Rafting the Grand Canyon


January 15, 1999


As I opened my mail today, I never suspected that I would also be opening a door to my future.  I sorted out the important correspondence and bills and began to discard the advertisements and unsolicited catalogs.  They all were headed for the garbage.  Wait a minute...did that other small catalog say something about the Grand Canyon?   I retrieved it from the pile. It was the 1999 - Grand Canyon Institute Catalog.  I sat down and started to browse.  Lots of fun hikes but most of my hiking friends had already committed to family vacations this year.  

The women's Clear Creek hike sounded interesting.  Maybe I could talk my friend Dana Mears into going  with me.  We had just become card carrying members of the 900 Miler Club by hiking all of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Perhaps this might be another fun new adventure.  I had fallen in love with the Grand Canyon when Dana and I had gone to Bryce and Zion and the Grand Canyon 1994. On our way down to Indian Gardens we had run into Denise Traver, who was leading that same woman's backpack to Clear Creek.  We both wished we had known about it in time...yes, maybe I would call Dana.  

I poured another cup of coffee and turned the page.


The words leaped right off the page.  Surely that price must be a misprint!   Dana and I had taken the half-day trip out of Page, from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry and I had priced river trips at the time and was still getting the catalog.  Yes, this was definitely a misprint.
I read on further. "...this trip is not for the faint hearted ...you will work hard etc..."

Well maybe the work helped offset the price.  So I'll call what could it hurt.  

But...on the other hand...if it's not a misprint it will probably be filled anyway; why waste the long distance call? 

I glanced at the clock.  Tennessee time is 12 noon... so Arizona time is?  I never can remember but I think the Grand Canyon time is different.  Hmmm. Oh well, what he heck! 

Jack Pennington answered the phone and  I inquired about the service trip.  (Jack...you sounded much older over the phone...)

"Yes, there is still space available."  he said. 

My heart started to pound wildly.   My mind was racing a mile a minute as Jack briefly described the trip and outlined the work.  Before I knew what was happening,  I was reading my Visa card number to him and had signed up both my husband Bob and myself.  He thanked me and told me I would soon receive the necessary application papers in the mail.  I hung up the phone.

What had I just done?  Was I crazy?  Bob will never go I thought, we've had a boat for 12 years and he's only gone out on it 12 times and now the Colorado?   This must be what my friends are referring to when they talk about a senior moment!  

When Bob came home from work that night I gave it my best shot.   That usually starts with,

"Now Honey, don't say anything until I've finished!"  

Of course after 40 years of marriage he knows that means I really think this is important but am pretty sure he will disagree. Isn't it funny how the marital sonar works?   

Well I was dead wrong; he was as enthusiastic as I was!  The two of us spent the major portion of this past year wishing the time would pass more quickly.  (Probably not too good a plan at our age!)  We bought polypropylene this and that, river tevas, neoprene booties, Gore-Tex outerwear and everything we might ever need on the river.  

We read many of the books on the suggested reading list and when the TV guide advertised River of Stone and Powell's Expedition, we videotaped it and watched it over and over.  One of our friends had gone on a Western River Expedition trip and had a day by day video of his trip.  We watched it so many times we knew many of the rapids by heart.

Then in July, Bob had major surgery,  but the doctor assured him that he would still be able to make the trip in October.  But the doctor was too optimistic.  It was therefore with a heavy heart that Bob withdrew from the trip, due to medical reasons.  We sat down and talked after he made his reluctant decision and  he told me he knew how I had looked forward to this trip and how much I had wanted to go.  He started to tell me how he would make it up to me when I interrupted him and said,

"Don't apologize, because I am going to go!"  

The rest of our discussion isn't for publication.   But lest any of you readers think I am cold and heartless leaving "Poor Bob" home alone...let me assure you that he spent the entire time being pampered and lovingly cared for by our daughter, LynneAnne, son-in-law, Scott and our two lovely granddaughters Chelsea and Paige Krizan.  The logistics worked out better that we could have hoped.  Scott had a meeting in Houston, TX on Friday, October 1st, and suggested that I change my flight and go into Chicago's Midway airport with him on Friday morning. We drove up to Kankakee, Illinois with our new puppy, Honey on Tuesday and were even able to spend a couple of days visiting before I left.

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