Saturday, 19 September 2015

Outdoors with Daddy: canoeing and hiking!

Outdoor Adventures with Daddy!

When Becca and I started to have children we made the decision that we wanted our kids so familiar with outdoor activities that indoor pleasures such as t.v. and video games would little to no attraction for them. Thus, from their infancy we have been hiking with them, camping with them and going on outdoor adventures (micro and macro).  Our kids are growing up with a comfortableness in the wilderness and in the words of Tristan, "Dad, when I'm inside the house I feel like the walls are closing in on me. I just want to be outside all the time." Amen. Amen. Amen.

So, in this blog you'll see a couple outdoor major adventures with the kids: their first canoe trip (60km) and another hike to an elevation over 2000m (8km).


As some of you know already we have been super blessed with the journey to our 6th child. We are super excited, the kids too, and we look forward to meeting our second souvenir from Austria in April.

Benedict's Name Day

July began for us with the feast day of St. Benedict on July 11. We headed off on a family bike ride to a park and let the kids play and eat and to celebrate our son.

Garden Treasures

This year, with our intense heat, we've been barely able to keep up with the pounds of tomatoes and the huge beets growing in our garden.

The kids found a caterpillar and 'hatched' it into a butterfly! And watched it fly for the first time.

Katie Training Days

To help Katie (and us) deal with her emotional outbursts we decided she needed more time in nature. So I began to take her on a micro adventures in the mornings - bike ride, berry picking, hiking and so forth. The extra exercise and one on one time really worked and she had less melt downs and had begun to control her emotions.

Here she does her first hour hike to a hütte.

Tavi has also started his training and walked 3/4's of the way up. I was proud of him!

The unfortunate part was that we got to the top and the hütte was under construction and we could get no water or treats for the kids. That was a bit tense as it was quite a hot day.

July 23rd: Tristan turns 8!

Usually we just have a family birthday party for Tristan as there are no families here at ITI over the summer but us. However this year he had a couple guy friends around: Aiden and Johannes to celebrate with.

Water Tower water park

We took the kids for a bit of an adventure in Vienna on a hot summer afternoon. We went to a place on the map called a water park. In my 'limited' understanding of what waterpark meant we travelled across Vienna (this took a long time) by train and walked and walked to the 'waterpark'.  Below are the pictures of the 'waterpark'.  

What made it a 'waterpark' is that there was a park and it was situated by a pond.

Thus we, on this boiling hot day of 37 C we made our tired way home and stopped at the Water Tower. Here there was a true waterpark. The water in Vienna is brought in from springs in the Alps and all with no pumps. The water was straight from the springs and unbelievably cold!

Now this is the way a water tower should look!

Canoe Trip in Slovakia

My good friend Jaro organized a canoe trip for myself and the kids and Vince and his kids. We were quite excited to take our kids on their first canoe trip. Our plan was to head down the river starting at Nova Dedinka near Bratislava and to paddle two days and end up at Orechova Poton.

The river was mellow and this made it quite safe for the kids to jump out and float down the river when they got to hot. And as there were no rapids we had no worry of tipping.

Anna and Winter rode with Jaro most of the time.

This was Katie's first big adventure with daddy. She and Benedict rode with me.

Winter and Katie often floated together down the river.

Sometimes Winter was left to man the canoe till the other got back in from swimming!

After 6 hours of paddling we stopped at a side joint to camp. The way it works is that along the river are little eating joints. The Slovak folk paddle down the river, stop for a beer and bite and then paddle another 1 1/2 hours to the next stop and do the same. At some of the stops you could camp. We stopped at one where we could eat and camp.

Elizabeth and Katie!

At this little hippie campground they had a rope for kids to swing on and a big area for them to run around and play.

They were incredibly hospitable. They expected others to come and camp and no one did. So the corn they cooked up they gave to us and a plate full of garden vegetables.

The next day was beautiful and we continued to paddle on.

The kids took turns paddling and I was impressed with how well they did! They loved it.

Here Katie and Elizabeth are playing the drums and singing us all a song.

Eventually we let the kids paddle the boat on their own. Winter steered and shouted out directions and they made there way criss-crossing down the river.

A small mill in the river.

Finally, after 6 hours we said "enough". We had paddled 60 km's already (total) and were still 1 1/2hrs from our end point. Plus Anna started feeling sick. We pulled up a side joint, had ice cream and waited to be picked up.

Now we finished the trip and all was well. But then we realized that Anna didn't have sun stroke as we had originally thought. For, that night, Benedict started puking every hour around 11am, then Winter, then myself, then Kate - every hour till 6am. Needless to say, Becca didn't get much sleep and we were out of towels.

So what happened? We had been filtering water from the river. It turns out that a rubber washer on my filter was missing and so only half the water was being filtered. So we were downing copious amounts of river water. Ugh. Not the best way to end a trip... alas.

Tavi Turns 2!

 And he received cars! His favourite toy!

 Hike with Daddy in the Zillertal Alps

Time again for a yearly backpacking trip with daddy. This is always my belated Father's Day present. This time we headed west and then south into the Ziller valley to do our hike. Following is our journey:

Day 1: Travel Day to Innsbruck

We left early and after 5 hours on the train ended up in Innsbruck. Our plan was to spend the night here and head to the trail head on the morrow.

 We're with the usual clan: Vince and his two kids, and me and my three. Next year, however, we both decided that Katie and Elizabeth need to join on our journey. They were pretty disappointed to go on a canoe adventure with us and then to be ditched on this one.

The famous golden roof.

And a nice walk through the park.

 The sad house. :(

 Day 2: Travel and Hike to the Bernliner Hütte

We didn't realize it was such a jaunt to the trailhead from Innsbruck, and it turned out to take us all morning to get to the trailhead. We had to travel to Jenbach by train, and then transfer to the private Zillertal train to Mayerhofen. Then we had to take the bus to the trailhead.

We finally made it to the trailhead at the Breitlahner Gasthaus.

 Here we began our hike into the Ziller valley.

The valley was unbelievably beautiful. It is situated beneath 4 glaciers. Thus there are numerous waterfalls and everything is very lush and green. The pictures do it no justice. Alas.

These folk farm in the valley (the only ones) and have built part of their home into the rock of the mountain.

The forecast was for rain, but thankfully, we just had long hanging clouds and mist.

After about 7km we started a steep incline up to the Bernliner Hütte situated at 2042m in elevation right at the foot of a glacier. Here is a memorial to the soldiers that gave their lives in WWII.

Our first sighting of the hütte.

I believe this is the oldest hütte in Austria!

And of course we celebrate at the top with some chocolate!

When we arrived, Vince and I plumped ourselves down in chairs, rested our weary 40 year old bones and nursed a much needed beer. The kids however ran around like wild banshees exploring the 1 hütte and the surrounding area. Then, when the exploring wore off the kids joined us in the high ceilinged dining room and began to cards like old fogeys!

Day 3: Schwarzesee (Black Lake)

This was our first time staying 2 nights in a hütte. We had in previous hikes stayed only one night and hiked down the next day. We decided we needed an extra day of exploring and rest before heading down. So, we slept in, ate late, and headed out for a small 3 hour hike to Schwarzesee.

Unfortunately, we walked in a cloud most of the day, but fortunately it didn't rain on us.

I couldn't figure out my man Benedict was having such a rough go. Usually he's a great hiker and can keep up quite well. This trip however he was whiny and slow. Then I found out why on this trip. He had been hiking the entire time with a stomach bug (probably from the river we drank only a week ago).  We discovered this after he took a potty break and the results were bright orange! The poor guy.  However, he did feel a bit better after that and I was a bit easier on him as well.

Upon reaching Schwarzesee there was this structure built which blocked the wind nicely and was a cozy place to break fast.

In this picture Benedict is right in front of the lake. There is a bit of rise and then it drops into a small gully where this lake sits.

Though we didn't feel too much like swimming ...

Day 4: Heading home!

A view of a farm in the valley below the Berliner hütte,

 The hike down was pleasurable. Not too hot, not to cold, not rainy. However, we were constantly in a cloud so we lost a lot of the dramatic view and were instead left with the mysterious view.

Here we are the end picking wild blueberries.

Kenton's End of Summer Reads:

These first two books are young adult fiction. Becca and I are making a concerted effort to read some of what the kids are reading so that we can have great book discussions at the supper table.
- The invention of Hugo Cabret
- The Chronicles of Pyrdain by Lloyd Alexander

- Fatherless America by David Blankenhorn
- Wild at Heart by John Eldridge

Sermon from the Vineyard:  

Can we say with certitude that we are going to Heaven when we die? 

First of all, why ask the question? In class we are studying the virtue of hope. The issue of certitude of salvation comes up in this discussion. This was a such a major preoccupation of Luther's that he added words to the Bible so that it would say he had absolute assurance.

We begin with Hope as a virtue, an act/habit that we engage in when something is
    1) arduous and difficult (we don't hope for trifles)
    2) but possible to attain (we don't have it yet)
    3) is not immediate but something in the future
    4) and is something good (we don't hope for evil things).

Hope contains all of these elements. So if we say "I am saved. I am going to heaven when I die," then there is no need for the virtue of hope for the salvation because what we hope for is believed to be already obtained. In this way, if a Christian was to say they "know that they know that they are saved," then they are deceived thrice. First, this would go against Holy Writ (Rom. 8:24) "in hope we are saved," and by claiming to have absolute certainty of their salvation they remove that which is essential to their salvation, namely, hope. And secondly, no one can know absolutely at any moment if they are in the grace of God (as grace is not tangible or sensible), but we can sure HOPE that we are. Thirdly, salvation is a difficult journey (if it wasn't you wouldn't need the virtue of hope) and to suggest that one's journey to salvation (beatitude) is complete is to suggest that you are dead, as we are to "persevere to the end," (Mt. 24:13).

The problem gets more complicated as we use the word hope incorrectly in common speech. We say in English, "I hope the car is warmed up already." This has nothing to do with hope as warming up the car is not an arduous process. Rather, we should say, "I wish or desire that the car be warm when I go to it."

Further, we often muddle the definitions of faith with hope. I've heard the comment, "I believe I will be saved." This statement can't properly be said for it muddles the virtues afore mentioned. Let me explain: faith is the substance of things hoped for (as St. Paul tells us). What is it that we hope for? We hope to be with Christ in heaven after we die (eternal beatitude). What is the substance of this hope? The substance of the hope is that which has been revealed by God through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, namely, the articles of the creed. For example: I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth ..., in Jesus Christ born of the Father before all ages ... and so forth. Thus, to say "I believe I will be saved," is not possible as there has been no divine revelation given that you, me or any particular person will definitely attain salvation. Thus, we have to instead say, "I believe that God has promised to save those who accept His gift of salvation through Christ's sacrifice on the cross and through whom the doors of Heaven have been opened to us. Thus, I believe that I CAN be saved and I HOPE to be so."

Faith in God and what He has revealed to us gives us a certain foundation, a reasonable foundation for the hope we have of salvation. And it is true hope. The journey to live holy and just and in the grace of God till we die is difficult and arduous. However, the beatitude we hope to attain is possible and reasonable and in the future. And of course it is very very good. This certain foundation, this faith in the truth and rightness of revelation gives us assurance, a hope for salvation (not a scientific, mathematical, demonstrable certainty) of salvation.

And though we may not have scientific certainty of salvation, our hope in God leads to love and as we love Him more we begin to trust Him immensely. So much so that we can say with assurance that we will some day see Him in Heaven. As my son trusts me immensely to get him to the top of the mountain and has great assurance, he does not have scientific certainty as he can't see the future.

So, can we say with certitude that we will be saved? No. But we can say with vigour and love and assurance that we HOPE to be saved.

Pictures for the Grandparents:

Benedict showing us he made a tower taller than himself.

God bless.

Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate, and Tavi

Mailing Address: Schloss Trumau Schlossgasse 21 2521 Trumau, Austria 

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  1. Great pictures and stories, Kenton and Becca. Love seeing parents put such effort (and I'm sure it is) fostering their kids appreciation of nature and physical abilities. They're gonna be awesome people!

    1. Thanks Danae! I'm sure you'll do the same when your little kids start coming.

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