Day 13/14 - July 7/8 Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham to Princeton

Another relaxing morning for the Heimanns!  No need to wake early so the others slept in.  I like to wake up early, so I went for a nice morning run and then came back and got Lara for a 6-mile loop walk on the canal while the kids were still in bed. So easy to hike without any weight on the back.   


And there were some good handstand photo opportunities too!


FYI - the railroad was in disuse so no danger here!


I did a horizontal handstand - much more difficult than it looks. ;-)


We returned from our walk and the kids were still not interested in doing anything.  After 10 days of lots of activity, I suppose they are trying to average it out.  ;-) So we left the kids in the hotel, secured a 2 pm checkout and went out to walk the town.  We were tempted to take a boat, but opted to just take this picture instead.  This is my "Where's the respect for 'Olivia' on the boats?" I suppose she's not the main character, so Viola got the love instead.


After dropping off some food for the kids, Lara and I went for brunch - a peaceful and relaxed meal of hummus sandwiches in a garden setting.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the town and relaxing in the hotel lobby, basically biding time until dinner and the show.  We did have an enjoyable ride on the Ferris wheel to get a nice view of the town from above. We ditched the kids after that. ;-)


They did their own exploring and we did ours, finding a few nice shops in town.  A trip to Stratford wouldn't be complete without buying a few Bard-related items, so we popped by the store at Shakespeare's birthplace and picked me up a shirt, sweatshirt, and poster for my office.  Here I am posing with my 'Will Power' shirt in front of the house in which Shakespeare was born.


We met the kids back at Zizzi's for dinner - this time I redeemed myself from yesterday's gluten-free mishap and enjoyed a rustica pizza and chocolate torte. 


We met Kate, Alex, and his folks in front of the RSC just before our evening show, Julius Caesar. The advantage of having just seen Titus is that anything after that seem's like child's play as far as the violence.  It was a great production - we all thoroughly enjoyed it as well as the extra time with our companions.   


After the show the we drove back with Graham and Elaine while Alex and Kate had a dance party driving the kids back. 

By the time we had packed everything it was close to midnight.  We quickly collapsed and in what seemed the blink of an eye, we were back in Kate's car at 6:45 am, heading to the airport for a 9 am flight. After a final goodbye with Kate, she snapped this shot of us leaving - Hello World!


While checking in, we found out that our flight had been delayed two hours.  Clearly the travel gods were not ready for our vacation to end.  No problem as that gave us a chance to get some Acai bowls for breakfast and for me to write this closing entry.

If you've enjoyed following our journey and would like to support our charity with a tax-deductible donation (all of which goes to the charity since we have self-funded this trip), please do so through our website link.  Thanks for the support and the wonderful words of encouragement!

And so to finish this adventure's blog, here are

Mark's TOP 10 C2C family hiking observations:

1) John Muir Way is a great family hiking experience - I would recommend doing this one BEFORE the Wainwright trail that we did 2 years ago as this is less challenging and a good starter family hike.  I would also consider doing this one as a C2C bike trip in 3-4 days with the family since the cycle route is similar and it might be more enjoyable cycling on the tarmac paths.

2) Think outside the box - I learned from this trip that I sometimes should be less rigid with my definitions. I had limited my hike search to ones that went from one coast to another because we already had the name, logo, and t-shirts.  By doing so we ended up with this hike that was less enjoyable for the kids than others we could have chosen that were as long but didn't actually start and end on opposite coasts.  Lesson learned!

3) Bring good shoes for rainy weather.

4) Rainy day hikes are part of the adventure - learn to embrace and even enjoy them.

5) Choosing adventures that are away from internet access automatically promotes more family time!

6) Always bring hand sanitizer!

7) And toilet paper for emergencies that are more regular than you might think.  Toilet paper > large leaves!

8) Plan well in advance, but be open to whatever happens in the now.

9) Give plenty of space/room for breakdowns that will inevitably happen when you spend 24 hours a day with your family in conditions that are not always ideal.

10) Our kids are AMAZING - but so is every other child!  There is nothing special about what they are doing. Lara and I are firm believers in putting our kids in positions in which they can challenge themselves; we know they will amaze us as well as themselves and leave with much more confidence in what they can do.  Olivia and Jonah are not in better shape than most children (at least not before the hikes).  If we can do this, and manage the added difficulty of planning food options with our vegan diet, then anyone can do this.  We are super proud of them and highly recommend all families try to do at least one trip like this for themselves, for their children, and for whatever charity that they want to help.

Peace and love from our family to yours. 

The Heimanns