I pride myself on staying busy with the kids – especially while Ryan’s gone. It’s one of the best ways we’ve found to get through a deployment or TDY, and it’s one of the few things that helps us stay sane, especially in the time of coronavirus, social distancing, and PCS season. We’ve been doing really well getting out on hikes, exploring, and going places, but this past weekend is a perfect example of when the best made plans go awry. That said, it’s also a perfect example about how adventure is a state of mind, and it’s absolutely what you make of it. I have to give my kids huge kudos for rolling with the punches and dealing with changes of plans (not that I really give them any choice), but I’m grateful for my adaptable little beans, as well as friends who willingly change plans with me.
Some friends and I made plans to head up to Mt. Rainier National Park this weekend to hike Emmons Moraine, which is about an hour and 45 minutes from JBLM. It’s not a terrible drive, so the kids and I loaded up nice and early(ish), and we got on the road around 9:15 AM for an arrival time of 11 AM. Because parks and trails are newly opened, I made sure to check the website and our trails app a few times, ensuring the grounds were open, etc., then we went on our merry way. We arrived in good time, and the first sign that something was wrong showed its face around three miles into the park grounds, before we even reached the gate. There was one lone sign that simply said, “Expect delays.” Okay, cool. We’re not a stranger to traffic.
So, we waited.
Our friends were in the car behind us, and after about an hour, I turned off the car, and my friend’s husband decided to walk along the line of cars to see how far we were from the front of the line, which apparently led all the way to the guard station. He was gone for about 30 minutes, and when he got back, he let us know that I was still the 99th car in line after an hour and a half, and the rangers had informed him they were only letting cars in as cars left. The park reached capacity by 9 AM that morning, and we had no clue. We had two choices. One, sit in line for what the rangers expected would be another two+ hours, or two, we could turn around and do something else.
I wanted to hike. I was excited for that hike. I was bummed about not doing that hike. But I had a choice. Head back home and admit defeat, or do something different.
Honestly, the kids don’t know any different. They wanted fun with friends, sunshine, and fresh air. So, we turned around, and I made my way back the way we’d come, pulling off to a random side lot near Skookum Creek, which feeds Skookum Falls about 30 minutes away. Was it a spectacular vista? No. Was it a hike? No. Was it an adventure? Yes.
The creek is shallow, but it’s fast-moving, and there’s no real easy way down and across, so we loaded up and, instead of our planned hike, we slipped and slid our way down soft clay hills. We created little footbridges with big fallen logs. We waded through water that was a little too fast for the kids, holding their hands as they traversed fallen trees like balance beams. Ultimately, we found a dry little riverbed area, dropped our bags, took off our hiking shoes, and opted to play in the water instead while the kids threw rocks, built little dams, snacked, and generally enjoyed the great weather.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned thus far as a mother, it’s that children lead where we follow. If we lead with disappointment and sadness, they’ll follow suit. If you tell them something failed, they’ll believe it and buy into it completely. And, ultimate, adventure is a state of mind. It’s not a place, contrary to popular opinion. Adventure is what you make of it, and you have a choice to make it fun every single day. In not hiking Emmons Moraine, we spent a perfectly blissful day at a riverbed we would never have otherwise known existed, and the kids had a blast. Sometimes the best made plans change – and for good reason.
And, at the end of the day, it was well worth it.