Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Setting an Example

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.

Car-free Racing

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.

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.

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.

Backpack Packing

Spring break has one child heading for urban adventure in Washington DC, and the other headed to outhouse and campfire cooking on an island west of us. Two backpacks, two slightly different packing lists.

Usually we write out a list (4 pairs socks, polypro underlayer top & bottom, warm hat, etc.) and the child collects their choices into a pile on the floor. Then a parent takes a quick look for adjustments (“How about choosing some of your older t-shirts?”), adds equipment, and the child packs it into their backpack. We have been practicing this method since they were pre-school age – though then we helped fit the items into their packs or ours.

Now that they are teen and pre-teen, the packing goes quickly and I can appreciate all those little gear management techniques that have become second nature over the years. They know that the sleeping bag goes in first, to roll up their pants and shirts, to stuff their socks and underwear into the little crevices, and to put their book and journal in a sealable plastic bag for weather protection.

Launching ourselves out the door is becoming easier, but the self-reliant also have a lot more opinions on where they want to pack for. Thus, some different directions for us. Begun by school schedules that don’t have all of us on the same spring break, family adventuring this week means everyone is adventuring, just not in the same places. Wonder what memories everyone will pack to bring back home.

Urban Adventuring 2

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.

Urban Adventuring

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?

We’ll be presenting our Go Local Bike Tour at the Bellingham REI on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30pm. Also being presented that evening is a bike tour from Bellingham to San Francisco.

Last summer we pedaled away from our house, and focusing on using bike trails and ferry links, two parents and two pre-teens pedaled 400 miles in a circle tour from Bellingham, Washington to the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver Island and back home.

While we have a few tips for thinking local, and a couple funny stories to relate, mostly we want to encourage other families to cycle tour. It is an amazing way to travel an area, meet interesting people, and spend time together as a family. We find bicycle touring to be incredible do-it-yourself family adventuring. Hope you’ll try it!

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.

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.