To Bring Or Not To Bring…

"But Mom, THIS is what's gonna happen to all my shoes if I walk with you!"

Once upon a time, I offered my daughter the chance to go with me on my zany adventure, because she really, really wanted to go.  I explained how hard it would be and how much walking was involved and she still wanted to go.  I told her she would need to train with me every day, and she said that was okay.  We trained, she did all right, but once the gravity of how much walking she was really going to be doing hit her, she decided she wasn’t going to be able to hack it.  Her response, “Wow.  That’s…that’s a lot of walking, Mom.”  Umm.  Yeah.

"Back! Back, foul fiend!"

The day before yesterday, my daughter went out with me again while I was training, only this time she was on her bike while I walked.  She rode on ahead of me for a block or two and waited for me to catch up.  “Hurry up, slowpoke!” she yelled at me, while she grinned from ear to ear.  Hah!  Easy for her to say.  We went on this way for about three miles, I think.  That little ride was very easy for her.  After her performance, I saw that she easily could have ridden one of my middle distance walks no sweat.  We didn’t go farther than those few miles that day because I wanted to keep it a shorter day originally and also because it was pouring down rain.  That part wasn’t very fun for her.  But she’s not alone on that score.  Walking or bike riding in the rain sucks for anybody.

Not sure if she's giggling because I tickled her or if it was because of *ahem* flatulence. Not mine, of course. Never.

I honestly wasn’t sure how she would handle biking for more than a mile or two.  Because we live on an extremely busy street, we don’t let her ride out of the parking lot of our apartment complex, unless she’s accompanied by one of us.  And since I’m walking training, not biking, I don’t really get in biking time (that’s code for I don’t get on the durn bike at all).  I probably ought to.   Cross training is supposed to be good for us, yeah?

I asked Willow if she would be interested in going with me if she rode her bike, instead, since that would be a lot easier.  Her eyes lit up.  “Yeah!”  But then she deflated.  “But won’t it be a lot harder for you?  You’ll have to be feeding two people and carrying lots more stuff!”  This is true.  The logistics would become much, much more difficult.  And therein lies the rub.  Trying to figure out how to make it happen.  With no support vehicle, that means my cart would have to be able to carry all of our stuff, because obviously I’m not going to make her tote a 40 lb. pack.  And, of course, it also means more expense.

Uh-oh. The squinty-eyed grin-glare. I'm in trouble now!

Last night, I stopped by The Bike Gallery to look at their carts.  I’ve been trying to figure out something that I might be able to adapt for what I want, as I mentioned before.  I was on another idea-gathering trip.  Burley makes a cart that converts to skis and has a sled-like pull attachment that buckles around the waist.  Bingo!  I don’t want the skis, but the other part is fabulous.   While I was chatting with the sales lady, I joked that if I ever got tired of hauling it, I could attach it to my daughter’s bike and let her haul it for a bit.  I was joking, but then it got me thinking–wait a minute!  Why not? I actually COULD do that!  She could have her own little cart attached to her bike so I’m not having to haul her stuff, too, and she’s hauling her own.

Hmm.  Am I evil for even thinking that?  I mean, I made my dog carry a dog-pack when we were walking before.  He carried a bit of food and water, his bowls and poopie bags every day we walked.  But, that’s my dog.  He’s a German Shepherd.  They’re supposed to be working animals.   I think it made him feel useful and he was excited to put it on every day.  But Willow is a kid!  Don’t get me wrong, I make her do chores around the house. I don’t completely coddle her.  But this is a big thing.

But leaving that aside for a moment, I’m still torn about whether to bring her in the first place.  I want to, God knows I want to.  I think it would be the adventure of a lifetime for her.  She would learn bucket loads she would never learn in a classroom.  I mean, it’s one thing to read about the history of our country and where certain things happened in a classroom, but to actually visit those places and see for yourself, that has got to be awesome!  Same goes for geography, ecological sciences, biology, math (using math in everyday scenarios to learn that yes, math IS used every day), and so on.  If I supervise her keeping a journal or blogging about her own experiences on the road, she would get in plenty of writing practice, too.

A face everyone can love. 🙂

And she’s ten.  She’s developing.  She might start her menses this year, and if I wasn’t home and missed that momentous little-girl-turning-into-a-young-woman occasion, I would be very sad.  Sounds like a weird reason to want her to tag along, maybe, but it is a big deal. It’s a rite of passage, in a sense.  It’s a gift.

I also think that bringing her along would be great bonding for the two of us.  IF we don’t kill each other along the way, that is.  We’ll either be 1) even closer by the end of the trip, 2) murderous toward each other or 3) both.  I love my daughter, but she is a very attention-needy person.  She’s isn’t particularly good at entertaining herself, though recently she’s discovered that she likes to read, so that’s good, at least.  I’m the polar opposite of her.  I’m anti-clingy.  And since I would be with her every day, day in and day out with no respite, I might go nuts.  I have to admit, one of the perks of this trip for me was the solo part of going solo.  I was looking forward to the expanses of alone time.

Soooo.  I would have to figure out rules and boundaries so that we don’t drive each other batty.  Not to mention rules about safety, rules about schooling/learning along the way, rules about everything, pretty much.  The extra structure might be good for the both of us, who knows?

"Yep. I'm bad!"

If I bring her, this could be something she could casually mention (brag) about to her friends for many years to come.  “Yeah, my mom and I walked across the US when I was ten years old.   It was okay.  She made me do all the work.”

So what do you think?  Do you think it’s a good idea to bring her along?  And if I did bring her, what would your advice be?

NOTE-all of these photos were taken one Mommy-Willow day the summer before last, when she was still eight years old.  I’ve wanted an excuse to use them, since I think they are adorable.  My profile pic of me doing the weightlifter pose was taken the same day, and inspired the pose she made in the bottom photo.  Willow is actually much taller now.  She’s only a few inches shorter than me (not difficult since I’m a shorty myself) and her feet are darn near as big as mine!!

8 thoughts on “To Bring Or Not To Bring…

  1. Hi Holly
    I am ify about you taking your daughter along with you. There will days she would like very much being with on your walk and times she would like to stay home. For instance what would she do if some thing might happen to you, Lord willing it doesn’t, that is always a possibilty it could. You have to think about it from both sides. I hope that as a friend I don’t sound to harsh, if I do I appolgize.
    Gary Mitchell

    • Yep, something could happen and it IS something that I have to think about. You don’t sound harsh, Gary. You are concerned and I appreciate that!

      I know that the trip probably wouldn’t all be fun and games. There are going to be long stretches of boring-ness where she’s going to wish she stayed at home. Heck, I may wish the same, lol.

      So yeah, I am trying to think of all the angles and just what could possibly happen, the pros and cons and trying to figure out if the pros outweigh the cons.

  2. I seriously would recommend NOT bringing her. When I did my journey, I was in danger for my health and welfare several times, due to weather, mostly. I was in the middle of Kansas, after a week straight of 105 degree temps, and a huge storm came up. I was struck in the head by a lemon sized hailstone and in the body with even larger ones. And in my opinion, I think 3000 miles for a kid is too much. Check out my pictures of me as the end of my trip last July 31, and I look like I had gone 1000 rounds with Mike Tyson. And I also had stress fractures in both feet. Still, I was going 23-25 miles a day, and a slower pace might be better for a child. I just know what I went through.

  3. I agree that if she was walking the full 3000 miles, that would be a LOT to ask. But if she is on her bike, I know she could do it. Riding your bike 20-25 miles (which is the pace I want to set after a couple of months of working up to from 10 miles per day) a day is pretty easy. I know of a couple of other families who have biked halfway across America or more, with kids older and younger than Willow.

    Giant hailstones would be a worry going through the mid-western states, along with horrible storms, tornadoes, flooding, lightning, extreme temps, and pretty much whatever nasty Mother Nature could possibly throw at us.

    So yeah, I need to think about those things, definitely.

  4. It’s definitely an interesting idea. If you could fit in a three or four day trial trip, or something along those lines, it might be able to give her a better idea of what she’s signing up for. Because the main trouble I’d predict is Willow getting sick of biking or walking every day and deciding it’s too much. And really, once you reach a certain distance from home there’s not an easy way for her to get home if she really decides not to go any farther.

    Another consideration is with bikes you’re supposed to go along with traffic, while walking is the opposite.

    I think it can definitely be done, and if you do take Willow it will be an experience that will definitely change her life and give her a huge boost of confidence a lot of girls (heck, all kids) need. But I also think it would triple the stress for you, so it’s something that really comes down to you and if you’re up for that extra challenge.

  5. Holly this is a big decision. Why not something a little in between? How about you plan on having her meet up with you several times during your walk for say 3 or 4 days at a time? Then she’d get the idea of what you are going through, you’d get to be with her for part of the time, and it would not be all the other bad things people are suggesting. At least, I don’t think it would be. But this would likely be a better question to ask those people who have already done this.

  6. That would be a great idea, except for the logistics of it. Airlines do take unaccompanied minors, but I’m not comfortable sending her on a plane by herself. I don’t really want to subject her to be groped by the TSA. And, of course, flights cost a lot of money, and the walking trip itself is taking a lot of it. Greyhound isn’t really an option for minors traveling alone, either. I would imagine the train isn’t much better in that department.

    Now, I could probably have her ride her bike with me during the Oregon leg of the trip. She could still potentially get home via a family member picking her up. That is another option to think about, though.

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