Letters From Leton: Save The Adult Beverages!

I recently attended the opening of Virginia’s newest and most unique state park, the Clinch River State Park.

As I stood on the hill overlooking the beautiful river and vista, I was reminded of my own trip navigating the Clinch one early June day many years ago – a canoeing trip with two good friends (let’s call them “Ken” and “Ed”).

Ken and his wife had canoed the same portion of the river a few weeks before our trip. We put in at St. Paul around 9:00 AM after depositing one of our vehicles in Carbo, just a 15 minute drive away, for our return trip later in the early afternoon (note reference to time).

In addition to 3 full grown men, we had brought a few things to snack on and a sizable cooler which contained ice and a few “adult beverages”.

We pushed off. 

After a while, we realized that the water was down. Ken noted the canoe sat much lower in the water with 3 men than it had with one man and a petite woman just a few weeks back.

What was supposed to be a 3 to 4 hour trip became a day long adventure of porting the canoe through low water levels and other obstacles. In addition, calm waters had become whirlpools as they flowed around huge boulders, eventually capsizing our canoe and causing my friend Ken to dog paddle to “save the adult beverages” while Ed and I saved the canoe. 

We returned home much later, battered, bruised and dehydrated, to worried spouses who expected us home around 3:00 PM – not 9:00 PM (BC – before cell phones). Despite everything, we remained marveled by the river. Its beauty. Its peace. The awesome sandstone waterfalls that looked like water rides.

Back to present day- I now stood on the ledge of a park that will span Tazewell, Russell, Wise and Scott County – but only in spots.

Land along the Clinch has been donated or purchased for “ports” where canoers, kayakers and floaters can put in and enjoy state sponsored places along the river to get out and camp or acquire other resources and support. A two hour trip. Or a two day trip. And with cell service along the way.

Other parks encompass huge swaths of land. The Clinch River State Park encompasses the vision of creating a safe and fun way to enjoy the oldest and most bio-diverse river in the United States by using land along the way. A model for future parks built around water. 

The concept of the new park got me thinking about banking.

Our customers now treat banking much as canoers treat the river. 

They will start out on land (often in our offices) to open accounts or get a loan (put in their financial boats). 

Then they may travel for a long time along our electronic river of bank services (online, mobile, mobimoney), only putting into land (the physical bank) when they have a special need – repair their financial boat – learn how a feature of their financial boat works – maybe to get a new financial boat. They may stay away from “land” for months if not years.

As time goes on, more and more folks will be drawn to the Clinch River State Park – likely over other parks. After all, it is easier floating down the river, perhaps with a fishing pole, than going on an arduous hike. And you can always take a swim on a hot day.

Bank customers are just as likely to continue their movement to the electronic river of bank services – which are easy to get to and available all of the time.

Well, it’s a Friday, time for an adult beverage. Let give Ken and Ed a call.

Stay safe.

– Leton


“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.