So, I tell my kids that are still at home, ages 11 and 16 and 16, that we are going on our first Summer Adventure with kids, and they moan a bit and my 11-year-old says, “You just want to take pictures, and write about it on your blog.”
Oh, I wish I could say I was writing in my blog.
But, okay, so he found me out. It is true; a few years ago I started writing about weekly outdoor nature adventures I was taking with my kids during the summer months. As with everything I do, I try to live my life with purpose. I try to parent deliberately, with a touch of flexibility and fun and spontaneous.
I found that as my children got older, they all began going different directions with different friends for different purposes during summer months. And I pondered, what could I do to keep them intrigued with home and family. And, even for myself, I thought, I need to get out and mix it up a bit and to stay interested. Bottom line is I hated the fact that summer could come and go without feeling a sense of purpose or togetherness, except maybe when we did our family road trip for a week.
Plus, I love getting outdoors with kids. I feel it is missing in today’s technology saturated world. Kids need nature. And the outdoors. I need nature and the outdoors.
Do, I began this summer adventure with my kids, and I had so much fun with them, exploring new parks and trails and natural areas that I wanted to share what we were doing with other moms, so I started blogging about it, the new outdoor adventure each week. Hence, the teasing by my kids that all I really want to do is blog about it!
So, here we are a few years later with my children getting older. And beginning to work in the summers and spending more time with friends, and I long to hang on to these summer adventures with kids, to get them outdoors with me. I struggle with change and them growing up too quickly; so, for as long as I can, I continue to insist on these adventures. During the course of the summers the past few years, I invited other moms along and I encouraged my kids to invite friends along; and it has changed over the years because of our circumstances, and we adjust, but here we are nonetheless.
Adjusting in fact may be the name of the game. And flexibility, and realizing we may not have all day for an adventure, or half a day, or heck, half an hour, but I’ll take what I can get sometimes, and call it an adventure.
That’s what happened this first round, this first adventure of the summer of 2014 when I told my kids this was the day for our summer adventure with kids but my16-year-old son wanted to go work out at the gym before he had to go to work, and who can argue with going to the gym, right? But I insisted we do an adventure anyway, even if just a short one as this was the only day we could fit it in. See, summers get busy if you let them be.
We happened to be in Portland at the “Next Adventure” store returning mountain climbing equipment, so I googled “nature parks in Portland, Oregon.” And, nothing stood out to me. But then, I saw a sign for Oaks Bottom Wildlife refuge in Sellwood as we passed it and I made the quick decision that this would be the location of our first official outdoor adventure of 2014. When we pulled into the parking lot, my kids said, “Mom, we’ve been to the Oaks Bottom,” but I quickly reminded them we were at the other entry, completely on the other side of the park, which had over 140 acres to explore, so there would be plenty of new here. One of the lessons I tried to have my kids glean from the experience.
My 11-year-old had a neighbor friend with him, which I enjoy as I love to share nature with other families. We meandered along the paved trail, the five of us. We could hear birds and see flowers and trees and meadows. It always amazes me how you can be right in the middle of a busy city residential commercial area and find a quiet, natural oasis like this.
Oaks Bottom is wetland floodplain near Portland’s Willamette River, and was acquired by the City of Portland to block its development as an industrial park. It’s one of the last remaining marshland areas in Portland. If you stay long enough, the website says you can find quail, hawks, pintails, mallards, woodpeckers and great blue heron.
We had only a short time; I’m talking 30 minutes or so. But, what I told the kids is we have to take the time, even if it is short, to get out in nature, for adventure, to explore new areas, and even new areas of already visited parks. To see with new eyes. It’s about the getting out. When we can, for as short or long as we can.
To continue tradition together as long as we can.