It’s almost a year later and I still remember the first kayak I paddled. Yes, almost a year. So much I learned, so much I experienced and so much I’ve grown in not even a year. But I’ll always be grateful for that very first experience.
Lost hope or mislead goals?
In my exertion to push myself to lose weight and to try to run I injured my foot with plantar fasciitis and no longer could walk any distance without feeling pain. Its not just pain physically, I’m in pain emotionally. My golden ticket to lose weight and improve my appearance to impress my coworkers; gone. My only hope for happiness and it’s gone! I sat around moping around with my foot up when my mother insisted I come to the R.B. Winter Summeriest with her. It’ll be fun she said. It’ll be easy to walk she said. It’ll be getting outside she said. Blah! Like fun it will be, I growled inside. “Sure, Mom.”
R.B. Winter State Park
After the hour and a half of her driving we arrived at our destination. I’m hopped up on Aleve so the sunlight is blinding, but I take in my surroundings none the less. The scent of trees, the sounds of kids having fun, the splashing of people playing in the lake and the reels of the fishmen somewhere. Yup, we’re here. I wince as I climb out of the car. Forty pounds down from walking, a million pounds to go and I no longer can walk. I grumble as we walk toward the “beach” they have on the near side of the lake. I don’t know if it counts as a beach since it’s mountain spring fed and the water is never warm even in 100 degree weather. But it’s a beach regardless. There were some volunteers on the beach helping people into life jackets, then into kayaks and pushing them out onto the lake. I was amused while watching them, then winced from my foot as we continued to walk towards the main building.
I hobbled inside my foot throbbing and my mother breaks for the bathroom. My dog and I wait outside the bathroom patiently and watch the people going about their ways. Once my mother is back we decide the first place to check out is the room that I can’t take Dillon since no dogs are allowed in there. She returns and tells me about how it’s items for sale, but I pass on checking it out. I’m not into shopping. So we walk around the covered patio that the rangers and volunteers had set up displays under. It was crowded so I kept Dillon back and away, but I poked my head in to look around. Trail maps, bird watching books, kids activities, leaf identification and more. I must admit the activity using the sun to create leaf silouhettes intrigued me and I regret not making one. However there were more activities to explore and less crowded terrain elsewhere.
Autumn Olive Jelly
My mother and I walked up the hill towards another series of stations. One of which was hiking, another biking and another eating. Heck yea! I’ll sample wild edibles! So my mother and I sat down and rested at this station. The park ranger was very knowledgeable and very interesting. I gave him my email for the recipes that he had. I loved Autumn Olive Jelly! Mint tea I already enjoyed so that was a familiar sight, but I’m always looking for something new. We thanked him and parted ways.
But after that last station it was time to head home. The three of us hobbled down the hill passed other stations. We passed our first station that we were at originally and continued our way back to our car. My mother, my dog and my gimp foot. It turned out to be a rather pleasant experience and a nice day.
It beckons me again
We continued our walk back to the car. I watched as people were loaded into the kayaks and sent out onto the water. Go try it. But I’m too fat right? I’d sink the poor boat. You’ll never know until you try. I turned my back and kept walking towards the car. Looking back over my shoulder, I watched someone much heavier than myself getting into a kayak. He’ll get stuck won’t he? He’ll sink won’t he? My eyes widened as he was pushed out…
He was kayaking.
“I’m going to try kayaking, can you wait for me?”
“Sure. We’ll be on that bench over there.”
With that I walked over to the volunteers. I timidly asked if they had a life jacket big enough for me. I was fitted and ready. I asked for advice and was told once on the water to sway my hips a little like a hula dancer. Balance was from the hips. I was loaded into the kayak. This was adrenaline. I could feel it coursing through my veins as they pushed me out. Once I was out on the water, the world disappeared. I saw nothing around me, I heard all sounds fade away. All I heard was the water slapping my kayak. I swayed my hips to test the waters so to speak, but not too much.
“You’re doing great! Now use your paddle to go forward and turn. Have fun!” the volunteer called from shore. The world came back to me in a blink. This was bliss. It’s far better than a first kiss. This was my heaven. My calling.
My paddle dips into the cool water and my kayak lunges forward without a second thought. However the realization that I can no longer see the bottom just comes to mind. it’s deep here. I am not normally the talkative type however being on the water for the first time is intimidating. A tandem kayak with an older lady and her niece/granddaughter (I don’t know what relation they were) flies by. I can tell her knows her stuff so I mimic her and ask her how long she was paddling. She invites me to follow them since it’s my first time kayaking. So I try to keep up, but she’s very fast. We go into shallower water where we can see the grass down below. She explains that kayaks vs canoes & boats can go into shallower water since we have a lower center of gravity.
After a good while of talking to her I feel adventurous and paddle around on my own. This includes staying back and watching people get stuck on underwater branches. My kayaking also consisted of almost running into two boys racing each other and trying to turn my kayak around which took a decade to do. After a few circles and paddling over to my mother and Dillon I headed back to shore so someone else can experience this.
After they pulled me from my cozy cocoon, I thanked them and returned their life vest. I hobbled over to my mother and dog and knew we were going home. But I looked back over my shoulder. I wanted to kayak more.