Our Big Adventure

Lisa Ingebrand, LRnews@frontiernet.net

After two years of planning (and saving), we did it.

My family of four started summer break by rafting through the Grand Canyon.

It was awesome.

The wild Colorado River provided us days of rapids, laughter, excitement, physical challenges, and unforgettable family time.

After sleeping under the stars and cliff jumping, our 10-year-old daughter Ellen dubbed it as “the best trip ever!”

Our adventure began less than 24 hours after our girls’ school year ended with us on a plane heading to Las Vegas, Nevada.

We made the most of our time in Sin City by walking The Strip, hanging out in our hotel pool, attending a David Copperfield show, and riding New York-New York Hotel and Casino’s Big Apple Coaster—a surprisingly intense, but fun rollercoaster that wraps inside and outside the building.

The next day, we Ubered to our “departure hotel” in nearby Henderson, NV, where we eagerly prepared for our multi-day adventure with Arizona River Runners (ARR).

Representatives from ARR greeted us early the next morning, and we loaded into a bus that took us to a little airport where we boarded a little plane. That little plane flew us over the Hoover Dam and to Bar Ten Ranch, a family-owned and operated cattle ranch that hugs the northern rim of the Grand Canyon in the middle of nowhere (more than 80 miles from anything).

At the ranch, we rode horses, learned how to lasso, shot skeet, were treated to an evening variety show starring the ranch hands, and slept in covered wagons. We also ate a lot—big meals of ranch-raised beef and potatoes, plus a breakfast featuring plate-smothering fluffy pancakes.

A helicopter flew us into the Grand Canyon.

Flying over the rim and down into the chasm was breathtaking, but watching my kids as they experienced the grandness of it all was priceless. There were big smiles and a few shrieks of joy/nervousness/excitement as we dropped into position.

We unloaded our gear and carried it to our raft, which was awaiting us at a small, natural sand beach along the Colorado River. Then, we repacked our gear into dry bags, loaded the rafts, and were given lifejackets.

Approximately 30 people (including five river guides) and all of our gear were split between two large, motorized rafts, and after a short safety briefing… we were off!

The mile-high cliffs and vivid reds of the canyon were astonishing from the river bed.

The grandness of the place is humbling, yet the wildness is inspiring and refreshing and reassuring. Not one word can encompass the feeling of rafting through nature’s untouched beauty for hours without seeing anyone outside our crew.

We ran a few rapids (you do need to hold on), pulled over for hikes, and were treated to tours of ancient sites and historic rock art.

Then, of course, one kid in our crew—not one of mine— touched a cactus. (Someone was going to try it.)

We took a pitstop for lunch and enjoyed a quick, cold swim. On average, the river temperature hangs around 52ºF. The daytime air temperature remained in the 90s for the most of our trip, which we were told is rather cool compared to the usual daytime temps around 110ºF during late May/early June.

Many more river miles were logged before we made camp for the night. Sleeping on cots under the stars in the Grand Canyon is an experience I’ll never forget. We watched shooting stars and listened to our guide tell old river stories before closing our eyes to the sound of the nearby Colorado River’s rapids. (NOTE: It wasn’t all glamorous. A rattlesnake was spotted near us, we battled sunburn and dry skin, and we all pooped in one bucket.)

The next morning, we went cliff diving. Our fearless Ellen leaped first. Then, our 12-year-old daughter, Anna. Their father quickly followed. Then, it was my turn. It took me a good 10 minutes and at least five attempts to jump, but, I did it (and I managed the rather challenging rock climb out of the river)!

We hiked to Travertine Falls and Grotto and stood under the dazzling waterfalls.

We also enjoyed hours chatting with our fellow river rats and snacking on the delicious food provided by our guides.

Our river adventure ended at Lake Mead where the 20- year drought is evident. The vastness of the dry brown landscape is astonishing.

A bus brought us back to our hotel where we said goodbye to our crew of new friends.

Then, we prepared for the next leg of our trip, which included touring the Hoover Dam, Boulder City, NV, Flagstaff, AZ, ATVing in Sedona, Slide Rock State Park, Walnut Canyon National Monument, visiting the top of the Grand Canyon from Grand Canyon National Park, and a short stay in Phoenix. We were busy.

I’m still a bit shocked by how much we saw and did in a week’s time.

It wasn’t a vacation. There were no lazy days or slow mornings, but the days seemed to be stretched long with all the new experiences we lived and logged in our forever memory banks.

It was an adventure—an unforgettable incredible adventure.

Everyone’s muscles are still a bit sore and we’re still a bit sunburned, but we’re also brimming with stories from our week together, winding through the canyons and exploring the desert.

It was the trip of a lifetime.



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