Friday, 28 July 2017

Redefining Adventure: A year of Mini Adventures

I was wondering how to do a summary of the year. Stats? Lessons learned? Montage of favorite pictures?

I’ve been procrastinating for a while now but had some inspiration after a friend commented on the fact that we have finished the Mini Adventure Project, blogging and all. I’m pretty astounded that we stuck with it. At times it felt like we would never get through 52 adventures yet at other times it if felt like it flew by. I’m really proud of our family making it our weekend norm to get out and about.

I always wondered if I could re-calibrate my opinion of adventure from those requiring months of planning, extreme challenges and a mountain of money to something more simple and easy to fit into family life. The answer is yes. I have loved my mini adventures, especially with my family. Sometimes we had silliness and giggles, sometimes tantrums and cuddles. But always we had snacks.

So what’s next? We’re going to try going further afield, going out longer and maybe even some camping next spring. I have also been matched with a buddy from ‘Irun4 siblings - the unsung Heroes’ who I will be sharing my running with. And if you care to join us, we’ll be doing some adventuring over at Perth Outdoor Families. 

Thanks for following along with the Mini Adventure Project 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Adventure 52 - The one with an impromptu visit from Adventure Jane

Where: Lesmurdie Falls
When: July 2017
Adventure Companions: Mini Monkey and Adventure Jane

Shall I change my flights?

Adventure Jane (Mr MAP’s sister) was flying through Perth on her way back home over East from a BIG Adventure in the Top End. Yes, yes you should. I took the afternoon off work, scooped Mini Monkey up from day care and we headed out to the Perth Hills for a hike.

Mini Monkey has not been on top of the weather recently so I gave him the option of walking or going in the Tula. Usually we wander along the brook to the bottom of the falls, scramble on some rocks (unless it’s slippery from rain) and wander back again. The boys love it and Velcro Dog does too. However, occasionally I get a hankering for a view and today I wanted to show it to Adventure Jane. Despite Adventure Jane having spent quite a bit of time over in Perth with us she has never done much family hiking with us.

Mini Monkey has started to ask rather astute questions lately, like ‘Grandpa, why do you not have any hair on your head?’, to which my mother replied ‘because he has so many brains it pushed all his hair out’. Today, whilst eating his snacks in the Tula, he asked ‘mummy, why are you making that noise?’. ‘ Do you mean the huffing and puffing noise? Well, that’s because it’s hard work hauling both of us up the hill.’ ‘Mummy, can we go faster?’

Despite the huffing and puffing (from me, not Adventure Jane), the view was well worth it when we arrived at the top. I’d like to say we had the place to our selves, but we didn’t as it was school holiday. However, sometimes I choose to look at busy times in the positive as at least people are getting outside and exploring, even if it means having to share.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free. 

Adventure 51 - The one with the big family

Where: Whistlepipe Gully
When: July 2017
Adventure Companions: The whole MAP family and a very extended Hike it Baby Family.

Do you like the view?

I just love coming up to the top of Whistelpipe Gully as it opens out and you are left standing at the top of a hill with an amazing view over the to the city of Perth. We were with three generations and multiple offshoots of one of our favourite Hike it Baby families. There was a granny and grandpa, uncles and aunties, cousings and our friends, the mumma and toddler.
Sometimes I feel a little overly responsible when I go on Hike it Baby hikes. I want people to have such a good time that they’ll come back again and as a result, I tend to go to some of the easier locations. Whistlepipe Gully a rocky trail and single track in some places with some drop offs into the creek. I was slightly apprehensive about going but, other than keeping a tight grip on the more toddly of the toddlers (ahem, Giant Baby), everyone had a lovely time.

Mini Monkey was has been coming down with something for a while now and spent more than usual being carried by one or other of us. We he was walking, he wanted to hang out at the back of the group with Mr MAP, away from all the unfamiliar adults. Clearly it was just the outing he needed as he slept like the proverbial baby.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free 

Adventure 50 - The one with the Achillies

Where: John Forest National Park           
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: The usual crazy trail runner sorts

Has Bob come through yet?

My ride share, Runner Bob, was on the 21km course, 11km longer than the course I had just finished*. The tail end Charlies were straggling in and celebrating their achievements but Bob was no where to be seen. A marshall came in and said that he had left a runner nursing an Achilles niggle. After asking for a description we confirmed it was Bob. He’s been on and off running since I met him at the beginning of the year due to this injury and it seemed that now, on his first half marathon, it had reared it’s ugly head.

I started helping the race crew break down the finish area and there was still no Bob. I bumped into a friend from University (yes, the one in the UK) who was out with her family and still no Bob. He finally appeared, nearly 3 hours after starting, pleased as punch with himself that he had hobbled his way around most of the course and swearing blind that it couldn’t be an Achillies injury because he could still move his foot**. After all that, the Brave Bob was still able to drive home, thanks to an automatic car and his injury being on the ‘right’ side.

*I had an amazing race and was very pleased to have completed the 10km trail in under an hour.

**three days later he found out that he had torn his Achilles completely (with a ‘pop’) when he fell and now will be off running for a whole year for surgery and rehabilitation. Poor Bob.

Opening hours: never closed

Cost: $12 per car

Adventure 49 - The one with the flying ball

Where: Scitech
When: June 2017           
Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey and the Giant Babay

Can you watch me, Daddy?

Scitech is an amazing display of interactive magic (physics) smashed with colour. What more could be attractive to a small child? There was so much for so many different ages. It feels like a place we will be able to go back to for a long time and there will always be something of interest for the boys.

Mini Monkey had great fun on many of the exhibits and zipped from one to another trying everyout. Whilst most of the exhibits were far beyond the Giant Baby’s comprehension, give him a ball and he’s happy as Larry. There was one particular exhibit with a beach ball and a fan which made it ‘fly’ that he was particularly taken with. Well, really, he just liked the beach ball. He was very upset when we decided to move on.

Opening hours: 9:30/10am – 5pm every day of the week except Thursdays (see website)

Cost: $19 adult with under 4s fr free.

Adventure 48 - The one with the Pilgrim

Where: Bell Rapids, Brigadoon
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: The whole MAP family
Like father, like son

Which trail is that?

Mr MAP had posted some beautiful photos of our trail today on the Hike it Baby Facebook page of the trail we had walked. Previously we had taken the River Trail from the bridge but today we felt like a bit of an explore. Instead of turning left after the bridge, we took a right, wiggled around and found ourselves on a beautiful trail running alongside the river.

On the hike we saw (and heard) lots of different birds and spied some paddlers coming down the river in their bright plastic boats. Mr MAP showed Mini Monkey lots of interesting things, the Giant Baby spent his entire time exercising his will aka demanding to go up when he’s down and down when he’s up. Velcro Dog did her usual zooming around smelling all the smells. Business as usual.

Neither of us had ay idea what the trail was call so I put the question out to the local trail runners community. If anyone had done their research, it was going to be them! Within half an hour I had two replies: it was the Pilgrim Trail. It stretches 185km from Subiaco to New Norcia. That’s a whole lot of new trail to explore!

Opening hours: Never closed

Cost: Free

Adventure 47 - The one with the snakes

Where: WA Reptile Park
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey the Giant Baby

Do you want to hold the Bobtail?

A Bobtail is a funny looking lizard, common in many parts of Australia and was a nice introduction to reptiles. Mr MAP was given the task of holding the lizards whilst the boys got to touch it (under strict supervision). We also got to wear some snakes. I have never been that close to a snake before so it was amazing to feel. Mini Monkey got to wear a very small snake (who's name I can't remember) and Mr MAP got to wear a much bigger one (who's name I also can't remember).

The keeper who was giving the talk was very knowledgeable and very engaging with the kids. It was a lovely introduction to reptiles and we’ll definitely be going back again. 

Opening hours: 10:00-17:00 Friday to Monday

Cost: Adults $15 and Kids 3+ $7

Adventure 46 - The one with the new map

Where: Mundy Regional Park
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: Velcro Dog

Is this the right turn?

I get my brick of phone out of my pack and take another look at the new app that I just worked out how to use. I had downloaded the Swissmurdie course GPX file, uploaded it to the map app and was trying to follow the the 10km (ish) course through Mundy Regional Park.

The car pack was chockablock. Of course, I had forgotten that it was a public holiday weekend. With Lesmirdie falls being so close to the city and it being such a nice, sunny day, everyone and their auntie were out seeing the sights. Thankfully, once I was on my way away from the main falls area, there were significantly fewer people.

I love this run as, after a sizable hill, you are rewarded with some incredible views through Mundy Regional park and then some more over the plains towards the City of Perth. Velcro dog also had a great run, smelling all the new smells.

Once we descended into Whistlepipe Gully we slowed down considerably.  The narrow trail has lots of rocks and roots and to say that it is uneven would be an understatement. It’s hard enough running it on your own without worrying that your dog following (on lead) close behind will stand on your heels and send both of you tumbling. We survived and made our way slowly back up the hill. Velcro Dog decided that she had not had enough fun and started to throw place gumnuts at my feet for me to throw for her. I don't think I'll ever be fit enough to tire that dog out. 

Opening hours: Never closed

Cost: Free

Adventure 45 - The one with the Rock Hunt

Where: Mabel Talbot Park/Lake Jolimont
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr and Mrs Proff, Mini Monkey, Giant Baby and the Hike it Baby crew.

Do I need to bring some rocks?

Here is another ‘get your kids out doors’ craze – rock hunting. As in, hunting for painted rocks that are dropped off/hidden by other rock hunters. I had long wanted to do this but didn’t know where any rocks were being dropped. In order to make it worthwhile, Mrs Proff and I painted up a batch of rocks, stuck a bunch of googly eyes on them and dropped them off 5 minutes before our Hike it Baby rock hunt. I was slightly concerned that all it would take would be one curious family setting off mere minutes before us and all the rocks would be gone before we could get back to them. Thankfully, no such family eventuated and off we went.

The venue I chose was Jollimont Lake. It has a very small lake to go around, which, in the direction we went in, led us to the playground at the end. The lake has a couple of easy to access viewing platforms and lots of ducks. The age range in our little group was from about 15 months to 3 years so there was varying degrees of walking abilities, understanding of the game  and satisfaction got by finding the rocks. All in all, it was a fun little exercise and as I still have plenty of rocks left over, maybe I’ll do a random rock drop* for the hunters from WA Rocks.  I’m sure that Mini Monkey would love to help distribute them.

*Hike it Baby promotes the ‘leave no trace’ principle and has discussed the leaving of painted rocks for others to find in much detail. The position which many of us have settled upon is that it is OK to leave your rocks in urban settings where they are likely to be found by other children i.e. on park benches and in playgrounds, but avoid taking them into lesser traveled areas like bush tracks.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free to access both the FB group and the park

Adventure 44 - The one with biscuits and tea

Where: Wulyunga Lookout
When: June 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr and Mrs Proff

Where is the turning?

My parents, Mr and Mrs Proff, had arrived in Australia the day before to celebrate Mini Monkey’s upcoming third birthday. As I knew they were going to be a little jetlagged I thought I’d take them on a gentle stroll to somewhere they would appreaciate. On our way to Nobel Falls last week I had spied a sign that said ‘Wulyunga Lookout’. That made me guestimate that the lookout was somewhere between Wulyunga National Park and Paruna Wildlife Sanctuary and would, hopefully, have some spectacular views down over the Avon River.

Once we had finally located the turn to the lookout, we were not disappointed. We opted for the gentler trails, running along the hill, opting out of the steeper routes which would lead us down into the valley floor. What goes does must come back up again!

After about half an hour of ambling and chatting, we came across a log with a view. Tea was poured, biscuits were had and life felt good.

Opening hours: Never Closed

Cost: Free

Adventure 43 - The one with 7 wet feet

Where: Nobel Falls
When: May 2017
Adventure Companions: The whole MAP family and some Hike it Baby friends, including some from the Snowy Mountains Branch (and a balance bike).

Which weekend are you coming over?

Life is full of coincidences. One of the Hike it Baby Branch Ambassadors from the Snowy Mountains Branch has family in Gidgegannup and she happened to be over visiting and be available for the time I had scheduled the Nobel Falls Hike. It was like it was mean to be!
We set off down the wide, sand trail with Velcro dog zipping around smelling all the wonderful smells. The toddlers toddled and the parents chatted until, uh oh, the bridge was out.

Our adventurous friend from the Snowy Mountains pointed out a log which was conveniently lying across the creek right next to the bridge. With the options of going back the way we came, taking the long route to the next bridge or crossing the log, all the parents decided that the log was do-able. Our friend from the Snowy Mountains made the log crossing look super easy. Without a wobble, she crossed with toddler in arms. Depositing her toddler (clearly, significantly more reliable that The Giant Baby), she returned for the balance bike. Very kindly, she then removed her shoes and waded into the thigh deep water to help the others across. Wet Feet Count: 2

The second parent and child duo crossed without a hitch.

Mr MAP, with Mini Monkey in his arms, were up next. Mini Monkey chose exatly the wrong moment to wriggle and into the water went Mr MAP. Luckily the water was shallow and Mr MAP landed on his feet so Mini Monkey slightly shaken but mostly dry. Wet Feet Count Total: 5

Giant Baby was on my back and by this point he was wriggling a lot; first looking down at the ground on one side and then to the other. There was no way I was going to be able to stay on that log. Having seen the water depth, I chose to wade, rather than risk falling and hurting both of us. Having tied my laces too tight and with Giant Baby on my back, there was no way I was going to be able to take my shoes off and then put them back on, I made the decision to just walk on in, shoes and all. It was a good choice as the bottom of the stream was rocky and the banks in and out spiky. Wet Feet Count Total: 7

Once safely across the stream, we continued on our way in the sun. The toddlers toddled and ate snacks, the parents chatted (more) and Velcro dog swam in the stream when she wasn’t zipping around smelling all the smells. It was another beautiful little hike.  

Opening hours: never closed

Cost: free

Adventure 42 - The one with alot of rain

Where: Lesmurdie Falls
When: May 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey, Giant Baby
Where is my coat?

Sir Ranulph Riennes was reputed to say that there was no such bad thing as bad weather, just inadequate protection. We had decided to brave the arrival of winter and go to see the ‘Big Waterfall’. As we were dressing the boys in their wet weather gear at the trail head, it started to rain so hard that Mr MAP and Mini Monkey jumped straight back into the car.

Once the squall had eased, we were on our way, all of us walking alongside the now bubbling brook. The Giant Baby is like a magnet to water and spent the entire time trying to immerse himself in any body of water available. Mr MAP decided to ‘teach him a lesson’ and allow him, whilst holding tightly onto him, by allowing him to walk into the stream over the tops of his well. The objective of the lesson was to get the Giant Baby to realise that the water was cold and wet. Well, clearly he doesn’t mind cold and wet feet. However, walking with squelching wellies clearly wasn’t that comfortable and he soon acquiesced to being put in the Tula. I was quite relieved as I was getting pretty tired of trying to corral him towards safer areas.

We all posed for photos with the waterfall in first flood after summer and then bid a hasty retreat to the dry warmth of the car for delicious muffins. It was quite apparent that we needed to up our winter clothes game with Mini Monkey the only one returning 100% dry.  

Opening hours: never closed
Cost: free

Adventure 41 - The one with Dinosaurs and Ducks

Where: John Forrest National Park
When: Mary 2017
Adventure Companions: Mr MAP, Mini Monkey, the Giant Baby and a wonderful bunch of Hike it Baby families.

Can we do something a little more, ahem, adventurous than Bold Park for Mothers Day?

This was a request from another Hike it Baby mum. I had scheduled a whole bunch of hikes and once and totally missed the fact that it was Mothers day. Why was I not taking more advantage of this?!

We thought about going to Paruna again. I love the place but I find it stressful to organise and host up there. We landed on John Forrest (Mr MAP’s suggestion) with the idea of splitting up into two groups if there were enough people. I named the groups the Eagle View Walkers and Gum Nut Gatherers with the idea that those who wanted to go at gumnut-gathering and picking-every-leaf-and-stone pace, could do so (with accompanying parent) and those of us who’s babies would nap at a faster pace, would do so on the Eagle View trail.

I was very excited to see three other familes arrive, which meant my plan of two groups (and potential nap for the Giant Baby) would be actioned. Mr MAP lead the toddlers (and accompanying parents) off down to National Park falls and I lead the babies (and their Sherpas) off up the Wild Flower Loop. The last minute change of plan from the Eagle View Trail to the Loop was so that we could walk and chat at the same time. The Eagle View trail is mostly single track, where as the Wild Flower loop you could drive a car around.

As predicted two out of three of the babies were able to get a nap (Giant Baby included). We chatted in the winter sunshine, fed the baby who refused to nap and strolled at a wonderfully consistent pace the toddlers would never let happen! The toddlers toddled to the Falls, they found dinosaurs next to the trail on their return journey  (hidden by Mr MAP on their way out there) and gathered pockets-full of nature’s gifts (gum nuts, sticks, stones, leaves etc).

After our hike, we broke out the cakes which the hikers had brought/been promised and watched the ducks on the creek. I couldn’t have asked for a more soul filling day; celebrating it with friends I had made as a result of becoming a mother (and a member of Hike it Baby).

Opening hours: Never Closed
Cost: $12 per car