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Adventure travel for women
How Older Cowgirls Get Rid of the Blues
By Debbie Jacobs, Explorations in Travel
2, 2005 - I first met Bev, a youthful 60 something, on a whitewater
rafting trip. In and of itself, there's nothing extraordinary about that
(she was one of the 'youngsters' on board). But in the months preceding
our adventure I heard from Bev regularly. She called to confirm that she
didn't "have" to get in a raft.
One of the wonderful aspects of Oregon’s Rogue
River is that along with great whitewater and glorious scenic floats
through forestlands and narrow canyons, there’s a trail that parallels
it. So, in theory, someone on a raft trip could get out and walk every
foot of the river. But why would anyone want to I wondered?
Bev wanted to because she was afraid of water, or
more specifically, afraid of deep and fast moving water. For a
non-swimmer, terrified by the thought of being tossed into churning
whitewater, a raft trip seemed an odd choice. But since the description
of the trip called it a ‘hike & raft’ trip Bev planned on taking
advantage of the ‘hike’ half.
I’ve developed a healthy respect for whitewater over the years so I
could not discredit Bev’s concerns. I had chosen this river for its
beauty and for being an appropriate river for beginning paddlers. As a
river guide I appreciate the power that rivers have to both exhilarate
and calm us and I wanted the women joining me to experience that. My
faith that that would happen for Bev was waning with each call.
But then I hadn’t met Bev before.
Unafraid to voice her fears, she’s also unafraid to
confront them. Never having ridden a horse did not deter her from
signing on to be part of a cattle drive in Montana. It was a dream of
hers and the future all too quickly becomes the past, so dreams need to
be acted on.
Bev fell in love with the west (and the presence of
real-live cowboys may have added to the allure) and after two years of
deliberating, scheming, doubting and planning, put her New England home
on the market, rented a moving van and headed off to Montana. She
finally retired and lives there now on her own piece of the prairie
along with a rescued one-eyed horse and her cats, which are glad the
drive out west is over.
On the Oregon raft trip Bev didn’t get out of the
raft once. She progressed from sitting in the gear boat and hanging on,
to being right up front in the raft, which a team of six paddled through
It didn’t surprise me when after her first
cross-country ski trip, with too many butt bruising falls, Bev informed
me that she had had her fill of skiing. It also didn’t surprise me when,
a month later, she called to ask what length skis she should buy. After
all, it snows in Montana in the winter and even cowgirls need to stretch
their legs a bit.
Debbie Jacobs, founder and president of
Explorations in Travel,
http://www.exploretravel.com, organizes outdoor and cultural
adventures for women over 40 and arranges individual volunteer
placements in Latin America, the South Pacific and Nepal. She lives in
southern Vermont with too many dogs. She can be contacted at
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