Marco Bitran: Tools for Summertime Family Fun

Expert Author Gini CunninghamBy

This school year is winding down and I hope that you and your children are planning some marvelous vacations around our county, the state, and points beyond. One of the best gifts you can provide for children is travel, seeing new places and new faces, testing delicious foods, visiting museums and theaters, and learning all the time. You might select a day trip to a local canyon/park to hike, gather wild flowers, and munch on a picnic lunch. Take along a book to identify flowers and plants as you stroll and pick one of each to enjoy a lovely Nevada bouquet or to press between the leaves of books for special card creations and memory books.

Further travel guides you to places like Lake Tahoe, probably the most beautiful lake in the world where you can swim in icy cold water and then warm up on granite rocks or cuddly sand. The Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor is fantastic with even better scenery than an Elizabethan stage with sparkling, turquoise water as a backdrop. East you can march through the Rubies on the Ruby Crest Trail. One day leads you by shimmering alpine lakes, two to four days guides you up steep mountains with panoramic and down into canyons with magnificent lakes. Southeast you will discover Great Basin National Park complete with picnic areas and hiking trails along with beautiful scenery and excellent campgrounds.

If these are too far or too adventurous, just step out into your backyard for a barbecue and sleepover under the stars. On a clear night zipping satellites and falling stars offer incomparable entertainment. Handy, too, is the fact that the indoors is nearby for showers and toilets along with additional camping snacks. The most valuable gift in all of this is time with family where memories of a lifetime are formed. Chances are in twenty years your kids will invite you over or out to participate in a similar outing with grandchildren in tow.

To record these terrific events you will need a couple of tools: your cellphone for movies and photos, a camera, just to remind younger ones that such an apparatus exists, a mini-laptop for writing about your exploits, and a desire for exploration and mind expansion. What you do not need is any electronic connections such as WiFi, Internet, or cell service. One of the saddest scenes I have witnessed was a family touring Yosemite with everyone on an individual electronic device tapping away and never making eye contact with each other or the guide as he explained the geological and physical features of this park. I wondered if they even knew how to articulate words with tongue and lips or if they just texted necessary conversations.

When you return home from this voyage you can gather all of the goodies to design a family memory book including photos, special poems and paragraphs about each scene, wild flowers and leaves posed alongside the real plant, and additional commentary squiggled into corners and open surfaces as each traveler describes the uniqueness of each experience. A keepsake is definitely in store plus it serves as a quick reminder as you plan for additional journeys. You may even include special recipes that you created in your cast iron skillet or purchased in a distinctive restaurant that you visited. Exciting quests await!

Of course, do not neglect math as you tromp along new paths. My insurance plan includes a Fitbit, a pedometer that has a clock, keeps track of steps and mileage, and informs me on calories burned. All of this is then automatically recorded when I sit down at my computer and I also receive a week-long synopsis of activity each Monday. I had no idea that such a device would provide such amusement as I track my progress and compare my steps with others who are in my group. With the information provided you can divide for daily steps, multiple for potential month-end results. You can add steps in one mile to steps in another and compare your rate of speed/step distance or divide calories into miles and miles into calories for fun feedback. I must warn you that Fitbits are addictive. Owners love to share, compare, and compete. I dropped mine on a long run and terror struck my heart to think that I had lost those 6 miles for recording. Fortunately, I backtracked and discovered it lying in the road, unscathed, but minus the miles, of course!