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Taking Risks: Our Top 4 Riskiest Adventures

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

I’m a sucker for the 'good bad movie.' 

Recently I found myself watching Summer Catch, 'a coming-of-age romantic comedy set against the backdrop of the Cape Cod Baseball League.' It was released in 2001 and stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel. It’s not a good movie, but at the same time, it’s a fantastic movie. I’ve watched it more than a dozen times over the years. 

There is a part in the flick when Freddy Prinze and Jessica Biel (better yet, Ryan Dunn and Tenley Parrish) are having a heart to heart. Tenley looks at him and says 'you want big rewards, you got to take big risks.' Most people would apply that to their future (like Ryan Dunn did) but to me, as a father of three, I thought about my children and the big risks we’ve taken to get those big rewards.

Here are four that come to mind:

1. Hiking at Hanging Rock State Park

This just happened last weekend. Steph and I had a Saturday off together and were searching for something new to do as a family. Lately, I’ve enjoyed connecting with nature so we both agreed that a nice stroll in the great outdoors would hit the spot. Trouble is, Stephanie always goes above and beyond. The hike she picked was 2.5 hours away (I swear she told me 90 minutes) and quite the challenge. It was steep, rocky, risky, and downright dangerous at times. But we kept pushing forward. Rory was on my back, the girls were by my side, and Stephanie brought up the rear, taking photos of this truly memorable day. 

As the five of us sat on the couch that evening, tired as holy hell, and taking in the Kentucky Derby, I found myself smiling ear to ear. What a challenging day, but at that moment, the reward couldn’t of been greater. Way to go, Destination Graves! 

2. Driving from Chapel Hill, NC to Orlando, FL in ONE day 

Stephanie already wrote a piece on our Thanksgiving drive to Florida. We had planned on taking our sweet time in route to my parents and likely stay in Savannah, GA. There was absolutely no way the kids (aged 4, 4, and 11 months) were going to survive a twelve-hour drive. But we were prepared and at the half way point, we decided to GO FOR IT! 

Of course it was a challenge (and a risk) but at 10 PM that evening we pulled into my parents driveway. We made it! And the reward? We had a FULL day of vacation ahead of us. Instead of traveling the next day, the girls and I were poolside at 8 AM the following morning toasting orange juice. So yeah, it was worth it!

3. Visiting The Magic Kingdom and Epcot on the SAME DAY

One month after Rory was born, we found ourselves going to Disney. We had planned a 'Princess Lunch' at the Magic Kingdom and wanted to make sure the girls rode the famous Frozen ride at Epcot. So we got the Park Hopper pass and decided to visit them both in one day. My mother had begged to watch Rory for us (implying bringing a newborn would be a risk), but Steph and I were adamant: 'he’s part of this family. He’s coming with us.'  

From parking, to strollers, to lines, to monorails, to 'treats', to parades, to diaper changes, to unsatisfactory naps, we kept on going. And at 4 PM after our part at the Magic Kingdom was done, we hopped on over to Epcot for the Frozen ride. When we finally got there, the line was TWO HOURS long. Steph and I looked at each other: 'We’ve come this far.' We waited and waited. And waited. At one point I had to bring both girls to the bathroom (I had to RUN, and carry them, as both were wearing princess shoes), but we finally made it. I stepped onto the ride sweating and panting. And though the ride only lasted two minutes, the look on the girls faces as Elsa belted out, 'Let it go, let it go!' was more than enough to make it ALL worth it. It was the ultimate reward

4. Flying alone with the 3 kids

About 30 seconds after the Patriots punched their ticket to yet another Super Bowl, my dad was scheming to get my family down to Florida for the big game. We ALL were like 'YES' but we later found out with Stephanie’s work schedule, it was going to be a bit of a challenge. As we looked and looked at travel itineraries, we realized it was going to be virtually impossible. 

That’s when stay at home dad Ryan decided to take a risk. Oh, it could work, but I had to fly all three kids down there by myself. Stephanie would join us later that evening after work. It panned out and was relatively easy! 

And the reward this time? The five of us got to spend an unforgettable weekend with my parents and two brothers. And we got to watch the Patriots win another Super Bowl. TOGETHER. 

I know for Ryan Dunn his risks were all baseball related. But I know for Ryan Graves these risks are ALWAYS to bring joy to my children and my wife. 

And most importantly, it brings joy to me