Uncharted territory, aka more firsts and lasts

It was Sunday and the Johnsons found themselves going for a walk at Edworthy Park. We’d been cooped up in the house all day, thanks to nasty weather and looming deadlines. So I thought it would be ‘fun’ to go out for a walk. All five of us. After dinner.

The professor did not agree. He was decidedly grumpy about the whole thing. When I inquired about his mood he defended it by saying ‘it’s almost their bed-time and the kids are going to be cranky and it’s going to suck.’ Or something equally eloquent. When I muttered something about our need to exercise and teach our kids about the importance of exercise, he disagreed. ‘It’s not exercise….they walk two miles per hour!’

We arrived at the park and the Gort, upon seeing the nearby playground, asked ‘can we play at the playground and then go on a walk?’ But I’m no dummy. Without a carrot, the donkey does not walk. Not that I’m calling my kid a donkey. But, I guess I am.

‘If you do a good job on the walk, we can play at the playground afterwards.’ Which, to be frank, is the same line I’ve used a gazillion times before with mediocre results.

Blame it on a whole day of inactivity or his new, awesome Spiderman ‘sneakers’, but my oldest was off. And running. I was walking as fast as I could to keep up and he was still ahead of me. Even the Hen was racing ahead in his too-big-hand-me-down Crocs.

This was a first.

The professor walked (lagged!) behind us, pushing the baby in the jogging stroller. After walking on the paved trail for about fifteen minutes, the Gort and I found a dirt path on the right, leading to the top of a hill. ‘Let’s see where this goes,’ I suggested. Thinking we’d go to the top and, upon seeing what was there, walk down again.

When the two of us made it to the top, we found a trail. ‘That’s the Douglas Fir Trail I pointed out earlier,’ the professor yelled from down below when I said: ‘there’s a trail here!’. ‘Should we take it (back to the car)?’ I asked. He shrugged. The Hen had already joined us, so the professor pushed the baby-carrying jogging stroller along the steep incline as well.

[The professor was wearing brown leather slip on shoes. And it had rained a fair amount in Calgary.]

After about two minutes of walking along the newfound trail, we met a fellow hiker headed in the opposite direction. ‘This is a first,’ she said in a slightly amused ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding’ tone of voice. I couldn’t tell if she was talking about the baby in the jogging stroller, the family of five, or the two blonde boys racing ahead seemingly unsupervised.

She was talking about the stroller. ‘It’s really muddy,’ she warned, ‘and there are a LOT of stairs…you’re basically at the tip of the iceberg.’ Which was all the warning I needed. ‘Thank you!’ I told her and raced to catch up with the blondies, so we could all turn around.

‘No, I want to go this way,’ the Gort begged when I told him we needed to go back. So the professor decided to return to the paved trail with the baby. And I opted to accompany the blondies along the steep, muddy, wooden-staired-trail.

I ordered the boys to stay close to me, on account of the slippery muddy trail and steep-ish drop-offs on the right. Many minutes later the Hen started nattering about ‘Daddy’ and I explained that Daddy had gone back the other way. But he persisted in saying ‘Daddy’ and, when I looked behind me I noticed the professor had stayed on the trail with us the whole time.

‘We make firsts,’ he declared when he and the stroller had caught up with us, ‘even if it’s stupid.’ It was a ‘Rudy’ slash ‘We are Marshall’ moment…well, for the blindly stubborn and ignorant set.

Two seconds later we reached ‘the iceberg’. In an effort to save the baby from some traumatic bouncing injury, I lifted him out of the stroller and carried him in my arms. Blame it on the extra 21lbs I was carrying, but my lungs felt like they might explode.

‘Discretion is the other side of boring,’ the professor mused when our lungs had stopped burning.

We came to another precarious spot, with stairs leading downward along a steep slope. I picked the baby out of the stroller, lest he and the professor tumble down the hill. I ordered the boys to walk slowly in front of me and the professor brought up the rear with the stroller. All of a sudden I heard ‘watch out!’ and heard the stroller hurtling towards….me. I had no choice but to stand still and accept a hit from behind. Oof.

‘Sorry, I slipped’ the professor apologized.

We made it back to the car. ‘I want to go on that trail again!’ the Gort decided.

Maybe next summer.

4 thoughts on “Uncharted territory, aka more firsts and lasts

  1. Ouch! I hate heights. And anything slippery and remotely scary. And mud. But I love that you used the word “nattering.”

  2. “We make firsts even if it’s stupid,”


    “Discretion is the other side of boring,”

    are priceless pieces of family wisdom. I am seriously tempted to take up embroidery just to put them on pillows.

    What an excellent (and sincerely inspiring) tale.

  3. Currently rethinking my stance on xtreme family adventuring…. or at least without proper footwear. maybe we need to troll for some sort of outfitting sponsorship for future excursions…

  4. A & V, I love your comments. All I can say is ‘the best is yet to come’. Also, Adrienne, I’ve considered starting a separate ‘Sh*t my husband says’ list, like the memorable ‘you look like a fat banker’ to the baby who was wearing a slightly snug dress shirt.


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