See the picture above? My grandfather is the second one back on the left-hand side, my mom’s the third one back on the right side of the picture and that’s Anna taking them down the river! Isn’t that awesome?My grandfather is legally blind and 83 years young, but that didn’t stop him from taking on the Class I-III rapids of the Upper New River with ACE. Where am I in the photo? Oh, well, I was taking my dad and my older sister through the bigger stuff on the Lower New that day. Couldn’t be in two places at once, now could I?
My grandpa has the same photo on his wall in his home in Florida and shows it off to everybody who comes to visit him. He was so thrilled to be going whitewater rafting with our family. The photo was taken on a sunny day in August at Surprise rapid, a Class II that time of year, but to hear my grandpa tell the story and show off the photo, it’s the hardest Class V rapid out there!
All of his retired friends think he’s so brave and adventurous for going whitewater rafting at his age. They were all so nervous for him before he left, because of course he was crazy for going, but when he returned to Florida, everybody was hanging on his every word as he told stories about his exhilarating experience on the Upper New.
Right next to the rafting photo on his wall is one I took of him when my family went on the canopy tour. It’s a beautiful shot of Grandpa zipping down the second zipline, with a huge grin on his face, all dolled up in safety gear. That’s another great tale my grandpa tells all his friends.
While the zip line was only 60 feet off the ground, Grandpa has embraced the raft guide storytelling mode, so every time he talks about it, the zip line becomes higher and higher.
I loved bringing Grandpa out to ACE to show him what I do for a living. He was so excited to see me in my work environment and to have some adventurous stories to tell when he got home. He claimed he was an amazing paddler and was totally ready for the Lower New or even the Gauley. Maybe he can do them next summer.