Our Family Vacation (with pics)…Keeping It Simple!
Keeping It Simple While on Vacation
I hope you’re all settling back in to the September routine of school, activities and the filling out of numerous forms!!
This year we took our Summer vacation during the last two weeks of August, plus the September long weekend, which was a great time to fill-up on quality family time 🙂 By carving out time for this holiday, we realized that we were able to (temporarily) put boundaries on the fast pace of day-to-day life.
Now that our children are ages 11 and 13yrs. we decided to try our first multi-day family biking trip and chose a route in the beautiful Laurentian mountains of Quebec. In total, we cycled 270km! Many people have asked me about our trip, and because the nature of the trip ties nicely into keeping it simple and raising adults (while I was away I read the excellent book, How to Raise an Adult – Break Free of the Over Parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, by Julie Lythcott-Haims), I’m going to share the highlights of the trip with you (including some pictures) in case you want to do something similar with your family in the future. I also think it’s important to find creative ways, such as being on vacation together, to practice some of the principles from Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book, such as requiring your children to step up, take responsibility and let their capability shine.
The first day, we took a shuttle bus (with a trailer full of bikes) from St. Jérôme to Mt. Laurier in the Laurentian mountains, which is where Le P’tit Train du Nord bike trail begins.
This is the 200km mark. (Le P’tit Train du Nord (The Little Train of the North) used to be a real railway track with a little train, and was then converted into this amazing bike/cross-country ski trail.) From Mt. Laurier, one can decide how little or how far to cycle. We followed a friend’s advice and averaged approximately 40km/day. We had all our belongings in backpacks that were strapped on the back of our bikes – it’s amazing how little luggage one needs when you know that you’re going to be cycling with it for five days!! Keeping it simple!
Our first stop was the gorgeous, simple Motel Ours Bleu – beautiful lodgings on a serene lake called Lac Saguay, with kayaks and pedal boats free for us to use – this is how we spent our first afternoon. Although, we had woken up early to be at the shuttle bus at 7:15am (Eastern time) we were excited and our adrenalin kept us cycling, which meant that we arrived at Lac Saguay by mid-afternoon.
Each day the kids were responsible for packing up their belongings, ready for the next biking day. Our daughter is in French Immersion for her school, so she helped me with the communication and she was also our Google Maps director.
Day Two: We planned for a 30km ride, but our daughter misread the Google Map directional arrow, and we biked an extra 10km past our stop, and then back-tracked for 1okm which equalled a 50km day!! A great learning experience! The weather was perfect, dry and mild (about 24 degrees) and the bike path was quiet and scenic. I was always the “caboose” but my husband or one of my kids would take turns to cycle back and be with me for a while. We had such great chats while we were riding – no digital distractions and the only background noise was the sound of birds. Our second stop was at a quaint Auberge (Inn) at Rivière-Rouge, called Le Saint-Bohême Auberge. They had a small swimming pool, where we swam, and a foosball table which was a great family activity!
Day Three: 47km to Mont Tremblant, the popular ski resort. Thunderstorms were forecast, and we had garbage bags ready to protect our backpacks from getting soaked but luckily we didn’t have to use them! (On this kind of a trip, all our accommodations were pre-booked so if it had poured, we would have had to keep on riding to stay on schedule.) We stayed at a lovely motel called La Porte Rouge right by a huge lake. Again, there were canoes, kayaks and pedal boats for us to use. Mont Tremblant is a fun place to explore and one could spend a couple of days here. The ski resort was very pretty at night.
Day Four: Our toughest day… 38km but a third of the ride was a steady incline on loose gravel. I had the most tired legs, by this point, and the kids’ legs were a little tired but they were fully into the routine and completed the day’s ride happily. (If we’d been at home and suggested a 38km ride after three consecutive days of riding, there would have been a lot of grumbling for sure, but when they knew this was our only form of travel and our only way of getting from one destination to the next, they accepted it, without complaints!) I chatted to the kids a lot about grit, on this day, as I was finding it more challenging!
We stayed at this little chalet in Val David, a cute artisan village with a fabulous café called, C’est La Vie (Direct translation = This is the life! but often used as an expression to mean “That’s life”.)
Day Five: 38km to St. Jérôme, also known as km 0. We had a little downhill on this ride and knowing that we were arriving at our final destination was inspiring. The scenery that we rode by was the most scenic on this section – lots of lakes, rivers, beautiful birds, flowers etc.
It was a great sense of accomplishment to arrive at Km 0!
We then turned in our rental bikes and get on a bus to Montreal. (We spent a few days in Montreal and decided the best way to see the city and the canal was…by bike! So we rented bikes for a day and had a great time cycling around the sites of Montreal.)
We all loved the trip and one of the most important factors was the simplicity of it all. We had minimal clothes, minimal choices of what to do (we knew each day began with packing up, eating breakfast and going on a long bike ride), minimal distractions (we were each other’s best company and no-one’s phone was interrupting us!) and the trail was peaceful. There was lots of responsibility to ride safely, as there were sometimes roads to cross, and little chipmunks running across the path. We worked hard as we rode, and then got to play in the lakes in the afternoon. The kids really got to understand the meaning and benefits of work then play. They also saw the importance of keeping it simple. I also felt the experience of the trip really contributed to their grit, more than I could ever teach through words.
Now we’re inspired to do another bike trip, and I’d love to hear from anyone who has done the Kettle Creek ride in the Okanagan.
Whether one goes camping, biking, hiking or canoeing, there’s lots of ways to plan a back-to-nature vacation where keeping it simple is possible.
Now back to the busyness of September and filling out those forms for school!
PS. Registration is open for my next round of “Brain Science” groups where children (boys & girls ages 7-9yrs, and 10-12 yrs.) learn about anxiety and how to manage anxiety. The group for 7-9yrs. is now full but please put your name on the waiting list if you’re interested. The 10-12 yrs. group still has spaces. Groups run on Thursdays for 7 sessions. For more information and to register online, please click here and click on “upcoming groups/events”. (On this page you will see that registration for my November self-empowerment groups is also open and my lovely colleague, Andrea Sharpe is running a fun and supportive group for children who have a sibling with special needs.)
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