Last summer was beautiful. I know because I watched each warm, blue-skyed day from the couch in my living room. I have lovely French doors in my living room that open up onto my lovely backyard. On beautiful summer days, hummingbirds visit my jasmine vines and I can catch a glimpse of the bay if I stand on my tiptoes. But last summer, I sat on that couch almost 24 hours a day, nursing and rocking and trying to sleep with my newborn twins.
While marooned there, I kept tabs on the beautiful summer through the French doors and social media. You all did a wonderful job documenting your floats on the river, farmers market bounty, festivals and trips to wineries. Thank you very much for rubbing it in. I consoled myself with the hope that next summer the boys would be old enough to handle adventures. They would be somewhat ambulatory, somewhat weaned, and we would get the hell out.
Next summer is now here. And I am committed to meeting the lofty goals I set while mad with sleep deprivation.
Adventure No. 1: Hiking
OK, I actually did get out a little last summer; with the help of family members and a stroller, I walked the twins through a few accessible trails in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The walks were buggy, muggy, brief and exhausting. They were glorious. But they did not count as hiking.
To actually hike on my favorite trails with two babies, I gear up. My second favorite hiking set-up with the twins is a Kelty Journey (a lightweight child carrier pack) on the back and an Ergo carrier on the front. It's kind of sweaty, but it disperses weight well and the boys love the views. My favorite set-up is hiking with another person, so I only carry one boy on my back in the Kelty and the other goes in the Ergo on my friend or husband's back. Carrying only one baby is awesome.
My requirements for baby-friendly trails are:
1) Long enough to lull the boys to sleep, but not long enough for them to get ansty and start throwing stuff.
2) We end up somewhere on the trail where the boys can get out and run/crawl/swim around so they don't get ansty and start throwing stuff on the way back.
These trails are my favorites:
Ma-le'l Dunes: String together the Tsoutsgish, Dap Loop and Hout trails to get about a 1.5- to 2-mile loop. The highlight is the otherworldly expanse of dunes at the top of the Hout Trail, which to the twins is both an amusement park and all-you-can-eat buffet.
Rohner Park Forest: There are about 2 miles of easy trails in the heart of Fortuna's Rohner Forest. The trees aren't spectacular, but the trails get quiet and the trailhead is adjacent to one of the best playgrounds in the county, a train museum and a big lawn. The holy trinity, people.
Trinidad State Beach: The Mill Creek Trail meanders along wooded bluffs to Elk Head and Megwill Point for 1.5 miles. You actually can take a stroller on this hike, but if you wear your kid instead, you can scramble down to College Cove to let them go free range. Bonus points: Stop at the Lighthouse Grill on the way home and feed the kid a mashed potato waffle cone. It will be beautifully, adorably disgusting. And a huge mess. Smile sweetly at your server, tip generously and then cut out.
Adventure No. 2: Biking
During my first trimester, one of the only times I wasn't nauseated was when riding my bike. So I was on my bike a lot. Then in my second trimester I got really wide and couldn't balance on my bike. I didn't get back on it until the boys were 9 months old and I scored a used double bike trailer on Craigslist. The twins hate the helmets but they love the views through the side window. Being in traffic with a wide, precious load makes me nervous, so I spend a lot of time on bike trails and side roads. Here's my round-up.
The Hammond Trail: This is seriously one of the best things about Humboldt County. Every time I'm on it, I'm amazed at how we're all just jogging, riding, walking and skating on it like it ain't no thang to be overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are two little hills on the trail, which are no big deal unless you're lugging two fat-ass babies up with you. Still totally doable. The playground at Hiller Park and the beach at Mad River County Park, just down the road from the trailhead, are perfect baby rest stops.
The Bottoms: Both the Ferndale and Arcata Bottoms are ideal "baby on board" biking terrain — flat, low traffic and decent shoulders. Plus you can ride for miles and still be relatively close to town in case you have a tire/diaper blowout.
I rode the Arcata Bottoms from the Mad River Beach boat ramp out Lanphere Road to the dunes (if you have a permit for the Lanphere Dunes from Friends of the Dunes you can continue past the gate into the use area) with your friend towing a baby. The 13-mile loop was perfect for us, but it's easy to continue down Jackson Ranch Road for a longer ride.
In Ferndale, you can head north from Main Street and take side streets to Port Kenyon Road, Meridian Road and Centerville Road until you end up back in town for a ride that's just short of 10 miles. If you want more miles and hills, you can continue west on Centerville Road instead of heading back to town and let the little guys run wild on Centerville Beach.
We started small here, but the summer is young and I'll keep you posted as the boys get farther and farther out. If you've had a particularly good adventure with your kids that you'd like to share, let me know. Or I'll just check your Instagram.