Jan Risher -

If you've never whitewater rafted, I highly recommend it. My 14-year-daughter described it as "kind of like canoeing but more like a roller coaster." She's spot on. Yesterday as my family and I rafted, with a most capable guide, through the mountains of western North Carolina, I kept harking back to something a friend mentioned to me about her family's trip to Wyoming.
She said that as she and her daughters rode horse through Wyoming's landscape, she commented to one of the wranglers about the beauty all around. He said, "The really great thing is that it's real — the mountains are real. The horses are real."
I totally understand what he was conveying. So much of the world today isn't real that taking in what is becomes even more meaningful and powerful. Last year when I family went to a gigantic theme park hosted by a mouse in tails, I vowed I would never go back. Nothing against the brand. It's just that I didn't enjoy it. I hate waiting in lines. It was hot. Most every family we were near or encountered was having a spat. What was supposed to be the happiest place on earth just really didn't seem all that happy to me. And to refer to the wrangler’s observation, very little of it was real.

On the flip-side of that, this vacation was all about real. On a small island off the coast of North Carolina, we saw a giant sea turtle laying real eggs on a real beach beside a real ocean. We spent nearly a week taking in the sun, wind and sand a beach has to offer. We whitewater rafted through a real river through incredible real mountains.

It’s been good for us all.

For real.