100 Adventures in 100 Days

One hundred plus a few days ago, I decided to try something a little nuts: go on a hundred adventures in a hundred days. It was, essentially, a self-imposed challenge to get back into the habit of taking my kids to cool places, and the only way I could think of to beat the summer doldrums. I started out with very loose rules and set my expectations low, and, with the help of my two minions (currently aged 1 and 4) and a remarkably forbearing husband (“Hey, babe, I think I’m gonna go on a hundred adventures in a hundred days,” I say in the middle of brushing my teeth one morning; “Good!” he replies), I completed my irrational challenge. Some of the adventures I took by myself, a handful I took just with Jordan, and some the four of us did all together. But most of the adventures I went on solo with the kids. Here are a few things I found surprising along the way…

I thought I’d end up mostly on smaller adventures—neighborhood parks and walks around the block. And we did those things. But most of our adventures ended up being big ones: day trips to San Francisco, all-day road trips, big museums, and epic beach days. As it turns out, getting out the door is 3/4 of the battle, and once you’ve packed the car, it doesn’t really matter if you go to the park down the street or to the beach 45 minutes away. The amount of effort is similar: carting two kids around is a feat no matter where you go, so you might as well go somewhere epic, and return feeling like a war hero at the end of the day.

I thought I might lose steam along the way, but as the months went on, I actually felt more free to risk new things. When you go on adventures every day, the stakes are lower. You win some, you lose some, and you know that if it’s a fail, you’ve got another shot at it tomorrow! There were some major wins along the way, like working up to hiking six miles solo with Annie, and an awesome all-day road trip Sam and I went on. So when I hosted the Great Screaming Fest of 2018 in Point Reyes (also see “D,” disastraventure), the world’s worst trip to Chick Fil A, and a smattering of playground meltdowns (confirming my hunch that disasters are just as likely to occur at our neighborhood park as they are in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, so you might as well go someplace cool), I got better at saying, Hey! Play again tomorrow.

I thought I was pretty good at packing the car before, but you should see me now! I’ve awarded myself several medals for speed and agility (though not accuracy…I still forget the stupid beach towel, or someone’s shoes). It takes consistency and repetition in order to get really good at something. Earlier this summer, I was still having a hard time adventuring with two kids. Not that it’s so easy now—I’m not any better at chasing two tiny opposite people—but I’m less daunted by it. And, man, both kids are good at riding in the car. By the 100th day, they didn’t blink at a six hour road trip, just hopped right in and started counting cows out the window.

I thought I might get sick of adventuring, but I didn’t. In fact, the more places I explored, the more I wanted to explore. Adventures lead to more adventures. Everywhere we went, we found new ideas—signs, intriguing trails, conversations overheard, things to bookmark for later, alleyways to go down next time. Friends who heard about my project would text or email me suggestions—current museum exhibits, secret coves, fun restaurants. By the 100th day, although we crossed off a LOT of things (luckily, more than half of them were free!), my list was longer than it was before. Adventuring piques your curiosity, shows you the boundaries of your world and begs you to walk or drive a little further next time, pushing your horizon outward. Sure, some days it’s exhausting, everyone melts down, and upon returning home you swear you’ll never leave again. For all the other days, though, when you get fresh air, stumble upon a hidden gem, eat the world’s best lemon ricotta pancake, or find something new to you, you roll into your cozy kitchen feeling like Columbus himself, discovering new worlds as if you’re the first person in history to go somewhere cool. And you want to do it again tomorrow, never mind about that 100 Adventures Project, or getting knighted. But for the mornings when trying to feed breakfast to two wild animals saps you of the energy to open your own front door, sometimes you need a little push. The 100 Adventures Project was the thing that forced me into the driver’s seat, nudged me to revive my own curiosity, and reminded me how much I like running around pretending we’re on a timed scavenger hunt in this interesting world—which, maybe, we are.

P.S. Scroll down for a few pictures and an adventure list. 🙂

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Here’s a list, if you’re interested:

  1. Brunch at Tartine Manufactory (SF)
  2. Poplar Beach (Half Moon Bay)
  3. Lemon ricotta pancakes from Plow (SF)
  4. Ice cream tasting at Bi-Rite Creamery (SF)
  5. A 400 mile Saturday road trip to Pismo Beach
  6. Exploring secret coves at Shell Beach (Pismo)
  7. Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo)
  8. Deer and wild turkey watching in Foothills Park (Palo Alto)
  9. Riding escalators at Nordstrom
  10. Flying Delta cross-country
  11. A ceramics show at a local art gallery
  12. Jeni’s Ice Cream
  13. A family wedding
  14. Choosing textile samples in Atlanta’s Westside district
  15. Burnt marshmallow Nutella milkshakes from Flip Burger (Atlanta)
  16. Playing in sprinklers in the backyard
  17. Brunch at West Egg (Atlanta)
  18. A trip to pick out unusual produce at the Milk Pail Market (Mountain View)
  19. Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University (Palo Alto)
  20. Lunch at Tootsie’s Cafe (Palo Alto)
  21. Boardwalks through wetlands at Alviso Marina Park (San Jose)
  22. Smitten Ice Cream (San Jose/SF)
  23. Falafel bowls from Sajj Mediterranean (Mountain View)
  24. Gray Whale Cove (Half Moon Bay)
  25. Pulgas Water Temple (Redwood City)
  26. Reading books at Mayfield Bakery (Palo Alto)
  27. Splashing in the river at Big Sur River Inn (Big Sur)
  28. Burgers at Nepenthe (Big Sur)
  29. Hiking the Stanford Dish (Palo Alto)
  30. Año Nuevo State Park (Pescadero)
  31. Berry picking at Swanton Berry Farm (Pescadero)
  32. Shark Fin Cove (Davenport)
  33. Sunset from the top of Mt. Hamilton (San Jose)
  34. Annual Flower Pianos exhibit at the SF Botanical Gardens
  35. Lunch at The Grove (SF)
  36. Salt + Straw Ice Cream (SF)
  37. Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown (SF)
  38. Walks along Carmel Beach (Carmel)
  39. Lyon Street Steps (SF)
  40. Crissy Field picnic (SF)
  41. Manresa Bread (Los Altos)
  42. Doppio Zero pizza (Mountain View)
  43. House concert at Amaranta House (Palo Alto)
  44. Swimming in SF Bay at Coyote Point (San Mateo)
  45. Point Reyes shipwreck (Inverness)
  46. Swimming in Tomales Bay at Heart’s Desire Beach (Point Reyes National Seashore)
  47. In N Out Burger
  48. West Elm/Pottery Barn Warehouse (Alameda)
  49. USS Hornet aircraft carrier (Alameda Island)
  50. Oakland Zoo
  51. Home Depot shopping
  52. Chick Fil A lunch
  53. Annual Bernal Heights neighborhood-wide yard sale (SF)
  54. Picnic at Bernal Heights Park (SF)
  55. Aeolian Wind Harp (South San Francisco)
  56. Saltwater lagoon swimming at Parkside Aquatic Park (San Mateo)
  57. Magical Bridge Playground (Palo Alto)
  58. A trip to the paint store to collect samples
  59. Sunset from the top of Mt. Hamilton (San Jose)
  60. Diddams party & balloon store (Mountain View)
  61. Animal watching at the pet store
  62. Boat watching in Tiburon
  63. Batteries to Bluffs Trail & Marshall’s Beach (SF)
  64. Frozen Greek yogurt from Souvla (SF)
  65. Clarion Alley street murals (SF)
  66. Paxton Gate Curiosity & Taxidermy Shop (SF)
  67. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Scotts Valley)
  68. Aptos State Beach & S.S. Palo Alto shipwreck (Aptos)
  69. Show at the Fox Theatre (Oakland)
  70. Wente Vineyards (Livermore)
  71. Permanente Creek Bike Trail (Mountain View)
  72. Target!
  73. Picnic dinner in the garage
  74. Lunch and milkshakes at The Barn (Half Moon Bay)
  75. Sunflower picking at Andreotti Family Farm (Half Moon Bay)
  76. Roadside dinosaur sculptures at Spanish Town (Half Moon Bay)
  77. Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose)
  78. Alameda Point Antiques Faire (Alameda Island, first Sunday of every month)
  79. Aeolian Wind Harp sculpture (South San Francisco)
  80. Pizza and bocce at Bar Bocce (Sausalito)
  81. Boardwalk through the wetlands & airplane watching (Palo Alto)
  82. Mitchell Park splash pad (Palo Alto)
  83. Hiller Aviation Museum (San Carlos)
  84. Pirate Supply Store at 826 Valencia (SF)
  85. Ice cream sandwiches at Cream (SF/Palo Alto)
  86. Hiking at Foothills Park (Palo Alto)
  87. Rhus Ridge to Chamise Trail (Los Altos)
  88. Neighborhood nature walk
  89. – 100. Road trip across California and Oregon!

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