Sara will tell you I have a problem with over booking our summers. My motto is:
"Better to have too many things to do and not enough time to do them, than to sit home and watch TV."
I hate letting free time slip away into nothingness. So this summer when we had a week at home with nothing on the calendar I got nervous and decided to formulate a plan. I picked out 6 activities that I had been wanting to get around to and I boldly declared I was going to take the family to do one each day of the upcoming week. I dubbed it "Adventure Week" and the kids (and Sara) were immediately on board.
Monday was a trip to Crystal Cove to go snorkeling.
When we got there the surf was too big to go snorkeling so we played in the tide-pools and let the shore-break pummel us in the sand.
If you count one too many redheads in this picture it is because Jessica and Penny were staying with us for Adventure week.
Never a bad time to do a handstand.
Tuesday was only for the older kids. We went Canyoneering in our own Cucamonga Canyon.
It started with a 3 mile hike around to the top of the canyon.
Descending the river was a piece of cake until we got to the first waterfall. It was going to require a rappel.
With great confidence in Dad's anchor setting skills, Rigdon was the first one to take the plunge.
It was Rig's first time rappelling but he lowered himself down in a flash.
Livi watched nervously for her turn.
Livi was excited but cautious. It was a 50 foot rappel and it took about that many minutes for me to lower her off.
When we finally got to the bottom it was time to dawn the swimsuits as the canyon had narrowed enough that staying dry was no longer an option.
Our dry bag became a flotation device.
The cool water felt awesome on the hot day.
Finally we reached the natural water-slide. Again Rig was the guinea pig and agreed to go first.
The hike back to the car was hot but we managed.
It was an awesome outing and definitely one of the highlights of the kids summer.
Wednesday was surfing lessons at Doheny.
Like everything Rig does, Livi is not far behind.
Here they are paddling for the same tiny white-wash.
Rig has really improved this summer. Though this is a cool picture, it by no means does him justice. He has started paddling out with Dad where all the waves are overhead for him. Sometimes he gets hammered but he always comes up smiling. To say I am proud of him is a huge understatement.
A surfer without a leash inevitably becomes a surfer without a board.
Livi manages to stand up on most waves.
And when she does she always waves to the beach.
Past Dad and keeps on going.
Caroline is too little to paddle out by herself but she still paddles out with Dad and gets some waves.
When everybody gets tired of surfing the boards double as benches in the tide pools.
Mom loves when she gets some free time to read.
Jilli with an eternity of crabs to catch in the rocks in front of her.
A cheesy grin after she catches one.
The two cutest girls on the beach.
Thursday was a family hike to a waterfall that we never found and eventually ended up lost in the San Gabriel wilderness. (I knew the way out the whole time I just couldn't find our way back to the trail.) This was perhaps our most adventurous day as we forded the river too many times to count and then eventually bushwhacked our way back to the van with 5 kids, two of which were in backpacks and another two who were begging to be in backpacks. It was family bonding at it's finest. Unfortunately we forgot our camera and have no pictures to share.
Friday was suppose to be a trip to a mountain lake but everyone was pretty tired so instead I stayed home with the kids while Sara, Jessica and LeeAnn had an adventure at Nordstrom's. (LeeAnn was out shopping only 3 weeks after her lung transplant, now that is true love.)
Saturday was the coup de grace. We were climbing Mt. San Antonio (Baldy) the tallest peak in LA county at just over 10,060 feet. We talked about it being a family event but decided it better just me and the older kids. It would be Livi's first summit.
It was originally a sixteen mile round trip but Dad knew a couple of short cuts.
However there was no way around the 4,000 vertical feet we needed to climb. Livi and I had to fight to keep up with Rig.
We took our fair share of breaks.
Despite the steep climb the kids never complained (on the way up.)
You know you are getting pretty high when you find snow in July in sunny SoCal.
When we finally neared the summit the tortoise had overtaken the hare.
Livi was the first one to the top.
Rig wasn't far behind to bag peak number 4.
Anyone who climbs mountains knows there is something special about the whole experience.
Livi is no exception. This summer she only had one journal entry and it was on climbing Mt. Baldy.
The hike down was a test of toughness for both of them, but it was especially difficult for Livi. She responded to the challenge in a big way, and I was just as impressed with her as I ever have been of Rig.
One full week of Adventure left us all feeling a little like this,
but it was a big hit and if I have anything to do with it, Adventure Week is going to be a new summer tradition in the Smart Family.