Saturday, December 01, 2007

I am back, Jack, but just barely

Blogs have been few and far between simply because I've been lazy. That, and I've been out of town for a week. But, I had internet access and accessed the internet frequently while I was out, so I guess you could say that, really, I've been lazy.

So what's new? We went to SoCal for the Thanksgiving holiday. Left on Monday, returned on Monday. Down where we stayed, in little ol' San Clemente, we were about a mile from the ocean. We were up and down the coast, spending time in Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Irvine, and a few other similar places. We saw an animal shelter where the animals being sheltered were sea lions. Sea lions! I saw two orange Lamborghini Murcielagos within minutes of each other. All the pretty women in Washington who disappear in the winter? I think they all end up in California. Seriously. Am I rambling enough yet?

We stayed with Marci's sister, Alison, her husband, Todd, and their two daughters, Chandler and Ella. Both Ali and Todd are very fit, very athletic and really good at unknowingly making me feel inadequate and inferior. Not because of anything they say or do, mind you. Oh no. It's all me and my brain. I think it's kind of like the young impressionable girl thumbing through any magazine where there are beautiful, thin and perfect women in it. I am a dude of average build, a little chubby in places, but when I stand next to Todd, I may as well be the Michelin Man. It's sad, but I have a tough time getting over it.

Anyway, Todd wanted to go kayaking one day. In the ocean. With me.

I am not an ocean guy. I'm not much of a lake guy. I prefer the calm, serene waters of my local pool, and even then, only in the summer, when it's warm. So, offering to take me kayaking on November 26th was pretty much out of the question.

Except, Haley wanted to go. And Todd wanted to go. And Todd is very persuasive. (I told him he should be in sales. He's a teacher in real life).

So we went.

We got to the beach and, unlike the day before where it was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL AND SUNNY, it was gray and breezy. Still warm enough for shorts at the house, but at the ocean, a little chilly. Todd had life jackets for the kids, Haley and Chandler. Me? Not even floaties for my arms.

We walked to the edge of the water and had Haley sit in the kayak. The waves weren't huge, but they were pretty strong, and for a n00b like me, they might as well have been tidal. We waited for a break in the waves so that I could hop on and paddle like mad, but no break came. So on I went.

Have you ever tried ice skating on one ice skate? Or standing on one? That's how I felt on that kayak in the waves. I felt as if it was going to tip over AT ANY MOMENT. And that I would go in and BE EATEN BY A SHARK. Or STUNG BY A STINGRAY (like a girl we saw the previous day, sobbing her eyes out, with a crowd around her). Luckily, I just kept paddling and didn't look down into the black water. Haley, on the other hand, was just fine. She thought it was just dandy being in Daddy's lap at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

We headed west, I suppose, as we were heading AWAY FROM SHORE. The whole purpose for going kayaking was to go to Seal Rock, this little blob of land about a half mile off shore, where dozens of sea lions bark and poop and grunt at each other. I was just worried about getting away from the waves breaking on shore.

After a little paddling, the water did calm down and I was able to relax a little. As long as I sat like a statue in that kayak, it was ok. Any sort of twisting or turning, like turning my head to see where Todd was behind me, caused that little boat to start rockin' like we were in a tsunami (not really). Very uncomfortable.

Todd got in front of me and led the way. We worked our way to Seal Rock and saw the seals, as well as a dude snorkeling around the rocks. I don't think you could pay me to do that. Too cold, too dark and way too freaky for this land lubber. Plus, right by Seal Rock, well, it was quite stinky, as you could imagine.

We made our way around the rock and, mercifully, started heading back to shore. It was a little easier as the water was slowly propelling us that way anyway. I told Todd that I didn't know if he respected me more after taking this little adventure, or less as I was a WHINY LITTLE BITCH for the entire ride. I guess he thought it was cool that I went, bitching or not.

As we got closer to shore, especially where the water started turning into waves, Todd told me to stop. We had to wait until the water mellowed out a bit so I could ride behind the crest of a wave, then paddle like mad to the sand. He stuck his oar in the water and it had about 6" sticking out as the other end hit bottom, so he guessed we were in about 5 feet of water. Safer, but not safe yet.



After a few moments of waiting, Chandler said she saw some dolphins. Todd called for us to turn around to check them out. Big mistake. A wave came in, I heard Todd yell, "Paddle! Paddle!" and, boom, over we went.



Since Haley was in my lap, and I had an oar in my hands, she was basically pushed underwater by my right arm (we fell to the left, or to the port, as it were). Heroically, my first thoughts were not for my own survival, but to get my daughter's head above water. We were able to accomplish that with my left arm under her arms and my right hand wrapped deathly tight to the oar. Once I realized we were breathing, I heard Todd calling, "Let go of the oar!" Which, surprisingly enough, after ditching the oar, allowed me to hold Haley a little better. Duh.

The problem now was that I couldn't touch bottom, I was facing away from shore, and I had no clue how much farther we had to go. When we were waiting for the water to slow, it seemed we were quite a ways off, but, as I treaded water and tried to make my way back, my feet hit bottom and my near-death experience was over.

Haley was quite the trouper. She didn't cry, though she did call for help a few times, which was quite cute. We made it out of the Pacific wet, cold, salty, but still alive. I was able to laugh about it. I stared into the eyes of the beast and lived to fight another day.

Or something like that.