I returned this past week from an amazing adventure.
We’re talking climbing ropes up waterfalls, kayaking 12 miles, and taking dips in natural hot springs. Yes, there were some “OMG I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THAT” moments, but guess what? I did. We all did. And it was so much fun. I came home refreshed, rejuvenated, having bonded with some of my favorite people, and bone tired. Ha!
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important it is that we all incorporate adventures into our lives. No, you don’t have to pack up a kayak and spend two days in the wilderness, if that doesn’t appeal to you. But when you expand your “normal,” when you step outside your comfort zone–especially in the company of people you enjoy–something magical happens.
What happens, exactly? I’ll tell you.
You realize you can do some pretty awesome stuff.
I am so blessed to have a great group of long-time friends in my hometown. We met when all our kids were babies, and we’ve stood side by side throughout so many important events in our lives: births and adoptions and surgeries and illnesses and vacations and school issues. Every year or so, we go on an adventure. This year, as we started planning, The Adventurous One (you know who you are!) suggested we take a kayaking trip down the Colorado River.
I may or may not have said this before, but I’ll try (almost) anything once. I was up for it, but I was also a bit trepidatious. We’d be paddling down the river, camping overnight somewhere (to be determined–eek!), and then paddling some more. I didn’t realize we’d have the opportunity to get off our kayaks and go on hikes–or that those hikes would include hot springs and waterfall climbing.
So last weekend, six of us headed out for a two-night trip. We spent our first night at the Hoover Dam Lodge and then launched kayaks the next morning. We spent Night Two camping out.
Our guide, Chris, a zebra-Mohawked, energetic guy with tons of great advice and a cute Yorkie named Gizmo, dropped us off at the Hoover Dam and sent us on our way. He suggested that we make camp by 2 p.m., as the winds were expected to kick up in the afternoon, which would make it hard to paddle!
We took his advice and chose a spot at our second stop – two miles down the river. We found a nice spot to camp, next to a creek that ran from the hot spring down to the river, and then we set out on a hike, paying special attention to the signs that warned us not to submerge our heads in the hot springs, because if we did, a brain amoeba might crawl in through our eyeballs and kill us slowly and painfully. I was worried about this, but one of the girls assured me it’s so rare to catch an amoeba. Still – there were signs – even if they were faded.
When we encountered our first rope climb–the one where water gushed down the side of the rock–I froze. We were getting ready to CLIMB UP that thing? Surely the rocks were slippery. And surely it would be hard to climb that rope with water pouring into your face.
But we did it! One by one! And then we did it again at the next rope. Each of us needed encouragement, and we coached each other on where to get a good foothold and which path seemed the best to take. The third rope was a really high climb up a steep rock face. Two of us tried and gave up, because we couldn’t find good places to put our feet, and a third friend made it to the top! Woohoo!
We headed back to the spot where we’d make camp that night, and then we faced the reality of going back DOWN those ropes! It was a bit intimidating, at least for me, but again, we did it!
Just a week ago, I wouldn’t have even thought about climbing up waterfalls on ropes! But there I was, there we all were, doing something that felt scary and exciting! And it was so much fun!
You see new things – and you see old things from a new perspective.
I have seen the Colorado River (in fact, on our recent trip to Moab, Utah, we camped right next to it). But I’ve never kayaked on it! And I’ve never taken trails accessible only from its bank or taken the time to notice the bright green clarity of the water. There were moments when we took breaks from paddling, and I just leaned back in my seat, grateful for the chance to see the river from this perspective.
The second day, after packing up camp, we repacked the kayaks and spent most of the day paddling. Yes, our arms were so tired. But it gave us time to enjoy the scenery.
You get out of your routine, ditch the daily grind, and hit the refresh button.
For 36 hours, we didn’t have any Internet or phone service. We couldn’t – gasp! – check Facebook or Instagram or Google how likely we were to get the brain amoeba we read about on the signs posted at the hot springs. We couldn’t read news headlines or make phone calls to schedule appointments. It was heavenly! We were forced to check out of real life, and for a short time, forget about work deadlines or calendar events or helping kids with homework. THAT was so refreshing. We couldn’t worry about any of that stuff – and we didn’t. This adventure forced us all to pause, take in nature, and breathe in the fresh air while basking in the sunlight – while paddling 12 miles down the river (our guide said it would feel like 85 but we agreed it felt like something between 12 and 85).
As ladies are known to do, the six of us talked a lot on this trip. We talked about husbands and kids and work and sports and food and other adventures we’ve had and want to have. We joked about how this was the first time we did not leave a step-by-step list for our husbands, detailing how they’d prepare the kids for school on Monday morning. We talked and talked and talked. And we laughed! Everything seems funnier when you’re simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted. We shared everything – food, wine, beer, dry bags, coolers, hats, photos, tents, and a portable toilet. I left our adventure feeling closer than ever to these girls. My kayak partner was a newer friend, but she felt like a longtime friend after we spent so long paddling – veering to the left over and over again.
You appreciate your relationships in a new way.
Being in an adventure situation brings out the best in people. The friend who planned this trip did a kick-ass job of renting the kayaks, planning the meals, and making sure we had everything we needed. As I mentioned, I’ve known most of these girls for a long time. Obviously, I love each one of them – otherwise I’d never have agreed to this zany adventure. But I appreciated each one of them more than ever in this situation. What a badass group of girls – packing all our stuff onto three kayaks, setting up and tearing down camp, and eating gourmet – after climbing waterfalls and hiking around the wilderness. And let us not forget the husbands! Each of our husbands willingly took the kids and enthusiastically helped us prep for the trip. They held down the forts while we adventured!
You have fun! Pure fun – for fun’s sake!
You guys, I felt almost guilty for having so much fun. I mean, on a Sunday. And a MONDAY. We were on the river for ourselves, with no agenda (other than to return the kayaks sometime Monday). We had no set schedule. Our only job was to have FUN. How often do you get to do that?
The bottom line is that we had a blast.
I was feeling trepidatious beforehand, and I wish I’d spent less time worrying about what gear I packed, whether I had the right shoes, and how many pairs of underwear to put in my backpack. None of that mattered. I had a great time with some very special people, and I’ll remember this adventure forever!
So here’s my advice to you: embrace your own sense of adventure! Go out there, even if it’s for a few hours, and have FUN, just for fun’s sake! I promise, it’s worth it!