Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grand Canyon Rafting Trip - In the Canyon Part 2

Our Fellow Rafters

As we live our everyday lives and come in contact with many people, we make quick judgements of them based on our first impressions.  These are usually the only impressions we have as we never have an opportunity to get to know them better.  Abraham Lincoln said, "I don't like that man.  I must get to know him better", and that is so true as I was reminded of this on our trip.  With the exception of Dave and Patrice, we started the trip with a group of complete strangers, and by the end of the trip we had a group of new friends.  My first impressions of many of them and I'm sure theirs of me would not have led us to get to know each other, but being together 24 hours a day for six days changes all that.

When you read the advertising literature for the rafting trip they talk of making new friends and bonding with your fellow rafters.  As those of you who know me know, I am not a very social person so I thought, oh sure, that's not going to happen with me, but how wrong I was.  It was truly an amazing experience getting to know everyone.  We had a young couple who were Russian immigrants, a father with his young daughter, a Cleveland city councilman, and many other equally interesting people.  Of special note was a clan people who were either related to or friends with our guide Justin.  They were the Olsen family, but called themselves the Griswalds after the family in the Chevy Chase Vacation movies and they were are a lot of fun and very nice people. Their family counted for over half of the people on our raft. We were lucky to have them on our raft as it made it quite lively at times.

Some of the "Griswalds" in the "Chicken Coop"

The crew on the "rack"
I can't write about our fellow rafters without saying something about our friends and traveling companions, Dave and Partrice.  Their enthusiasm and zest of living life, made the trip a lot more fun and we are really glad they joined us.  Here are a few pictures of them. 

Dave and Patrice on the "buckboard"
Dave and Patrice on the "rack"
Dave relaxing between rapids
Too bad Dave wasn't having a better time  ;-)
A few years back, Dave took a kayaking trip down the Green River in Utah.  One of the things he talked about was the great mud bath he had with the river mud which, in his words, "made my skin feel like satin".  Well on our last night of camping on the river, Dave found some mud and he couldn't resist and being the loving wife she is, Patrice reluctantly joined Dave in his bath.

Val admiring Dave's "tie"
Great trip guys, thanks for joining us, it wouldn't have been the same without  you.

Val and Patrice
For Val and Patrice, this trip had a special meaning beyond just rafting through the Grand Canyon.

First Patrice; a year ago Patrice was successfully finishing a very difficult fight against breast cancer.  Thankfully most of us don't have to go through something like that, so it is hard to imagine how scary and difficult that was for her.  After her recovery she had a new sense of how valuable life is and vowed to live life to it's fullest.  When Val asked if she wanted to join her on a Grand Canyon rafting trip, she jumped at the chance and her husband Dave soon was on board too (unlike this Dave).  Patrice lived life to the fullest every moment of this trip, she rode on the "rack" through some of the worst rapids, hiked all the hikes and was involved in everything on the trip.  The video below was kind of a culmination of her goal to live life.  I think you'll agree she succeeded.  You were a real inspiration Patrice.

Val had always wanted to do a Grand Canyon rafting trip.  After having a hip replaced and worsening arthritis she decided it was now or never and started planning the trip.  She knew she had to build her strength up so for the last year she has been exercising with Patrice's help (Patrice is a physical therapist who owns her own business).  Anyone who knows Val knows how much she hates exercising so you can see how important this was to her.  In our everyday life, getting around isn't difficult for Val, but things are different on a rafting trip.  In the last few years hip replacements have gotten to the point where you don't have any restrictions on your movements, but when Val had hers, there were precautions she has to follow for the rest of her life or risk a hip dislocation.  This means not positioning your leg in a certain way, so couple that with bad knees and even getting on and off the raft is difficult.  As far as the hikes go, there are no nice flat manicured trails, you are generally scrambling over rocks, wading through slippery streams or walking along stepped rock shelves.  

A lot of these hikes Val couldn't do, but one her goals on this trip was to make the hike to Havasu Falls and she did it.  It wasn't easy, she needed help form me and others, but she struggled through it and did it!  She seemed to think that because she needed help, this diminished her achievement, but as Patrice pointed out, everyone needs help in this life.

She made it!!!
I can't tell you how proud and inspired I was by Val on this trip.  This took a lot of determination and courage on her part and I really admire her for it.  I have to admit, if there is something that seems like it's going to be too difficult, I just avoid it, but Val will never accept she can't do it until she tries.  After the trip when we were saying our goodbyes, several people came up to Val and said how inspirational she was.  I have written quite a bit about this, but if you are getting older, as we are, or have other physical limitations, you will know what this meant to both of us for her to be able to do it.  This is why I am so thankful I took this trip, to share this triumph with Val means more than anything to me.  When we reached the lower Havasu Falls it was a very emotional moment and we both cried together and in fact I have tears in my eyes writing this.  Thank you Val, I learned something from you.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such a great post and the review, I am totally impressed! Keep stuff like this coming , grand canyon rafting