Sun, July 21

A Sense of Adventure: Arizona native rafts Grand Canyon at 82

Ready to launch on Day 1. Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Ready to launch on Day 1. Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Equipped with sleeping bag, ground cover, pillow and 18 pounds of suitcase, 82-year-old Lovel "Lovey" Munday rafted her way through yet another Arizona adventure. 

Grand Canyon whitewater tours trace the Colorado River, flowing over rapids and stopping at campsites along the way. It was a trip Munday and her late husband Dave had always wanted experience, but never got the opportunity. 

The couple spent their 58 years together raising four children, running a variety of businesses, and taking in America's diverse landscapes, especially in their home state of Arizona. 

"Arizona is the place to be. Dave and I got an opportunity to get to all the states except Rhode Island, and we always had the idea, is this going to be better?" Munday said. "Nothing was better than Arizona."

They met in 1949 through an aquacade swimming group and attended Arizona State College, now ASU. They lived in Phoenix, Prescott, Sedona, and ultimately in Cottonwood.

In Sedona, Munday drove Jeeps for the Pink Jeep Tours at $5 per person for a two-hour trip. She specialized in plant life and their uses among Native Americans.

Munday and her husband did their fair share of off-roading as well.

"We'd pile up the four kids in the back of a Toyota along with my mother and take off, climbing the mountains and exploring the old mines," she said.

Her daughter, Kathy Robinson, said her mom would take Pink Jeep passengers up nearly vertical climbs. Today, camping trips, voluteer hours at Verde Valley Medical Center, and a full social calendar make Munday an active great-grandmother. 

"She's just got a sense of adventure," Robinson said. "She wants to go, go,'s been exciting to watch her continue to grow even as she gets older."

After Dave's death in 2009, the couple's camping group, called the Verde Valley Kamp Alarks, encouraged her to attend the September trip. Members made sure Munday was able to make it each month after until she and her friend Ruth Sagar, 85, could buy their own camping van.

"It was the best thing that could've happened," Munday said. 

Two couples from her camping group and a few Verde Valley Baptist members were organizing the trip down the Colorado River when her friend Cindy Rawlinson invited her along for the ride.

Hesitant at first, Munday's children encouraged her to take the trip she and her husband had always wanted to.

Munday put her waterproof camera around her neck, strapped on a life vest, and climbed into a 16-passenger raft that took the group from campsite to campsite along the bottom of the Grand Canyon. They slept under the stars, ate camp meals and waded neck-deep to drift in the Colorado's calmer rapids. Munday said each of the trip's 187 miles was filled with color, history and beauty.

Rawlinson and Munday worked together to complete the journey. 

"When that water hit you, a couple times it felt like you were going to be washed off the raft," Rawlinson said. "The only thing you're holding on with is your hands, and it lifts you off your feet."

The 66-year-old said moments like those were a struggle.

"At 82 years old, Lovey rafted the Grand Canyon," Rawlinson said. "That's called Arizona stock."

Nervous at first, the woman whose daughter describes her as an "adrenaline junky" ended up slightly disappointed in the last rapid.

"They kept saying, on a scale of one to 10, this is going to be an 11, so I was expecting a really big one," Munday said. "We did some pretty rough jeeping, so I'm used to challenges."

Munday said her next adventure will probably involve driving to visit the sons who live out of state, or maybe taking one of her daughters' daughters on a road trip.

"Who knows? I'm open," she said.