Van cheers
Pack Stories

After leaving Colorado in our rear view mirror (just for a bit), we headed out to California to visit our  families. Living in another state has kept our children further from their grand-parents than either one would like, so now was the time to spend more time together. For us, this also meant a change in lifestyle and speed from living and climbing in a canyon with no cell reception, the sound of the creek only feet from our van lolling us to sleep every night, and where the commute to the crag consists of a 5 minute walk. We were now living in the city, San Francisco. We both went to high school and college in San Francisco, and have good memories from the city; but we also left it for a reason. We were both happy to spend more time running and biking the streets, like back in the good ol’ days, and expose our kids to something new and different.

During our time in the city, we stayed with family and “moved out” of the van (our home for the next year or so while on the road) and into their guest room, in a house in the city. Our transition to city life was relatively smooth, but not without having to make some adjustments. Our boys are 3 and 5 years old and have been potty trained since they were both about 20 months old. This has meant a lot of emergency bathroom stops, which is easy to accommodate when spending time in the great outdoors. There are always trees and bushes that can handle a little extra “watering”. While it seems perfectly acceptable to have one’s dog urinate all over the city, the same cannot be said for a 3 and 5 year old child. Trying to explain this concept to our children wasn’t the simplest of tasks, but they have become quite good at hiding behind bushes… kids will be kids…!

Van Salt Flats[1]

Van cheers

Our next challenge revolved around our form of transportation. If not on a long trip, our preferred way to get around town is by foot, running more specifically. We have been run commuting for approximately 4 years now and love the countless benefits it provides. In the past however, we resided in Boulder, Colorado, near downtown and had relatively short runs to get most places. Staying in the city was a different story. Everything was further away, the kids are getting bigger and heavier, and there are some serious hills to climb in the city by the sea. We decided to face the new challenges and see if we could make it work by foot. Where is the harm in trying, right?
Sky (5) wanted to be biking more but wasn’t able to make it up over all the hills, so we tied a rope to the stroller and would haul his bike up the hills, while we ran pushing the stroller with our younger boy in it. We would do this repeatedly for our new 7.5 mile (one way) commute to the climbing gym. After a solid afternoon of climbing and training at the gym, Sky would sit in the stroller and enjoy the ride home, often falling asleep saying his muscles were getting stronger and soon he would climb hard like mommy and daddy and run a 50 mile race too. It always makes us smile to hear him say that. Yes, these 15 miles of run commuting, climbing, and taking care of the kids can be tough, and even wear us down some, but it sounds like good training, right?

We did recognize that we would need some breaks, and that run commuting 15 miles everyday while pushing a stroller full of climbing gear, kids toys, books, food, and two boys might not be totally sustainable for us. So we came up with a plan. We bought a second stroller (which also doubles up as a bike trailer) so that on our off running days we could each take a kid, split the load, and bike around town instead of having to run all the time. People often ask us what we are going to do when our kids grow up, get older, and outgrow our beloved double running stroller…. How will we continue to run commute? The answer: We don’t know! As with many aspects of having children, nothing lasts forever and things are always changing. All we can do is adapt to the changes as they come, and try to figure it out along the way. We most certainly don’t have all the solutions, but we are willing to try, sweat and fail sometimes. We can’t really know if things are going to work for us unless we try.

 

Along with trying to figure out how to balance our time climbing, training, with family, and running in the city, Sky is now 5 and starting kindergarten. Since we are living on the road for the next year, we decided to home school (roadschool!) him for kindergarten. Like everything, there is good and bad associated with this decision, but either way this meant one more thing to squeeze into our time schedule. Getting a system down for school on the road takes a little practice but is hugely rewarding when it all starts to come together, and works. We now do school first thing in the morning for a few hours and then hit the streets for the day’s activities. It is not always easy to have lunches, toys, coloring books, crayons, climbing gear, etc… ready to go as soon as we finish school. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all and we feel like we are never going to make it out of the house with enough time left to go do something. However, for the times that it does work, it makes it all worth it in our book.

Run commute SF

The kids have their occasional meltdowns and sometimes need to sit it out behind a tree while we wait on the sidewalk, letting minutes go by until we can get going and get home, or to the gym, or the grocery store… Sometimes the kids have just run, biked and climbed a bunch that week and need a rest day, even though we are dying to run or climb that day. In the end, having this lifestyle, gives us first row seats to watch our two little boys try to run the distance, give their all to outrun us, power their bike up the hill, climb to the top of the wall, and tell us that they want to do all the things we do. When given the option to take the car, they always ask for the stroller, bikes, scooters, or their own feet instead to get somewhere. The car is always last on their list, unless it’s the van and we are going on a road trip. Now they ask us to go climbing, and ask us to push the stroller faster. Sky asked us last year to put together a “birthday race” for him, so we gathered his little buddies for a fun run with cupcakes. This year, he asked to do it again! Kids are amazing sponges and our two boys have absorbed what we have put forth, laying ground for their own future.

 

After our stint in the city, we are now heading back out to Colorado, to live in our favorite little canyon and climb our hearts out for the end of September and into October. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can enjoy our van life at its best!

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