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Published December 16, 2013, 09:51 AM

Flying, zipping and snorkeling

Our winter on the Northern Plains is off to a cold start. The mercury has spent a lot more time below the zero than above the zero, according to Mr. Fahrenheit’s discomfort scale. The phenomena has made me wonder all the more why I got on the plane to head back north after a week on the Yucatan peninsula of sunny Mexico.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — Our winter on the Northern Plains is off to a cold start. The mercury has spent a lot more time below the zero than above the zero, according to Mr. Fahrenheit’s discomfort scale. The phenomena has made me wonder all the more why I got on the plane to head back north after a week on the Yucatan peninsula of sunny Mexico.

I suppose it was a sense of responsibility, an affinity for the ranch and the cows who were depending on me, my love of state and country and an appreciation for the economy, opportunities and infrastructure of America.

That and I don’t think we could really afford to live on a beach resort year round. But for seven days, we did all we could to boost the local tourist economy around Puerto Morelos, Mexico, add a little color to my normally pale rancher hide and give the kids some experiences in a distant land and culture.

We always hope our children will get opportunities that we never had. It’s good to see a little progress between the generations. I was lucky enough to have opportunities my parents never had — things like college and travel and relative peace and security.

I thought it was pretty good that I got my first ride on a jet plane when I was 14 years old to attend a national FFA horse judging contest. The trip to Mexico gave our children their first frequent flyer miles at the ages of 9, 7 and 5. It didn’t take them long to learn the routine. After one leg of the trip, our 7-year-old anxiously awaited his next dose of Sprite and mini pretzels when the kind flight attendant came by with the cart.

They figured out that they preferred the bigger planes with the screens on the seat back in front of them to the smaller planes with just a Sky Mall catalog and an air sickness bag to entertain them. Our 5-year-old experienced some serious luggage separation anxiety when we made her check her bag and assured her that it would be at our destination when we got there. Luckily, the airline didn’t make liars out of us and the bag did show up. She might have been a jaded air traveler for life if that little pink bag hadn’t popped up on the baggage carousel.

The heights of air travel didn’t bother anyone, and that was probably good practice for the zip lining adventure we had over the jungle at a place called Xplor. Climb several stories of stairs toward the sky, strap on the harness, hook it up to four small pulleys on two steel cables and walk off the cliff. Every kid did it, so it looks like they’ll all make fearless windmill mechanics someday.

I wasn’t much of a swimmer until I went to Bible Camp when I was 12 and jumped into a lake that was deeper than I was tall, but our kids are all pretty confident swimmers thanks to my wife’s commitment to driving 50 miles round trip every day for two weeks each summer for swimming lessons.

So, they didn’t mind jumping into the water to go snorkeling with me at a place called Xel Ha and out on the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. I lost count of the number of bright hued tropical fish we saw and the colors and kinds of coral.

Even though they are young, I’m guessing our kids will remember the trip as we recount its tales in years to come. They’ll be more worldly than I was at their age. They’ll know that there are places in this world where people look different than us, speak a different language and live in places with different trees and animals and natural beauty.

And that, I think, is a good thing for kids, and all of us, to know.

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