I have never liked bush-walking. I see it as laborious, boring and rather pointless. I feel totally different if I'm on a horse, but then there is a point to the foray into nature, the point being horse-riding. I grew up in the country and I do love nature. I love swimming in rivers, berry picking, making cubbies, camping and horse-riding. But just walking through the bush for the sake of walking through the bush.....no thanks. And because I grew up being surrounded by Australian bush, I don't feel particularly excited by the idea of going on a long walk....to see the bush.
Also, anytime Ross and I have taken our kids on any kind of walk/hike, it has ended up a disaster. I always underestimate how long the walk will be, because seriously, why would anyone want to walk for hours in the bush?? And then because I turn up expecting some kind of small toddle through the bush, we are always wearing inappropriate footwear and clothing - thongs, ill-fitting cheap runners, not enough sun protection...you get the idea. I remember one time on a holiday with the extended Gilbert family, we were all going 'sigh' on a bush-walk, and of course I thought it would be short and so my family rocked up to the meeting point slap-dash and dressed in whatever, only to discover the others wearing proper exercise gear and good-looking quality runners. This raised suspicion in me that perhaps I was going in for something more than I had bargained for. And sure enough, 2 boring hours later, my kids were all cracking it because their feet were hurting or they were hot, or the walk was too long ( couldn't argue there ), and Amira had to be carried for the end part because she had had a complete meltdown.
Yep, and again on our trip to Moab in Utah. This walk was to see the amazing scenery of the American desert in 'The Arches' National Park, so at least the view promised to be different and interesting. I don't know why, but my brain just didn't compute that we were hiking and we needed to be properly prepared ( I tend to have similar blank spots in my mind when it comes to sport in general ) and it was the same story over again - ill fitting shoes, blisters all round, crying and meltdowns, angry and harassed parents. By the time we reached 'The Arches' we felt like we had been through a war and I was so angry with the world in general that I almost refused to have any photos taken.
Ross and I decided that while other families could seem like they were having a fantastic bonding time walking or hiking in nature, all fitted out in good gear and all cheerily enjoying exercise in the great outdoors.....this was definitely NOT us. We were ok with that; better to stick to what you're good at rather than defy the odds and create lasting psychological damage to our family by inflicting the trauma of walking together. Haha
Well, I am here to tell you that miracles still happen, and that the beautiful country of Austria was the means by which a seemingly life-long family curse was ended. We walked. And furthermore......we enjoyed it!!
Austria provided 7 essential elements to create a successful and happy walking experience for the Gilberts;
1. A lift up half of the mountain.
Yes please! I have a particular fondness for lifts, I absolutely love to soar high above the trees and feel like I am flying. We loved seeing the adorable little Austrian towns shrinking in the distance while soaring over the alpine forests. This is way more fun than slogging it up the mountain on foot. I like to float up a mountain if possible. The lifts had both a closed option and an open ski-lift style. All the kids liked the open one and apart from a very stressful moment when one of my kids thought they would see how far they could reach their leg out under the bar.....we had a lot of fun. We noticed that there were a few dedicated hikers who took the trail instead of the lift, "sheesh....what crazies!!"
2. Forests straight out of a fairytale.
It seems that I don't mind walking in the kind of forests that inspired tales of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Rapunzel. Wood cutter's houses, twisting trails, tall dark trees, bright green meadows, wildflowers, wild raspberry picking......aahhh. It brought imagination alive and was a delight to all the senses.
3. Activities for the kids ( in case they get bored of walking ).
It's nice to have a few activities randomly around in the forest, you know, amazing ropes courses, climbing walls and obstacle courses, flying foxes and swings.....the usual - ha!
4. Beautiful views.
If we're going to put all that effort into the arduous physical activity of walking, we like it to come with out-of-this-world, stunning scenic views. This just helps with morale in general.
5. Ice-cream Sundaes.
So we like to have an adorable alpine hut at the top of the mountain that sells ice-cream sundaes. Preferably, this little hut also comes with a playhouse with a view, toys for the kids, and a trampoline.
6. Somewhere to rest our poor weary feet on the way down.
After all of that hard work, it is nice to have a place to rest up midway, ready for the difficult journey down the mountain. After refueling with nourishment, we continued on for a little bit, and then felt that we needed a bit of a rest. Luckily, Austria provided.
7. Slides down the mountain.
After we had rested, we realized that we didn't want to walk anymore. The lift had closed for the day, but no worries, there were slides down the rest of the mountain!!!!
I have never seen this before! There was a series of 5 different slides down the mountain, some were very long! There were signs giving an age restriction of 5 and up.....but no one was around, so we just strapped Bo on and slid down with him attached to our belly! Hahaha! I was wearing very slippery pants, and with the additional weight of Bo on me, I went very fast. Ross wasn't all that impressed when I told him this, until, on the last slide he went before me and watched me come down....and I actually got airborn for a few seconds!! Woah!
So we have come pretty far as a family. Our confidence has risen. We now know that as long as the 7 essential elements are there, we can successfully tackle even an outdoor walk together.