Books for Interfaith Day Campers

Things I dislike about Christianity:

  • Cheesy God-Loves-You Books. I’m looking at you, new Bernstein Bear books…especially that scene in “God Loves You” when Papa Bear tries to explain the science behind rainbows and Mama cuts him off to tell the cubs that rainbows are a gift from God. Ugh.

Gross

  • The politics of right-wing Christians
  • The continued insistence on evangelism, even though it’s had a hand in nearly all historical evils

Things I like about Christianity (in order of importance):

  • Familiarity with the New Testament makes Christopher Moore’s book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff even more hilarious.
  • The idea that everyone should be nice to one another

Therefore, when my Episcopal-Priest-in-Training Friend mentioned that she was partnering with a Refugee Resettlement Office and offering an Interfaith Day Camp (Theme: The Golden Rule) at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, I was anxious to get on board. The two of us sat down with a bottle of wine one night and planned our week. I put myself in charge of maps, books, and games. My friend did all the actual work (you know, the organizing, purchasing, feeding, creating of legal forms, and anything involving prayer or actual religion). Although my “games” all quickly deteriorated into chaotic sessions of Freeze Tag, map time and reading time was a huge success. Thank goodness there are some awesome authors out there who know how to write a story kids care about. The only time our group of 4-9 year olds all sat quietly was during story time. Here’s what we read:

Sitti’s Secret

Naomi Shihab Nye’s picture book is about an American girl who visits her grandmother in the Middle East. They don’t have a common language, but there methods of communication are filled with gestures, smiles and hugs. At the end of the book Sitti writes a letter to the US president, reminding him to remember her lovely grandmother when making decisions. The book was published in 1997 but has become more and more relevant over the past twenty years.

Good books

Before reading this book, I had kids talk about their “special places” in the world – maybe where they used to live or where their family was originally from. Having been a middle school geography teacher, I was expecting a total lack of map knowledge from these kiddos (you know that statistic about how most American high schoolers can’t find Canada on a map? TOTALLY TRUE), but these campers proved me wrong. The five and six year olds marched right up to the map, and colored in Libya, Somalia, Spokane, and Arizona. The priest at the church colored in South Africa and talked about a road trip he’d taken through the country. There was a small squabble over who got to color in Ethiopia, as several of our charges were from that particular corner of Africa. After coloring in their special places, the kids talked about how hot it was (“because it’s close to that line thing…what’s it called again?”) and all the uncles, aunties, and grandma’s that were still living there. This was a perfect segue to the book, although none of the kids could understand the language barriers, as they all still spoke the language of their grandmas.

Map

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story

Much like author Reem Faruqi, Lailah feels a bit lonely after immigrating to Georgia. The story is about how Lailah learns to share the joy of Ramadan with her new teacher and classmates. While Lailah in the story was the only Muslim at her school, feeling a bit lonely and out-of-place, the kids I read this book to are lucky to live in Seattle’s International District, where there teachers lead songs about saying hello in twenty different languages and nobody looks out of place in a headscarf. The kids all looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they were the only ones in their classes who fasted.
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I loved this book so much because it made me think about fasting in a joyful way. I’d always felt a bit sorry for Muslim’s during this holy month (especially these years, when Ramadan falls in the long hours of summer), but this book reminded me that Ramadan is a time for celebration.

Naturally, our campers didn’t need this message. They enthusiastically shared what they love most about fasting: extra recess time at school. If that’s not a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.

Kenya’s Song

Kenyas Song

Although this book has nothing to do with religion, I loved Linda Trice’s book so much I read it to our campers anyways. Kenya’s homework assignment is to find and share her favorite song. After sampling music from all over the Caribbean, she made up her favorite song – the song of her community (“English, French and Spanish too! Music’s how I speak to you!”) Naturally, we all shared our favorite songs afterwards. I made our campers learn my favorite: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of Gambia

Before venturing out for a community clean-up, we read One Plastic Bag, Miranda Paul’s true story about a Gambian woman who forms a business salvaging plastic bags and weaving them into purses. While it wasn’t my favorite picture-book-of-a-true-story-from-Africa (that would be 14 Cows for America), it was a perfect one for talking about how we should not only be nice to each other, but we should also be nice to the environment.

So Interfaith Day Camp was fun. We talked about being nice to each other. The kids played together, ate together, hugged each other, and planned to see each other later at the playground. I learned a little bit more about Islam and Africa.

Campers

No cheesy God books were read. No Republican signs were waved. There were no converts to any religion. Success. Now I’m off to go re-read LAMB.

My Latest Failed Quest

For teachers, summer is time to rejuvenate, vacation, and spend time entering contests that you are unlikely to win. And man do I love a good contest.

Besides entering my name in the in-between-innings-contests at Everett Aquasox games, my second-favorite failure was Sunset’s Virtual Room Makeover Contest wherein I entered a pithy Instagram comment that apparently wasn’t pithy enough. This is probably for the best because my husband would hate Justina Blakeney’s style and we wouldn’t have any money to implement her Jungalow recommendations anyways.

My favorite contest failure of the summer was Alaska Airline’s #ReadySetCano contest wherein the good people in the Alaska Airlines Social Media department hid a Robinson Cano bobblehead in various Pacific Northwest cities and tweeted out a picture and clue at pre-announced times. The winner got the bobblehead and a meet-and-greet with Cano at a future Seattle Mariners game.

I’m not really a bobblehead fan and meeting famous people has always seemed awkward, but I was all about the free airline tickets, $500 gift card, and Mariners tickets.

Therefore I glued myself to Alaska Airlines twitter feed. Bend was the first city up, quickly followed by Portland and Spokane. Every bobblehead was found in less than 10 minutes. A normal person can’t get anywhere in Seattle in 10 minutes by car, and I had two kids tagging along. Convincing the little one to get in her carseat would take three minute alone. Clearly I would need to already be near the location when the clue was tweeted out at 6pm. In running shoes. With the kids strapped into the jogging stroller.

Jogging Stroller Buddies

Previous clues were close to the center of town, so I decided that hiking to the top of Mt. Si or hitching a ferry across the Sound would be not required. (Unfortunately. My kids love ferry rides and can hike like champs) The Bend location was at a statue of a horse, the clues at Portland and Spokane were both in parks. Since they weren’t super-obvious landmarks, I decided that Cano would not be bobbling his head at the Space Needle, EMP, Pike Place, The Pacific Science Center or Safeco Field.  

After pondering the gum wall and the Fremont Troll (both would make good pictures for Twitter, and this was, after all, a marketing campaign), I decided to hedge my bets at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The location was picturesque, and it combined both attributes from previous clues: sculptures and parks. Plus, there was a possibility that I could get down to the Pier on time, which also seemed like a good spot for Cano.  

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The kids, the double jogger, my fully charged cell phone, and I left the suburbs at 4:00. We got downtown quickly and found $1.75 street parking near the aquarium. That alone was a win.

We had ice cream and planned out our strategy.  

Ready Set Cano!

We spent a couple hours eating along the Pier, exploring the park, and running along the waterfront trail, scoping out possible locations.

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I thought this chic resembled Shannon Johnson, the Social Media person at Alaska Airlines (yes, of course I’d twitter-stalked her! That was part of my strategy!), so I spied on her for awhile.

Not Shannon

But alas, the real Shannon Johnson was across town, setting up the Cano bobblehead at the site of where Sick’s Stadium used to be.

So we lost. There are no free airline trips or Seattle Mariner games in my future.

But I can’t even be mad because I love history and minor league baseball. Sick’s Stadium hosted the Seattle Rainers (a short-season A team, like my beloved Everett Aquasox) and the Seattle’s initial MLB team, the Seattle Pilots.

So instead of a bobblehead, I had a beautiful run, the kids has a great time checking out sculptures, and a deserving Rainier Beach resident got the bobblehead.

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Fun stuff, Alaska Airlines.     

Washington’s Mountains: Better than Colorado’s

At Denver’s Coors Field, when the Sunday afternoon singer belts out God Bless America, Rocky fans wait in anticipation for that “…From the Mountains…” line. As it’s sung they all let out a collective roar of approval, so sure that their mountains are the best ones the country has to offer.

Except you can’t even SEE the mountains from most seats at Coors Field. You have to get to the upper deck for this view: Coor's Field

And still, the sight is nothing compared to Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, or the Cascades. Because the best mountains aren’t found west of Denver, they are surrounding Seattle.

Maybe it’s just that leaving a place and then returning makes you appreciate things more, or maybe I’m just feeling snarky today, or maybe Washington just has better mountains.

They are green: When the snow melts off the Front Range, Denverites ski and hike through forests of brown sticks, waiting for those few months in the late spring when color comes back until everything dries out and burns in the summer. Meanwhile, back in the Evergreen State, things are verdant all year long. The only time trees don’t look green is when the sun sets and mountain crevices turn blue and purple.

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Better camping: With less wildfire danger, campfires get a safety nod for most of the year in Washington. Campers in Colorado not only lack the legal ability to start a campfire, but finding a live tree to pitch a tree under is even getting difficult. The Mountain Pine Beetle is tunneling under the bark of trees all over Colorado, leaving behind a trail of arboreal death under which no tent is safe.  

Camping

Washingtonians are not so pretentious about their mountains: It is possible to talk to an outdoorsy hipster in Seattle without hearing about how their main goal in life is to climb all the fourteeners in the state.

Everyone is not on the same road on Friday afternoon:  If you are in Colorado and want to get out of town, you are probably on I-70, heading west. Sure, you could go up to Rocky Mountain National Park or down to Pike’s Peak, (or to Nebraska!?!), but Breckenridge, A-Basin, and a few of those fourteeners are off I-70. If you want to get out of town in Seattle, pick a road and drive on it. It will lead you to a mountain. Or at least somewhere cooler than Nebraska. There may still be traffic, but road construction on one highway doesn’t destroy all hope a weekend hike.

The roads are clear!

Visitors don’t need a day to acclimate before going on an adventure.  

Mountains look more dramatic: Mt. Rainer isn’t much taller than Pike’s Peak, and Mt. Baker is not nearly as high. But you can see these beauties from everywhere and they look way more dramatic. When standing a zero elevation, a mountain (especially a volcanic one) just looks better than when you are already standing at 5280 feet. Not only can you see stand-alone icons from almost anywhere in Western Washington, but you can see the panoramic shot of a whole ranges from the city as well. In Denver, the shorter mountains block the views of the giants, so you don’t even get that dramatic view of a snow capped mountain range until you’ve sat in I-70 traffic and gotten through the tunnel.

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More outdoor options: Sure, Washingtonians like to hike, ski, climb, mountain bike, and trail run. But those aren’t the only options. If altitude isn’t your jam, there is still sea kayaking, water-skiing, crabbing, or sailing. Washington state hosts ice sculpting contests AND sand sculpting contests.  

(Note: Better skiing, gorgeous red rocks, more sunny days, drivers who can navigate snow, and a baseball team that has actually been to the World Series were deliberately not discussed. Shhh…)

Job Qualifications: Ragnarian

Job Details: Passionate and slightly crazed individuals are needed to run 200ish miles with eleven friends.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Minimum ability to be able to run a 10K (or, ahem, slightly more) three times in a 24hour-ish period. Or at least be delusional enough to believe that you will possess that ability before race day
  • Advanced mathematics degree with an emphasis in mileage calculation and pacing charts. Also, be able to quickly adapt spreadsheets  DSC_0310
  • Proficient with all the things involving a hashtag
  • Strong slap bracelet hand-off skills The handoff
  • Ability to travel quickly between drop-off points. This may involve navigating crowded parking lots in the dark, pulling U-turns alongside farmlands, and fielding requests from teammates to turn the music up or find a better song.
  • Own a reflective vest and headlampNight running
  • Experience sleeping in weird locations during odd hours. The ability to function/run on no sleep at all is an acceptable alternative. Bring your own blanket Blanket
  • Strong interpersonal skills. If you don’t immediately love everyone you meet, this is not the job for you.Ragnar Love

Desired Qualifications

  • Be a local…Local!…so your van-mates can sleep at your house/friend’s cabin…
    Cabin…instead of on a gym floor.
    Gym floor
  • Also, please cook luau food for your team the night beforeFood
  • Artistic skills in the van-decorating department Ragnar Van
  • Be really, really fast. This will improve not only your team’s overall time, but more importantly contribute to your road-kill tally.Carlos
  • The ability to pull of this look: Yes, he ran in that

You Need Not Apply if…

  • Cleanliness and hygiene are important to you
  • You are scared of the dark
  • You need any of the following things to fall asleep: A quiet space, a one-hour chunk of time, a glass of wine, a bed.

Comprehensive Health Benefits

  • You will be able to eat Doritos for breakfast and not feel guilty about it. Breakfast

Income

  • You’ll actually need to pay over a thousand dollars per team. Also factor in expenses for van rentals, team outfits, magnets, $85 Ragnar-brand sweatpants, and gas money. Good luck with that.

Retirement Benefits

  • Whatever these medals are worth at the age you plan on retiring.Medals

Happy Crabbing Season!

Last year my husband decided to try out crabbing. After seven minutes of YouTube videos and a trip to Cabela’s, he was a pro.

We spent the summer trying out different docks and beaches. The four of us all had different ideas of what made a good crabbing location, as this handy chart shows:

  Jason: Likelihood of crabs crawling into his crab pot Me: Scenery and seeing new places Aubrey: Playground or other source of entertainment Henley: Ice Cream
Edmonds dock Very few. But it was crowded and late in the season. Although the scenery from the actual dock isn’t anything to blog about, the town of Edmonds is adorable Yes, but about a ½ mile walk away. Bring a stroller. There is also a sandy beach between the old and new ferry docks. Yup, near the old ferry dock
Mukilteo dock Lots of little crabs, but no keepers Meh. It’s a nice view, but one you can see from basically anywhere. A brand new playground, on the beach, about a quarter mile away from the docks.

Oh yeah.Ice Cream

Illahee State Park

Tons!Crabs

Nice looking place. And extra points for the ferry ride. Nope. And the beach wasn’t that great for sandcastles either. No food anywhere.
Penrose Point State Park Tons! Remote and pretty

No, but shallow water is fun too, especially in a white dress.Low tide in a white dress

No. I brought cookies though.
Kayak Point Very few. Crowded and late in the season.Crabbing Crowds We saw whales and seals here, so bonus points. Yes!! Huge playground. Unfortunately Aubrey had skinned her knew earlier in the day and was being super dramatic about it, at times refusing to walk. None. I hear that ice cream trucks sometimes frequent the area, but no luck when we were there
Birch Bay State Park in Blaine Who knows? We booked a campsite here only to have crabbing season pushed back. Also, there is no dock. Gorgeous. The background photo of this very website was taken here. No, but turning over rocks at the beach to find sand crabs and camping was so fun, who needs a playground?Finding Sand Crabs Nada. S’mores were a hit though.

Winthrop with a Toddler and a Princess

 

I know, I know. Most people go to Winthrop to mountain bike, kayak down rivers, or cross country ski. All difficult things to do with two and three year olds. But turns out that Winthrop is still awesome with little ones. Here’s what we did:

The Shortest Hikes Possible

Methow Community Trail: We caught a portion of this trail east of Tawlks/Foster BridgeMazama, just off Goat Creek Road. It consisted of a mile long walk alongside the river to the Tawlks/Foster Suspension Bridge. This was a great little walk for kids: flat, shaded, alongside the river, with a picnic area right after the bridge. My kids switched off walking and riding in the backpack and both liked throwing rocks in the river at the turnaround point. We also ran into tons of families biking (with both toddlers in bike trailers and young kids on their own bikes).

 

 

Dripping Air conditioning please!Springs Rd: Halfway through this walk, Aubrey the princess turned to Jason and said “daddy, can we go back inside to the air conditioner?” Not a ringing endorsement for the hike. The map suggests it is along the river, but you can’t see said river and there isn’t a lot of shade. Apparently you hit the river about 45 minutes into the hike (whatever that means), but we bailed and took Aubrey’s suggestion after about a mile. Plus I’d forgotten to pack diapers.

 

Sandcastles and Swimming

Pearrygin Lake State Park:  The lake is just a few miles northeast of Winthrop. Part of the eastern side of the lake is a State Park with two campgrounds. Next to the east campground is the day use area (Discover Pass required) with a large parking lot, tons of picnic tables, and a roped off swimming area. My kids both have a sixth sense for when a playground is near, and their internal playground radars did not go off, so I’m assuming there were none in the area.

Tubing the Methow

The beach/swimming area was a bit of a bust. You could optimistically call the beach “sandy,” but no great sandcastles were constructed due to the pebbly nature of the “sand.” The rocks continued into the swimming area which didn’t really bother the kids (both of whom hate shoes and routinely run over gravel roads as if they were nicely laid paths of cotton balls) but my husband and I weren’t fans. Luckily there were a few little alcoves between the beach and the campground with superior sand, and we snagged one of them. The area was also shady and served as a good boat launch for our canoe. The lake was nice for paddling, and we could see some fish jumping. Jet skis and motor boats are allowed on the lake, but it wasn’t that busy. Patterson Lake and Twin Lakes are also nearby with similar features.

Carlton Hole: Since there is a lack of sandy beaches in the area, we took our buckets and shovels about 30 minutes east. Carlton is a tiny town a few miles east of Twisp. Right off Highway 153, just before you would take the bridge over the river, turn right onto the dirt road. The little parking lot is 20 steps from the stretch of sand.

Carlton Hole

If it’s a sunny weekend day, just follow the crowd. We were there on a 90 degree Tuesday and there were a few other families there. Carlton Hole has a good sized sandbar and swimming hole (it’s a river though! Keep those kids close!). There is also a rocky area and some pretty good fishing spots, according to my husband (he didn’t catch anything, but that is probably because it was the middle of the day and we were all throwing rocks in the river). You do need a Discover Pass to park here.  This little swimming hole was totally worth the drive.

Fishing

 

 

 

The Perfect Location

We spent the week in a cabin at the River Run Inn, which I highly recommend for families.

Lawn at River Run

There is an indoor pool, huge lawn, onsite BBQ pits and fire rings, and the river is just out the back door. The place is a quick (.5 mile) walk from downtown Winthrop, and the community park and playground is even closer.  The Inn has complementary everything: charcoal, bikes, badminton sets, hammocks, DVDs. The inn also runs kayak and rafting float trips, which I unfortunately didn’t get to partake in, but my two year old loved waving to the adventurers as they set off down the Methow.

River Run Float Trips

 

Urban (and suburban) Water Parks

Hey, we can’t all live in Seattle, where Puget Sound is ten minutes off the freeway, islands are quick ferry trip away, mountain rivers are accessible after an easy hike, and camping at the seashore is an easy weekend activity. Sorry Midwesterners (oh, and we don’t have mosquitoes either. Not to rub it in). Anyways, if you don’t live on the coast or are too lazy to leave the city you’ve still got some water-based options. Since swimming pools are passé, most cities are creating splash parks, kiddie pools and fountains. Grab your plastic watering toy and head out.

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Splash Parks

Avoid if:

  • You have small toddlers who don’t like to be splashed or knocked over: Splash parks are a bit rambunctious. My little ones and I tend to find the smallest spout and hang out there, but even that can get over-run pretty quickly.

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  • You prefer to do your splashing in the morning or evening: Most parks keep afternoon hours, and some have an off period during the middle of the day.
  • You have one kid who loves water and another who loves swings: Most splash parks are part of a larger playground. This is part of the appeal for my kiddos – we start at the swings, dig in the sandbox, and then cool off at the splash pad. However one of my kids isn’t old enough to voice her opinion yet so things may be more complicated next summer.

Go if:

  • You’ve just bought your kid an arsenal of water guns.
  • You are in charge of your children and all of the friends. They’ll be somewhat contained at a splash park and you won’t have to worry about anyone drowning.

North acres

Check out:

  • Willis Tucker Park: Technically in Snohomish, but it’s north of the valley behind Silver Firs. There is also a sandbox, covered picnic tables, a playground with a rope jungle gym, trails, off leash dog park, playfields, a community center and a farmer’s market on Friday evenings in the summer.
  • North Acres: This is a good one for keeping watch over a bunch of kids because the splash park is in a little bowl and parents perch on the grassy hills above, stadium style. This park also has trails and two playgrounds – one for toddlers and one for older kids.

Small fountains

Ballard Commons

Avoid if:

  • You have older children, as these are pretty lame according to the kindergarten and above set.
  • You actually want to play in the water as well.

Go if:

  • You are headed somewhere else and you don’t want the kids to get totally soaked.

Check out:

Wading Pools

Avoid if:

  • You have a little one still crawling. The bottom is usually concrete. Plus my little one would have happily crawled in over her head if we let her.

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Go if:

  • You want to get in the water and cool off too, but you don’t want to wear a bathing suit.
  • You like water! I’ve seen toddlers, young kids, and pre-teens all have fun at these little wading pools.

Check out:

  • Wallingford Playfield: The pool has a shallow (think 2 inches) and “deep” (less than a foot) end. Playfields and a playground are part of the park.
  • Green Lake Wading Pool: By far my favorite place! Tons of grassy areas next to the pool are shady, so it’s great for a picnic on a hot day. It’s also great if you have a tiny baby who can snooze in the shade while the other one plays in the sun.

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Reasons Why Ragnar is better than a Regular Race

1. You get to run a 200+ mile race without having to run all 200 miles. You and eleven other people assign yourselves three legs and each runner covers around 9-20 miles. The race consists of 36 exchange points where you pass your 80’s style slap-bracelet onto the next runner.

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2. You’ll have eleven new best friends. I signed up for my first Ragnar after begging my parent’s neighbor to find a spot for me on her team. She came through and pretty soon I was part of a facebook group of strangers, planning out who was bringing diaper wipes and bananas for our Blaine to Langley trek. On Friday morning I met that group of strangers and we headed north. We were all friends by Bellingham.

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Van 1

Ragnar team

3. Running at different times a day. You get to run at…

…sunset…

Sunset

…sunrise…

 

…middle of the night…

Night running

…and the blazing heat of mid-day.

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4. Your team is responsible for you, and you them. There are (practically) no water stations so each van is responsible for keeping their runner hydrated and happy. This meant stopping every few miles and waiting for your runner so you can offer…

…laughs…

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…hugs…

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…water…

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…and photography skills to take that picture at the top of the gnarly hill you just conquered.

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5. You need a diverse skill set. It’s not enough to just be a good runner. A successful Ragnar team must have the skills to…

    • Decorate the vans.

    • Maneuver be-dazzled vans through crowded exchanges.

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    • Be able to fix car glitches while on the run. When our driver was running we somehow turned all the dome lights on. Despite scouring the owner’s manual we couldn’t get them off. When we met up with him in the middle of his run he barely broke his stride as he reached through the window and turned off the lights, yelling “This is the opposite of support!” as he continued on.
    • Read maps (and owner’s manuals) and give directions. U-turns are your friends.
    • Analyze and update data. You are constantly calculating pace and mileage to figure out where your van needs to be when.

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    •  Be a social media pro. Our data plans all felt a little shutter over the weekend. #RagnarPNW

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6. You do get to sleep!

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7. Side games: These include keeping track of kills (runners you pass) and tagging other cars with magnets featuring your team logo.

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8. Running bonding moments

Kira

9. After you finish as a team, all your medals fit together. Awww…

Ragnar medals

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Hill’s Resort at Priest Lake, ID

It’s gorgeous here.

The view from cabin 108
The view from cabin 108

But the view comes at a cost. For $3,370 you can stare at this view ALLLL week long. My family (aka my parents) forked over the payment and met us at the lake as our Christmas present. It’s the same resort they took my brother and I as kids. As soon as I started having babies I was anxious to take them there as well.

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And the weather was perfect, the lake was crystal clear, and we had a great time. But when it was time to re-book for next year I just shook my head at mom. The price is just too astronomical. It is the exact same price that my husband and I paid for out all-inclusive condo (food, drinks AND wedding included) in St. Lucia. For $3,370 I expect things to be perfect. There were a few imperfections:

The beach: We had our own little beach in front of our cabin, complete with a fire pit for roasting s’mores. It was about twenty steps away from our cabin, which was great. However, the staff doesn’t rake the beach regularly so our sand castles were full of little twigs and bottle caps. It wasn’t rare it find a broken piece of glass in the sand. But the main problem with the beach was the infestation of yellow jackets.

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The bees. They were EVERYWHERE. After one stung our baby, my husband armed himself with a flip flop and went on a seek-and-destroy mission. He killed about twenty of them, barely making a dent. Hill’s Resort has bee traps every two feet surrounding their lodge and patio, but none on the beaches. They should put some out while raking the sand.

The cabins: On one hand, it was kinda sweet that the cabins were the same ones my family stayed in thirty years ago (GOD, I’M OLD), but maybe replacing the carpets wouldn’t be a terrible thing. Or fixing the drain in the shower, siding on the bathroom walls, replacing window screens…

This place is NOT all-inclusive. It’s simply a cabin rental. Huckleberry daiquiris are not free with the wave of a drink flag. You are lugging all your own food up, and doing all your own cooking and cleaning. There is no maid service. Naturally, I got around this as my parents did most of the cooking and cleaning and my brother mixed the drinks. But still. No maid service?

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So will we be going to Priest Lake next year? Absolutely. But instead of paying $3,370 to fix our own burgers and sleep in sandy sheets, we’ll be staying next door at Luby Bay Campground.

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Running on Family Vacations

I managed to sneak a few runs in last week while my husband, kids and I were visiting our extended family in Oklahoma. Because FAMILY > RUNNING, I was unwilling to sacrifice any family plans in favor of a run, but I still found a bit of time here and there. This was NOT the case last April when we had our wedding/honeymoon/family vacation in St. Lucia.

There are some definite drawbacks to running while on vacation with your family. Here are some perfect excuses to throw your training plan out the car window and take a nap in a hammock instead. In case you are feeling responsible, skip down toward the end.

Suitcase space is at a premium.

Only room for one set of stuff
Only room for one set of stuff

Nothing forces you to pack light like the knowledge that you’ll be toting children and their car seats through the airport along with your luggage. Southwest might allow two checked bags, but my arms strength doesn’t. When I was packing my one suitcase for St. Lucia, I decided that wedding favors, blue high heels and sequined white dress took precedence over bulky running shoes. So I made the executive decision that I would not be running, which was fine because of my next point:

It’s supposed to be a VACATION

A vacation from work, doing dishes, texting, and yes – running. Since St. Lucia was a very expensive vacation, I made up the rule that if you spend more than $300 a night on a hotel room you should not leave it unless you are doing something really, really fun like eating, drinking, making sandcastles, or saying “I do.” Soaking up every relaxing minute that I could wasn’t being lazy: it was being fiscally responsible.

St. James Morgan Bay

You won’t have a jogging stroller.

I typically try to assuage my I-should-be-parenting-instead-of-running guilt by throwing the kids in the jogging stroller and taking them along for the ride. This isn’t an option on vacation because if you can’t fit shoes in your luggage allotment, you surely can’t fit a jogging stroller. And pushing a double jogger through a busy airport does not seem like a good solution to this problem.

However…

There will be family members around who are dying to babysit your kids.

Take advantage.

Grandpa time!

A shake-up of routine can be a good thing.

I never run in the mornings at home, but while we were visiting family, the best time of day was to get the run in during the morning before we headed out for the day’s activities. It turns out I love running the in morning! It was a quiet and cooler time of day, and I didn’t have to spend the rest of my day wondering when/if I could sneak a run in. Plus that satisfaction of completing a good workout stayed with me throughout the whole day. Maybe I’ll start running in the morning once I get back home too. Plus, running in a new location brings new challenges – whether it’s battling the heat in Oklahoma, the hills in Seattle, or the height in Denver.