We often talk about adventure as a new, risky, or potentially uncomfortable experience that leads to growth. Ultimately, for me adventure is fun, it’s where I am the best version of myself. I see things in myself and in my kids that make me smile and feel inner peace.
In working on my book and creating the Ordinary Sherpa brand in my unofficial market research, I found many people associate adventure with hard, fear, the wilderness.. Today I want to flip it and start with something we know, love and might be our favorite thing. Yes, that would be ice cream. What does ice cream have to do with adventure….well, if you are in the Dusek family, ice cream and adventure are like peanut butter and jelly. You rarely have one without the other. Just to demonstrate the power of ice cream I want to share a story that is more common than rare.
A few years ago my son and I joined a casual after school running club and the intention was to complete a 5K and the end of the season. I thought this would be a fun way for him and I to hang out and for me to have a healthy activity to look forward to with my son. Well, I didn’t realize how fast he was in 3rd grade. He would often be off running with the 5th graders while I trailed behind. Eventually my daughter in first grade at the time joined us. She preferred walking. On race day, which was a school sponsored Color Run put on by the local Sources of Strength High School group, we were about halfway through the race. My son was considerably further ahead of me and my daughter just wanted to quit. I walked with her a few times and realized she had it in her to finish this race, so I offered that when we complete the race we will go for ice cream. AND if she ran the final 1.2 miles without walking I would let her pick out whatever kind of ice cream treat in whatever size she wanted. She took off running to the point that I had a hard time keeping up. She was on a mission and it worked. She finished the rac without stopping to walk and ran the fastest I had ever seen her run. My best intentions of spending time with my kids and getting a workout might not have been accomplished, but this story sealed the deal on ice cream as bribery. This wasn’t the first time I had used ice cream as bribery. Or as I like to refer to it as the Challenge reward. I can assure you it won’t be the last. I might even use it as psychology to reward myself for completing a task I didn’t really want to do.
Ice cream became a very natural part of our adventures. In fact finding the best ice cream place became part of the adventure. A few years ago on National Ice Cream day (P.S. Mark your Calendar , it’s July 17th and definitely one of our favorite holidays to celebrate) I was sharing some of our favorite ice cream we have tasted AND also curating a list of the best ice cream in our area, when I came across a few surprises. Local ice cream shops and creameries that I wasn’t aware of. The ice cream list was born and then fueled and later reinforced to become my youngest son’s travel goal: to taste the best homemade small batch ice cream in all 50 states. That would be so much more fun than simply checking off the states as he visited. Finding and sourcing the best ice cream is now a great connection builder when I am looking at destinations and connecting with other families. People are quick to offer their favorites!
We are using a rating and review process to share our results and writing our untourist guide version. From our research thus far there will be at LEAST 3-4 ice cream tastings in each state. If you think there is one that needs to go on the list, email, DM or leave a written review on the podcast and I’ll make sure it’s included in our research. You know our style, we love off the beaten path, locally owned, hidden gems. And for the record there are no chains included in the guide. We might eat at them along the way, or visit the original birth of an amazing ice cream chain, but they will not be included in the “Best ice cream” listings. I post about them often on Instagram and use the #icecreamconnoisseur (that is in the show notes b/c I know how hard it is to spell connoisseur 🙂
Using this theme, this thing, or a skill we are already good at and enjoy doing I want to share with you the idea of recreating an appearance of a different experience. In my Book (Beyond Normal: A field guide to embrace adventure, explore the wilderness and design an extraordinary life with kids) Appearance is the A in the MAGIC acronym I use to help families create simple adventures without much time or money.
1. The story I share in the book is using the experience of walking into Cold Stone Creamery, selecting the base flavor of ice cream, adding your mix-ins, what type of sauce, or toppings you want. We used this experience to create a fun birthday dinner using pancake batter instead. We scoured the cupboards with what we thought might be fun to try. We came up with a few recipes (I share many of them in the book) and each person was able to have a fun experience and celebrate my son’s birthday with an ice cream inspired experience. If you want to read more about it, you can buy my book either through my website or on Amazon
Some fun other ideas of how to recreate and experience but now with ice cream as the focus include:
2. Do a pint sized swap: Everyone chooses their favorite flavor of ice cream and you buy the pint sized at the grocery store and for a fun family night do a pint-sized swap. It’s like exchanging white elephant gifts, but secretly you really want your own!
3. Do an around the world experience. A future guest (Erin Austen, author of Family Field Trips) shared the idea to try different ice creams from around the world. In the United States ice cream is often made using frozen milk fat; Alaskan native call it Akutaq and use animal fat mixed with snow and berries. In Italy it’s Gelato, and Italian law says that Gelato requires at least 3.5% buttercream. In Japan, Mochi is the name and is a mix of ice cream with rice dough. One of our favorites is from Thailand, known as I tim pad, it is made by pouring milk onto a frozen steel pad mixed with fruit or other ingredients and rolling it into curls and serving in a cup. There are also variations like Shave Ice
4. Imagine the birth of the first ice cream. Recreate this experience by making your own. You might use an original recipe and kick things around with rock salt OR you might borrow and ice cream maker (or be in the look out for on at a thrift store or garage sale this summer) and make your own ice cream. Stock up on cream and sugar.
5. You might be aware that ice cream also inspires our travel. My youngest son’s goal is to taste the best small-batch homemade ice cream in all 50 states. We are using a rating and review process to share our results and writing our untourist guide version to share with you. From our research thus far there will be at LEAST 3-4 ice cream tastings in each state. If you think there is one that needs to go on the list, email, DM or leave a written review on the podcast and I’ll make sure it’s included in our research. You know our style, we love off the beaten path, locally owned, hidden gems. And for the record there are no chains included in the guide. We might eat at them along the way, or visit the original birth of an amazing ice cream chain, but they will not be included in the “Best ice cream” listings.
While adventure might mean creating a new experience or be associated with something hard or outdoorsy, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. We like to base our adventures in what we already enjoy and want to experience with a new twist. Finding the best ice cream is part of the journey (or maybe the incentive) along the way. Adventure is not intended to be a journey in deprivation or roughing it experiences. Add in some comforts or luxuries splurges where it fits.
- While adventure might be a growth experience, it doesn’t require a deprivation mindset. Adventure can include or be paired with comfort and luxury when desired. Dusek family adventures pair amazingly well with ice cream.
- Consider designing adventures based on what you already know, like, and are good at. I am really good at eating a single scoop of ice cream after a hike. Ice cream also makes you thirsty and encourages hydration if you needed an extra reason 😉
- Create an adventure based on that thing you love: can you taste different ice creams around the world, or find the best of in a defined area. Even buying a pint and comparing flavors or making your own experience. All of these use the simple spark of ice cream as the foundation for the adventure.
- Adding your family personality to an adventure makes the experience much more meaningful than a bucket list of locations to check the box on.
- What is the best ice cream in your community or state? If you have a favorite that is not a chain, send me an email, DM, or leave a written review with your suggestion and I’ll research it further to determine if it makes the list.
If this episode is making you hungry, go grab some ice cream, take a selfie and post it on instagram. Tag @ordinarysherpa and say thanks for the inspiration from this episode 🙂 While you are there follow @ordinarysherpa and be on the lookout for some of our favorite ice cream based experiences near and far.
I can’t wait to see your face, hear your suggestion and continue encouraging you and your family to get out and adventure!