity. I have kids who are interested in the world and can get excited about the contents of rocks (as in the photo), spying a wee little mushroom under some ferns, or what is over the next hill. I love that.

I’m thankful that their enthusiasm helps me notice life’s amazing details, and keeps us family adventuring into new places and experiences, where we meet new people and are reminded that our worldview is one among many.

I’m thankful that my kids are willing to adventure with their parents. Yes, we’ve entered the bring-a-friend stage, but they are also up for just the family. We’re thinking about a road trip this winter break, and they’re contributing ideas not complaints.

I wrote in my bio that I live with my “intrepid husband and two adventuresome kids.” I really do. I’m thankful for them, and all the other people out there giving family adventuring a try. Go team.

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PA301994Last year at this time, we were living in Mexico. It was Halloween at the kids’ school and with American friends, and Dia de los Muertos everywhere else. We had an incredible family adventure, and I find myself thinking back about it a lot lately.

This is Dana and her friend Danae dressed as a squirrel and a fox for their class Halloween play. Their friend Maura was a witch, and I had to check my assumptions when I talked to her mom about costuming. I asked if they wanted to borrow a black shirt, and the response was, “Black? Oh no, a witch is colorful!”

The memories make me homesick for being there, only I’m not sure what you call it when you’re not missing home but another place.PA312082 I think about the school Dia de los Muertos altar, pan muerto (bread of the dead, shaped as a skull), wandering the alters all over town, and the community of remembrance we got to be a part of for awhile.

It was an incredible adventure. You can read more about it in my Traveling Simply blog, if you’d like to stroll through our adventures back when we were making those memories.

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mail-1The fall issue of Adventures Northwest magazine is out and about now, chock full of inspiring writing and good looking photos. My article on family bicycling, Smiles Per Hour, details how we’ve been cycling together over the years – starting with one kid and a trailer of diapers, but eventually becoming a family of four on parent & child tandem bicycles. We have pedaled thousands of miles, a number of different countries (USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg), and up to six weeks on a single trip (the US Pacific Coast). We sure have had amazing experiences together.

You can even read the article right here if you don’t live where you can pick up a copy of the magazine. Let me know what you think, or if you have questions.

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PB162499We’re planning a little backpacking venture this weekend. We’ll hike 3-4 miles in, set up camp, and then swim in the alpine lake and scramble the ridges above for a day or two.

This is a place we return to almost every summer, so I know the kids are very capable of the trail. But I wonder how much more of our gear those very capable kids can help carry. Of course, I googled it. Looks like there are percentages like 10-15- 20% out there, mainly in regards to carrying backpacks to school. For backpacking specifically, I found 25% of their weight.

I know my kids carried heavy packs in Mexico, walking for short periods as we traveled on and off buses and set up camp in different regions. At that time they carried everything they had: clothes for a week, a book, souvenirs. No way do I want them to carry that much on the trail. I want them to still be smiling even after an hour of hiking.

This week, we’ll watch the weight. And I’ll find a scale and weigh those packs, and report back here.

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P8040586 While on our recent bicycle adventure, we stopped by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s totem pole carving workshop.

We braked on the downhill into Blyn and scanned the beautiful tribal buildings for the House of Myths, which some friends from the area had told us about. Then we parked our bikes and lurked in the House of Myths’ doorway until we saw a welcome sign encouraging people to come in, look around at the totem poles in process, and watch the carvers.

The day we were there two carvers were at work, and when one took a phone call, the other chatted with us about the incredible art all around us. He talked about how the colors were traditionally made, how each one-of-a-kind pole is made from a single tree, and how the story and design process works. We were amazed.

P8040584You never know what a day will bring when you’re adventuring self-propelled. Sometimes we read about what lies ahead, or hear something intriguing from other folks, and plan to stop at a particular destination. Other times, we just stumble upon interesting places and stop, even if it is on a downhill, to look and learn.

Make sure to allow for experiences that weren’t on the itinerary. Sometimes they become highlights.

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