Our children's favorite memories aren't exclusively those from the hard-to-reach locations we visit during our full-time travels. Their favorite moments range from walking on glaciers in Alaska to collecting seashells in Florida, soaking in hot springs in Canada to eating at a buffet in Las Vegas. Our kids find magic in the ordinary as much as they do in the extraordinary.
Today we drove to Larrabee State Park, a quiet state park a few miles outside of Bellingham on the shores of Washington State.
The tall trees surrounding our campsite, littered with blackberry bushes and tree stumps, were enough to pique our interest (and our cat's interest, too), but after a long driving day, a short hike in the park was a must for us. We are all happier when we are exploring and making new memories together as a family.
Our girls were excited to find a sign for a trail to the beach, and our new reader was excited to be able to read them. Our youngest just wanted to go, go go!
The kids didn't need too much for a short family hike to the beach. We didn't lug around our towels, sand toys or hiking gear, just bottle of water, our flip-flops and an attitude that "we'll figure out what to do when we get there."
Along the trail to the beach, the kids are naturally drawn to their surroundings. They flip over leaves in hopes of finding blackberries. "Is this one ready to pick, Mama?" they ask while gently squeezing the fruit, looking for the perfect berry to pop into their mouths. (Quickly learning the difference between ripe and sour!)
We've found that having fewer belongings has made us more appreciative of the things we do own. Without a playroom full of the latest toys and gadgets, the kids are forced to use their imaginations. Tree stumps become secret lairs, sticks become swords and rocks become magical beans.
Before we know it, the kids spy the last bit of the trail that leads us to the beach.
In a matter of seconds, they're skipping rocks, but are a little weary of the piles of seaweed by the shore.
Instead of joining in by complaining about the "yucky" seaweed with them and adding to their fear, I grab the seaweed and turn into a bow. "Can you teach me how to do that too?" they ask. What was scary a few minutes ago is now being grabbed with little fear. We made so many bows that the kids set up a shop on the beach, making headbands for anyone who wanted to take a piece of the beach home with them.
Who's scared of a little seaweed? Not us!
The cove at Larrabee State Park had rock walls that were coarse enough for the kids to climb with ease.
Flip-flops were left on the shore, and the rocks that were scattered on the water's edge became their playground.
In the shallow waters, the kids figured out which rocks were slippery and which were not. Letting them make their own decisions in a supervised environment allows them to build confidence while exploring new situations. That's one of the key reasons we travel. We want the kids to feel comfortable when confronted with something new. We hope that translates into raising confident and happy children who will eventually turn into confident and happy adults.
On the way back to our campsite, the oldest two kids lead the way. "This way, Daddy! We need to go through the tunnel under the railroad tracks!" they scream, as if they'd done this trail numerous times before.
You never know what will become a vivid memory for children. Ours are always surprising us with what they remember from their young lives.
Will they remember making bows out of seaweed, eating blackberries off of the vine and the way the light filtered thru the tree canopy on our hike? I'm not sure. But they will know that we did adventure together. All of us.
Maybe I should have brought more that one bottle of water to the beach ;)