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Archive for the ‘Fun’ 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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When I advocate family adventuring, I mean outdoor adventure involving nature. What a surprise it was to apply our outdoor adventuring to an urban setting and find that we all really liked it.

Of course it wasn’t just any city, but Vancouver during the Olympics. Backpack of snacks, clothing layers, and water (just as we’d take hiking) – check. Sense of readiness to play I-Spy-Something-New – check. Willingness to walk many miles – check.

Not many trees did we see, but it was inspiring people-watching. We saw a couple women in Netherlands team jackets, whole families faces painted and dressed in Canadian flags, a juggler in checkerboard pants. We smelled the Olympic cauldron burning, heard spontaneous renditions of the Canadian anthem, felt the chill emanating from the Robson Square outdoor ice rink.

While driving to and from the SkyTrain (public transportation into the city core), the kids noticed the purely Canadian species they’d been exposed to while watching the Olympics on a Canadian television channel, like Tim Horton’s. We didn’t stop there, but we did at Petro Canada to buy some commemorative Olympic glasses. Now we can drink orange juice in glasses adorned with the Olympic inukshuk, and remember how great it was to have the Olympics next door.

Oh wait, they aren’t over yet. We’re ready to get tickets to some Paraolympic events. How could we not want to cheer sledge hockey players, and Paraolympic skiers?

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My daughter and I journal. My husband writes factual trip notes. My son takes video. Each of us is thinking about what we’re experiencing through these methods, and creating a reference to look through later and bring the experiences back to us.

I have said, “How about just one notebook?” as my daughter packs her bike pannier or backpack. But when I got the answer that she needed two, one for her trip journal and one for writing stories, I just smiled. I have said to my son, “Could you leave the tripod?” as he packs his bike pannier or backpack, and sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no.

When packing I try to be weight conscious, but they make the final decisions in notebooks and film equiptment. I love that we have these records of our adventures. My son just managed his footage of our winter road trip into “The Grand Canyon” parts 1 through 5, with rap music tracks added. It certainly brought back memories to view his work. And gave me insight into how he saw our adventures. Write on and film on, I say.

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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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Arms Up For Adventure

Standing atop something, like a rock or a mountain, somehow lends itself to throwing one’s arms up like Tour de France racers crossing the finish line.

I’m not sure if it is the accomplishment of the climb, the joy of the height, or the connection of being outside, but whatever it is we’re celebrating.

Happy new year, and happy new adventures to all.

Hope in 2010, you too will be atop or across something that makes you want to put your arms up in accomplishment, joy, and connection.

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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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The Joy of Pond Skating

We live in a temperate area that is rarely cold enough for long enough that we can ice skate outside.

And we are part of a group of adults united over many years of playing league ice hockey at the local rink.

This means that there are some among us, who, when the weather conditions start aligning, look for outside ice. If found, the phone calls go out, and people meet for a few glorious hours, maybe even over a few glorious days. That situation happened just this weekend, and my husband and I have blisters from so much ice skating.

One child went with us, skated for hours, and wanted to go back the next day. The other elected to stay home. Not a full-on family adventure this time, but a chance for the adults to play like children and the children to have choices. Joy for all of us.

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P9130797While Noah and I camped out on Table Mountain (see previous post), his sister and dad slept 24.5 miles down the road. On Sunday morning, they lined up on their tandem bicycle with hundreds of other folks who were generally not on tandems. For a race. Uphill. 4500 feet of elevation gain.

While Noah read a book at the finish line, I scrambled down a trail and intercepted the road. Then I walked it chalk in hand, writing messages. Some directly for Tom and Dana, some for other friends riding, some general you-can-do-it type messages for everyone, and a few comments on others’ messages. “Podium girls ahead!” someone wrote. So I added, “Podium boys too!”

Two switchbacks from the top, I heard my name. I turned to find Tom & Dana cranking up to me, she smiling, he sweating hard. I ran alongside for a bit, but then they went on. By the time I got to them at the finish, they were accepting congratulations from people and fruit from the snack table.P9130807

My favorite tandem team finished in two and a half hours (faster than Tom had thought they’d be) and as far as I saw, Dana was the only girl involved in the event.

It was a beautiful day, an impressive challenge, another incredible Mount Baker Hill Climb. And I was just a little tempted to try it next year.

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P9130783Getting outside with my now teenager seems to involve a little more cajoling to interest him in an adventure. The weekend of the Mt. Baker Hillclimb (his sister and his dad tandem bicycled that), I proposed a mother-son overnight on a little mountain above where the hill climb would finish.

He was skeptical. Complained some. But eventually packed his backpack.

I made sure I had cider mix and good breakfast food, back up warm clothes, and enough water since it is a dry camp. But this time I made sure that he was carrying his share of the weight. And I promised him it was a short hike, but a supercool spot.

And it was.P9130789

Due to dropping off the hillclimbers to camp at what would be their start the next morning, we hit the trail after sunset. This turned out to be a highlight. Hiking with a headlamp makes a simple hike into an incredibly different experience. We felt our way, reached the top appreciating the trail with our remaining senses, and searched for a tent site by arcing the headlamp in circles around us. Did I mention I’d only brought one?

We saw millions of stars, I listened to him chatter in the tent while he skimmed Popular Science, and we awoke to a beautiful sunrise the next morning. Headlamp hiking is definitely to be repeated and the mother-son overnight was a success. He thought so too.

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Family Book Club

PC260401Books have been on my mind. In the last few weeks I was lucky enough to win Jane in Bloom by Deborah Lytton through Cindy Hudson’s Mother-Daughter Book Club site and two writer books from Christina Katz’ Writer Mama site. Thanks gals!

I also got my copy of Cindy’s Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. And in thinking about her perspective on sharing books with daughters, I reflected on our family’s book sharing.

On our bicycling trips, each person gets to take one book in their pannier. So after someone finishes their book, we often trade. Then we can operate as a family book club, discussing what we’ve read in the tent at night or over peanut butter sandwiches at lunch. I like reading the young adult literature my kids have read – I get to know more about what they’re experiencing, I read books I would not have ordinarily picked up, and we have interesting discussions.

When we lived in Mexico we shared even more books, because English language books were hard to come by. We packed 40 books along with us, then shared many of them. My son even made a calendar and filled in when he would read each book, so as to make them last the length of the trip (didn’t work, he sped through the books and we had to start trading with other families).

How often do families read the same book at home? For us, the Harry Potter books, but not too many others. But on a trip where space and weight dictate condensing our book possibilities? Family book club happens.

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