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The Best Swimming Hole I've Ever Found

What is summer if it's not water cooled? A tasty, delightful drink from the garden hose, a rowdy romp around the yard with squirt guns, or a dip in the lake?

The summer of 2004, three years before we became parents, Brooke and I backpacked to Havasu Canyon of the Grand Canyon. It's a 9-mile hike one way, down a serious set of switchbacks at Hualapai Hilltop and then the trail more or less bottoms out and follows a sandy wash. At Havasu, we were greeted by the thundering roar of the 120-foot-tall falls well before we actually saw them, and it amped us up.

Except, this story isn't about Havasu Falls . . .

Another Family Tent: Mountainsmith Conifer 5 Takes Best Value Award

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Awww, don't you just want to vomit? Bobby and Angie get into the mood while demonstrating the size of the Mountainsmith Conifer 5 family-sized tent. Bobby's a six-footer.

Last week OutdoorX4 Magazine dropped the new issue and included a glancing review and comparison of six different basecamp/family tents. Months ago, the editor hit me up to join the team of reviewers and he charged me the responsibility of putting the Montainsmith Conifer 5 to the test. So, my little pony-tailed army of two daughters and a pretty wife lugged this sucker out to the forest for an autumn weekend of bike riding, chilling out under the trees, star gazing, and, of course, snuggling um, camping . . .

Still Cool: Lynn Hill Climbs/Breezes Yosemite's Midnight Lightning

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Sheeze. Bouldering V8 Like it's nothing at all. No, it's not exactly news. It happened in 1998, but I rabbit-holed my way into this video, loved it, and decided it ought to be shared.

One of the first successful professional women in rock climbing, Lynn Hill is largely responsible for influencing women to join the sport, and for advocating for gender equality in rock climbing because, as she lamented in an interview with Climbing Magazine, "there's a lot less importance and prestige placed on women in climbing, no matter what [their] ability is."

Once Upon a A Fresh Morning Snow

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I woke up in my tent, cozy and warm with just a hint of light glowing outside. It was dead quiet. Rain must've stopped, I thought. I considered getting up to start the coffee and plan a hike, but I could tell it was much colder outside than I'd approve of. So I pulled up a book on my Kindle to read a while.

And then it seemed like a car crash happened just outside my tent door—but I knew better . . .

Small Delights in Learning to Ride a Bike

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Way back when I was just barely a father, it just didn't occur to me that one of the things I'd have to do (get to do?) is teach my children to ride a bike. It's just not on the radar when you're swaddling and living large with a baby carrier on your belly. Last year when my wife suggested we get our then five-year-old daughter her first bike, I thought hmmm, yeah, sure. I could teach her to ride it, that'll be fun . . . Wait. OMG, I HAVE TO TEACH HER TO RIDE A BIKE?

It feels like the next thing you're going to hear is, "I'm going to college 2000 miles away because that's where my boyfriend is going," or worse . . .

What It's Like to Be a Woman Over 50 Who Surfs

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It's a painful admission to drop your sport of choice as career, health, children, age and new interests take hold. Just last week I heard my own wife say with a pinch of regret, "I used to be a runner." This short short film though begs us not to worry about those feelings. Which is so different from the "If I can do it, you can do it" message we so often get — maybe we should just say to hell with it, do what it takes to be happy, not outdoorsy. Here's a wonderful short documentary that focuses on three women over 50 who regularly surf together . . .

Let Nothing You Dismay: The Joys, Miseries and Other Adventures of Cutting Christmas Trees

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To hear my wife tell it, I present no shortage of difficulty when it comes to Christmas trees. She's probably right. Before our second Christmas I barnstormed with fury that we forget a tree and get a cactus instead, because that was something we could plant in the yard after making a spectacle of it. Well, that unfestive suggestion grew no wings and did not fly. We still found ourselves at a tree lot, looking for something perfectly triangular and uniform and just tall enough and something more or less out of a storybook and everything else that just doesn't come naturally to things that are, well, natural.

We bought one. Probably for 60 bucks. The whole experience left me dissatisfied . . .

Off-Road Driving Explained, and Why It's Fun for The Family

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I'm not so naïve to think that others out there will agree with me that driving dirt roads is a lot of fun. Plenty of people find it meritless, no doubt, and I understand the criticisms. With the freedom of getting out there and away from the eye of authority, there's an absurd few who take advantage of the situation when "no one is looking." They'll abandon their unwanted furniture . . .

Hiking to Cascade Lake in Yellowstone National Park

Hiking to Cascade Lake, Yellowstone National PArk

My wife is the oldest of three siblings, so when her youngest brother settled into starting his Ph.D. earlier this year, I think that set off a small amount of anxiety in my father in-law. Not for the schooling, but because life was changing. You know? So he lobbed this idea of taking a full-on family road trip to see Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2013; it's a trip he'd always meant to take his kids on, but other trips made thier way to the top of the priority list every year. His kids were now moving on to their adult lives, and who knows how much time each of us has left, so we all made it happen.

A Family Baja Adventure Trip in a VW Westfalia Bus

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Taking an adventure trip down Mexico's finest 1000-mile peninsula defined by dirt roads, expansive desert, empty beaches, Suess-like boojum trees, lobster burritos and friendly culture is my kind of trip. You knew that already if you've been here before. My last Baja trip with my tribe of girls was three years ago, and I'm ready for another. It was a year ago that I learned of Adam and Emily Harteau of the blog Our Open Road, a happy couple with a little heatbreaker named Colette; you might know 'em too. Two weeks ago The New York Times . . .

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