An Active Family Thinks of Summer
Inspiring families to live adventurously, promoting independent family adventure







Where to go, what to do? Planning a family adventure can be a journey in itself - all that dreaming, discussing, researching, reserving, packing and perspiring - to create an experience everyone's up for and then make it happen. In this feature, Laural Ringler shares a little of what it's like for her family when they think ahead to summer.

Having bicycled and backpacked thousands of miles both with and without kids, Laural Ringler is an adventure mentor for families, teens, individuals and groups and a regular contributor to Adventures Northwest Magazine. She has published over fifty articles and lives in the USA with her intrepid husband and adventuresome two kids.

Kayaking? Backpacking? Bicycle Touring?
An Active Family Thinks Ahead to Summer
By Laural Ringler, published in Adventures Northwest Magazine, Winter 2007, reproduced here with permission from Laural.
To read more about Laural's family adventures, visit her Family Adventure blog or her Travelling Simply blog

The appetizer of any trip or adventure is the lead time until you go, the wide platter of possibilities becoming the researching and considering of particular items, coalescing into the actual planning of details to make it happen. For our family, with both parents educators so we all have summers off together, the cycle begins in the winter, over the dinner table, as we reminisce about last summer.

“Kayaking at Baker Lake—everybody playing boats with those logs in the water—that was fun!” my daughter remembers. Her brother adds, “And the backpacking trip where we went skinny dipping and dad was doing cannonballs off the rocks!” We talk over favorite moments, sifting through the best memories and finding a laugh in our mishaps, like the time our son packed his own bag but forgot to put it in the car for a weekend hiking trip.

Over the years, the kids’ favorite trips and what they liked about them has shown us a pattern. In the course of a summer, they’ll want to go some place or do something new, revisit a favorite place or two, adventure with friends, and play in water. This leaves plenty of leeway for their dad and me to try out ideas in a winter of anticipatory trip planning. We gather possibilities, spend time listing and talking over what we could do next, and finally research the details to outline the how-to, where-to, and with-whom of what we will actually do.

Gathering Inspiration

“We built amazing sand castles, hiked up and over the headlands, and made driftwood fires in the evening,” friends told us, detailing the positives of an Olympic Coast beach packing trip. We added their Lake-Ozette-to Shishi-Beach adventure to our store of possibilities and went on listening to the tales of other friends and acquaintances. We are lucky to know people who have bicycled in Europe, kayaked British Columbia islands, and backpacked numerous trails. Why not learn from their experience?

We also gather ideas from library books and videos, dreaming big with a coffee table pictorial of France or a video on Alaskan wildlife. Occasionally, we go to travel slide shows for inspiration. Last spring the Mount Baker Bicycle Club sponsored a slide show about two families’ Switzerland-into-Germany bicycle trip and we were there, in the second row. Such presentations can be found through local bicycling or hiking clubs, your city’s parks department, a local community college or university, even museums.

Listing Possibilities

The list of this week’s errands is on a sticky note on the calendar. The list of books I would like to read is in my wallet. The list of Rocky Mountain National Park’s Ten Tallest Peaks is on a carefully kept postcard, with only 14,255-foot Long’s Peak and the next two tallest checked off. As a rabid list maker, and further inspired by Outside magazine’s Life List articles and Patricia Schultz’ 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, I of course extend the practice to outdoor adventure.

“What’s on your trip list?” I asked my husband. “Three volcanoes in three days,” he said without hesitation, elaborating a plan to hike up and ski down Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier in as many days. Because we are active individuals with kids, the trip lists have branched into his, hers and ours. And while the ‘ours’ usually means as a family, we also plan one climb a summer that is just mom and dad.

Researching Options

The listing becomes researching when an idea captures our interest and leads to musing questions. So if we did bicycle in Europe, could we bring our tandem bicycles on the plane easily? Could we backpack the Ptarmigan Traverse in early July, or is there still too much snow in the Cascades then? How would an overnight kayaking trip on Ross Lake be different than Baker Lake?

We do our wondering in the winter, and often the Internet helps us check details to learn more—there are actually several websites that compare airline regulations of interest to bicyclists, for example. We also go back to the library for Selected Climbs in the Cascades by Jim Nelson or Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades by Joan Burton, which has been recently updated, as well as return to friends with follow-up questions.

Balance and Collaboration

We did try a version of that Olympic Coast beach hiking trip friends recommended, but it was a gray experience and the crashing waves were almost too loud for sleeping at night. Conversely, the Baker Lake kayak trip was closer to home, offered endless happy kid-hours swimming and playing in the sand, and definitely made the revisit list. On it goes, as we balance interests and time, keep lists of places we would like to go, and have conversations with friends about their availability to venture with us.

Last summer we spent a month tandem bicycling in Europe as a family; I climbed three peaks; and my husband chose numerous mountain bike rides, the Mt. Baker Hill Climb, and the Chuckanut Century Ride. We even balanced ambitions from the his, hers, and both kinds of ours lists, with just the parents climbing Mount Baker and doing that quick Snowking Mountain trip. A banner year, we will take it all back to the dinner table for consideration this winter, our hors d’oeuvre before the main course of actual travel, as we begin the cycle of thinking summer again.

To read more about Laural's family adventures, visit her Family Adventure blog or her Travelling Simply blog

Article and Images © 2009 Laural Ringler or images as credited. Our thanks to Laural for permission to reproduce this feature.



Read our latest newsletter

Find out about
our services

Stories from the latest Family on a Bike Tour

Subscribe to our
free newsletter

Take part in our adventurous families online survey

Write your
own family
adventure story

Shop at affiliates
& support us

Buy a family
adventure book

Family Adventure

Make a donation to support this site









|   Home    |    Inspirational Stories    |    Family on a Bike    |   Research    |    Adventures in Writing   |     Education & Coaching   |    Festival   |
 |    Media Centre    |   Partners and Sponsors   |    Terms and Conditions    |   About us    |   Contact us   

Copyright 2004-6 Stuart Wickes and Kirstie Pelling, The Family Adventure Project and Family on a Bike All rights reserved