Sometimes my Adventure Buddies overestimate my abilities and level of adventurousness. I feel like my adventures are often food or festival based with some sightseeing and light exercise thrown in. There are definitely adventure ideas that make me wary.
My paranoid kayaking concerns in no particular order of paranoia:
- Fitting into the kayak
- Getting wet.
- Getting wet in murky pond, lake, and/or river water
- Rolling over into the above mentioned murky water and being trapped …
- ….because my fat butt and legs are now firmly encased in a weird, unnatural L configuration called a kayak
- Being at water level with things that live in the above mentioned murky water.
- Example 1: snakes
- Example 2: additional snake friends of the snake from example 1
- Example 3: Giant water spiders. I am certain that these are a possibility.
As demonstrated by my list of concerns, it was with great hesitation and reluctance that I agreed to go to a short kayaking class with my Adventure Buddy who is very fit, already knows how to kayak, and does nutty things like eating vegetables, or going to two work outs in one day.
Later that day as I was working with students in the library, Adventure Buddy made a slow approach with an outstretched hand presumably so I could sniff it to know she was friendly.
I know I’m in trouble when people have news that they think I won’t like, and approach me like I’m a feral cat. Apparently my response looks something like this:
Adventure Buddy in low soothing voice: “So you know how you like nature?”
Me, fur starting to stand up: “Yesssssssssss?“
Adventure Buddy in low soothing voice : “So you know how you like birdwatching?”
Me, claws extending slightly: “Yesssssssssss?”
Adventure Buddy in low soothing voice: “So wouldn’t it be really calming to float down a river with all the birds and nature to see?”
Me, low back of the throat whiny growl: “Nooooooooo.”
Adventure Buddy making calming gestures: “So the class was booked, so I signed us up for the 90 minute river kayaking.”
Me, whiny growl spiraling up to potential shriek: “But I agreed to a 45 minute ‘you’ve never been in a kayak before’ class on a POND!”
All of my students have now locked in on this interaction as they would with any good cat video. One pipes up with, “It will be fine. I went kayaking; it was great!” She weighs 10 pounds and probably never wondered whether or not her body would actually fit in to a kayak.
Me, hissing: “What. If. It. Tips. Over?”
Adventure Buddy patting her pockets for treats she can offer me: “These are ocean kayaks so they are wider and less likely to tip.”
Me, low growl: “So my butt will fit?”
Helpful Student: “Your butt will be fine. My dad fit in a kayak!” I have no idea what her dad’s body type is. Absolutely no reference point.
Adventure Buddy backing away slowly, making eye contact with slow blinks : “It will be fine. I’ll see you at the boat ramp.”
Me, yowling at students: “Well, if I’m not in class tomorrow, you know where to start looking for my body.”
So I met her at the boat ramp because it was an opportunity to try something new. Even if I was scared, the truth was it probably was not going to do me bodily harm. I also knew that Adventure Buddy would take care of me because she’s the type of person who is a helper and worries about other people.
And there really were a lot of birds.
I took this afterwards from the bank with my phone which is why they seem so tiny and far. I could not bring myself to try kayaking with my good camera or my phone. It hurt to not take pictures. There were Great Blue Herons that took off over us, cormorants, and egrets galore.
The awkwardness of getting in and out of the kayak was the most difficult part. The first 10 minutes or so of trying to find my balance and learn how to navigate were the tippiest and the scariest. I basically stopped everything and held my breath when the kayak skimmed over underwater detritus in a very shallow part just as Adventure Buddy was warning me about getting snagged on the bottom.
My most irrational moment came when we got away from the boat ramp area and out on to the river. I saw what I KNEW were the bumpy nodules of a log sticking up slightly above the water. However my Brain, which might be more likely to kill me than a kayak, screamed: “That is a crocodile and it is coming for us!” There was an actual adrenaline surge that accompanied that stupid thought. I don’t need to make this shit up. Brain then cycled into some intense visualizations of just how deep the river was. In reality, not very deep. To Brain, it was a Mariana Trench situation. I shut that down pretty quickly and focused on paddling.
I veer right even though, based on the 5 seconds of instructions at the ramp, I should be veering left. Much of my time was spent navigating in the correct directions, and trying to get to the point where I could just float along. I saw the people around me including our park ranger guide, quietly sitting back and gliding effortlessly in a straight trajectory. I experimented with leaning back in the seat like my friends, but did not feel like I could paddle from that angle. So I got 90 minutes of arm work while sitting ramrod straight and overcorrecting my every move. That was the stressful part.
The fun part was the perspective. We went from the boat ramp all the way to our downtown area. I’ve never seen the skyline from the middle of the river or passed under any of the bridges. To be able to observe the river wildlife- we watched a GBH fly over and land nearby in a tree- and banks from that angle was fascinating. Although I did learn that I can’t look directly up and maintain kayak balance at the same time when some ducks flew low overhead.
Even though we had a major highway on one side and passed under busy bridges, it was quiet and pleasant on the water. I hesitantly, begrudgingly agreed that, yes, I would probably do it again.