Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ordeal by Kayak

My beach week was fun easy indulgence. Mostly. The kayak trip was the exception.

I've paddled on the smooth waters of the New River a couple of times.  Both events were relaxed with plenty of time to appreciate the beauty. The hardest part was getting the kayaks in and out of the water.

That could have been the case at Sunset Beach on a different day. However, the tide was running against us. Worse, much worse, the wind was blowing about twenty miles per hour and we were rowing directly into it. 

I was too much of a novice to know how difficult that would be. I should have let the leaders know that my previous experience was slim, and under ideal conditions.

They should have been more realistic when they checked out my grey roots and lack of bulging biceps. (The assistant made some kind of off-hand comment about noticing that we were seniors. He's 60. How old did he think I was?!) His only advice: keep paddling: left-right-left-right; and holler if I needed to be towed.

My eager desire to prove I still had a spirit of adventure and some pep faded about the same time I overturned the kayak (in two feet of water.) To bolster my resolve I sang "row, row, row, your boat." I thought the rhythm would help me. But the song mocked me because rowing was  NOT a dream. My morale downgraded into dogged determination. Keep paddling. You-can't-give-up, you-can't-give-up. 

Afterwards, I asked my friends what helped them keep going.  Patti was repeating the left-right chant. Peggy was praying "Hail Mary."  I hope she wasn't thinking about the last line, "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

The wind was relentless. I found myself challenged beyond my capacity. If I'd had an anchor I would have pulled into the sea grass and waited for the group to return. 

I fell further behind. I asked the coadjutor for a pep talk. Instead, he attached a short lead rope to my kayak prow and told me to keep paddling. Imagine a photo-- me at the rear, the wimpy grandma getting towed.

It was meager, mean comfort to notice my friends were struggling too. Three of us were finally towed to our lunch stop. The fourth was rowing valiantly, but from my perspective it looked like she was standing still. Later, one said she got discouraged every time we had to turn a corner and the current and wind shifted. The other got stuck in grass and didn't know what to do to get out. 

two hours and two miles later!
After our break, we were certain it would be easy heading back. Instead we battled crosswinds that would be classified somewhere between a fresh breeze (18-24 mph) and a strong breeze (25-30 mph). A gale is the next step up. 

Fighting our way back to shore, one woman said "I think I'll pass on this trip next year." Amen, sister. 

Some people intentionally choose physically demanding sports. Me, I'm an Xtreme hammock-operator. The excursion was like a boot camp exercise, good if you're into survivalism.

Life doesn't give us choices, though. And we will all eventually face a crisis that requires we just keep moving forward, however slowly, however difficult.

Putting it all into perspective, I didn't get hurt. I wasn't in danger. It just wasn't fun. 

I want to dedicate this blog to two friends who are paddling against gale winds. 

to M,  recently widowed

and B,  enduring chemotherapy to save her eyesight

Remember, Jesus is towing you!

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