Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

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.

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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.

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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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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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The third Friday in May we celebrate national Bike to Work and School Day – even though the kids bike to school everyday. On Bike to School day they get a true celebration when they arrive. Music and food, cheers and congratulations, and as my son reported, “a hundred kids on the lawn playing around.”

I’m glad they and the other kids who bicycled in are getting some positive feedback for their fitness and environmental commitment. Maybe even more kids will think bike riding is fun, and all of them will get more active.

My husband ran the Bike to School station at the elementary school where he works, and I put together the one at the high school where I work. Actually, I recruited some Earth Club members to work the food table, since I was bicycling the 22 miles to work with two colleagues. We made it in good time and then helped cheer new arrivals until the bell rang for the start of first period. Wish I could get a hundred kids playing around outside my school after bicycling in. Maybe someday.

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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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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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Olympic Valentines

We are an outdoor adventuring family. We’d rather do than view, so our old television mostly resides in a closet in the basement, occasionally pulled out for use with an old VHS videotape. But with the Olympics happening just over the border from us, we hauled that heavy relic up to the living room and discovered that we can get a Canadian channel that has almost non-stop coverage.

We watched the opening ceremonies (wow!) and played What Country Will Be Next as the alphabetical parade of nations was shown. Who knew that Ghana sent an athlete and that Iran would participate? We’re also liking the Games as covered by Canadians compared to how we imagine they are getting covered by American stations. The Canadian station has commercials for British Columbia, and shows entire heats of long track speed skating when there aren’t even any Canadians in the race.

While I woke up twice in the night thinking sadly of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who lost his life Friday morning, being more connected to the Olympics is pretty inspiring. Wayne Gretzky carried the torch in the same rain that was falling that night at our house.

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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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