One dad. 3 kids aged 4 to 8. 3/4 mile hike to the campsites at Silver Lake in the GMNF.
Snacks, headlamp exploring, and then sleep. The morning brought breakfast, playing in the woods, and the short hike out.
Quick overnight with the girls. Dinner in Middlebury, then up the mountain to Silver Lake NF campground. Walk in at dusk, setup camp, snack, sleep.
In the morning we ate some snacks (I needed coffee) and then explored around the campground and the dam, then hiked out. The girls carried their bags in ~3/4 mile. Lina wasn’t interested in carrying out on the second day, so dad carried her bag up the trail. We had proper, second breakfast in Middlebury, before heading home.
Good fun, and we have another trip planned before it gets too cold.
I’ve been fussing with the cargo bike in anticipation of some family adventures – the stock Yuba Mundo is a great town bike – but we needed more cargo capacity – so I swapped the front fork for a Surly Big Dummy Fork, and mounted their Nice Rack so I could carry my old Ortlieb panniers on the front low rider mounts. The rack is wide – so we had a platform for other gear, and in the future will strap an Ice Mule cooler backpack there. Nothing goes completely according to plan – so I had to fabricate a small aluminum bracket to get the fork and the rack to play nicely – but after some hand fabrication everything went together nicely.
We needed a tent to fit 4 (for when Jen makes a trip with us) – but I didn’t want to get a car camping anchor. After plenty of reviews and research I settled on the Black Diamond Mega Light with the Mega Bug liner. This is a pyramid style tent, with 1 pole, room for 2 adults and 2 kids and gear, or 4 adults – and the outer tent can be used for winter camping or as a kitchen / tarp stand alone. Under 8 pounds for a family tent. And it packs reasonably small for what it is.
After Lina moved out of the pea-pod baby seat we had some concerns that she could fall off the bike (if she falls asleep, or we hit a rough spot on the road) – so I added the Yuba monkey bars. These work great… although they make towing Ava’s bike more difficult, and the bike is really tippy when the girls climb over the bars getting on and off. We made a little step out of some rope and random aluminum pipe we found at the hardware store to ease getting on and off.
In order to carry all our gear I acquired a second Go Getter bag… these bags are huge – go on and off easily, and can expand and contract to adjust to the load. We’ve been using them for around town. I have been using one as messenger bag when we shop or head into lunch or swim lessons.
Loading up I gave each girl 1 Ortlieb rear pannier that carried their clothes, swim suit, sleeping bag, rain coat, and sweater. We strapped their sleeping pad through the Ortlieb straps on top of the bag. We brought Lina’s life jacket that fit in her bag, and Ava’s bag held the common toiletry stuff of the girls – toothbrushes, soap, sunscreen, medicine, etc. And the Uno cards. Both girls brought their headlamps.
I used my Revelate Sweetroll for my sleeping bag, pad and clothes. This mounts to the handlebar. The pouch held things we might have needed on the bike – sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, some snacks, etc., as well as my personal items. On the front rack I had my Crazy Creek camp chair strapped, and my Quickshot folding tripod (never used it). On a longer trip we would have brought the IceMule cooler and strapped it here as well. In the Revelate Tangle bag I had my camp knife, pump, and a water bladder with hose strapped to a retractable line on the bars.
The big Yuba GoGetter bags on the back held tent, bug net, beach towels, blanket, food, small cooler, cook kit, bike kit (lock, tools, spares), and Nalgene canteen.
On the MonkeyBars I mounted each girl a Revelate Feed bag for their water bottles and snacks.
All in I think we had 440 pounds or more rolling down the road – dad + girls + bike + gear + food + water…
I’ve wanted to share my bikepacking / camping experiences with the girls for some time… and we finally made that happen last weekend. We planned a 2 night trip, but Ava was keen on not skipping out of her theater camp a couple of days early – so we did a 1 night trip to a nearby state park. We covered ~20 miles the first day from home to the state park. Most of the trip was on the Island Line trail, which is our local lakefront multi use path. The balance was on quiet dirt roads, with a couple sections of pavement.
We took the Local Motion Bike Ferry to continue on to Grand Isle, and stayed in Grand Isle State Park. Its a typical tent / lean to / camper / RV style park on Lake Champlain – so this was a ‘suburban’ style camping excursion. I picked a lean to / tent site that was isolated from the other sites. We used the lean to for cooking and hanging out, and slept in our tent.
We played in the park a bit before dinner, and while I cooked the girls ran back and forth to the drinking water spigot to top off our water and fill up the Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink (which worked great!!).
We ventured out after dark to take in the blue moon over the lake… and then tucked into bed for the night, where we had a good rain storm (my seam sealing worked!).
I attempted to make pancakes for breakfast while the girls played cards (hard to make pancakes in a tiny Ti pan… next time I’ll bring my older, larger cook kit). We then packed everything up, took a short swim in the lake, and headed home.
The trip home turned into a mini adventure. At our snack spot we heard thunder, and the girls asked me to ‘drop the hammer’ to get us home. I rode as hard as I could muster with 440 pounds of bike, gear, kids and dad rolling down the road… and we outran the storm by the time we got to the ferry….
…only to get stuck waiting for the next boat as the next wave of lightning and thunder rolled over us.
The girls were nervous and a bit scared, but we got away from the docks and few trees on the causeway, sat on our sleeping pads and hugged while snacking. The boat finally made it back and we all got on to sit out the wall of water and the front that blew through. Once the weather settled the ferry disembarked the original passengers, and we loaded up our bike for the final ~6 miles home. We were dry in our rain coats, but got splashed by the wind driven waves and lingering showers for a bit. After about 20 minutes the sun came out and I ditched my coat to cool off.
I’ll add another post with all the gear and bike geek stuff…
We’ve been enjoying a Yuba Mundo as our new family ride since early spring. This bike is so much nicer for our use than the Burley trailer, which Ava has outgrown (in height!). Hoping to save some $$ and get some cargo bags this fall, and am patiently awaiting a stiffer fork (we’ve switched to disc brakes) from the Yuba folks.
Jen wandered into my office last week and said ‘We’re going to Jay Peak, I found a cottage to rent, water park tickets included. Pack your bike.’
We rented a slopeside / golf course side cottage for 2 nights at the main ski area. Played at the waterpark and ate way too much resort food. Jen got in a trail run, I got in a punishing bike ride.
I rode down from the lodge on VT 242, caught VT 101 and VT 100, and then picked up some side roads to intercept VT 58 and pass through Hazen’s Notch. I left early and had no luck on a Saturday morning finding an open cafe and coffee. I barely managed to make it back after ~38 miles on 2 water bottles and 3 clif bars. I bonked hard climbing the 7 miles up VT 242 from Montgomery.
It felt great to be out on the dirt, exploring a new (to me) area. Lots of cool roads in the NEK to explore… so I’ll have to get back. The bike and my legs felt off all day. I certainly don’t climb like a used to – the long dirt climb back to the cottage was pretty rough. Nothing in the tank, and my legs felt flat.
Not so long ago a seed fell to the earth.
That seed sprouted, and was nurtured by a soft and unconditionally loving mother, and a strong, hardworking, sometimes stern, yet gentle father. Around it four other seeds began to grow, and a small grove grew up, each tree unique, with its own sense of humor, its own voice, its own roots and its own fruit.
Those tiny seeds, that started as mere sprouts, were loved and watered and fed and cared for. And that nurturing and love and caring left a mark on those sprouts as they journeyed upward toward the sun, extending their branches, reaching ever higher, while also growing strong and deep roots.
The oldest of those sprouts grew strong. It didn’t often speak, nor put on a display of pretty flowers, but it worked hard deepening its roots and strengthening its branches.
It learned from its siblings, and it learned from its parents. It took its father’s strength, its mother’s kindness, and its sisters sometimes mischievous personalities and folded them into its own bark. It was unique standing proud and strong, yet clearly a part of that little grove, and clearly part of the greater forest.
As that tree grew ever higher to the sky, and ever deeper into the earth it met another tree from a different grove, a different forest. Two seeds, into sprouts, into saplings and into trees, each unique and from different forests, yet clearly part of the greater world.
Those two trees became intertwined. A soft, gentle, and playful tree, intertwined with a strong, quiet and supporting tree. Their roots both deepened and pulled from their own grove, their own history, while their branches tickled each other high in the air.
Flowers and fruit from one, and strength and shade and protection from the other. Now intertwined with another.
Growing ever closer together.
Each brought their own roots, their own families, their own history, their own scars, their own celebrations, and their own traditions to each other.
They were so similar, and so very different.
But those two intertwined trees were best friends.
You’d rarely see them apart, always seemingly tickling the other or caring for a broken branch.
The roots of those intertwined trees grew ever deeper, and their limbs reached ever higher. And they too began to nurture a small grove. They cared for their grove in the same ways that their parents cared for them. Strong and firm, and full of unconditional love, with hugs from big branches that could swallow up a young sapling.
It wasn’t always easy.
Groves take a lot of work. Most of it hard, some of it unrewarding.
And young trees can have a mind of their own.
Sometimes they forget that they are trees, flittering off trying to be birds.
Or they throw all of their fruit on the floor in a fit.
Or snap off their own branches.
Or carve things into their bark.
And they agitate and fight with and scratch and tickle and tease each other.
But they also love, and play, and share.
Those two intertwined trees nurtured those five saplings much as they were nurtured in life.
Those single seeds, intertwined with another, grew their own grove, their own part of the forest. A grove with a quirky mix of traits. Each different. And yet each clearly part of a larger whole. Each clearly like their mother and father. In different ways. And each growing into their own shape, with their own leaves and fruit.
Today, that grove has grown.
And it has become enmeshed and entangled into a much larger forest.
A forest of both friends and families.
Of visitors and of steadfast companions.
And in that forest there are trees of every size and shape.
Bearing fruit of every flavor.
And leaves of every color.
And bark from smooth to rough.
And branches that flit in the breeze and others that are strong in a storm.
That forest is here today.
To honor a sapling, that grew into a tree.
That entwined with another.
That always carried with him an inner and outer strength.
That had a deep love for his family.
And adoring love for his best friend and partner.
Today we honor a tree that is no longer growing, no longer a part of this world, but will for a long time stand strong and proud in our minds and our in hearts. And we will remember the tickles from his leaves. We will remember hiding under those strong branches in a storm. And climbing those same branches under the sun.
If you had asked me to describe my father last week I would have painted a picture of a small oak tree, playing in the forest with his family. Sometimes strong and stern, yet somehow always laughing and teasing and warm and welcome. If you were to ask me that today?
It has all changed.
I knew my father was a good man, with many friends.
But after yesterday, and after you, all the trees in this man’s forest came to honor him, I would have to change my description. I would have to say that my father, though quiet, and simple and strong, is not just a simple oak tree playing in the forest.
You have shown me that he is a giant among trees.
A giant among us.
He didn’t act like it.
He wasn’t proud.
He rarely talked about himself, or his dreams, fears, or worries.
He put his head down and did his job, as a son, as a husband, as a father, friend, brother, co-worker, and boss.
He quietly kept growing, deepening his roots and reaching those branches to the sky. For some of you he used his branches to work hard, even when it meant getting dirty. For others he used those same branches to comfort in a time of need, or to shelter from a storm. He used his deep roots to keep him grounded, to anchor him to his family and to his forest. He used his voice to guide. A voice that could be stern and strong, but most often filled with laughter. He brought all of those traits along as he went from seed to sapling to tree to the father of his own grove.
Thank you so much for being part of his forest.
Thank you so much for showing me what a giant tree my father had become.
Thank you so much for honoring him in life.
And thank you so much for honoring this new part of his journey.
You will be missed, but not forgotten.
I am thankful and proud that this seed that became me did not fall far from the tree.
Delivered February 14th, 2013.
Dad, you will be missed.
You taught me about tools.
You taught me about building and fixing things.
You taught me about working hard.
You showed me how to be a good man.
You showed me how to be a respectful partner.
You always put mom and us kids first.
You created such an amazing life for us.
You were a patient, playful grandpa.
You seemed to really be enjoying retirement.
You were so young.
I love you.