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Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

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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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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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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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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Family adventuring is more fun when the parents take a lesson from their kids and play a little.p1010493 One way we do that is by taking goofy photos. A pose might be inspired by the landscape or architecture – have you seen those folks who pretend they are holding up the leaning tower of Pisa? Or we might add drama to a scene by pretending to be falling into a crack in the earth, chased by monsters, or exhibiting oh-my-gosh there-is-something-behind-you faces.

We have a whole series of imitation photos as well. Noah pretending to strut like a turkey next to a turkey crossing sign, for example.

The poses, pretending and imitation are fun in the moment, and sometimes the digital copy of that time is pretty humorous to behold when we’re back home remembering the trip as well.

The kids wouldn’t want to keep adventuring with us if the adventures weren’t fun. Crazy photos are one way to make anywhere fun, help us notice the details of a place, and get us using our imaginations and creativity. Together.

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