There’s so much to share today. Mostly because last night I published my post before we had a beer and ate at The Hole in the Wall, which was a stumbled-upon hoot! The bar’s owner (left) and the waitress were improvising their own equivalent of a comedy routine, (although I doubt they’d call it that!) and had John and I smiling from ear to ear in disbelief. That hour or so spent in that bar has been a highlight of our trip. We laughed and felt no pain.
When you stay at the Appalachicola River Inn, which we did for two nights, you get a breakfast voucher to use at their restaurant, Carolyn’s. So today was our second morning being amongst the first to be seated as soon as they opened at 7:00 am.
Both days we sat next to an elderly gentleman and chatted. A local, he used to own the now-derelict Fish House a few doors down. He’s been sitting at this same table every morning for the past thirty years, he said, drinking his morning coffee while his wife sleeps in back at home. And then he takes her a cuppa. Today I had to get a picture of him. He seemed a bit confounded by our journey, but he spun nostalgic tales about camping and fishing with his buddies.
The way he spoke, accent and inflection and slight dimple when he smiled, surprisingly reminded me of my one-of-a-kind brother Rick, and thus he won my heart straight away.
And at the next breakfast table, both yesterday and today, were the Mitchells from Michigan who we’d been chatting with. And wouldn’t you know it – they’d posted a photo of themselves on Facebook last night, saying where they were, and a long-time family friend of their’s who now lives in Alaska commented that, lo and behold, friends of hers were also in Apalachicola, sea kayaking. So of course the Mitchells put two and two together and asked us this morning if we knew Laura. Goosebumps ran down my arms.
But enough socializing and falling in love with the funky, charming town of Apalachicola. We had miles to make. And make miles we did! We broke our longest-distance paddled record again! Two days ago it was 16.5 nautical miles (which are longer than statute miles by almost 20%). Today we paddled 18.5 nautical miles (about 21.5 statute miles)! Woot! Woot!
It was cold (I scrambled into my fleece hat AND my hand poagies) and started out in an exhilarating fashion, which is to say that I was containing and transforming my fear, as we made a three and a half mile crossing with the wind pounding on our side and whitecaps and waves breaking over our boats. We’d brace on the left to keep upright. Then slap a brace on the right. I had my second-of-the-trip so far sensation that I was tipping over, but thank God I didn’t. I’ve shared with you the songs I sing depending on the conditions. DoReMe when the wind’s in my face. My “Thank You Lord For This New Day” prayer when the wind is at my back. Etc. Well, for over an hour this morning it was the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven. That one. And that one only comes out when I have to bring in the big guns.
I recited it when I was at the helm sailing up the Red Sea in a tremendous storm and thought for sure the 84′ Ferro Cement Chinese Junk and all seven of us onboard were going to end up in the drink. And I recited it again a few months later, but this time off the coast of Crete, when at the helm our mainsail snapped in two and we lashed ourselves down so we wouldn’t be thrown overboard in yet another horrible storm.
Today’s several exhilarating hours of paddling first thing in the morning is not to be compared to my near-death misses while on the R/V Heraclitus thirty-two years ago while sailing part way around the world. But it is to say that a calamity could have happened and it didn’t. And I was reciting my strongest tunes.
Once we made the crossing and got around that first big point, we could tuck into shore to stay out of the brunt of the wind which was coming from the north. Actually, it was more like we could get within 150 yards of shore. Any closer and we would run aground on all the sandbars/mudbars/oysterbars.
We saw sandpipers and dolphins and a bald eagle catching a fish!
The wind calmed and shifted to our back. We effortlessly flew along the shore, with just a couple of chilly rest breaks. And then a slight surf landing on a white stretch of beach in search of a campsite.
I could barely lift myself out of the boat – John had to give this old lady a hand! But we’d paddled our furthest distance yet, and after a spanky, cold start!
Claire and Steve from Indiana happened to be walking by and they were intrigued by our boats and then claimed to be inspired by our adventure.
I like to think that we are inspiring. I know that I’ve been inspired by people leading creative, adventuress lives. Seeing others successfully living lives that are “outside of the box” is a type of permission for others to experiment, to risk, to dream, to dare. To build the skills needed. To plan. To create. To persevere past all the doubts and fears and pain.
Mostly I just wanted to collapse while I was talking with them. Inspiring, my ass! But they certainly don’t need to do what we’re doing. This particular adventure is not for everyone. They have their own wonderful crazy adventures waiting for them. And maybe meeting us was just the thumbs up that they needed to take the next steps. And the next steps might just be expanding their dreaming.
Speaking of dreaming…
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.