Most Memorable Family Vacation Ever
I have never been comfortable with resort-style vacations. When I'm away from home/work, I want to move, see amazing things, be challenged to see the world in a different way. At the same time, with young kids we have been confined to more low-key type vacations, close to the comforts of first aid, food and naptimes. This vacation merged the best of both worlds. My kids (13, 11, and 7) were pushed just enough to be independent, to take risks, to learn a new skill, to see the wilderness for all it's wild-ness and beauty; unspoiled by informational signs, paved paths, or, well, other people. Still, there was food to keep their bellies happy at all times, cots to get a good night's sleep, and above all - exceptionally knowledgeable, kind, compassionate, responsible and conscientious individuals to guide us all down the river. Oliver knew everything about the river, and Moab, and was friendly and always ready to lend a helping hand. Ryan was so kind to the children - backed me up when I needed to be firm, allowed leeway when it was reasonable. He helped them have a good time but learned how to look out for danger, respect others. He will make a wonderful dad someday! Drew was our absolute favorite. She clearly understands children, knows how to meet their needs in a way that is always fun, safe, and clearly comes from a position of loving kindness. The children were drawn to her instantly, and always wanted to be near her, in her boat, ask her their (endless) questions, play with her. She let them participate - "rowing the raft" (with her help, of course - always safe), setting up camp, playing games. Drew will always be in our hearts and we hope to keep in touch with her as she continues her journey through life. She will do great things!
Overall, Western River Expeditions was exceptionally thoughtful about every detail in planning this trip. I never felt worried that there was not a backup plan. I think the part I appreciated the most was the team-spirit and community that the group formed over the short 5 days. We had folks of all religions and political beliefs. There were clearly differences in how we thought about and understood the world. In a time of so much division between people, finger-pointing, anger and non-understanding, this trip restored my confidence that the root of all those problems is lack of relationship. We ate together, spent days talking about all kinds of things, helped each other, participated in "firelines" and cleanup together, played and celebrated the blessing of our beautiful surroundings together. The world needs more people to go on trips like this. Maybe we should send our leaders in DC together out with Drew, Oliver and Ryan for a week :).
Thanks again for such a thoughtful and carefully planned trip. We will hold these memories warmly in our hearts forever!