Imagine icebergs illuminated by pale sunlight at midnight, the sunrise at 2 a.m. over a thundering waterfall, or a day of hiking that ends with an 11 p.m. soak in a natural hot spring. These things are a reality in Iceland where, for about two months every year, the sun never sets. This is the “midnight sun,” a legendary peculiarity of Iceland’s far north, where the sun might set a little—dipping below the horizon at, say, one in the morning, and rising again at two—but the sky remains light and night never falls.
What happens when 65 Backroads employees take almost 600 DaVita staffers on vacation together? It’s called Tour DaVita and it’s the biggest deluxe camping and bicycling trip that Backroads runs! This annual event was extra special last year — not only did it mark Tour DaVita’s 10th anniversary and a return to Nashville where the bike trip originated, but it was also the largest with nearly 600 riders, almost 400 tents, 250 miles of cycling, one enormous catering operation, two mobile shower trucks, a mobile dialysis center, live country music and tons of Tennessee sunshine. Right now we’re gearing up for another incredible tour in Washington at the end of September!
I just returned from a biking trip through Brittany and Normandy and hiking trip in the Alps with extended family and was once again reminded of the ways a vacation like this brings families together.
Backroads has been offering family trips since before I had kids (and my oldest is now 22). Why did we start them? Well, Backroads is just such a naturally positive, amazing environment for families to have a great time together that it didn’t take us being rocket scientists to see their potential. Once my wife, Liz, and I had our own kids, the beauty of designated family trips became even more obvious.
Take me back to the beautiful San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington State. During my first summer working for Backroads, I led a trip there for a lovely family. An endlessly interesting grandfather invited his two adult children to bring their families along for a Private Trip in the Pacific Northwest. It was a wonderful week of outdoor exploration, shared meals, wildlife spotting—and most importantly, undistracted family bonding.
I've been lucky in my time as a Backroads leader to have some amazing guests, like Andy Russell. If that name rings a bell, it's because Andy was an NFL star in the 1960s and '70s. It was day three of our trip and Andy and I were riding along a gorgeous stretch of road. Something shiny coming from Andy's handlebars caught my eye, so I took a look: a ring. It looked like a Super Bowl ring. I had to ask.... Andy, who hadn't mentioned anything up to this point, grinned a little grin and told me his story, and what a story it was!
Stepping outside your comfort zone is an extraordinary opportunity although it's something we often shy away from as we tend to find solace in the routine of our lives. Our group of 22 women just returned from a private Backroads mountain biking trip in Argentina’s Lake District. From the moment we met our Backroads leaders, our group of accomplished, take-charge women began to let go of our insecurities and ease into the rhythm of our adventure.