It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal adventure. I was just going for a calm, yawn of a kayak ride down Lake Worth near West Palm Beach. It was a beautiful January day, the sun shining, sparkles of light glimmering on the water. My husband and I were on our last day of vacation and looking for something to do together. I needed a little adventure. I got a little more than I bargained for.
We decided kayaking would be fun but our vacation condo had only one kayak. “No problem,” I said. “You drive down the road and rent a kayak and I’ll paddle down there to meet you.”
“But it’s close to 3 miles away!” my husband countered.
“No problem,” I assured him. “I can handle 3 miles in a kayak easy. I’ll call you when I get close.”
He started shaking his head as if to say “What is my wife getting into now?” But he agreed and took off. I stuffed my cell phone into the waistline of my shorts and thought to myself —I should have brought a plastic bag to protect my phone. But I was already in the water and eager to get moving.
I began with a gentle paddle south towards the center of Lake Worth making my way to the Lantana draw bridge. I could hear the fishermen shouting, “You got some muscles, girl!” “That takes strength.” I didn’t really understand what the fuss was all about. But as I made my way under the bridge, the current, the wind, the waves… everything changed. Imagine the kayak tossing and turning. My easy jaunt in a kayak was now a major workout. And this sudden change in conditions got my adrenalin flowing. Anyone with half a brain would have turned around. But not me. I never quit. But the fact is, sometimes you should. This probably was one of those times.
I had made a key adventure error. I hadn’t done ANY homework. I hadn’t asked any questions. Even Siri would have had enough information to let me know this was a bad idea. But Siri and I hadn’t spoken. The winds were blowing so hard, I had to keep paddling in order to keep the kayak moving even slightly forward. Otherwise the strong current would pull me into any of the huge wooden docks that lined the side of the waterway. Rather than giving up, the challenging conditions pushed me forward. I couldn’t stop paddling for even an instant. The waves were blowing over the kayak. I was soaked. My hands were quickly lined with blisters as I paddled with everything I had. I was kayaking against the current in gale-force winds. Yachts and pleasure boats were flying by, sending out huge wakes. My skin was wet and burning in the hot sun. My lips were chapped. And after a good 40 minutes I was so thirsty I felt faint. I had no water. My stubborn pride wouldn’t let me give up. My phone was so water-logged and my fingers so wet, I couldn’t get it to dial. So a rescue was out of the question.
In my defense, I started out thinking this was going to be a walk in the park. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good challenge. Which is why I kept going for three full miles of pure torture. I started counting my paddle strokes to distract me. But a little bit of research would have at least protected my cell from salt water and my lips from the sun. By the time I reached my husband he had already been kayaking for an hour in a quiet inlet. He was happy as a clam and couldn’t understand why I looked like I had just fallen out of an airplane.
Sometimes little jaunts turn into major adventures. Savor those moments. They will be the memories that stay with you forever. Just make sure you learn the lessons. Heed the warnings of fishermen. And by all means, carry some chap stick.