Thanksgiving    There’s a moment when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Oh. I’m one of those pet owners.” For me, it came last weekend when our little beagle/shepherd mix, Penny, the sweetest dog I know (if not exactly the brightest) ran away.
My wife Kathy and I love that little dog more than is normal. The last I saw her, she ran up on the porch at our friend’s house, wagging her whole body and looking up at me with a big doggie smile. She was happy because she’d been playing for hours with seven other dogs on a great big 16 acre farm, and she was having the time of her life.

I should say that we moved here a few years ago from Maine, coming to work on the rivers at first, but then falling in love with the place. That’s saying a lot, because Maine is beautiful. But West Virginia’s beauty is more accessible. I drove all over the country and lived a lot of places trying to make up my mind where I wanted to be. No matter where I went, I just kept thinking about West Virginia. Never in all my travels have I seen so much of everything I love packed so close together. I could go into the low cost of living, too, but I won’t.

We made a great group of friends here, and one of them (a zip-line guide named Brent) had invited us down to his parents’ ranch on the Greenbrier River, an hour and a half from our house. The place is stunning. A huge farm with horses and a wraparound porch, on a sparkling bend in the river, with low hills climbing behind. We’d stayed there overnight, had some laughs, hot-tubbed, and our dogs had romped.

In the morning, as is the custom in West Virginia (I’m joking — sort of) we went out on the porch after eggs, bacon, and coffee and started blasting away at cans on the lawn. I’m making it sound a lot more redneck than it is. One gun was an air rifle (read: BB gun) and the other a .22 pistol (with enough stopping power to bring down a medium-sized squirrel if he was already drunk).

It was the pistol that scared off our Penny. She’s terrified of thunder, fireworks — any loud noise. Why didn’t I see it coming? Did I say she was sweet but not bright? Maybe the brainpower issue runs in the family. Anyway, an hour after we started blazing away, Kathy came out and asked if I’d seen her. I walked the property, calling, but no luck.

If this had been any other dog, I wouldn’t have worried, but she can hardly jump into a car by herself. If a door’s almost closed, with a 10-inch gap, she can’t get through it and will stand looking sad until we open it for her. If I hide a ball behind my back, she’s convinced it has vanished. She’ll fall for this over and over. But she’s so sweet. The sweetest dog ever.

Six friends who are former outdoor guides also joined in the search. They are climbing guides, zip-line guides, raft guides and videoboaters, most of whom moved here for the rivers like me and Kathy, then fell in love and made lives. One has a climbing business. Another’s a math teacher now. A CPA. A Marketing Director. And my wife Kathy, a banker. We all beat the bushes for hours. It was 37 degrees, and raining. We talked to neighbors, widening our search across rolling hills patchworked with farmland and forests.
One friend, who runs a thriving photography business and coincidentally has a deathly fear of spiders, even braved the giant crawlspace under the house to look for our dog, but no dice.

As the day got longer, I counted at least (no kidding) 75 deer, and became convinced that though Penny ran away at first because of the gunshots, she probably gave chase to a buck or a doe, then looked up and didn’t know where she was. And kept walking.
By dark, we stopped looking. Either someone would find her and call our phone numbers (on her tag) or she’d wander back on her own (though I didn’t think that was likely) or we’d never see her again.

We had to make a decision. Out here, with no phones, there wasn’t much more we could do. What if someone had already found her and was trying to reach us? We needed sleep to continue the search in the morning, and Kathy, who works at an understaffed bank branch, just couldn’t get the day off. We had to drive the hour-and-a-half home without Penny.

It wasn’t fun. All the way, in the dark and the rain, we kept thinking about her out there in the cold. She’d never spent the night by herself. I pictured her lost and confused, afraid, shivering, wanting her mom and her dad, and her bed. There are so many ways for a lost dog to die. Hit by a car. Hunters. Coyotes. She could get taken to an overfull animal shelter and put to sleep. (All the shelters around here are packed.) Then I checked the weather, and saw it would drop to 11 degrees the next couple of nights. I thought about Thanksgiving coming up, and how gloomy that would feel.

I’ve said we love that dog more than is normal. When we got home, the place felt wrong without her. Kathy and I posted on facebook and prayed.
Then something happened.

Friends started calling, texting, and emailing. A kayaker friend’s mom said her husband, an avid outdoorsman, was gearing up to drive down and search in the morning. A guy we know from the Army Corps of Engineers (he works on the massive dam that makes the Gauley flow) said he and his dog would be down to help look. Alan Jennings (ACE Whitewater’s master of logistics) offered help searching also. Other river friends said they were coming, too. Raft guides and river people of all shapes and descriptions. A friend of mine (my former boss in the video department at North American River Runners — now owned by ACE) put me in touch with another raft guide who drives school busses in the winter, in the area where our dog was last seen. That guy said he’d tap into all the other drivers down there, and they’d keep a look out on their morning rounds. Another friend who lives here, but commutes to DC for a marketing job, made a fantastic “Lost Dog” poster. So much help, so much sympathy and advice and so many prayers and good vibes.

Now, I love my dog, but we have to take a step back here: it’s a dog. And yet dozens of people were going well out of their way to help find her. I’d never experienced anything like it. If that kind of mobilization gets done for a beagle, can you imagine what a real emergency would produce?

It was nothing short of overwhelming. And though it was hard to sleep, at around 2:30 am we finally did. A couple hours later, we woke to a call from Brent. He’d been checking the porch every couple hours, and at 4:30 am, there she was. I couldn’t believe my ears, and he had to repeat it three times.

I drove down and got her. I bought great big fat cheeseburgers for her and our other dog, Murphy, and me and Kathy watched happily as they wolfed them down. Penny slept for 26 hours in her nice, warm, soft bed, getting up only to pee and to eat. I kept looking in on her, my heart overflowing with gratitude that she was back, for how comfortable she looked (I couldn’t get enough of that) and that I live in a place filled with so many good people who have loyalty woven into their warp and woof, and who will always find a way to make anything work.

This may not be where we’re from, but this little river community near the meeting of the New and Gauley Rivers is forever our home. We’re really, really looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Written by: Tom Gerencer

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ACE UK meets ACE Adventure Resort

Two sides of ACE! Photo credit = Allison Porco

On July 10th, I boarded a plane bound for Glasgow, Scotland.  Arriving early the next morning, I rented a car and drove up to visit my friends at Ace Adventures.  Huh?  There is another Ace Adventures you might ask…  There sure is, and I found them in 2011 while researching the Scottish Whitewater Rafting scene.  Since I work for ACE Adventures USA, I had to contact them. After some email introductions, I spent a week with Ace Adventures UK, paddling several rivers with their staff and having a great time.  Ace Adventures UK is owned and operated by Jim Davis.  Jim is from Tasmania, Australia, and has guided river expeditions around the world.  Love brought him to Scotland, and he splits his year between the UK and his native Tasmania, guiding expeditions on the Franklin River, a remote wilderness Class V river flowing through a UNSECO World Heritage area.

Upon arrival at Ace UK, Jim and I caught up on river chat.  He also informed me that he needed me to guide the next day.  At first I thought he was joking, but he was serious.  So on Saturday, July 12th I had a personal milestone in my river career, guiding my first whitewater rafting trip abroad.  In a strange coincidence, the International Rafting Federation (IRF) had declared that this date was “World Rafting Day”.  I had paddled the River Findhorn extensively on my previous trip, and felt confident that I could get a raft down it, but I have to admit I was a little nervous.

Our trip was a relatively small one, with four rafts and sixteen people.  The Ace UK guides Lewis, Chris, and Nick were extremely helpful and went out of their way to make sure I knew what was coming up next.  The River Findhorn was running a bit on the lower side, owing to a slight drought, unusual for the Scottish Highlands.  The Findhorn is like a miniature Gauley River, and is a Class IV-V river when it is in “spate” or running high. Ace Adventures UK is the only Scottish rafting outfitter who runs the Findhorn daily.  There is an upper section that is suitable for a milder ride, much like our Upper New River trips.

ACE adventures

After the trip, Jim asked me if I wanted to work the next day.  I readily agreed, and I ended up being the safety raft for a one boat trip.  Joining me for this trip was a friend from the US, Allison, and she was game to go rafting again.  With just the two of us in a small raft, some guide training was involved, and Allison took photographs of the guests while I provided safety for the other raft.  Both of the trips went smoothly, there were no major crashes, and I did not have to pay any “guide fines” (aka buy beers).

ACE adventuresLike the previous visit to Scotland, myself and the management of ACE WV provided gifts for the staff of Ace UK.  Each of their guides received an ACE WV t-shirt courtesy of ACE Mountain Sports.  I got each of their guides a cool and robust red “Solo” style cup with our logo on it.  Jim got a special gift from ACE WV, a limited-edition shirt that only ACE WV managers received.  For our last night with our Scottish friends, a barbeque was held at the Ace UK basecamp.  We ended up playing Rugby, American Football, and a cultural exchange of party games.  I’d like to thank Jim and the staff of Ace Adventures UK for being such good friends and hosts.  Although our two companies are not officially related, we share a bond defined by the love of outdoor adventures, and the comradery of like-minded peoples.  If any of our ACE WV guests are headed to Scotland, just remember the name Ace Adventures, and Jim & crew will show you a good time in the Scottish Highlands.

Written by: Kip Conklin

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ACE Adventure Resort
Monotony kills. Don’t get me wrong, stability and consistency is what fuels the forward motion of life. We know here at ACE Adventure Resort that “all forward” is what keeps us going downstream. But monotony, means getting stuck in the same rut. To us, this means getting “eddied out”, in other words no real forward motion. Anytime we get caught up by life and become complacent this happens. It can happen to anyone, in large or small doses.

Variety: that is the spice of life. Many of our employees have families, and “desk jobs” they work throughout the winter. However, they understand the danger in monotony. Many of us are busy working on a college degree, or working overtime for a promotion that will mean more monotonous work. Once we accomplish these things, we look back on it and appreciate, truly appreciate, those moments of fun and adventure that made monotony bearable. Without that adventure, we would not be able to continue striving for our goals. Without spurts of adventure during monotony where would we really be? “Unhappy” may be one of the destinations on that unforgiving road.

What I’m trying to relate here, is that life is all about taking chances when you have the opportunity. Those are the moments you will look back on and continue to revel in the glory of it.  Don’t you want to think outside your box a little? Perhaps challenge yourself? We want you to. Because we have. There is beauty in the unknown. While consistency has its place in our lives, so should adventure. Maybe you don’t have the time to take a weeklong vacation with us (we wish you did) however we are still here whenever you are ready. Start small. Come see us for one weekend, and challenge our river to a dual. We are positive that you’ll be hooked. Maybe life has seemed slow moving lately. Take some time off and come fly through the trees with us on a zip line.

Escape to us. Escape WITH us. You owe it to yourself. Put monotony on the shelf for a while and live a little. This folks, are those memories you will look back on one day and thank yourself for being brave enough to make.

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Raft guide

This week’s employee of the week continues to prove that ACE is always adding great people to the family that share the same love of the outdoors. Kelly Buchanan is 23 years old and is back at ACE Adventure Resort for her 2nd year as a whitewater guide. Don’t let Kelly’s short time at ACE fool you, because this high adrenaline little lady is passionate about the river and what she does! While Kelly has lived in WV for some time, she is originally from Powder Springs, GA. She is the baby of her family, having two older brothers. She attributes this older brothers to making her the outdoorsy “tom boy” that she is today.

While Kelly’s childhood was readying her for a life in the outdoors, it was an act of fate that brought her to ACE. She was working as a promotional model for Shock Top, which came to ACE for an event. They took part in both Zip Line and ATV tours. She was interested in being an ATV guide, because she grew up riding motorcycles as a child. However, at ACE you usually become a raft guide first. When training, Kelly fell in love with the river and a part of herself she never knew existed.

Kelly is going to school to get her associate’s degree in Veterinary Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Allied Health so she can become a pharmaceutical rep for Vet Medicine. While that sounds like quite the endeavor, her goals don’t stop there! While she works toward this, she wants to continue guiding on the weekend, and become a member of the National Outdoor Leadership School as a whitewater and back country hiking guide in Patagonia. What great aspirations! Kelly is always smiling and laughing and working to give each guest a unique and memorable time at ACE. She loves the sense of community she gets with the other guides while at ACE and that it has given her another life passion. We are thankful to have great folks like Kelly passionate about whitewater just like we are!

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New River Gorge

It’s one of the biggest days of your life. Why would you spend it being stressed out, jumping through hoops and participating in things that don’t even really appeal to you only for “tradition” sake? This is how Tammy and Keith Taylor feel about their wedding they had with ACE on July 12. Keith and Tammy spent the morning floating down the Upper New River in duckies. There was no crying over the hairdresser ruining her hair, no late florist, no lost rings and no lingering question of “what do we do with all of this cake?!” There was however, their closest family and friends, sharing in a fun filled day on the river in the sunshine.

There was no stress to dim the joy of their special day. As the river trip approached Jump Rock, the couple both prepared to take the plunge and marry their best friend. Their wedding ceremony was held on top of the jump rock, in which Minister Harry Fuler gave a beautiful analogy of love being much like the rivers. The New River is the only river to flow against nature’s will, against the vast mountains, and flow north. The Gauley river has been made an angry river and will put even the most skilled rafter in their place. The two rivers while untamable despite even the best of efforts, come together and find serenity. As we realize the surrounding beauty, the beauty of that comparison, and the love in front of us during this awesome ceremony, the two clasped hands and took a leap faith together into the river below.

Keith is a chef who does a lot of high end gourmet dinners and he has seen the stress of planning a traditional wedding. It just wasn’t something the two were interested in. They wanted adventure, much like what their prior 10 years together has already brought them. Relatives came in from Texas to share in the event, even jumping off the rock as well to show the faith they too share in the relationship (and to have some fun as well).
We are so thankful we got to be a part of this lovely couples day. Jumping into the river of love, adventure style. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate plunge.

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ACE Adventure Park & Lake

ACE Adventure Resort is one of a kind. It is full of magical, adventure-rich memories about to be made. It’s out of the norm because it certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill vacation spot. We love it here. However, we know it’s “different”. We are constantly reminded that we aren’t the lavish spa-type of vacation that many socialites seek. Hipsters sipping cappuccinos while staring at their macs don’t surround our lake. Here, the real hipsters are IN the lake, playing and smiling as big as the 10 year old kid next to them.

You can’t get your nails done here, you won’t get a massage, and in fact, you might leave here sore and with funny tan lines. We aren’t the resort you come to if you want to go shopping at designer stores or eat exotic foods. We are a locally owned, quirky business and appreciate a “well-made burger and beer” kind of meal. That is who we are.

But really, if you do vacation at one of those lavish resorts, will you take photos of getting your nails done? Will you FB that image to your friends and tell them how exciting it was? No, because it was relaxing and that’s great. But was it really fun? At ACE we understand that we are a little rough around the edges. We are a bit out of the way (where the heck is Minden, WV anyway?).  We may be the “tom boy” of other resorts, but that’s how we like it!

We offer you so much more that other resorts would cringe at for fear of staining their khakis. We offer you trip stories that you’ll be reminiscing about for the rest of your life, and pictures everyone will WANT to look at. We don’t offer an atmosphere of standards and snoots, but of people that enjoy a “come as you are, be who you want to be” way of life.

We have bands that you won’t need a tux to see, but will need a little boogie in your step to enjoy. Our activities will push you, in the best possible way. You will remember what it’s like to visit real fun again. So here’s to knowing that we can be rough at times. Here’s to real adventurers. And here’s to being different WV resort in the best way possible: Real. Genuine. Fun.

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New River Gorge, West Virginia

The mountains of West Virginia have been my home for a little over 21 years now. I was born, raised, educated, employed and continue to live in this majestic state. Over the years, I have heard more than a fair amount of silly stigmas about my lady WV. Because I work in social media at ACE Adventure Resort, I talk to guests from all over the globe. This is a list of 5 things the world should know regarding our state.

5 Things People don’t understand about West Virginia:

1.    We are a tropical climate
I’m fully aware that we aren’t some remote island across the world. However, our weather is often unique to the rest of the United States. One week it will rain so much that we think we will become the sequel to Water World starring Kevin Costner. The next week it will snow and the following week it will be a high of 80 degrees and you’ll find us outdoors soaking up the sun. This has really happened guys. Keeps it interesting that’s for sure.

2.    We are not all cast members of “Deliverance”
This is one joke I have heard all too many times. Yes we have seen the movies. It’s never wise to trust Hollywood though. In actuality, our state is filled with a wide range of people, from all over the world. People escape their own state to come to ours. As a West Virginia native, I can say that working at ACE Adventure Resort, I am one of few that are originally FROM this state. Many of our employees came to us because their own state left them feeling without sense of adventure in their lives.

3.    There’s nothing to do here
We aren’t known for our malls that’s for sure. Although we do have movie theatres, clubs, live music and a multitude of outdoor activity. I spend my own summers rafting world class rapids, zip lining, by the lake with my friends by day and dancing to live music by night. I rarely find myself desiring the boredom of the mall thanks to this great state.

4.    We only listen to country music
No. Being interested in a wide variety of music, I can assure you I don’t have to look very far when wanting something sweet to listen to. Punk, rock, pop, oldies, funk, we love them all. Not to mention that ACE is contributing to West Virginia’s music scene greatly with its very own Mountain Music Festival; featuring bluegrass bands, rockabilly, funk, punk and folk bands.  We like to toe tap and booty bump just like the rest of ‘em.

5.    Coal is our only industry
The coal mining industry is an important guy in West Virginia, yes. However, recently this industry is dwindling down. What keeps us alive? We offer an outdoor tourism industry that showcases the beauty of our state in the best way possible. As mentioned before, you guys come to us for adventure, keep that in mind.

Don’t be narrow minded about this great state. We are made up of a wide variety of people and activities set out in beautiful, mountainous land. Don’t cheat yourself. Come explore and you’ll understand a whole lot more about West Virginia.

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Steve Arenaz

This week our employee of the week should be a contender for the world’s most fascinating man! Steve Arenaz, in his own words, “bleeds blue and yellow”, the colors of ACE and has fallen in love with the company. Luckily for him, the love is mutual. After being disappointed with past business endeavors, Steve took an adventurous shot in the dark in 2009 and decided to move to WV to train as a raft guide with ACE. He is a New and Gauley River guide, a zip line guide and mud obstacle guide. Steve loves to see and adventure the world and share that passion with others.

Steve has spent 6 wonderful seasons with ACE, only taking one season off for chemo treatments. Coming back from something like that, has left him with a deeper zeal and appreciation for life. He calls himself a ”child of the world” as he has moved around and traveled much of the world. Places that Steve has left his footprint include: Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Austria, Croatia, the Netherlands, China, Mexico, Canada, Britain and of course all over the United States. His passion for the river and seeing those smiling faces in his raft is what keeps him coming back to West Virginia summer after summer. By day he is found guiding a raft, by evening cooking a meal of culinary-genius proportions for many of the other employees, and by night serenading ACE with his banjo melodies. It’s great employees like Steve that help make ACE as awesome as we are and we are glad to have him along for the adventure!

Steve Arenaz

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In May of 2014, ACE was proud to show some high school students from Boone Career & Technical Center around our property and highlight what it’s like to work in WV’s Tourism and Outdoor Recreation industry. Because we are cool, we offered them a contest = best blog about their day at ACE wins a pass for 4 people at our Adventure Park & Lake. Below are the four entries we received from the 8 participants.

Because these cats are as cool as we are, we decided to give all four entries a pass for one free zip line tour (in addition to the grand prize winner). We look forward to having the next generation of outdoor professionals back at ACE Adventure Resort. Thanks guys for the awesome blogs!

tourism industry in WV

Boone Career & Technical Center Participants with Ms. Roberts

THE BIG WINNER = Tyler Elkins-
Thank You ACE for letting my school and I come to your resort! I had a blast doing all the things we did; rafting, zip lining, staying in a cabin, paintball, playing in the lake, and running around with Jim on security! Out of all the fun I had, there was one thing that I enjoyed doing the most and that was zip lining. Our instructor’s name was Ryan and he was awesome. He made my zip lining experience fun and exciting! As much as I loved zip lining, I also loved the lake. My friends and I had a blast on the blob, launching people in the air. We jumped on the water trampolines, did the lake zip line, and played on the jungle gyms. I know this blog was supposed to be about my favorite thing, but I honestly loved everything about ACE. I had the best time rafting down the upper New River. My River Guide/Teacher Ms. Roberts taught me a lot about rafting and reading where the river water is going; she also taught us how to hit a rapid the correct way to where we wouldn’t flip.

When I first got to ACE, it looked like nothing but fun to me, and it was. The morning I got there I didn’t know what to expect. Ms. Roberts took me up to the bus garage, which is where I met Jim the security guard. He took another student and I all around the 1500 acre resort on a side by side four-wheeler. He took us to the top of the resort and showed us an amazing overlook of the historical town of Thermond and explained to us how it used to be a booming town with 450 people living there. There are now currently 5 people living in Thermond, West Virginia.

My experiences at ACE were amazing and I can’t wait to come back with my family and friends to play in the lake and paintball. I’m sure they’ll love it just as much as I did. Besides, my family has been wanting to go to ACE for a very long time anyway! Thank you for the wonderful expierence I had while I was at ACE, I can’t wait to come back soon!

The most action packed plACE in West Virginia- Garrett Napier 
Why travel outside the state of West Virginia looking for adventure when right in our own back yard there is a 1500 acre adrenaline farm. ACE adventure resort is fun and daring for all ages.  When we arrived at ace we were all filled with excitement, and couldn’t wait to get the day started. Ace has friendly, enthusiastic employees. You could tell everyone there was passionate about their job. Throughout the day we did some crazy and exciting activities including  getting launched into the lake by the blob and doing some extreme mountain bike trails with spectacular views of the New River Gorge. In the evening we harnessed up and were soon zipping from platform to platform, gaining speeds up to forty miles per hour. I definitely recommend the evening zips because you don’t want to miss the sun setting on the New River. Zip lining is an awesome addiction and I will definitely do it again. As the morning sun arose, so did we, gathering our things for a day of whitewater rafting on the upper New River. With our Gopros rolling we hit the rapids without fear, following behind our experienced guides. This was two of the most action packed and unforgettable days I  have experienced. I recommend this trip for all thrill seekers in search of an adrenaline high!

Landen Napier-
The best way to describe my adventure at ACE is pure adrenaline! The second you step out of your vehicle at the welcome center you know you are in for an awesome experience. Immediately your attention is drawn to the lake. The lake has a zip line, water slide, a blob, and many inflatable items including trampolines, slides, and rock walls. The lake is one of the coolest places at ACE, but we are just getting started.  ACE offers mountain biking courses. One amazing trail takes you on a breath taking ride as it brings you to the beautiful overlook above the once booming coal town of Thurmond. For all of the thrill seekers you can strap into a harness and go on the ride of your life as you zip from platform to platform along the rim of the new river gorge. After an adventuress day of zip lining you and your friends can go head to head in exciting matches of paintball. It’s up to you and your allies to defend your territory. If you are daring enough to put on your PFD and get into the raft, then you will have one of the best times of your life as you ride the rapids of the New River.  The overall best part about being at ACE is the staff. They help to make your trip enjoyable and unforgettable. ACE Adventure Resort is a perfect getaway location which will lead to a lifetime of fun filled adventures.

Jeffery Adkins-
The ACE Adventure Resort was one of the most amazing experiences of my life; I will definitely never forget this trip. From the time that I arrived there, to even after I returned home, it was just so much fun. All of the staff there were like best friends, it was basically one big family. Everyone had their job and knew how to do it very well. They all work diligently to keep the mountain that the resort is on cleaned up, free of trash beside the trails and the roads. This resort was enormous. It was like a huge maze of hiking trails and there is so much that it offers. From paintballing to zip line tours to white water rafting down one of the oldest rivers in the world. I want to, and plan on going back there this summer.

I was only there for about two days, and within those two days I had the time of my life. The first thing I did when I got there was an internship in which I worked in the company restaurant which was a lot of fun. The staff there is so friendly and we were friends in no time. Then I had a second internship that afternoon and I got to follow the security guard, Jim, around the resort. He basically drove me around and showed a majority of the place, it was too big to see it all within those two hours. The thing he did show me was probably one of the best views I have ever saw in my life. This was the overlook view from the top of the mountain that looked down on the New River and the town of Thurmond. The next thing I did was swim at the lake. The lake was so much fun with all the giant floats and also just swimming is fun in general to me. That evening I went on the zip line tour, which I would have to say is my favorite part of this trip. I am absolutely terrified of heights by the way, just to let you know. My zip line guide was Ryan. Ryan was a really cool and fun guy, and he knew exactly what he was doing. I was hesitant to do the first zip because of the height, but after that I loved it. The views during the line were breathtaking and just astonishing. The feeling and adrenaline rush I received was just great. After the zip line tour we went back to our cabins and made a fire then went to sleep for another day of adventure tomorrow. The next morning we went back to the restaurant to eat breakfast then I set out for my white water rafting tour. By the time we arrived to the sport we would begin the crew was already there and had our rafts and duckies ready to go. We went through the Upper New River so the rapids weren’t that bad and the biggest one was a class 3 rapid called surprise. That was the best part of it. At the end of the rafting tour they already had the truck there and ready to take our rafts. As we were putting our rafts on the truck on of the guides were cooking us lunch. After the rafting tour we started our hour and a half journey back home.

I only got to do a few things this wonderful place had to offer but I want to go back and explore the rest. This place has showed me how much I like to adventure and do fun things such as these. It has opened my eyes and has changed my views on several things. I have been greatly impacted by ACE and I might even see myself as a future employee possibly. I fell in love with ACE since I sat foot in it, I highly recommend this place to anyone and everyone.

*the blog entries are shown in their original form. Judging was based off content, writing style and grammar.

tourism jobs at ACE 10351881_10152229250734748_8080100563099786611_n 10401872_10152229253239748_6747568068952689058_n

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Rapids on the New River

Zach S. running the middle section of the Kenney Brothers Rapid on the Lower New River.
Photo by Kathie Green

For some, kayaking comes more easily than for others; like my friend, in the photo above, running a Class V Rapid. For me, I am still proudly in the “others” category. While I’m still very early on in my kayaking career, boating has been a continuous struggle for me. However, as with most struggles, this one has come along with lessons.  Before we go any further though, let me give you some back-story.

I moved to West Virginia in the summer of 2013, with the intent of being a video boater on the New River. The fact that I had never kayaked before didn’t seem like much of an obstacle at the time. I’ve always been the kind of person to easily jump into whatever was in front of me. I didn’t see why this would be any different.  As you’ve probably assumed already, I was terribly wrong.

Quickly, I discovered that kayaking did not come naturally to me. In fact, almost everything about it felt un-natural. Along with that struggle, I was completely new to the river. “Green tongues?” “Hydraulics?” “Undercuts?” It was a foreign language.  With each pull of my skirt and each long swim, I became more and more scared of my boat as well as the river.  Frantically, I would paddle away from any water that moved. To top it all off, I was alone. No one else at camp was learning how to kayak, no one I could relate to or vent to. Only experienced boaters that I kept comparing myself to. After about a month, I wanted to quit, to never sit down in a kayak again.

So here are where the lessons come in. I realized that I didn’t want to fail more than I wanted to quit.  So I reached out to those experienced boaters for help and guidance. With welcoming arms they showed me the ropes and taught be about the river. Slowly I became more comfortable on the river and in my boat. The joy of boating started to take ahold of me rather than the fear of boating.

Now, almost a year later, I am still in my boat. Does whitewater kayaking still scare me? Hell yes. Do I still struggle with kayaking? Absolutely. But I am still trying, still pushing to become a better boater. Because my whitewater lessons have been this: never give up, never compare myself to others, and to appreciate the life that I have. It’s crazy that something as simple as water moving downhill has taught me such vital life lessons, but there is no doubt that it has. So what lessons has whitewater taught you?

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