Monday, May 27, 2013

Boys Trip, Evolved

This weekend marked my 20th Annual Boys' Trip.  Back in 1994, a couple of friends and I were talking about how we missed camping, canoeing  and so forth.  Next thing we knew, we decided to rent some canoes and do a weekend-long downriver canoe trip.  We enjoyed it so much that it turned into an annual tradition.  The trips have evolved over the years... we've done canoeing, whitewater kayaking, visited at least 15 different rivers in at least four states... we even went to Las Vegas one year.  But somehow we've managed to turn it into a tradition that's spanned two decades.

Somewhere along the line I talked about bringing my wife and kids, but the boys said no.  (I was okay with that, by the way, or I would have pushed harder.)  My older daughter is now an adult, and my younger daughter is 16.  My friends, however, have young children.  Last year we started bringing the spouses and kids at my friends' request.  We broke the kids in slowly, staying in a campground, in a large camper with an indoor stove, A/C and so forth.  The kids had a great time.

This year the spouses stayed home, my friends brought their young 'uns, my older daughter brought her baby, and we went a bit more rustic.  My daughter, grandson and I stayed in a small pop-up camper, but everyone else stayed in tents, and we cooked over an open fire.

This trip is going to go down as one of the more challenging ones.  The forecast predicted mild weather, but it was cold and rainy all weekend.  The kids (including mine) were underprepared for the chill, so there was a lot of squawking about the cold.  The pop up camper provided a welcome relief from the elements, though.  I hate to imagine how much worse the complaining would have been without the camper and a deck of cards.  Don't get me wrong... the complaining was completely within the realm of what's normal for kids.  And this didn't ruin the trip or anything.  I'm not bitching about the kids' complaining... I'm merely reporting.

I ran the river twice.  The first time was with a friend in his canoe.  The river was quick and challenging, but well within our ability.  The purpose for this trip was to make sure that it was feasible to take children the next day... okay, and to give us a bit of adult time.  My adult daughter watched the kids during our short run down the river.  We decided that it was safe for the little ones... even the baby.  But I have to admit... while I knew in my head and heart that it was safe and that I had the skill to run the river, I also experienced a twinge of anxiety at the prospect of flipping the canoe with a baby.  And yes, we took every conceivable precaution... life jacket for the baby... mom didn't paddle... I was the middle canoe, and we pre-scouted the river to verify the safety.  But I still had a twinge of anxiety... almost an adrenaline rush.

The downside of that day was that we got back kind of late, so we didn't dinner until almost 9:00PM.  The kids were understandably hungry and cranky.  Eating late became a recurring theme for the weekend.... one the kids never quite got used to.  Again, there was complaining, but nothing outside of the normal realm of childhood behavior.
Day trip canoeing entails a lot of vehicle shuttling.  During the shuttling I picked up a screw in my tire.  I had hoped that it would hold for the entire trip, allowing me to get it patched once I got back home.  But alas, this wasn't the case.  It held for a couple of days, but gave out on the way home.  I had to change my tire in the pouring rain, with a truck full of gear and a trailer on the back.  Not my favorite way to change a tire.  By the way, this is the first time I've had to change a tire on my vehicle.  The tire, by the way, was still repairable.  It just went flat.  So again, not complaining, just reporting.

We went on a hike... the kids ran ahead and got separated from the adults.  For the purpose of this story, I'm considering my adult daughter one of the kids.  The baby wasn't with us on the hike.  The kids and adults got separated, and we called Iowa DNR to help us search.  This, by the way, was not a panic situation... we called before it got to that point.  Everything had a happy ending... we ended up finding the kids before DNR did.  This was merely a precautionary move that made my heart jump for the briefest of moments.

Overall I'd call this a misadventure.  Nothing really bad happened.  The biggest thing is that the kids got to go.  I wanted this years ago, but my friends weren't ready to allow adults.  Now my friends are ready, so the boys trip has evolved into more of a family trip.  These are early trips for the kids.  They're going to be underprepared (or we're going to underprepare for them).  They're going to be uncomfortable.  But they're going to have a lot of fun as well... running the trails... exploring for shells on a river's sandy beach...  We, as the adults, need to keep our patience when they're upset, and encourage the excitement.  If we don't do this, then our children will never learn the love for the outdoors that my friends and I developed when we were kids.  That would be a shame.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I've missed the last two consecutive Friday workout sessions.  Last Friday was because of work.  The previous Friday was because of a concert.  Furthermore, I've been in a bit of a rut regarding my workout routine.  I've hit a major plateau and just haven't been able to break through it.  As a result, I've started to feel a bit discouraged and crappy about exercising.

I figured I'd kick myself in the complacency by doing my first ever Daveathlon today.  A while back, I realized that I'd eventually hit all of my original fitness goals, and decided to give myself another one.  My original goals, for those needing a reminder...

-First Class Marine Corps physical fitness test (achieved)
-Swim a mile (achieved)
-One set of 50 push-ups (not yet achieved)

My secondary goal is to do all of this in one day. Working toward this goal, I ran the PFT, swam and did a max set of push-ups.  I didn't get a First Class PFT, and I didn't get the 50 push-ups, but I did perform to the best of my ability and proved that this is a very achievable goal.  This also served the purpose of making up for one of my missed workout sessions.  It was a strenuous workout, but I did it, and I feel much better.