By Richard M. Romney
When it comes to outdoor adventure, members of the Farrer family are all good sports — no matter what the season.
Doug Farrer closes his eyes and thinks about the red-rock country of southern Utah, a land of natural arches the size of multistory buildings. The early evening light is warm and golden.
He imagines a row of cyclists, pedaling hard on the slick rock, climbing to the top of a steep incline to take in the amazing vistas.
Suddenly, Farrer’s scene changes, and he sees ski country in northern Utah. The backcountry slopes are white and smooth, filled with deep, undisturbed powder. Frosty puffs of breath float like miniature clouds in the crisp, still air. A group of skiers schuss by, carving fresh tracks and grabbing big air as they pop over an icy mogul.
Who are these people that live in Farrer’s mental images of outdoor sports adventures? They are his family: wife, son, daughter, and son-in-law.
The Farrer family of Salt Lake City — father Doug, mother Stacey, daughter Madison, and son Boman — all relish high adventure sports. And they don’t limit themselves to mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. Almost anything is fair game. Climbing and kayaking enthusiast Tyler McQueen became part of that legacy last summer, when he and Madison married.
Doug, Stacey, and Boman live at the mouth of Millcreek Canyon, east of the city, and Tyler and Madi live close to the University of Utah. In each case, that means they can find lots to do right in their own backyards.
The Farrers have quick access to eight major ski resorts, as well as to areas for road biking, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering, rappelling, backpacking, windsurfing, waterskiing, and wakeboarding — most anything except surfing and open-ocean scuba diving. But the latter two represent great excuses to travel to California at least once a year.
And by the way, the family also runs marathons and competes in triathlons — just to keep in shape for everything else.
So much to do
Doug loves the Millcreek Canyon location so much that when he talks, you might think he works for the Utah Travel Council.
“I think Salt Lake City is the recreation capital of the world,” he says. “There
“In the morning we can bike up the canyon past Camp Tracy (the Cub Scout camp), see beautiful, cascading waterfalls, then loop back to the house after a one-hour workout and still get to work on time.
“In the winter, we can be up at Snowbird (Ski Resort), which is consistently rated one of the top aggressive ski hills in the country, in 20 or 30 minutes.”
Boman believes it’s “awesome” having so many things to do with the family so close to home. “A lot of kids my age don’t have a close relationship with their families like we do,” he says. “But when your family does fun stuff and you can do it with them, that’s a good thing.”
Madi agrees. “You strengthen family relationships when you spend more time with each other, doing things that make you happy,” she says.
How Scouting helps
Give part of the credit for that family togetherness to the Boy Scouts of America.
“Scouting’s goals and our family’s goals have always been compatible,” Stacey says. Since Boman was a Tenderfoot, he and Doug have both been involved in Scouting.
“They were able to spend more time with each other because they were always part of the same activities,” Stacey explains, noting that though Doug sometimes participated as a leader, he was always there as a father.
“Some of our earliest camp-outs and outdoor activities were scheduled through Scouting,” Doug says. “It has always been a great way to facilitate father-and-son time together.”
It’s also nice that when Doug and Boman return from Scouting activities, they can talk with Stacey, Madi, and Tyler about what they’ve done, and the understanding is complete.
“They know what we mean when we say how fun it was, and they ask when we can all go and do the same thing together,” Boman says.
The Farrers plan two definite annual activities — a spring-break backpacking trek and a trip to the California beach every summer.
“We know we can count on those,” Madison says. Other than that, Stacey says, “Doug always has a list of things he wants to do, and we check them off as we go.” Of course, she and the kids add to the list, too.
Making time for family
The family fits in other activities on weekends and around work and school schedules.
“From Salt Lake City, you don’t need to take a long excursion to enjoy a world-class, mountain-bike ride,” Doug says. “You can go up on the Wasatch Crest — I think people would come from all over the world to ride that — and do it on a Saturday afternoon.
The Farrers have learned a lot through involvement in so many sports. But perhaps the most valuable lesson is the importance of family togetherness.
“In the course of a busy week, it’s tough to find time to have heart-to-heart conversations,” Doug says.
Today, family involvement seems to be coming full circle, as Tyler and Madi talk about how soon there will be grandchildren who will enjoy cycling, climbing, skiing, and so forth, and doing it all as part of the family.
Son-in-law Tyler sums it up best. “We’re never bored because each season brings its own sports with it. While you’re finishing up the season for one, you’re already getting excited about the next one.”
Writer Richard M. Romney lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.