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Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

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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.

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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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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.

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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…

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The car-free Ski to Sea relay race was so much fun last May, that I think we’ve moved into car-free eventing any time the race start is in our county. So this weekend, that meant my husband and brother-in-law teamed up for a car-free Bellingham Traverse. The multi-sport adventure race involves a 5.5 mile Run, 6 mile Mountain Bike, 18 mile Road Ride, 3 mile Trail Run, 4 mile Paddle, and finishes with a .5 mile Team Trek (a jog/run to the finish line).

Thus there are a number of start lines, one of which the kayak must be towed to by bicycle, for example. The logistics become an entertaining pre-race planning aspect, and make for more community involvement too. That is, non-racing community members seemed entertained by Tom riding his mountain bike to Lake Padden while one-handedly pushing the road bike that Ben would use when he arrived from running the first leg. Or community members smiled to see me tandem bicycling my brother-in-law to the race start. Fun stuff, and outdoor adventure even for those of us not racing.

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Kayak Artwork

Dana & her dad kayaked 4 hours to pick me up on Orcas Island, and I think at that point she was pretty happy to hang out in the center of our triple while I took over paddling. We headed north to camp on Clark Island, which put us in position for paddling to Waldron the next day.

Since Dana would have plenty of non-paddling ride time, she became chief dolphin counter and eagle spotter. I also gave her a grease pencil, which other kayakers would use to mark compass bearings on their deck for glancing at easily. She had free reign to decorate our kayak, and used her creativity to document our journey. If you look carefully, you’ll see she’s noted “awesome person” with an arrow to herself. Her dad got “primate” with a similar arrow pointing at him.

She mostly wrote while we were paddling, but she did write “paddle mom” and a few other comments in front of me before we launched.

The grease pencil was well worth it, and the illustrated kayak makes me smile. I wonder how long we can leave it on before it becomes permanent. On the other hand, perhaps the artist needs a clean slate for her next thoughts.

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Previously, we divided our adventures into his, hers, and ours (the whole family). As the kids get older, and now that one set of grandparents has moved to town, we can parent adventure as well. The kids can stay home for swim team or cross country practice if they choose, and we can grab a little window of outdoor time.

We had two nights and 3 days to work with, so headed out on our bicycles early, were in Anacortes 3 hours later, and on the state ferry soon after. We rode on San Juan Island to our favorite hiker-biker site at the San Juan County Park, from which you get amazing sunsets and almost always see whales.

Except we saw no whales that evening. But then we spent the next day at Lime Kiln State Park, and there we were lucky enough to see thirty-some whales slowly passing by for almost four hours. I love hearing people ooh and ahh like they’re watching fireworks each time an orca’s huge dorsal fin breaks the surface.

We bicycled on Lopez Island on our third day and wandered some roads we hadn’t traveled on previous trips. We were lucky to have a simple parent bicycle venture with great weather, spectacular whale watching, and a personalized ferry pick-up from my parents. Pretty decadent to now have that option.

We loaded our bicycles onto the back of their boat, padded them with a couple towels, and bungied them in place. Then we watched little clear jellyfish by the hundreds as we made our way across the water towards home.

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We did it. We not only did it – completed the 90-mile Ski to Sea race car free – we were able to be competitive with the car-using teams. I am so proud of our team!

Since the race, we’ve gotten lots of comments. Many people just didn’t think it was possible to do well and go green. Others hadn’t been aware that there was one car-free team last year, and were amazed that there were four this year. We hope that even more folks will be inspired, like we were by last year’s Hub team, to work out a car-free Ski to Sea team for 2011. Why not turn the race into a much longer endurance event? We had a great time – though yes, were extra tired post-race.

Hope our kids (almost everyone on the team are parenting kids under 16) are inspired too.

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Our community’s Memorial Day Ski to Sea event has been raced by my husband and I for many years. Eight-person relay teams start on Mt. Baker with cross-country skiing and downhill skiing, head down the mountain running and bicycling, take to the river canoeing, mountain bike into town and then cross the bay kayaking. The kids variously come along and cheer, or stay in town with friends and meet us at the finish.

This year, we’re doing it all car-free. That means the folks who have mountain starts will bicycle 50 miles the day before and camp out, before getting up early Sunday to bike the remaining 10 miles to their starting positions. Tom’s our cross-country skier, and will be using our bike trailer to tow skis up and the runner’s bike down to her finish. There are lots of entertaining logistics – like bicycling the canoe 25 miles to their start – but we’re going to have fun with this.

I’m mountain biking this year. That means 14 miles to the start on race day, 14 miles of racing, then a few more to the kayak finish. And on Saturday, I’ll be helping get the kayak into position which will include walking 3/4 mile from my house down to the water, and retrieving our kayaker by tandem bike after she paddles it to the start.

We may even have the kids help with the logistics, biking between the in town legs with support gear. And in a few more years we can think about entering the family division. Or maybe they’ll have a car-free division by then.

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My San Diego niece has a first grade teacher who believes in adventure. After reading her class the picture book Flat Stanley, she had her students color miniature versions of themselves and send them in an envelope to friends or family living elsewhere.

We received the flat version of my niece and wandered around town taking photos of her with boats in the harbor, tulips towering over her, and meeting friends in front of the kids’ middle school. Next my daughter wrote a letter explaining her flat cousin’s adventures, and we that flat girl back with tourist brochures of our area.

I love thinking about those sunny first graders looking at photos of our area and noticing how the plants are different and the weather is different and the buildings are different. Maybe if they adventure in envelopes now, those kids will be interested in traveling by plane, bicycle, or foot in real life later. I hope so.

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