Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Sunday Funday is Your Nightmare

.
Imagine you're in the middle of nowhere on a little plastic boat, you haven't seen anyone else all day, you're in the midst of a torrential downpour that has no intention of letting up, you're lost on the wrong braid of creek for the second time, having to drag your boat over and under logs and branches every 10 feet as a result, while horseflies are swarming your head and a million different spiders are crawling all over you and your boat, and you have miles left to paddle. How would you feel? I have a feeling a lot of people would react to this scenario with a mixture of frustration and dread, but as for me, I was laughing my ass off and soaking up the fun.
.

Ya, remember that post I wrote last month that was all about how I'm not really adventurous at all? I take that back, because I totally am, and that fact hit me this past Sunday. If I was a normal person, Sunday would have been a total disaster, but because I'm not normal by most definitions, Sunday was fucking awesome. To back up, my friend Troy and I woke up early Sunday morning and drove a few hours from Orlando to go kayaking. The day started off beautifully, sunny and hot as hell, which is perfect for a day spent in a bathing suit. We paddled and paddled all the way up to a few little springs, and were happy to cool off in the freezing cold water. Everything was perfect.
.

Making little friends
.
Finding little treasures
.
.
Exploring little springs
.
Swimming with little fish
.
Mid-way through the spring swim, we heard the thunder--first sporadic and then closer and closer together--and saw dark, ominous clouds cover the sky, and we knew our happy-go-lucky day was about to take a turn. We decided we may as well start heading back, since it was getting late and we still had a long paddle back to the truck and a long drive back to town. Only a few minutes after we turned around the bottom fell out of the sky, or so it seemed anyway. Saying that it was raining is a gross understatement- it was pouring. Thunder, lightning, giant droplets of rain, and we were nowhere near any kind of shelter.
.
Out of habit and/or human nature, we first stopped off on a nearby bank to hang out under some trees and see if the storm would pass. But after about five minutes, Troy decided he wanted to go swimming, so he jumped in and I watched him splash about in the river like a little kid. It honestly looked like fun, and I thought "Shit, he's right. We're in bathing suits and we're already soaked. What am I being so squeamish about?" So I jumped in, too, and we just swam around in the rain for a little bit before getting back in the kayaks and continuing the paddle. That was a good decision, because this wasn't a Florida afternoon storm that comes and goes, and we would have been waiting a looong time.
.

Resurrection fern diving board
.
Now, this particular creek is braided for much of its length, and it takes a lot of skill to choose the right path every time it forks. We did a pretty good job not getting lost on the way upstream, but in the rainstorm on the way back we got lost not once, but twice. Getting lost means ending up on a narrow portion of the creek that is nearly impassable in a kayak due to all sorts of obstacles in the path. Typically paddling downstream is leisurely since you can simply float with the flow, but there was nothing leisurely about this. It was frustrating and exhausting work, but neither of us ever stopped smiling or laughing. We were in savage mode, and just kept joking about what all the normal people in the world were doing on a rainy Sunday. We kept thinking "God, who does this? And, more importantly, who enjoys it? We must be nuts.." But we're nuts with stories to tell and nuts who enjoy life, and I'm ok with that.
..
We finally made it back, and just before the take-out we passed a fish camp on the river with a little tiki hut outside. One of the locals said "Come on up, we have cold beer." With our arms and backs aching, totally exhausted, that sounded like heaven so we immediately said "OK!" It was so nice sitting by the river under a shelter made of palm fronds, drinking a Budweiser with some toothless locals (literally, no teeth) and listening to them tell all kinds of stories about alligators and fish and airboats and chili cookoffs and drugs and other local lore. It's not my life, but I always appreciate the opportunity to hear about life from a different perspective.

.

.

Sometimes I realize that I'm really happy being who I am and doing the things I do. I'm not saying I'm cooler or better than people who don't choose to spend their Sundays outside in the middle of nowhere in a rainstorm laughing maniacally, I'm just saying I'm glad that I do it and sometimes I'm proud to be the person I am. On Sunday I felt both alive and happy to be alive, and that's a special feeling. We all achieve that feeling in different ways and by different paths, but we should all take note when it occurs and be ravenously thankful for it.

10 comments:

The Florida Blogger said...

The thing I'm most worried about when I'm out in a yak and the heavens open is the lightning. I could care less about the water falling from the sky. Good on ya!

The Panic Room said...

This was a really awesome post. I loved it. All of it. I think you might have a full on adventure blog brewing.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

If you want to be truly beautiful you have to walk in the rain. That's a German Proverb ... but don't quote me on that.

jordanolivia said...

Have you ever kayaked at night in Indian River or Mosquito Lagoon? It's bioluminescent in the summer and pretty awesome.

Octohawk said...

FB- Ya, the lightning is always scary, I agree.

PR- Thanks! I'm glad :)

RS- I didn't do much walking, but I think it still counts?

JO- Holy shit, really?? I had no idea. I may have to get over my lifelong fear of dark water for that.

Buford Nature said...

Turner's Fish Camp!!! Been there, love that. You guys are all right. If you only knew how cool the caves and karst valleys are that are so close to where you were...

Octohawk said...

Buford- Tell me! Tell me where they are! Please!

Buford Nature said...

Being essentially non-renewable resources, caves are especially vulnerable to momentary carelessness and, more sinisterly, to vandals. Thus, we cavers are loath to publish their whereabouts.

If you really want to learn more about FL caves, attend local caving club (GVL, Tampa, Tally and O'do) meetings. You can find out how to access them via the National Speleological Society (http://www.caves.org/).

The last time I posted about the ones I was referring to in my blog can be found at http://floridadayadventures.blogspot.com/2009/06/another-floodplain-grotto.html. I wouldn't mind telling you and your husband more over a beer at Turners or such, but not over the Internet.

Hope you understand :-)

Octohawk said...

I do understand. If you notice, I never once referred to what run I was on in my post, because I don't want just anyone who stumbles onto my blog to be able to go there. I have no problem telling people I deem "worthy," but I'm not just going to publish it for every internet jackass.. So yes, I understand.

That being said, 1. you could have emailed it to me. 2. not my husband, but that gave me a good chuckle :)

Stephanie Meade Gresham said...

Your photos are fantastico! And that's spanish for really cool.

Love it!