Tag Archives: Adventure with kids

Stories from the backroads. My most uplifting and memorable travel and life moments are the people I meet there. Meet 3 of them.

‘The everyday kindness of the backroads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.’ ~ Charles Kurait

One of the great joys of hiking and travel for me, actually, let’s make that LIFE is the everyday kindness of the backroads. Have you ever been on a hiking trail where someone hasn’t smiled at you? Had a day in your life where you haven’t experienced the warmth of a gentle act of kindness? Struck up a conversation with someone you don’t know at a bus stop, the market, while wandering a new city, marvelling at a piece of art work or been inspired by online and walked away feeling 10 feet taller because it was a joyful moment? I’m open to those everyday life and travel moments. They are my most memorable and story worthy. They steer my life and they give me the armour I need for those times when I encounter a less desirable interaction, or, a confusing day or week.

Speaking of memorable stories here is the newest blog I am devouring. Ger’s camino Blog – Camino De Santiago. It’s a beautifully written blog with stories of Ger’s walk along The Camino Frances. She writes reflectively some years after she arrived at Santiago de Compostela as a way to make sense of her camino experience. Her writing weaves in the characters she met along the way, her experience of the trail and how that experience still impacts her thoughts. I particularly adore her stories of how she applies her lessons from the Camino to daily life.

Three kind characters from the backroads:

Meet Jon from Newcastle. Jon is on his way up to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and he’s 88 years young. He told us he hikes this trail every year and he’s never sure when it will be the last one. His  balance isn’t as good at it used to be so he hikes with poles. We were on the way down and he was keen to ask us about the track we had taken. We had hiked up via the magnificently scenic Main Ridge Track from Charlotte Pass. He knew that track backwards even though it had been some years since he had been able to hike that trail. I walked away from this chat with a renewed appreciation of a few things.

The importance of:

  • Right now.
  • Right where I am.
  • What I can do.
  • What I am still capable of.

He was a great character to spend some time with and gorgeously as he began his assent again, the sun began to shine over the valley. I can’t help but think this was the universe rewarding this kind soul of the backroads for his dedication to kindness and his great love of the trail.

Meet Claudius (with his red backpack) from Germany. He is also in the first feature shot of this post. Can you spot him in that first shot down near the lake (Las Siete Lagunas)?  It’s a great Human v Mountain perspective. Claudius was on the summit trail to Mt. Mulhacén the same day I was. We met a few times talked a bit of life and encouraged each other along the way. As luck would have it he was staying in the same camp ground so we had the chance to debrief the next day (as we limped around).

We met many German couples travelling with a baby or toddlers. They were utilising the parental leave that both partners are entitled to and campervanning around Europe. These young German families were consistently the only other families travelling with kids that we would come across (until the summer holidays of course). Another interesting story about Germany is that some companies have legislated that managers are not allowed to email or call their staff after hours or on weekends – wouldn’t that change our lives in Australia.

On the trail I asked Claudius for his email and I emailed him the photos I had taken. He responded the next day by sending me a link to a musical he had written on You Tube as a thank you. This is the unexpected kindness that brightens my day, warms me up and builds the good, strong armour. It’s not even hard.

Putting yourself out there and choosing to give kindness is always the starting point…then you’re open to noticing. Notice and the floodgate will open.

Meet Wan from America. Wan together with her husband Steve they spend their years between their camper in Europe, their camper in Alaska, and their camper in Arizona. They no longer have a house. Wan wanted a photo with with my lot because she hoped to convince her ‘busy’ daughter to take some time out with her family in this way. If my mum had a camper waiting in Europe…I’d be hitting the road!!!

The night before we had noticed Wan cooking on her outdoor gas stove and we spent some time chatting with them about free camping. This was the first night we parked up in a beach carpark (or parcark as the littlest calls it) and it was the perfect morning as we woke to the sounds of the ocean. It was a time on the trip where I took deep breaths, smiled and thought:

This is it.

This is why we are doing what we’re doing.

This is what we’d dreamed about.

The kids surfed all day.

I surfed!

I walked out of the surf arm in arm with my daughter.

We cooked and ate right there where we walked in from the beach.

We slept right there where we ate.

We met interesting people.

The kids feet were bare.

We woke to the sounds of the ocean.

There was no plan.

It felt deliciously like freedom.

Wan had no concept of not camping in this way when there was an opportunity to wild camp.  I liked that about her, pint sized but unyielding in her desire to live like she means it. We met up with Wan and Steve again in Lisbon where they shared their in depth knowledge of Portugal, places to see, places to camp and the importance of trying the Pastéis de nata (Portugese egg tart) from Belém. Wan reminisced with sadness about last time they stayed in a beautiful park up in Belém that was now home to plastic sculptures. She didn’t understand the desire to chop down trees and built with plastic. I don’t either.

Everyday life? I have a friend who recently sent me some of her beautiful artwork, it reminds me everyday of the beauty of a creative life. A whole post is coming to share that one. Another friend has been charging a crystal specially selected for me to take on the Camino. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a beautiful message from someone. My kids give the most generous hugs. Yesterday and today the snow turned my life into a fairytale.

All of the people who enter my life and leave a meaningful mark enter through a window of kindness. Do I mold my world to ensure this happens? Sure I do. I stick to the backroads. I’m done with the main road. I want to choose who I let in close, what I listen to, what I do with my free time, what I believe in and what I stand for. Better that than allow the the acts of greed and noise in the headlines or on the main road to manipulate my every day life.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.


Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

There will always be another trip. The essence of slow living and slow travel is the same – stopping to notice and taking the time to feel.

One winter’s morning a few years ago I was standing on Oxford Street in Sydney waiting for a bus to Bondi. I noticed my friend who was catching the bus with me checking the time against the schedule, pacing, looking and wondering where the bus was.

Me, I was breathing and thinking ‘the bus will come when it comes, slow down mum (the friend was my lovely hikey mum).’ It stuck me in that moment that the essence of slow living is simply to stop long enough to notice.  We weren’t in a hurry, we were on our way to do the coastal walk, there was time. Even if we were late, could we make the bus come faster? I wonder if she remembers that moment, she often walks without looking my mum, I used to be a bit the same.

How much of our lives do we miss because we forget to notice, forget to be present, or worry about where we need to be next? Of course it’s not easy to be present in every moment of our lives but with practice it’s a handy tool and in time it can become second nature (nice default – mindfulness). It’s one that’s especially handy in the moments when we don’t have control of a situation. Those ones that are often the most stressful.

It was a late, hot afternoon and we were parked at a service station in the concrete jungle outskirts of Madrid. The kids were topless as they sweltered in the back of the van. We were 70kms from the caravan park we had chosen.

A red light had appeared on the dashboard and my not so car savvy husband thought is was an oil signal. At the service station he topped up the engine with a litre of oil. I sat in the passenger seat of the Travelodge (AKA our camper) who was now refusing to start, he was choking on an oil overload. Um…feck (👈🏼 nifty fecking Irish ☘️ swear word, doesn’t feel too sweary). I listened to the key turn over and I looked over into a vacant lot where I noticed, not one, but two rabbits.

A situation with all elements that would normally lead to frustration, arguing and blame, but it didn’t. I think it was because I could notice the rabbits. What could we do? We sat, waited and pondered. We called the camper owners and waited some more. Eventually the engine recovered and we were able to get on the road. It was slow going as the engine struggled to breathe so with our fingers crossed we drove towards our chosen campground.

Wouldn’t you know it…the supermarket wasn’t open and the pool was still closed (of course – some days are like that). ** Camper travel tip – be mindful about pools in Mediterranean countries, they’re not open year round! After a late night phone call to my brother who does know about cars, we soon discovered that we were not going to be able to drain the oil ourselves.

Lucky the bar was open and we could drink a cold beer while the kids sweltered in a fairly gross plastic ball pit that had seen better days. This was not going to be a camp ground worth noting.

The next day my not so car savvy but good at problem solving husband rolled the car down to a service station where they drained the oil for a 6 pack. The Travelodge had a little more grunt but still something needed fixing. Thankfully, we were in Madrid which meant there was a FIAT garage. A quick polish of the rusted spark plugs and bob’s your uncle! The Travelodge was ready to roll again.

Did we visit Madrid? Nope. It was a bus and metro ride from the campsite. We were done. Too hot. Little things that said move on. We can’t do it all and when we try to – the mindfulness, the noticing, the presence gets a little harder.

At 5 weeks into our time on the road Madrid turned into a stopover. A time to check in with how we were travelling? How much we were noticing? It was a time to stop and re-evaluate what was important, to pack away the puffer jackets, read a book, maintain the van and to realise that we we don’t need to push too hard.

Slow living, noticing the moment has also taught me how to take the time to trust and feel what’s going on. It’s the natural next step and  it makes adjusting easier when the fit is wrong. Slow travel is about knowing we can always come back. Or, maybe we won’t – but on this day the timing wasn’t right and pushing wouldn’t have been the answer (is it ever?). We packed up and headed off for the familiar comforts of something wilder where we swam across a lake together.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort. Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

      

My secret weapon to living my real life? Solvitur Ambulando.

When you flick through the photo albums in your mind what are the pictures that make you smile?

This is one of my favourites. It was of my birthday a couple of years ago and we were on a local trail in Sydney (the Karloo Track), at the time just an hour from home.

A lot of my favourite things and the perfect gift.

My people, the Australian bush, adventure, a chance to slip into my 20 year old hiking boots and the real world.

‘Solvitur Ambulando’ (Latin) – it is solved by walking. The response by B.C. Greek philosopher Diogenes to the question ‘is motion real’?

A year or so before this shot I found myself in a big, bustling, competitive, noisy life. It was a lonely place and it didn’t feel like my ‘real’ life.

One day, I sold all the high heeled boots that sat in my wardrobe. I sold them to someone who needed them for their life – I didn’t anymore.

I uncovered my hiking boots at the back of that wardrobe. The mere sight of them was enough to flood my mind with images and thoughts that reminded me of ‘me’. Memories that make me smile and feel glad.

I started walking again in this style. Seeking out trails. I found solitude and peace in the mini adventures that could be found on my doorstep – taking my family with me.

With each step I found ways to solve the problems of big, noise, hustle and competition as they pertained to our life. It was a way back to living creatively. 

To seek answers to how things could be done differently.

The silence and motion of hiking (walking) gives me space to think and a way in (to myself). The trees heal. I see it time and time again when my kids set out on the trail too.

Do I feel like each day I’m living my real life these days? Yep. Of course I’m not immune to the everyday stresses and all the normal emotions but I do have a secret weapon that keeps it all in check – Solvitur ambulando.

What’s your secret weapon?





If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

Support crews are everything. One thing I learnt on the Oxfam Australia Trailwalker (100kms).

Where would we be without our support crews, our champions?

I am a bit of a solo sailor. My circle isn’t big but it’s built with real stuff. That’s what we need to move forward, to accomplish things we never dreamed we were capable of isn’t it?

A support crew with champions (and a little space for fluidity as we change). An honest crew that supports, motivates, inspires and gets us. A crew that’s not competing with us nor expecting us to be who we’re not – the ones who contribute to us becoming who we are.

I think any story or life changing adventure is filled with champions. The kind words, the listening ear, the fist pump or hug that says you’ve got this, the friend who trains with you, the one who reminds you not to doubt yourself, the artists who inspire you and the people who take a chance on you.

It’s because I believe that every great story has champions that I’ve started a page to thank each and every one of mine. I want to recognise them as they walk through this door with me.

Katy from Salomon is a champion of this Camino Trek for One Girl  story. On behalf of Salomon she said yes to sponsoring my shoes for the hike.

A nice coincidence because I’ve been thinking about the importance of building a solid base from sturdy foundations. The confidence to hike over 800kms for charity over 30 nights, (with 4 kids at home) demands it. Foundations and shoes seem to fit well together don’t you think?

After my fourth child was born my sister invited me to be a part of an OXFAM trailwalker siblings crew. I am one of 4. It had been a while between adventures so excitedly I said ‘yes’. A 100km overnight trail walk for poverty. Of course I could do that – I wanted to do that – Jeez, I needed to do that. Say yes and then work it out as you go, that’s me.

Hmm…a bit like this project.

I can still recall the first time I went bush again. I’d been so busy growing babies and building a home that I hadn’t hiked alone for a number of years.

We took the Kokoda Trail Memorial Walk  and the 1,000 steps in the Dandenong ranges for our first training walk. It was so peaceful, blissful actually. (Mind you that track can be mad busy so thankfully we were hiking ‘off peak’.)

I distinctly remember the sound of the birds singing and thinking ‘I’ve really missed this’. Somewhere amongst the busyness of life I’d forgotten that that sound existed.

At that time I had two young kids at home and two at school so training wasn’t as simple as walking out the front door. I knew that if I didn’t train I wouldn’t be able to complete the trail. I needed walk fitness.

I hired a treadmill and I trained most days at home (10kms fast walking) while the baby slept and Lucas who was 4 at the time watched Fireman Sam on an iPad next to me. On the weekends I’d do a long walk with my sister or a friend.  The first long walk was about 25kms and afterwards I felt like my legs were on fire. I wondered how the heck I was going to do 100km.

 

 

And then I did! (I did it in Salomon’s too – excellent synchronicity, right?)

That was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learnt just how  mentally strong I was, I lost a load of baby weight, I gained a ton of confidence and I was back in the adventure zone – moving and challenging myself. I may have pissed my sister off a little as I do like to hike hard (24 hours of hiking is emotional). Don’t worry she forgave me and has since become a harder hiker than me – she met Everest Base Camp earlier this year.

I swore never again – the blisters (my feet are prone and a few rookie mistakes but thankfully I’ve learnt to prevent and manage them early now). After a few days I decided I’d go again the next year with the goal of coming in under 24hrs – we came in at 23 hrs 46 mins (in the same shoes).

Neither of those treks would have happened without support. Our one man crew who had hot meals waiting at each rest stop, the cuppas, the tent he’d set up for our 2hr, 2am kip – the kip that I credit with giving us the energy to hike it in under 24hrs.  The parents who babysat the kids and brought the baby to our dinner spot for him to  have his breastfeed before bed.

Of course we all have to walk to the finish line ourselves but support crews get us over it. More importantly, our support crews get us to the start of the line.

Those three standing in the photo with me got me to the start and the finish. They came along for the 24hr ride. Through the highs and lows of emotions,  the aches, the pains and they jogged the last couple of kms so that we could achieve our goal.

I’m not sure that under 24hrs was as important to them as it was to me so I am still in awe of each of them. I have since mellowed my competitive approach to beating times.

Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true. When I summited Mt. Mulhacén this year…I may have trail ran down the mountain trying to beat my husbands time from the day before. I did. I’m can be a tiny bit competitive, not in the Camino though  – different kind of walk. 

Thank you Salomon for being in my support crew. I’m glad you’re part of the foundations. I will now donate the money I would have spent on shoes to my One Girl fundraiser and we’ll be close to getting two girls educated next year.

My mum always said when I was a troublesome teenager that I’d end up ok because my base was strong. She was right. Annoyingly, mums often are. Mine was. I’m more than ok, she knows me well.

As I continue to water this seed of inspiration by creating this project. I’m starting by building a solid base with strong foundations and a supportive crew.

Hiking tales really are a metaphor for life aren’t they?

We don’t all want to hike 800kms and the OXFAM Trailwalker can be done in a more leisurely 48hrs and at a shorter distance of 50kms, any kind of walk is worthwhile because hearing the birds sing – well, that’s something worth remembering – don’t you think?

 

 

 

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project. 

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here. Support crews are everything.

A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to campervan with kids? My basic packing list.

Exciting! You’re booked and ready to go. Yi ha.

I guess it’s time to pack.

A good dose of your fun and your adventurous spirit is first on the list. Heck! Put that in your day pack now, it’ll be handy today too.

Next roll up some flexibility and willingness to compromise to squeeze into your bag. You’ll need that.

Some practical things, yes, I hear you.  If you need a basic list to cut and paste from this was our packing list for kids.

We were away for 4 months campervanning and we hit -7 overnight in Andora and heatwaves in Portugal and survived with buckets of stories to tell over the dinner table.  Continue reading Ready to campervan with kids? My basic packing list.