Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Happy Birthday Hike!

Each January, Tori usually dreams up an idea for her birthday party. We try to create something festive along this “theme” that works for a group of now eleven year old girls. Some years are harder to implement than others (i.e. the Ancient Egypt birthday party) but all are fun. This year’s party, all based around hiking and climbing, proved both easy and fun. Both of these attributes were crucial as we moved overseas the very next day!
While we were in Washington D.C this past autumn, one of our favorite things to do was to hike along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. The National Park, built around this 184.5 mile canal, had one of its many access points very near our home. Where we lived, the canal ran alongside the Potomac River. During the fall’s many rainstorms, we watched the water levels rise in the Potomac, often washing over the park’s towpath.
Tori, our natural born climber, immediately gravitated to the Billy Goat Trail sign she spied on one of our early walks. The trail definitely lived up to its name. It was about 3 hours of up and down hiking over big boulders, with many climbing bits including one climb up a 40 foot rock face.  After doing this the very first time, Tori immediately declared that she wanted a Billy Goat Trail birthday party. 
Tori, who owns a forty foot climbing rope and dreams of reaching the top of Mt. Everest, was thrilled with every minute of this party. We made trail mix, ate trail mix, hiked, talked and sang our way along the rocky shore of the Potomac River. We watched hawks swoop out of the skies and skim the surface of the water. We watched elegant white herons stand stock still, watching us as we watched them. We watched our eldest daughter laugh with her new friends and realized she was adventurous and brave in more ways than one.
We all needed to embrace the adventure theme this year. After Tori’s birthday hike, we returned to an empty home and had store bought cake (a first for birthday cakes in our family) on the floor. Our kids went with it. The other kids went with it. Friends stopped in and we all said goodbye. The next day, we left for Germany and a new European adventure. And as Tori pointed out, the Alps are very nearby.


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