Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lets Go on an Es-Two-Four-Oh!

The gang

A couple of weeks ago we loaded up bikes, bags, kids, trailers, food, friends, tents and headed out for S24o. What is remarkable is how this never gets old; we all know pretty much exactly what's going to happen and yet the spirit of shared fun and adventure takes hold and before you know we are all goofing around and having a great time. Speed is not of the essence, we just move along enjoying the ride. Getting there is as much fun as any other part of the excursion. Maybe part of the magic is that we are all in on this together--nobody is sitting in the back seat--kids and adults are on equal footing and the mission is pretty clear: get there, set up, have food, hang out and enjoy a night camping.

Getting ready to head out

Pausing in Middlesex

Headed for the hills

The nominal excuse for this trip is my birthday, and as a birthday gift I can't imagine anything more deeply satisfying then a night of camping and adventure with family and loved ones.

Making our way

This is our sixth year doing this and each time we all get geared up, loosely coordinate food, and then meet up on Saturday afternoon. We head off with everyone on bikes and trailers full of stuff in tow to some accessible yet nice place, ideally out of the way in the woods or some meadow. The journey is always as fun as getting there, and after we arrive tents get set up, food is hauled out, and warm clothes are put on. The night was chilly and after a great meal we enjoyed a small campfire for a while before climbing into our sleeping bags. Some years we've been far from civilization; this year we scouted a spot on yard of some bike-friendly folks in Middlesex who were away on their own bike vacation. We were able to take advantage of their grill and outdoor composting toilet, which was somewhat more luxurious than other years. The hardest part of making this adventure happen is finding somewhere to go that involves the right distance to bike (keeping the kids in mind), quiet roads, and hopefully a nice place to arrive at and camp for the night. 


Its fun to recall that the first time Liza and Randy's kids did this they were in a burley trailer and now they are on geared bikes. Anda first rode on a trail-a-bike and now she doesn't blink at a ~20 mile ride. Silas wasn't even born our first time around. We've camped when there were patches of snow still hanging around and other times we've put the whole thing off until later in the summer, but we've all been there every year for six years. 

Nobody minded that we had a grill at our disposal...

 ...or a table.

Our attempt at a campfire

For most of us, this is the first night camping of the season. As camping seems to always do, we all feel ready for a good night's sleep barely an hour after the sun sets. Last summer Nance and I purchased the new version of therm-a-rests and they are really a step up from the old style. Not only are they thicker, but you seem to not slide off quite as readily. The only really downside is they take a bunch of blowing to fill them, but I think its a good trade-off. Nancy kept saying things like "this is the most cozy I've ever been" inspired by her plush therm-a-rest. 

Our hosts are avid cyclotourists and this was the hook in the humanure outshouse

Breakfast before heading out

After a nice nights sleep, the morning was crisp and sunny and we had a lazy breakfast before we rolled out for our return home. The ride to our camping spot had been a super gentle climb for a few miles, so the kids were all quite happy at how easy the ride back down to Middlesex was on our way back. With a quick stop at Red Hen we all continued on but then decided that we'd split up since Jeremy, Anda, Nancy and I were all headed back to Waitsfield and wanted to get on with our day. Randy, Liza, Maia and Solveig took their time and headed back to their house. 

Heading home

I am so grateful that as a group this is something we all love doing, that we live in such a beautiful place for this kind of adventure, and that we somehow fell into this wonderful tradition. Up til now it's been a once-a-year thing, but we are starting to scheme a mid-summer version for sometime in July with whoever wants to come along. 


Rebecca Olds said...

I want to come!

My family out in Oregon camps quite a lot and always has. There's usually a big family gathering of a similar nature the weekend after Labour Day. Our long time favourite place going back 40 years is about 30 miles out of Roseburg, up the Umpqua River in the Cascade Mountains. But does anybody cycle up there? Heck no. All cars.

Next time we fly out there, we're taking our bikes. It may just happen next year around the right time, if we can get places on Cycle Oregon. Follow that up with a family camp-out... sweet. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Rebecca, I'm curious if you ever do s24o's in England? I can only imagine it would be as fun as anywhere else.
I hear you about the car thing; it's just not the same thing by a long shot. At various times some of the folks that have been on our trips have driven (pregnancy, bad back, early work duties, etc..) but by and large the spirit has prioritized bikes whenever possible.
I hope you and Adam get to make you plans happen in the Cascades!

Rebecca Olds said...

We did do an S24O to Cambridge in September 2012... we had no idea then that such a trip had a "name"!