Tag Archives: family

Hiking with grandchildren can be a lot of fun!

Hiking With Grandchildren

Hiking with grandchildren is a fun experience. In my case the girls are ages 9 and 12, independent and responsible, fun in a group of hikers. They prepare and carry their own day packs. They walk at a steady pace, actually faster than their grandmother. They have been hiking for a few years. Several years ago they climbed Mount Morgan, last year Mount Madison, and this year another 4,000’ mountain, so they are already accomplishing great goals. The girls are Morgan and Madison—no wonder they climbed mountains with the same name! In fifth grade, Morgan climbed Mount Morgan a second time, on a field trip with her class.

When they hike with me, they keep me so occupied by playing mental games that any challenges or tiredness is hardly noticed. They sing and try to teach me their favorite songs, until they give up and go on to something else more stimulating to them. The time flies by. They are nature bugs and they are the first to spot a frog or turtle on a log. They like to identify tracks of animals and surprise me when they point out a tree and say “That’s a maple” or “white pine” or “oak.” One will recite poems she has created, and the other sings songs she is practicing for chorus. It is a great way for me to keep up with their current interests. I try to remember to focus on the roots and rocks under foot, and on we tread down the path, merrily entering life in the forest. Other times we tread silently, listening for signs of nature to identify: perhaps a woodpecker, a blue jay, or chick-a-dee.

From the time they were born, they were carried on their parents’ backs, and on occasion I carried them while snowshoeing or walking on trails. We live near a state park, and the reward for a walk was going to one of the playgrounds there, with a mini picnic lunch or treat. Sometimes we would canoe one way and walk back, if someone offered to assist with transportation. They like to camp and that includes short hikes and nature walks.

They have traveled in many areas of our country and in foreign countries, too. Travel and family incentives to enjoy nature have encouraged us all to stay physically fit, and hiking is a pleasant way to do it. They are great company, and I plan to enjoy many more years of hiking with them in the future.

(posted October 20, 2015)

Packing for a 500-mile hike on El Camino is no easy task!

Off on Another Adventure

To see updates from Madelyn’s trip, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Each time I go on a major adventure, I am glad I have put in the effort and preparations to go, yet I never know if I will be able to go again for so many reasons. It is a lot of work to prepare and leave things in good order for my return. Each trip is very different. Sometimes it seems so long ago that I have traveled because so much happens in such a short time in my daily life. I do not worry when I am in the midst of an adventure, but I am always deeply concerned before I go. That is one reason I prepare so carefully. Life has risks and I take them seriously.

This time I will be walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I am not traveling by tour, so the planning is quite time-consuming but rewarding. I will be off to Belgium and France for short day tours. Then I will travel by train to southern France and by bus to St Jean Pied de Port. There I begin my walk. I do not know how long it will take me to walk the 500 miles of el Camino—probably two months—and the rest of the time will be visiting Belgium & France before the walk, and staying in Portugal after I finish.

I am traveling very light, for everything I take must be carried in my backpack, every day, for 7 to 8 weeks. I will not carry a tent as I did for 4 months when I hiked the Appalachian Trail solo. I will go light, as weight defeats a hiker.

I began thinking about this walk in late fall of last year. Before that I had never heard of it. A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie, The Way, which is about walking the Camino de Santiago trail.

Walking the Camino will be very different for me. It will be daily walks along the trail, stopping at albergues (pilgrims’ hostels) each night. Many people walk this trail as a pilgrimage. For me, it will be a pilgrimage in memory of my son Michael.

Each day the sights will be very historic. This trail is the way of St. James, which is several thousand years old. Ancient Celts walked this way, Romans built a road on this trail, and then Crusaders walked the trail.

It will be a great adventure. There will be many people on this trail as I walk it. There will be interesting churches to pray in, cafes to eat at, and country people to stop and say, “Hola.”

Spain is the third largest country in Europe, and the trail goes from one side of the country across to the other side, ending at the Atlantic Ocean. I will cross the Pyrenees Mountains, the vast treeless central plateau, and the Cordillera Cantabrica mountain range to the west, with wet climate and much rainy weather from the west side to the end.

There will be animals and nature and different types of vegetation. I will be going through wine country at harvest time. Although it may be hot in August, there may still be snow in the mountains at higher elevations.

I am looking forward to seeing the Spanish people and eating the native food again.  It is my third trip to Spain but my first hiking trip there.

I am excited to depart because you only live once and I have no regrets about anything I have ever done. Each step is a new learning experience. This will be a great adventure!

-August 19, 2014

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To see updates from Madelyn’s trip, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Although Aunt Doris traveled around the world, she never forgot her Maine home and family.

Visiting My Grandmother: Part Four

Going to my grandmother’s house was special because my grandmother was so loving and my Aunt Flossie was so much fun. It was a happy place. I had another aunt, Doris, who lived in Oregon and came home each summer for two or three months. Ever since she married and went west, she vowed she would come east to help take care of her mother, and she did. She came by car, by train, and by plane over many years—really a long lifetime.  She lived to the age of 96.

Aunt Doris was the oldest of my father’s siblings; he was the youngest and he thought the world of her. Sometimes she and her husband (Uncle Fred) would drive across the country and he would visit for a few weeks before flying to see his family in England. Those times were great because both would take me on day trips when my parents were too busy and I would have them to myself.

Aunt Doris and Uncle Fred had met after college, married, and soon moved to Oregon. They owned a business and many of their associates were international. When they retired in the 1950’s, they took a year and went around the world to visit their many friends. As a young child of rural Maine, I thought this was pretty amazing. As often as possible we would sit on the porch in old rocking chairs, she telling her stories while I listened, as if on a magic carpet ride. She also liked to write and recite poetry.

My grandmother could cook, Aunt Flossie had all the animals to tend, and Aunt Doris would be the organizer. Each time I would come walking through the woods and hurry onto the porch there would be lots of activity. The dog would greet me; the folks all stopped their chores and greeted me. Sometimes rooms were getting a good cleaning, or a new car had been purchased. Sometimes all three were canning vegetables from the garden. They were always busy from dawn to dusk. They were cheerful and never an unkind word was spoken. They were happy, thoughtful people.

It was always sad to see Aunt Doris leave in the fall. During the winter our family would receive letters, a few phone calls, and a big package of holly to share at Christmas time. She always took care of her mother throughout the year. The support was very noticeable.

Aunt Doris loved her roots of Maine. After I graduated from college I went to visit them in Oregon. They had a lovely home and were a happy couple, but in her heart she never forgot how she cared about her family and childhood home back in Maine. These three women made a difference in my life. I was blessed to know them.

-August 5, 2014