It has always been my hope and dream to be able to take a week to two week road trip vacation with my family. I remember going on trips like that every few years growing up. Up until this summer we just couldn’t make it a reality for many different reasons. This year we were able to take all three of our kids and visit part of New Mexico and Colorado and we loved it!
I’m going to be sharing highlights over the next little bit but they won’t be in any particular order. Yeah, I’m random that way.
Part of our adventure was going on a white water rafting tour down the Arkansas River. Let me pause here and clarify that none of us have ever been on a white water rafting tour before and only my husband can claim to be a “outdoors” personality. We of course did a beginner level tour but I would be remiss not to admit that I did have some fears to overcome such as worrying that the raft would flip over or that we’d loose one of the kids (namely the youngest one) overboard while going through the rapids.
After we received and put on our PFD (personal floatation devices) and helmets, we had time to visit with the two families that were going with us. There was another young girl Rachel’s age and they immediately started talking as if they had been friends forever. It was sweet. None of us had the heart to tell them that they wouldn’t be in the same raft on the trip.
I don’t know what special event led to me being the one chosen to document the checklist as they gave the safety guides but there were moments that I was afraid I would miss the directions on what to do if you found yourself outside the raft in the river while trying to keep up with the checklist. Maybe the guy that handed me the clipboard and asked me to keep track thought I looked scattered and hoped it would keep me focused. Really it just jacked up my anxiety another notch (oh who’s kidding it went up several notches!) Another thing I didn’t realize at that moment was that my family was the only one that had volunteered to paddle! More on that in a moment.
When we went to get in the vans that were going to transport us to the starting point Rachel and her new friend immediately went to sit together. At this moment the brother (about the same age as Rachel as well) asked Hannah if she would sit with him. Watch out, I think he may like older women when he gets older! Nate sat with them and we got in the same van along with their parents. Skip ahead to the moment the girls realized they weren’t going together, you would have thought that they were BFFs going off to separate universes! Hugs, tears, and good-byes said we got our instructions on how to sit in our respective spots on our raft and off we went. It was about this moment that Rachel realized she wasn’t getting to paddle. Cue one unhappy 8 year old who thinks she’s going on 16. Our guide, Audra was amazing though and tried to convince her that she had the best seat in the raft. Really it was for safety reasons, Rachel just wasn’t quite big enough to stretch her legs into position to be sure to stay in the raft in the rapids. It was also at this moment that I realized the other two families weren’t paddling in their rafts. It worked out for us because there were four of us plus our guide and I have to say, it was a lot of fun!! Hannah and Nate loved it and it was a great bonding experience for us. Rachel had fun too, especially when Audra told her that one of the rapids didn’t have a name and asked Rachel to name it. Now there is a rapid in that section of the Arkansas River called Rachel’s Rocky Rapid, at least with the ART tour when Audra is the guide.
Out of all the things we did on our vacation this ranked as one of the top adventures and something that the whole family says they want to do again. Of course Rachel wants to go when she can get to paddle so here’s hoping Gaylon and I can still do things like this for the next 5 – 10 years!
Kit: Floating Along by Designs by Connie Prince
Photos by Arkansas River Tours
Here is my favorite photo from our time on the Arkansas River!