When is the last time your family spent an entire day together? Or even just a few hours of uninterrupted quality time? When is the last time you, as an adult, had the time to simply sit down and watch the sunset over beautiful red canyons, or lay back and watch for shooting stars in a gorgeous clear night sky? Or even gather around a fire with your family and/or close friends and tell ghost stories? If you are like the majority of people, it’s been a long long time. The summer of 2016 is the time to change that!
Summer is here! And that means beach trips, sun, family vacations, and lots of fun memory making! Summer is a time for slowing down, putting down your phone, and spending tons of time with your family.
While we travel about 10 months out of every year, it’s the summer that creates the most amazing memories. Outside of Christmas and Easter, summer brings with it family traditions, like the Colorado Freestyle Kayak Circuit, beach trips, and now for the second year in a row, our annual three day self support overnight river trip.
It is something we started last year and plan to continue well into our 90’s and beyond. It is a no-excuses trip, meaning all 14 of us WILL be in attendance. We travel into the inaccessible (except by water craft) wilderness with a cooler, a drybox, a first aid kit, and our raft, SUP’s, and Duckies.
This year we floated down the beautiful Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River with 17 kids, ages 3 to 22, four bonafide adults, and two wild and crazy dogs. Sounds insane, right? But it was anything but. It was memorable and extraordinary. In fact, a multi-day river trip is the most amazing experience for so many reasons and something every single family ought to do at least once, if not more.
A self support, overnight river trip into the depths of the wilderness is truly one of the last remaining places on the planet where one can truly escape the digital world. While most of us have no problem limiting the amount of time our kids spend playing video games, Pokemon Go or browsing social media, we do struggle to turn our own screens off.
What if that last beep was an important email from a client or that phone call from the office was a can’t miss call? There is none of this on the river. I mean you’d be crazy to even bring that stuff with you, but even if you did, it would do you no good as there is no reception! Instead of the electronic demands, you’re surrounded by the beautiful red sandstone cliffs, the glorious and mesmerizing blue sky and the mellow rocking of the gentle waters.
Add that to the squeals and conversation you engage in with your family when there are no distractions from each other and being on the river for three days is as close to heaven as any of us can get!
Speaking of conversation, when your teenage kids aren’t busy on their phones, or hanging out with their friends, or whatever your kids do, and they are in a canyon with no way out, they talk. They talk about all the things they have on their mind and you get a beautiful view into their world. It’s an opportunity to offer advice, to laugh at crazy stories, and to even bond and reconnect.
And your younger kids, oh my gosh, these kids are funnier than you remember, smarter and cuter too. They are fun to be around, they are sponges who want nothing more than to hear you teach them … how to row the boat, how to pack all the gear, how to slay the fish, how to do a back flip. They think you are the coolest most amazing person in the world … and so many parents miss this throughout the year. A multi-day overnight river trip is such a gift to reconnect.
You are the Cool Kid
And speaking of being the coolest, most amazing person in the world … you get to prove it.
You are the authority, the leader, the teacher, the mentor, and the wild one. Most canyons have epic hikes, thrilling cliff jumps, calm waters for playing King of the SUP, rope swings and rivers full of fish. Chances are good that as a kid you were fun and carefree … here’s your chance to channel that younger you. Man, my husband and I act like we are 14 on these trips.
We throw the kids off the raft, we attack those on the SUP’s and the Duckies, we eat snacks all day, we cliff jump, we wrestle, we have the time of our lives and our kids get to see a totally different, cool, and friendly side to us.
I mean there are no chores to demand be done, no schoolwork, no work, no phone calls, no nothing, just us out there with our kids. And, you know what? Every year our kids get older, wiser, smarter and being out here on the river, it actually creates a duplicatable experience that we can all look forward too. You know, someday I’ll be on the river with my great grandchildren!
If you are like me, the one thing you just don’t have enough of is time. Not enough time to do all the fun things you want to do with your kids and all the responsible things that moms must do.
But, something remarkable happens on a multi-day river trip. Time stalls. There is no rush, no schedule and nothing that must be done – nothing at all. Your days are filled with floating down the river, playing and bonding with your kids, taking in the picturesque scenery, catching glimpses of bald eagles, and being in total awe of creation.
It’s an indescribable gift, one that makes us forget about the daily grind back in the city and, maybe for the first time in years, really live in the moment.