"We travel not to escape our life, but to stop life from escaping us"
I love going on grand adventures to far off places. Spending months planning and researching then setting off on a plane for new horizons. However after a lot of traveling I've realized that I get just as much joy and pleasure out of adventures closer to home. These mini adventures can be easy to organize, packed full of great fun and for us are a great way of breaking up the routine and exploring where we live.
Some of our mini adventure take us to other parts of Canada. A 2 day tour of breweries in Saskachwen, a long weekend at the Banff mountain film festival or canoeing in Kenora. In some cases it only take us a few hours from home. Stand up paddle boarding at Grand Beach, camping in Minedosa or Fat tire biking in riding mountain national park. Even just around the corner there are mini adventures to be taken hold of. Cross country skiing, mountain biking around the trails, geocaching pretty much anywhere or kayaking on the lake.
The more of these small adventure we weave into our family life, the more I see that maybe, yes, the big trips are amazing, but these mini bouts of exploration as a family might just create more memories and gift us more quality together. So, my suggestion. Try to plan your mini adventure asap. An afternoon hiking in a forest, a night camping under the stars or an hour bike ride in a neighborhood you have never been to. No matter where you go or what you do, there is a little adventure everywhere just waiting for you to find it.
As we slowly pull up to the curb, both girls napping in the back, Sheena and I breath a sign of relief, we're here. I head inside to check in with Kelly, the happy bartender/receptionist. We then headed through the lodge style lobby/cafe out under the rows of hanging light to our room.
After working most of the day, the 3 hour drive from our house to Clear Lake, in Riding Mountain National Park seemed long but was a good chance to decompress a little. We had decided to take an overnight adventure for some fat tire biking and possibly cross country skiing! But for this evening we wandered into the lake house ready for a glass wine and a relaxing dip in the hot tub.
As we opened the door to the room we are greeted with a happy mix of modern and rustic. Ikea furniture mixed in with barn wood bed surrounds and accent wall. A simple kitchen, perfect to give us a place to make some soup and s'mores later and store a few snacks and beverages. Two comfy queen beds sit on the left with a large TV mounted on the wall across. Lucy instantly darts in to explore the bathroom and is thrilled to find some lipstick (actually lip chap but its all the same to her) sitting next to the handmade lavender soap beside the sink. She obviously tries it out immediately and after which we all, jump into our swim costumes and headed down to the hot tub. What a great way to start our little overnighter.
Next morning we're up at the crack of 9 and down for breakfast at 9:30. Lucy and Tilley chomped their way through fresh raspberries and strawberries, toast and muffins. Then wash it down with some orange juice. After a morning walk along the lake front to kick a ball around the skating rink on the lake, we are off to rent fat tire bikes from the Friends of Riding Mountain Learning Center. Forms filled out and waivers signed we get fitted for our bikes and with Tilly and Lucy riding high in their carry back packs we set off for the south lake trail.
As a side note. Although using a child carrier while biking its not the most efficient way to ride, it is, for us, the easiest way to know that we can for sure bike if we are renting. Usually its 50/50 if the rental shop has kids seats and the carriers have been our savior more than once. Just make sure you have a little practice at home before you go off-roading, it does change up your balance a little.
We peddle beside the cross country ski trail, up and down, through the trees. Lucy lets out excited laughs at the speedy down hills and Tilley is singing away in mumble and shouts like only a one and half year old can. The fresh winter air sweeps past all our faces giving us rosey pink cheeks but no-one is complaining. The riding is fairly easy, meandering left and right, up and down in a relaxed fashion. We stop every so often to snap a picture or to change up the leader until we pop out of the trail. Sheena and I warm from the ride, and both girls asleep from the morning walk and the fresh air.
Late check outs are a god send every time we get them. Today was no different. We had asked to check out at 1 instead of 11 and after riding on a cool winter day, the chance to change cloths and make a warm bowl of soup was amazing. With 1 o'clock around the corner we grab our gear, load into the car and head home. But not before stopping in at the Lake house ice cream shop for a sweet treat and delicious coffee for the drive home. What a great little adventure!
Slowly we make our way up to the counter, tickets scanned, passports checked and off down the gangway to the awaiting plane. There are already people shuffling their bags into the overhead compartments and as we make our way into the back of the plane we see the all to familiar look from surrounding seats 'They have kids, this is going to be the longest flight ever'. I'm sure if you have flown this has been a reality for you as a parent.
To be honest we are very lucky, our kids have traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles from a very young age and now they take it like champs. However we do have a few good techniques for making especially long haul plane journeys more smooth sailing.
- Our first angle of attack is to always try and fly on an overnight. This at least gives us the best chance of have some solid sleep for us, and both the girls during the flight. It also eats up the miles/ hours.
- Next we make sure we have some kids shows and movies downloaded to our IPad. This has saved me more than once on long haul flights. There is nothing like Curious George to quell a rebellion brewing in the center seat.
- We ask for extra blankets. Our oldest daughter is 3 and gets fidgety after a few hour in the seat. Now we ask for a couple of extra blankets and when she start wanting to stretch out she will make a blanket bed on the plane floor by our feet, stretch out and lay down. Yes, we get some funny looks but it seems to work and after about 20 minutes she is back up in her seat happy again.
- Noodle pots and squeeze snacks are a must. Although most airlines now serve food on long haul flights our kids eat constantly. We keep a few noodle pots and some fruit squeeze pouches in our carry on bag as well as a water bottle. The flight attendant will happily put hot water in the noodles and both snacks create little chance for mess.
- Coloring books or plain paper with a couple of pencils is another great go to. They are compact and can be a nice change up for our kids when they are tired of watch the iPad.
- Exploring the cabin is one of Lucy's pass times while flying. We will stroll up to the front and chat to the attendants then to the back to see where all the food is stored. Its a good chance to stretch legs and let our girls feel like they aren't trapped in their seats.
Lastly the biggest thing we have found about long haul flights is, in the words of Lucy's favorite Disney character, to just 'let it go'. So some guy cuts in front of you during boarding, who cares. You plug your head phones in and only one ear is working, whatever. Your flight is delayed by an hour, no problem. Just let it go. If you are stressed and anxious your kids will know and that will make them the same, which in turn will set the foundation for flight anguish. Take it in your stride, after all you're on holiday!