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Archive for the ‘Parent Adventure’ 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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When our kids got invited on a sailing trip with another family, and we needed to pick them up in Egmont, Canada on the British Columbia coast, we started thinking about how we could fit in a little parent adventure as well.

We settled on a bike tour circumnavigating the area they would sail. So we drove to Egmont, took our bikes down off the car, and headed for the ferry to the next section of northward coast. We bicycled the curving coastal road and camped in Powell River, then the next morning took another ferry to Vancouver Island and headed south. Camping on Vancouver Island, we remembered our own previous bicycle adventures as we met German, Canadian, and American cyclists who were on the road for weeks or months.

We sorted our loonies and twonies (Canadian $1 and $2 coins) and enjoyed being in another country: the accents, the signage in French, the expensive groceries. Two more ferries later, we were again on the road to Egmont.

We arrived at the marina ahead of the sailors, and lazed in the sunshine until they arrived. It was amazing to see that little boat with four teenagers and our friends (the parents of the other two teens) aboard.

Two very different journeys – by boat and by bike – and one nice Canadian rendezvous. Our thanks to the Johannessens and their boat Mandalay.

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Snow

Okay, so the snow in my backyard doesn’t look like this. We have had chilly weather and flurries for a week now, led off by a rainy freeze that has left the streets icy and walking the neighborhood a slippery adventure. Thanksgiving morning we awoke to real snow and went sledding, which is a pretty great way to start the day. Puts me in mind of my midwest childhood.

My last snow experience though, was a 5-day August trip in the Cascades mountains. With the kids safely at the grandparents, my husband and I headed off on a high traverse we’ve been wanting to do for years. We had an amazing weather window, and an incredible backcountry experience. Daunting that the glaciers are smaller, though – I feel so lucky to live near them and be able to get out into the mountains.

We traveled light, but with the glacier travel gear (ice axes, crampons, harnesses & rope), and wandered among the mountain goats, camping near alpine lakes.

Ah, snow.

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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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Almost to Waldron Island, we met up with my parents and Noah. The motoring mothership dwarfed the kayak we generally call the Big Banana. Dana elected to jump on board with them, so Tom & I powered the crossing without her.

The mothership motored ahead for a bit, then paced us alongside (“you’re making almost 5 knots” dad yelled), and finally settled in behind us.

With the weather a bit grey, we were happy to slide into Mail Bay and land right onto the beach. The mothership, of course, had to fiddle with their anchor and their dinghy to come ashore. Two very different species (the whale and the minnow?), double the options for the kids, an awesome adventure to Waldron Island.

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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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Bugged

P7270485Climbing Snowking Mountain this week involved the hottest buggiest approach I’ve ever experienced. Smartly, my friend Liz had brought her headnet. I have never worn one except on a 4-day backpack in the Talkeetnas in Alaska, and that one was borrowed. Watching Liz, I’m sold on the usefulness of it. If you can just know ahead of time what the bug factor will be.

The approach was biting black flies, but at the campsite elevation, the bug population switched to mosquitoes. We watched them swarm outside the mesh of the tent and were thankful we hadn’t gone with bivy sacks rather than the tent. The mosquitoes even came along on the climb the next morning – across the snow and to the rocky top. They  only disappeared towards mid-day, either it was too hot for them or their siesta time. We were thankful because that allowed us a much needed dip in a cold cold lake.

I kept wondering how I would have managed the incredibly buggy situation with my kids. Actually, I didn’t have to wonder that long. We’d have retreated. Much as I love being out, being bugged is just no fun.

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P7190478With a kayak overnight in Puget Sound an easy possibility from where we live, our yellow triple kayak got in the water for the first time this year. A paddle with friends to Saddlebag Island introduced new folks to the fun of kayaking.

Our boat hasn’t been in use much in the last year because our family has outgrown the big banana kayak. We can no longer fit both kids or a kid and an adult comfortably into the center, allowing the whole family to paddle in one boat.

For a family trip, we’ll now need to borrow a double or a single kayak to accompany our triple. But we don’t have a way to carry two boats on our car. That suggests we’ll need to experiment with trips from the local dock that we can access easily. Another lesson in considering adventuring close to home. We’re lucky to have paddle possibilities that can begin just a mile from our house, so here’s to not overlooking them.

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P7120430My annual gal’s trip into the mountains got weathered out. After a glorious hike in, we spent an exciting evening in a fire lookout with an electrical storm flashing all around us. Then it rained. And stayed gray for two days.

We hiked on anyway, but the traverse and the glacier travel we had planned wasn’t such a good idea in such low visibility. Eventually, we elected to head home early and I tried not to be disappointed. It just works out that way sometimes. So now, I’m studying maps, watching the weather, and trying to get out again.

Meanwhile, we’re also looking at maps and weather for the next family trip. We’ll plan as best we can, but have to stay flexible and know we can change our itinerary if the weather, terrain, or people dictate. It is good practice to balance our plans and what develops. And to remember that the weather is beyond our control, and that’s a good thing.

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P6230314With dad calling in every other day to tell us of his progress across the USA on his solo bike trip, Noah thought of making a “Tom is Here” sticky note and moving it along our wall map of North America. The kids learned that Havre, Montana is said “Haver,” and wondered about all of the town names that are replicating places in other parts of the world, like Malta and Glasgow. He rode through animal-named places like Wolf Point, geographically influenced places like Cut Bank, unusually named places like Brainerd, and famous person-named places like Voltaire.

We love following his trip with the atlas and wall map, but it also makes us a little ancy to get out adventuring too…

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