Saturday, August 3, 2013

SUP'in With Gators

On our last day of vacation, we usually reserve it for doing all the things again that we liked during the week. That was true for our last day yesterday but we also had one thing left to do on our list that we hadn't gotten to yet - stand up paddle boarding (SUP). we have all been wanting to try it, me especially, that is until I saw a baby alligator floating in the river by a place that we had lunch. This was the second time we had encountered alligators or warnings to stay away from water because of them while on our trip. I immediately had fears of falling off my paddle board and being drowned in a death roll by a gigantic alligator. Not a pretty way to end vacation...or my life. So, truth be told I was kinda putting it off hoping the kids wouldn't ask about it again...but it just made them ask "When can we go?" even more. I finally made the call for a reservation on Thursday...got all the info...and then I ended with "I know this may seem like a crazy question but I'm not from around here...are there any alligators in the water we will be paddle boarding in?" The guy didn't even skip a beat or laugh...he just said "I understand....no one wants to be eaten by a giant lizard on vacation....but no, this is salt water and our winters are too cold to attract salt water crocodiles." Uhm...what about your summers?? Are they warm enough? But I didn't push it. So, off we went yesterday bright and early to the Intracoastal Waterway in Wrightsville Beach, NC. They said it was best to go early in the day before the winds pick up and your body acts as a giant sail. Oh great. Before we got going, the guy that got us going gave us a few pointers like, "These boards are fiberglass so try not to hit any pilings or docks with them." We were in an area with a lot of docks and boats so this seemed like good advice. off we went! Tim and Mimi took right off across the water to explore the marsh and Jack and I immediately ran into the dock and some pilings. Right before we took off, the guy said "if you start to panic for any reason, just sit down and paddle." so, just before I hit the piling I sat down and was able to just gently nudge into it. two seconds in and I was panicking. Then I realized I was in knee height water and I could just stand up and restart myself. So embarrassing. My biggest fear with this, other than getting eaten by alligators, was not being able to balance on the board and constantly falling off. Turns out that wasn't an issue at all...it was trying to steer in the current. By this point, Jack had been able to get himself going and was halfway across the water with Tim and Mimi. I could not get myself turned around for the life of me and was headed in a completely different location. I panicked for a few minutes and then decided the kids were fine with Tim and I would just do my own thing. It was actually just survival at this point so I went with it. I was getting the hang of it, staying fairly close to the marina when all of a sudden, what appeared to be a giant fish head appeared next to me. I'll admit it....I squealed a bit and then said out loud to myself "What is that.," it was not a fish but rather a sea turtle coming by to say hi! It was awesome! He literally looked at me,swam next to me for a few seconds, and then went back down. It totally made my day and the whole experience worth it. But then a speeding boat had to go by and ruin all that. Imagine the wake a boat makes as it goes by. Now imagine being on a paddle board, trying to stand up, while that wake goes by. I almost went down but didn't. Instead I steered into the space between two docks because it was easier than getting knocked over. I ended up back on the beach and had to paddle back out. That's when I saw a water ski boat out by Tim and the kids. I figured it wouldn't be pretty for them but they just took a break and sat on their boards til it moved on. Smart. By this time I was making my way back to the starting place, assuming our hour was almost up. When I reached the shore the woman at the desk said "Done already?" I asked "How long did I last?" she said "You did good! About 35 minutes" It was at that point I got the sense they all had bet how long I would last out there. I decided to just call it a day and wait for everyone to come back in. While I was waiting a group of 5 "young" people went out....and two of the guys couldn't stay on the boards to save their lives. On one hand, I was like "I totally feel for you" and on the other hand I was so grateful I hadn't done that. It's a great activity and I would totally do it again....on glassine water with no boats, but it is a little harder than you think. The rest of our day was filled with the beach, the pool, getting ready for our trek back starting this morning, and just enjoying our last night together by playing a few games and having some laughs. Wish us no traffic jams!

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