Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pop Turns 70 - It's All About the Adventure!

My Dad turned 70 last week! My Mom threw a nice party with local family and friends in Huletts Landing, NY. And I just couldn't help myself - I had to toast the Pop we love! Here's the toast I gave my Dad at his 70th:

One of the greatest qualities my father has is his ultimate sense of adventure.

Dad made everything an adventure - everything - even our pit stops at the no-name gas stations on our 12-hour car drives to Lake George, Florida or Roanoke, VA. On any random stops we'd here a "Psst" the sound of Dad's trademark call meaning adventure this way. "Everyone out!" He'd say, "I saw a river and I'm sure there's swimming hole." And sure enough, on the side of the road, somewhere between Michigan and Lake George there was a river with even a cliff to jump off of. It was as if the greatest swimming holes and the best rope swings would just magically appear for Dad.

By far one of my favorite adventures with Dad was when I was in third grade. Grandma and Grandpa Corbett took us to Bermuda. We rented these little scooters that allowed us to pull off the road and explore any beach we saw. And in true Dad fashion at every single roadside beach there was fun to be had. But at one of these little beaches there was a path.... And before we knew it we heard his trademark call, “psst - this way.” And we were off - tiptoeing with excitement. The path turned into a cliff wall. We were scaling huge rocks, passing crabs the size of buses. We could see gigantic turtles, and sharks, and octopuses swim below us while we all clung onto the rock with our tiny fingers. It ended at a point with 50-foot waves crashing against the cliff. Dad told us we couldn't go back the way we came. We had to jump off the cliff and swim in. But we couldn't just jump - we had to time our jumps with the waves. Dad strictly instructed us that we could only jump when he said go and when he said go we had to jump - absolutely no hesitation. And when we hit the water, Dad told us to swim as hard as we could back to the beach. Never in my life had I felt so alive, never in my life had the sky seem so bright, the sun so pure, and life just that great - It was my first truly epic adventure. Now looking back, I am sure we weren't actually scaling cliffs and the jump was probably only 10 feet with maybe 3 foot rolling waves washing in - but in my memory - in my imagination - everything was epic - everything was amazing because we were with Dad.

It didn't matter if we were running around the baggage carousels in the Atlanta airport at the 3AM in the morning, it didn't matter if we were at the Grosse Pointe Park doing the dinky little exercise circuit, it didn't matter if we just in our backyard - my Dad could create the greatest adventures to be had.

I've kayaked all over the world, I've paddled the Grand Canyon, I spent winter after winter living in Coast Rica kayaking a river infested with horrid snakes, I've paddled huge waterfalls, I've hiked deep into some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. AND I know for a fact that I would have never had the guts to go on any of those adventures if it hadn't been for my Dad - he is the one that created that spirit inside me and in turn created my burning desire to show my own sons that every single day no matter where we are - no matter what we are doing we can create the greatest adventure.

Some people don't understand the adventure spirit and that's fine, but for my Dad I think it was his way of teaching us that we can’t achieve anything by sitting on the sideline. It was only by getting into the game - climbing out to random point in Bermuda, jumping off the high dive at GPYC, and swimming in an unknown river that we would be able to really see what we were made of and what we were capable of achieving.

My father still amazes me - even though he's 70 he still puts on a slick ski-racing suit and joins the ranks of the best US Skiers in the country and races the town downhill in Jackson Hole. For those of you that don't ski, this means he reaches speed on his skis faster than you drive on a regular road. He skis some of the hardest terrain in Jackson Hole and rides the lift back up with the young bucks that star in ski movies. And here at Lake George when Corby and I are back on the dock with him, it only takes him a few minutes before we here, "Psst - adventure this way!"

Happy Birthday Pops and thank you for always including me on all your adventures! We love you.

Me and Wyatt toasting Pop:)

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle