biking on lopez island with the sixth grade

Kayla invited me to join her sixth grade class from Seattle Girl’s School for a three day biking trip on Lopez Island this past week.  Given the chance to spend three days camping and biking with my nearly-twelve-year-old daughter and her classmates, how could I say no ?

First of all the organization put in place by the teachers and staff was great!  There were detailed timetables governing when we were to drop off our gear, how/when we were to help out, and what the trip rules were.  Kayla and I spent several evening packing our stuff for the trip : sleeping bags, a tent (for me), clothes, mess kits, and some books to read.  Then we were ready.

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We gathered at the school on Wednesday morning, ready to go.  The bikes were packed into a rented truck.  Our gear was packed into another truck.  We gathered into carpools and set out for Anacortes.  At the ferry terminal, we unloaded the bikes, then walked them onto the ferry.

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After landing on Lopez, we gathered up and rode out to Odlin County Park. where we would camp for two nights.

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A slight bummer was that there was chip seal on the road to the park, which meant we rode the whole way on gravel.  I was counting the minutes until I got a flat on my road bike, but it never happened :).  The road work meant that there were a steady stream of gravel trucks on the road while we were riding to the park as well.  It took a bit of the shine off our first ride, but the work stopped that afternoon.  Once there, we gathered again to set up camp, and enjoy a little down time before dinner.

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The really great thing about this trip is that the girls were responsible for lots of the setup, and the work.  This meant they all needed to work together, and to depend on each other.  If only we spent as much time priming adults in our workplaces for such strong teamwork and collaboration!  They assembled the tents quickly (and correctly), and then set out to begin setting up the eating area and to cook dinner.

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The adults were charged with "supervising" the girls as they performed these tasks.  While there was a bit more to it than simply "supervising", the girls did a great job.

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There was a little bit of time to enjoy the beach before dinner too.  That first day was pretty warm, so some of them went into the water.

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After dinner, we gathered around the campfire for some sing-along, and some skits that the girls performed.

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This time of year in the Pacific Northwest, it stays light until nearly nine-thirty.  Right around then, we headed for the tents.

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The next day was our big bike ride.  We were split into two groups : the long ride (about 25 miles), and the short ride (about 12 miles).  The girls got to choose which group they preferred.  The idea was to pick the ride they’d enjoy the most, with the hope that they’d want to go out and ride some more.  If they finished thinking they could have gone a bit farther, that was ideal.

We started getting our stuff and ourselves ready early the next morning.

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Then the girls started making breakfast, and we all ate a hearty meal.  They also set up lunch stuff for everyone to make sandwiches to eat on the ride.

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And then we were off.  Kayla and I were part of "Pod A" on the group doing the shorter ride.  We wound eastward across the island, out to Spencer Spit State Park.

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Once at Spencer Spit, we dismounted for lunch at this beautiful beach.  The girls spent some time looking at some crabs on the beach, and watching bald eagles fly overhead.

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After taking a nice long break to enjoy the beach, we began riding up a long hill to traverse the island and go to Lopez Village to enjoy some ice cream.

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Back at camp, we gathered for another campfire, and more skits.  The second night Kayla and her friend put together a couple of hilarious mad-libs for the group to enjoy, and we did some fun sing-alongs again.

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As it began to get dark, the girls were asked to each take two index cards.  On one, they wrote down something from this school year they wished to leave behind.  They would put these into the fire.  On the other card, they wrote down something they wished to take with them.  These they put into their pockets to keep.

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Then, they took turns saying something to J, the teacher responsible for the trip, who is leaving SGS at the end of this year.  Their words were funny and heartfelt.  The evening ended later than expected for the girls, so the parents were asked to take responsibility for cooking the breakfast the next morning.  The picture below was taken just after the sun went down over the Puget Sound, with an evening ferry approaching.  It was beautiful and very quiet.

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Preparing breakfast with the parents the next morning was a lot of fun.  It was a good group of people, all working together nicely.  In addition to preparing regular French Toast and a big mound of Veggie Scrambled Eggs, I was given responsibility for preparing Kayla’s gluten-free French Toast.  Then we broke camp, packed things up, and rode back to the ferry.  On the way, one of the girls in my pod became upset when she had trouble riding up the hill because her legs were cramping from the ride the previous day.  I hung back with her while we walked together, reassuring her that there’s nothing wrong with having to take the hills slowly – and boy do I mean that truthfully !  I shared a funny story about a friend of mine who found himself trying to run through waist-deep snow because he thought it’d be a lot easier than it turned out to be.

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They gathered for a group picture at the ferry dock, and then we all walked our bikes onto the ferry, and rode back to Anacortes.

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If this all sounds mundane, that’s not my intent at all.  I was amazed at how well-organized things were (thanks SGS teachers and staff!), and how well the girls braved the ride, and how well they worked together.  Sometimes it’s easy to overlook how much effort and positive spirit it takes to get things to work so well.

A great trip!

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