We started FamilyWilds.com in May of 2011. After seven months of chronicling our outdoor adventures with our daughter, now 22-months-old, we can't help but feel like we've already had a lifetime worth of fun and learning, especially when it comes to keeping our toddler actively engaged outside. We even became ambassadors for Nature Rocks and Deuter. We're very fortunate to have each other and to each have the itch for being outside and having fun. There are many mornings our daughter will wake up from a good night's sleep or from a nap and request to go for a hike. What more could we say about family wilding in 2011 than that?
Well, we'll try to say a little more. Here are our top 5 family adventures of 2011. It was a really fun year so we had to leave a lot of the fun off of the list. We spent a great deal of our outside time in and around Nashville at parks and trails (Percy Warner, Edwin Warner, Shelby Bottoms, Beaman, Bells Bend, Bledsoe Creek, etc.), at the Nashville Zoo and festivals (Pride, Bluegrass Jamboree, Tomato Art, etc). Nashville is a constant adventure, so we felt justified in leaving it off the list and mostly concentrating on non-Nashville outdoor events.
5. Climb Nashville
We are not what anyone would mistake as expert climbers. We've only come into climbing recently as a means of finding another activity to do together. We like hiking, camping, etc., but this would be something fun, different and interesting for our daughter to see us doing together. When she was 18-months-old a staff member at our climbing gym, Climb Nashville, handed us a kid harness and pointed us to the kid walls. She loved it, and we've been taking her back fairly frequently since then. We quickly figured out how to keep the climbing gym fun for a toddler, found a great pair of kid climbing shoes in the Evolv Venga, and decided to add a helmet and harness to her gear closet. The next year should be full of a lot of climbing...well, as long as she continues to enjoy it anyway!
We took a summer trip down to Florida to visit Nea's side of the family. Our daughter had a full week of fun in the Florida sun with her cousin, just three months older than her. We played outside, went swimming in the pool, played at the beach, and hiked an awesome riverside trail at Hillsborough State Park. We can't wait for our next trip down there!
This year we took our daughter down to Texas for the first time. Pablo's family is from Austin, so we flew down for about a week to be with our family there. Not only did we play in and around Austin, but we even headed down to Gruene, TX for a few days on the Guadalupe River with family. This was the trip our daughter swam in a river, rode in a kayak, ate tacos and rode a train all for the first time. It's been too long since our trip down, so we're heading back down there in January!
We waited far too long to take our first family camping trip, but at 14-months-old we packed her and some gear up for a few nights under the stars with great friends. The Taylors, have a son who is just a few weeks younger than our daughter. We camped at Foster Falls in Savage Gulf Natural Area in Southeast TN. We went on some amazing hikes, saw some amazing sites and had a lot of fun outside playtime. We had so much fun that we went to Fall Creek Falls just a few weeks later for more camping! As soon as it warms up just enough, we're heading back out for some more.
1. North Carolina
Our number one Family Wilds adventure of 2011 was our recent trip to NC. It was a very short trip, but we packed it full of spontaneous fun. We left with absolutely no plans. The trip up to the Boone area was filled with stops at a giant tree house, a sushi restaurant and a national forest. Our time in the Boone area included a hike at Price Lake, outside play on Blowing Rock and a lot of delicious local food. Our trip back home to Nashville included an amazing impromptu snack break atop Roan Mountain, which may have been the highlight of the trip.
This little vacation really seemed to be a great representation of what kind of family we are evolving to become. It was spontaneous, adventurous, and rich with laughter and fun. We don't always laugh and we don't always have fun, but we are always a family. As we wild we grow, and as we grow we get closer. This was a great year for our family, and because of that we're ready to welcome 2012 with open arms.
Happy New Year!
Pablo and Nea