Make Plans for Adventure

In January, I don’t make resolutions so much as travel plans. Since we do many of our adventures in the summer, the turn of the year means it’s time to start planning.

This January, my daughter and I each turned in articles on our Ski to Sea race experiences to Adventures Northwest magazine for their spring issue. Dana focused on her junior Ski to Sea adventures as a three-legged racer, and I mused about car-free eventing. When the editors asked us to write a bio together, it was another opportunity to think ahead about our future adventures.

The bio we wrote: 7th grader Dana, and her mom Laural, love reading, writing, bicycling, hiking, and bilingual adventuring. A runner even when her leg isn’t tied to a friend, Dana thinks she’d like to mountain bike in the adult Ski to Sea some day. Laural’s first experience with Ski to Sea was the sailing leg in 1989, but her last decade on the road bike leg was more fun, and the car-free team the best yet. Their summer plans include backpacking in Mexico, climbing Sloan Peak, and bicycle camping in the San Juan Islands. For more on their family adventuring, check lauralringler.com.

Yahoo for adventure plans. I like those and we will be making even more, I’m sure. And that “bilingual adventuring” phrase? Dana’s. And I’ll surely be glad to share in those plans with her.

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…


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.

Cross Country Season

Now that there’s a high schooler in the family, I’m learning about parenting during fall sports season. In this version of family adventuring, one of us is working hard and the rest of us are spectating. I’m proud of my son for running cross country and admire all of the athletes out there running 2 or 3 miles through whatever terrain and weather is happening that day. And in the northwest, that might be rain and mud, chilly forests, hills slippery with damp, or hot sunshine.

I love the talk of “PRs,” personal records as people improve their times throughout the season. And I love that athletes finish their race, and then turn to cheering on others still coming in.

Cross country season is adding positively to our family, encouraging all of us to get out more, and may even turn all of us into runners. Because I’m the only one in the family not running, and I’m feeling inspired.

Car-Free Bellingham Traverse

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.

Enter the Mothership

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.

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.