This was from years ago but even back then, those eyes were most definitely on the prize. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Ice cream is the ultimate motivation

This past weekend I picked a hike near Mill Bay just so we could hit up Sweet Meadows market

I guess it all started when we went to hike to the Haslam Creek suspension bridge for the first time.

The goal: walk our walk as a family. The ultimate motivation, however, had nothing to do with exercise. It was all about the ice cream afterward. We were all looking forward to stopping at the Cassidy Country Kitchen’s ice cream shop on the way home. In fact, that’s the only thing that got some of us up and out of the house in the first place.

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I know I have been writing quite a lot about our family hikes lately but I’ve noticed a trend and I wanted to share it with you in the hope that you’ll help me with some ideas. But first, let me tell you this: ice cream is a pretty big thing in our family. We’re connoisseurs of sorts. We’ll savour the good stuff at the specialty shops but we’re also totally happy with a $5 bucket of Neapolitan when the situation calls for it.

Just recently after a hike ending at the Big Scoop, my son learned a valuable lesson — it could even be a life lesson if we’d explored it a little more deeply, but this time we just kept it about ice cream.

He’d selected the “Birthday Cake” flavour because it was full of colourful sprinkles and looked super cool. The rest of us all chose flavours that were predominantly brown. Why? Chocolate of course. After he’d weaseled his way into licks of everybody else’s cones he’d realized his error: never pick your ice cream based on colour, the best flavours are often the ugliest cones. He’s made better choices since then.

But have I? Unbeknownst to my own self, it turns out I have been planning our hikes around ice cream shops. That first time it was the one in Cassidy. Last weekend, we did the Cowichan estuary trail so that we could go for a picnic and then mosey over to Udder Guys for some ice cream after that. (The parking lot was never empty so we ultimately ditched that idea and went into Duncan but we’ll get back out to Cowichan Bay again one of these days.)

After anything out Glenora way, it’s the Big Scoop downtown. When we visit Stocking Creek Park in Saltair, it’s the Dairy Queen on Davis Road in Ladysmith.

This past weekend I picked a hike near Mill Bay just so we could hit up Sweet Meadows market on the way home.

It was driving home from that trek that I realized this pattern seemed to be emerging.

What am I up to? Is it just a ploy to get the kids amped to spend an hour or two walking with their mom and dad? (Yes.) Am I sabotaging my own fitness efforts? I quickly decided no to that one because I actually opted out of ice cream at Sweet Meadows. (I won’t make that mistake again though, after getting a good taste of my daughter’s chocolate chip mint cone.)

Have you ever seen a four-year-old eat ice cream? It’s a disaster. Fortunately my husband was quick on his feet that day and managed to make our youngest believe that it was good luck for your parents to lick your cones. It was out of necessity, really. When she wasn’t giggling and painting herself an ice cream beard, she was letting it drip everywhere.

Once my husband had cleaned up the edges and took some off the top, he returned the cone to her. This happened several times. But then she wanted to do what every child does at least once in their lifetime (I assume). She wanted to bite the bottom off the cone while there was still ice cream in it.

“I could just tilt my head and drink it up like this,” she demonstrated.

“No!” we both ordered, panicking at the pictures in our heads of the mess she’d make. Luckily she didn’t follow through. I guess licking your kids’ cones really does come with some good luck after all.

SEE RELATED: Jelly beans the key to efficient family hikes

In any event, I fear I’m running out of options for ice cream hikes. We’ve hit up Ice Cream Mountain before and will do so again before the summer’s up but where else is there? Please let me know because as much fun as our jelly bean hikes around Chemainus Lake have been, they just aren’t the same as knowing you’ve got a cone full of chilly goodness to look forward to at the end of your walk. You know, for the kids I mean.

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