I can tell you how good we are until I am blue in the face. However, it is important to hear from actual guests who have had amazing experiences with us too.
Three generations of the Weinstocks visited us in May for a “boys’ weekend.” They rendezvoused in Charleston from all over the East Coast and then made the rest of the trek to ACE. After planning a botched snorkeling trip in Belize, Michael Weinstock arranged a trip to ACE with high hopes.
Here is the story that Dr. Weinstock wrote for a local paper in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Weinstock was also adamant that I give Julia a special mention for being such a great guide.
What do you do when your wife decides to leave for a weekend to take “the girls” to New York? I tried to think of something to do with “the boys.”
Our son, Michael, proposed a trip to do white water rafting in West Virginia. Since it was early May, our main concern was the possibility of cold weather, including snow – this never occurred to optimistic Michael.
After a flight from Ohio to Florida to pick up my 11 year old grandson, Cole, we flew (starting at the ungodly hour of 4 AM) to Charleston, West Virginia where we met his father, Ted, coming in from Washington, DC. Then we linked up with our son, Michael and his 2 sons, Theo and Eli, who picked us up at the airport (we all arrived within 1/2 hour of each other) for the 1 ½ hour trip to ACE Adventure Center in Oak Hill, West Virginia for our outdoor adventure. We were all somewhat wary since Michael has not always come up with the best ideas in the past.
Driving through the state, there are many areas of quiet Nature without any signs of people – pristine mountains, many dirt roads, areas without stores or homes. This type of atmosphere was what we cherished in our younger camping days with our children. It is nice to see a state that is interested in preserving these areas. As the roads got rougher and narrower, we knew that our destination was nearing.
ACE Adventure Resort is composed of 1,500 mostly wooded acres offering a variety of outdoor activities – camping tents or cabins of all sizes and features, mountain biking for all degrees of difficulty, paintball fights, zip lining, a disc golf course (“golf” played with Frisbees), a lake for swimming with a long slide and many “water toys”, ATV vehicles, team challenge courses, mud tracks, a restaurant, bar and grill, and many more ways to enjoy ourselves. With all of these activities, the professionalism of the ACE staff was always visible. Safety was their #1 concern.
After checking in, we drove up a mountain road to our magnificent, modern cabin – sleeps 6, with 2 bathrooms, kitchen, a large rustic porch overlooking wilderness and a hot tub. Obviously, this was not roughing it.
The first activity was mountain biking, which was started with some trepidation on my part. Could we all (especially me) do it? More importantly, could I do it? We went up and down mountainous roads – quite strenuous, but a lot of fun for all of us. From my standpoint, getting older has made me much more cautious, especially when riding a bike on rough, non-paved, primitive trails. We all could do it with some hills when we walked with the bikes. The 1,500 acre site of ACE had many trails of varying degrees of difficulty. The best part was the road that led to our cabin where we enjoyed the hot tub, followed by a great salmon dinner prepared by Michael – a welcome end to a long, tiring day for all.
Our rafting adventure, organized by ACE, began the next day started at 8 AM (again in bright sunlight). There was a 45 minute safety and whitewater briefing. We had to sign a permission and waiver form listing two pages of possible problems, including death (somewhat sobering). Death is extremely rare, but actually has happened in the past. Accidents do occur when people fall off the raft (rare) or lose their balance in the rapids. We promptly minimized these warnings and proceeded to get our instructions, followed by the gear – PFD, personal flotation devices (previously know as life preservers – the name changed since they don’t necessarily save your life in an emergency), oars, helmets, and splash jackets to keep us warm.
A 20 minute jarring bus ride took us to the New River (said to be the 2nd oldest river in the WORLD!!!!!).
The six of us were in a raft with our experienced guide, Julia. In addition to safely guiding us, she continually discussed rafting, the river, the history, etc. She related to “children” of all ages.
We all had oars and worked hard at paddling as directed by Julia. The Lower New River is described on the Bridge Day website as “One of the most spectacular canyons in the east, the depth of the New River Gorge ranges from 700 to 1,300 feet. Herein, the river drops 240 feet over a 14-mile stretch of Class I-to-V rapids.”
On the river, as well as much of West Virginia, we were in a different world – basically able to appreciate nature without the distraction of shopping centers, houses and other aspects of the current world of South Florida. The only noises were those of the rapidly moving river and birdcalls. In contrast to Southern Florida, there is no “flat” ground.
The river which started with calm waters was interspersed with rapids, caused by the rock formations deep in the river which is often over a hundred feet deep. During the calm areas with deepwater pools, there was time for swimming and games.
The Class III rapids were real exciting with 5 to 10 foot drops and much rough water which got all of us wet – there was no “hiding.” Although the rapids could be dangerous, there was no concern with Julia as our leader. She took NO chances and had complete control. It is possible, but very rare for a raft to turn over. It is easier to fall overboard, but we were carefully instructed as to how to handle ourselves if such a situation would occur.
On the river, we were returned to Nature where all we saw were trees, water and no people except for the other raft with us. It is unusual to be able to be with this untouched Nature for six hours. There is nothing that can beat the beauty of Nature!
For lunch we stopped on the side of the river where the staff cooked hamburgers and served many kinds of excellent food – salad, chips, dips, tuna fish, cookies and more.
During one calm area those who wished engaged in “water fights”- standing on either side of a 2 person raft (which was turned over to give a flat surface for standing) and jumping to see who could stay on the longest. Cole was our hero, outlasting all including his father Ted.
This very trying adventure was capped off by returning to the hot tub. This was prior to enjoying dinner and listening to an excellent guitar player followed by another good night of sleep.
Sunday morning we woke and headed out hiking in pristine, magnificent woods where we again encountered no people, only nature including many red salamanders. The great amount of mud and steepness made me grateful for my walking stick which saved me from falling many times.
This was a great experience whereby three generations had a chance to appreciate Nature and to spend quality time together. Probably the most unique aspects were the welcome absence of cell phone reception and Internet connectivity. We were really in remote areas. It was a very strange feeling, but we all enjoyed it and made up for it as soon as we got to the Charleston airport where both services were again available.
Fortunately, the feared rain and cold never materialized allowing us to enjoy a weekend of warm, dry, sunny weather.
The girls (also 3 generations) had their own equally wonderful time, visiting New York, seeing some relatives, shopping and attending the Billie Elliott Broadway show.
These are the types of things that we have to do when we are able and when we all can appreciate them. There is nothing as good or as important as spending quality time with family!!!