For over a week we had planned our kayaking excursion. Three of us had scouted while others were away, and found the ideal spot to spend Memorial Day as a family kayaking a lovely lake an hour north of us.
We made sure we had enough paddles and life vests and ordered more of what would be necessary. We planned the time well–we would put in when everyone else would be packing up to head home.
We had a plan. And that’s kind of a big deal at this house where often we are riding the seat of our pants as if they were a magic carpet.
And then, the day arrived.
And I think we just all woke up on the wrong side of our beds. Moods were a bit off. Some didn’t feel great.
And the weather wasn’t cooperating either. “Sunny and 65,” they said. “No rain,” they said. Funny, the day felt awfully chilly, and where was that sun?
Good news! Family member #6 unexpectedly got the day off as we were packing to go! One problem. Five seats in boats–six people.
“No problem! We will pick up a boat!” the newlyweds said.
Not so much. All sold out. Everywhere! Every option in a do-able price range–gone.
All except a little inflatable boat. “We shall make it work,” they said!
An hour and a half later than planned, we arrive in the chilly cloudiness to set off. We inflate that boat and once opened, the newlyweds realize their little boat won’t hold one very well, let alone the two of them as planned. One tried–valiantly! But let’s just say there was a lot of chuckling at the boat launch at the good sport with a canoe paddle, barely staying afloat, almost spinning circles, behind the kayaks.
Well, doesn’t God provide?! Because just at the point of giving up (five minutes in) we spot a row of various boats lined up along the beach! For rent! A paddleboat it is for the newlyweds! Hooray! Shifting of seating and we’re off–again!
It’s gonna be so great!!
“Wow! Did that wind pick up or is it just me?” I thought as I paddled my heart out and barely moved forward. Our new inflatable kayaks are great, but my arms aren’t my strongest body part these last few years due to some muscle issues, and my taller-than-mom daughter and I just can’t get the hang of both of us paddling so it’s just me paddling the two of us.
“I’ve got this, Honey. You just sing me a song and I will somehow get us to the island where everyone else is waiting,” I say with all of my bravery.
Seven hundred perfect rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat with beautiful harmony later we did it. Sure my arms were numb, and I had to go potty, but I was NOT gonna be the girl to complain and slow this party down.
The tiny island we were on was visible to anyone for miles. You could walk across it in about thirty seconds. There were no real hiding places, but a girl’s gotta do. And I did. Feeling better, I joined the group and we scouted from the top where our mission would take us.
My big, strong son, the one with the really expensive kayak who has tons of experience kayaking and very strong arms, plotted our course, factoring in the wind and the currents and shared it with the group!
“Hahahahahahahahahaha!” I said. “NO WAY! I can’t paddle way over there and around that other bay! It’s too far! Do you see the waves? Do you feel this wind? My hair is on sideways!”
“The wind is your imagination,” he said. “Because you don’t want to have to try.”
Well!!! So with all of my attitude showing, I caved. I guess it felt like a challenge. And I really hate being the weakest link. So, I reserved the right to paddle back to the island if necessary. Alone in my boat, I ventured off. It wasn’t long and there was distance between each vessel. The strong took the lead. Others of us (me) tried hard. The paddleboat was seriously pulling up the rear.
Are they okay? Giving them the thumbs up, they gave me a wave. Was that wave a little big? Like an “Over here!” kinda wave?
Big, strong son went back to help.
My sweet husband, having no problem paddling with my taller-than-mom daughter were well up ahead. I tried to follow, waiting for that part when the current would shift and it would get easier like my big, strong son had promised. Waves that capped with whitewater were happening. Big, huge wind was happening. I’m getting a little panicky.
“I’m turning around!” I yell.
“WHAAAAAT!?” they yell.
“I’m turning around!” I yell.
“WHAAAAAAAAAAT!?” they yell.
Forget it. I turn around and quickly realize this is gonna be bad. No matter how hard I try, I am getting nowhere fast. I paddle for fifteen loooong minutes using all of my strength. The water is dark and I’m soaked and the newlyweds and big, strong son are nowhere to be seen, so now I’m worried on top of everything else. My sweet husband and taller-than-mom daughter pass me.
What am I gonna do? So, I sing. To Jesus. And I just let the current do what it wants to do and take me to a new island. I figure I’ll just be shipwrecked. At least I can quit paddling. If I’m the first member of Swiss Family Robinson 2013, so be it.
I get to shore and quite angrily start hauling my boat across the island. Ready to cry, and more ready with each barefoot step (in what I’m sure is snake-infested grass) to tell big, strong son what I think of his super-great idea.
Until he comes up behind me–scares the bejeebers out of me–picks up my boat and helps me put in on the other side. And he apologized.
It seems the newlywed’s paddle boat had no plug. It was sinking and spinning in circles since the rudder couldn’t get in the water with the front end going down. A rescue had happened involving big, strong son’s kayak towing a paddle boat too far to be much fun.
There was some anger. There were some laughs.
There is some very embarrassing video footage that shall remain unseen unless this becomes much funnier much quicker than I’m thinking.
MUCH later, we all made it back to shore. I won’t bore you with how we managed that. But the folks on shore having a picnic surely found it very entertaining.
As the boys walked to the vehicles, and the girls dried our undies with the hand dryer in the restroom, I encouraged the girls to rally. “It’s what we do.” I said. “The men feel bad and defeated, and we can choose how this is gonna go from here. We can rub noses where noses deserve to be rubbed, or we can set it all down and hug them and wait for it to be a funny story.”
We hugged them and went out for dinner. And by the time we had ice cream, we were chuckling a bit. A little bit.
Later, as my sweet husband and I recalled the day, I realized that we missed the signs. Our motto tends to be, if in doubt, don’t. Don’t plow ahead when everything is saying, “SIT TIGHT!”
Though nothing horrible happened, (thank You, Jesus!) it reminded me to pay attention to what I know deep inside before I blaze forth and try to make something happen.
Otherwise, I think it just ends up feeling like paddling with all my strength and getting nowhere fast.
However, it IS always an adventure…