My kids are growing up without sidewalks, on a hill... surrounded by lots of other hills... steep hills... on an unpaved, potholed road. I have a mental map, thanks to Google, of where the nearest sex offenders live. We have no less than 12 helmets of various sizes, characters and colors, strewn around the garage, JUST IN CASE... because for most of the year my kids are not on those bikes.
Once a year for the past fourteen years we would pack up our minivan, try on helmets, fill up bike tires, and strap the bikes onto the dusty rack, and trek out to the Oregon Coast for our church's annual camping trip. We'd leave our house in the present - and pull into the campsite in the past. Our minivan had become a time machine - it was now sometime in the 70's - when you could ride your bike in a circle without fear of cars, bad guys, and hills... and in that circle, everyone knew your name... the neighbors watched you ride by, could tell your Mom the last time they saw you, and you could stop in for a cookie without worry.
There was no TV, no Wii, no XBOX, no videos, and for many years, no cell phones. There were board games, Farkle tournaments, hide and seek, tree climbing, hiking, sandcastle building.
I have four kids... all but one learned to ride their bike without training wheels at this camping trip! A friend would help take the training wheels off, older kids would run with them, and off they'd fly. Neighbors would cheer them on, and the whole magical time travel thing would click.
This is the first year that I won't have a new bike rider at the campout - we were unable to do the time travel, and he learned to ride in a parking lot near the house. One day of riding, just his family to cheer him on. A milestone, but the magic was missing, and it felt kinda sad.
I learned that time travel is important - and we'll make room for it next year. Today my church community is travelling through time and will enjoy the magic for a week - and I hope that God blesses their time together in that little bubble of the past...