When we are on the boat we are always on the lookout for other kid boats. It was usually pretty easy to find. Boats that had kids on them had some defining characteristics such as netting surrounding at least the cockpit, multiple paddleboards trailing behind the boat or the weeks of clothing drying on the lifelines. Whenever we would arrive at an anchorage Victoria and Alexander would first checkout each boat with the binoculars and then paddleboard to each boat asking if there were any kids aboard that would like to play at the beach. These techniques were more often than not successful and in most of the anchorages there would soon be a group of kids ranging in ages all gathered and playing on beach. These kids came from all walks of life but were all living a similar lifestyle so their interests were similar and connections were made easily and that includes the parents as well.
This is not the case as we have transitioned to the RV life for the time being. The ratio of families with kids is significantly lower and the signs are not near as obvious. When we do find families, they are often only out for a weekend or a vacation. These folks are usually looking to cram as much sightseeing or family time into their allotted time off so understandingly they are less inclined to share that with strangers. We have had some successes and Victoria and Alexander have been able to carefully (covid adhering) play with kids their age. But even with those play times us parents had little more than small talk amongst ourselves as we both knew that in two days or a week we would be going our separate ways. Another point of friction with finding kids to play with is Victoria and Alexander’s level of play in regards to intensity. For instance we were once recommended a hiking trail by a family. When Victoria asked how far and Alex chimed in with how high? The dad of similar aged kids said in a reassuring tone it was a flat trail but it was almost a mile hoping to not scare off his potential recruits. Unfortunately, he underestimated these two and was greeted with a “that’s not a hike that is a short walk”. Slightly embarrassed and yet inwardly proud I corrected Victoria and Alexander. Victoria asked if they knew of any hikes that were closer to 6 miles and Alexander asked if they knew of any of the trails to the many high peaks that surrounded our campground. Both the mom and the dad looked at me like the kids were joking and not believing that they could hike a trail like that let alone want to or would enjoy it. Needless to say we have not spent any time with that family.
We did, however, meet a young family with a very nice boy just a little younger than Alexander. Isaiah and Alexander hit it off immediately while playing in the pool. The two boys spent nearly three hours swimming, jumping and splashing in the pool one evening. This led to mini golf games, pickle ball hit arounds, and even some epic laser tag matches. Soon Isaiah was even joining us in our regular workouts. Isaiah is a great kid who is down for anything and despite it being difficult at times to keep up with the older kids he never complains or gets discouraged and just keeps trying. Alexander and Victoria both seem to recognize his constant positive attitude and are happy to throttle back when necessary in order to keep the group together. Isaiah’s parents have also become friends of ours, with Ashley and Marissa spending long hours discussing parenting, traveling, home schooling, RV living, clothes, hair and make-up. You know I was kidding about those last three, right? Have you seen the pictures of Ashley’s hair? Craig, Isaiah’s dad, and I have also hit it off. Craig is a natural athlete so he is fun to play a good fast paced game of one on one pickle ball and also willing to go for a dad’s day mountain biking.
On one of our workout days we all decided to have a triathlon. We planned to swim laps in the pool, then rush to our bikes parked nearby, ride a few predetermined laps outside the park, come back and drop off our bikes and then run a few laps on our mile loop. I thought that I would go around the park and ask if others would like to participate as we had had many people take notice of our running and I thought they may want to play along. Victoria and I went around the park telling many people and families of our plan. And as you can probably guess we received a lot of “thanks, but no”. There was one family however, that I met at the other pool who had the same bring it on mentality as the Murphy family. Soon Autumn had her parents and younger sister Brooke rushing to our event. We were already half way done with our swimming when Autumn and Brooke joined us but that did not stop them from quickly catching up. We have seen dolphins who cannot swim that well. Soon we were all out of the pool and heading to our bikes. I caught Autumn and Brooke’s parents up on the bike and run route and just like that we were all off. The kids all introduced themselves on the 8 mile bike ride. They all cheered each other on at each of the turn arounds. By the end of the swim, bike and run Alexander, Victoria, Isaiah, Brooke and Autumn had become good friends. Will and Karin, Autumn and Brook’s parents, not only seemed to put up with my crazy ideas of “fun”, but also seemed to enjoy it. (I think, or I hope). The next couple of weeks would lead to many days of playing, forts being built, and engineering projects designed and implemented. The two new families like our workout rotation and soon joined in our adventures. We did another even longer triathlon. Will and I designed an obstacle/adventure race that took the kids and adults from swimming in the pool, exercising at the pool’s edge, running around the RV park, climbing over ladders, bouncing pickle balls, jumping streams, jump roping, doing burpees, bike riding and then climbing 1500 elevation gain mountain. One day Brooke created a fantastic scavenger hunt with riddles and clues for Victoria and Alexander. It was so fun reading her riddles and searching for the clues she left for them. Alexander and Victoria wanted to use her fun idea and make her a course to follow. I told them we would another day. I then used her brilliant idea and created a scenario for the kids that included riddles, clues hidden throughout the park, and an obstacle course we called “the gauntlet” all in the hope of rescuing a kidnapped otter at the hands of an evil stuffed monkey. The whole adventure was actually a guise to have the kids run all around the park without evening knowing they were exercising. Alexander’s fitness tracker for this event had him running almost five miles. The kids each had their own expertise based assignment to gather clues that when combined with the other kids’ clues would lead them to a group assignment that they needed to complete in order to rescue the poor otter. Once all the clues were combined they all went off to fight their way through the gauntlet as a team, Alexander, Victoria, Isaiah, Brooke, Autumn and even little 3 ½ year old Addeline (Brooke and Autumn’s youngest sister) all working together, pushing each other on to the finish. In the end the otter was saved in the nick of time and the kids were all tired but happy. It does not get better than that.