Lately, getting outdoors has been my refuge— a complete 180 from the “girly-girl” who wouldn’t eat al fresco because BUGS. Since opening my own business last year, I’ve found that outdoor activities offer my brain a break from it all. It’s forced relaxation at it’s finest. Now I embrace any opportunity to go hiking or exploring outside.
So, although I’d never been kayaking or canoeing, and my only experience tubing was the lazy river at my favorite Disney resort, I was looking forward to doing something new.
My full day outside quickly turned into a half day when my daughter announced her last day of drivers ed class was during clay target shooting at Fort Bragg Clay Target Center. In true #ArmyLife fashion, there was no alternative but for me to take her. Luckily, I’d be able to join the group for the 2nd half of the day. I sat at home and watched my friend Tiffany’s (The Mrs. Tee) IG Stories to quell (or feed?) my FOMO.
Soon, I hit the road for the quick 30 minute car ride from Hope Mills, NC to Spring Lake Outpost to meet my friends.
As I was signing a waiver and spraying on the bug spray and sunscreen the manager, Alix, walked over to me.
“Would you like to kayak, canoe or tube?”
Mmmm… I’m deathly afraid of snakes so tubing felt like a little too much exposure to me.
“Well, tell me what would you do?”
“I like kayaking,” she said without hesitation.
“Kayaking it is, then.”
And that was that.
After a quick intro on how to steer, off we were sent.
Just getting into the kayak was a bit of a rough start as I tried to step into it— which I quickly found was the wrong way to get into a kayak. After that little mishap, I was in properly and going.
It was incredibly peaceful. The birds and crickets chirping almost sounded as if they were cheering me on. I was pretty proud of myself, too. I had friends ahead of me, and a few behind me. The water wasn’t as deep as I expected.
It was going well.
Until it wasn’t.
At one point about halfway through the course, I hit a pretty quick current that turned me around and BAM! straight into an embankment and promptly flipped all the way over into the water, along with a flipped kayak. When this happened, I’d gotten separated from everyone. My kayak was completely filled with water and too heavy for me to get it out by myself. My phone was gone.
For about 5 minutes I was in full on panic mode. I was able to calm myself down and eventually my phone floated by me (a REAL LIFE MIRACLE!). While I waited for the wonderful team at SLO to send someone to help me I did a few Instagram Stories (because why not? #bloggersgonnablog) and phoned a friend to talk to me about things that would take me mind off of what was actually happening.
By (another) miracle my friends that I thought were no longer behind me, eventually came through. Jenny Bell (of Go Fayetteville fame) saved this damsel in distress. We were able to get the water out of the kayak and me back into it.
Thanks to currents, me being in a kayak and Jenny being in a tube, we did get separated again. But this time? I was determined to figure this out. I needed to master steering this kayak, so that when/if I hit more currents or logs, I could better navigate it.
I was, admittedly, angry. Angry that I’d momentarily fell into a complete panic. Angry that I’d considered quitting. And mostly angry that I wasn’t skilled enough to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Not logical, but it’s how I felt.
I channeled that anger and allowed it propel me. Right in the middle of the Cape Fear River after moments ago thinking that I’d be stranded for who knows how long, I decided that I was coming back. I was laser focused on getting through the rest of the course with confidence.
In that moment I decided that even though things didn’t go exactly as I thought they would, that I WAS having fun and this was an adventure that I’d never forget.
I would not let a few bad moments define my kayaking experience.
Being a military spouse means that often things don’t go as planned (if we can even plan it). But, whining never makes it better. In fact, it pulls you down deeper.
We’ve been stationed at Fort Bragg twice for a total of 9 years. I can’t count how many times I hear negativity about our area from people who never venture outside of a 5 mile radius of their home. The truth is, there’s a ton of things to do in our area, both in and out of your comfort zone.
I believe that perspective and attitude are everything and whether you think you can or you can’t…you’re right. However you choose to approach any situation, your experience will match your attitude EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
My kayaking adventure just reiterated those truths.
There are a lot of people who probably would never get on a kayak again. I’m going next week.
I personally don’t take defeat easily. Knowing that I can just go down the road to Spring Lake, NC and MASTER that course whenever I want, practically in my backyard, makes it even better.