It wasn’t difficult for me to decide which book to take along on vacation last week. Mark Twain’s Roughing It seemed fitting reading for the adventure my husband, Brian, and I undertook: rafting some 240 miles down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

In his travelogue Twain recounts some colorful escapades, among them working as a reporter in Carson City, Nevada, where he began using his famous pseudonym (he was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) and visiting the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) where he stayed at a hotel perched on the edge of a volcano on the Big Island.

Twain also recalls a 200-mile trek on foot through Nevada to prospect for silver, and he writes, “We all confess to a gratified thrill at the thought of ‘camping out.’” My own adventure included camping out for six nights — most of which were spent sleeping under the stars — and traversing some of the biggest white water in North America. The trip was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done and quite a feat for two people who had never before been rafting or camping.

Twain’s spirit of adventure was prevalent throughout the trip, from rafting down the river to making camp on a different stretch of beach each night to taking in the dramatic and varied canyon scenery. Our group of twenty-seven passengers (a terrific bunch!) voyaged with Canyoneers, and the excellent crew not only knew how to navigate the waters but how to make delicious prime rib and homemade brownies in such a rustic setting.

And somehow I think intrepid traveler Mark Twain would approve of our guide Brandon’s motto for riding the rapids: Go big or go home. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt