Saturday, September 3, 2011

Frugal Adventures

Take a moment as you begin reading this entry to think about the one word that describes you. Are you funny? Loyal? Genuine? Impulsive? Adventurous? Quiet? ....

When I take a moment and do this for myself, one word comes to mind:  impulsive.

 I continually push the proverbial envelope in some form or fashion in an effort to feed my impulsive appetite; acting before I really think things all the way through. I've always been this way, and as I grow older, I find that this trait gets me into more and more trouble, hence providing blog-writing fodder and the basis for stories to last the test of time; the latest being that I am a potential shark attack victim!

Seriously... I was almost eaten by a shark !!! It is a true story that I find myself sharing with new acquaintances on a daily basis; "What happened to your arm?" ...."Oh, I'm a potential shark attack victim"
Quite a few eyebrows have been raised over the past months, especially during "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel.

                                                                'my new life mantra'

How does an average, coupon-clipping  wife, mother, and grandmother become a potential shark attack victim?? The internet! Modern-day advances in technology have done nothing but fuel the flame for my recklessness via sites that offer a money-saving deal here and there. I have a folder in my car chock-full of coupons for my next adventure or unique dining experience.

Much like those whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs, my appetite for impulsive adventures far outweigh my physical and mental capabilities. Despite the concerns voiced by friends and family alike, I jump before looking.

Last October, despite the warnings, I happily skipped off into the Southern California horizon, husband in tow,  to cash in on my latest internet deal ~ 50% savings on a 90-minute guided ocean kayak adventure. Sounds, right? I mean, anyone can kayak!


Dressed appropriately in light-weight layers of cotton apparel and slathered in sunscreen, Jim and I set out for our location on that beautiful fall morning. We arrived early, which considering I am late EVERYWHERE I go, this should have been an indicator of our impending doom. I checked in with our guide,  happily relinquished my coupon and waited. Our surfer-dude guide suggested that we stroll on down to the beach while we waited for the rest of our scheduled group to arrive.
                                                               "Look, I saved 50%"

The short, two block stroll did nothing but whet my appetite for sand and salt water, kayaks and paddles, laughter and memories...adventure!!!  At the beach, children were playing, surfers were surfing, fire fighters were jogging....

Yes, fire fighters...jogging...on the beach... Strapping young men in their shorts and fire department tees keeping themselves in pique physical condition for occasional rescues and on-demand pectoral flexes. As we passed them, I jokingly quipped, out loud, about how they should stick around...I might be needing their services later. Why do I tempt fate so?

Equipped with a kayak, paddles, about 50 pounds of safety equipment, and 20 or so witnesses, we headed back to the shore for a quick lesson and our adventure of a lifetime.

Kayaking 101 Tip: Tandem kayaks require balance and skill. Tandem anything is not as romantic as is sounds. Do not attempt.
                                                            ' Selecting our tandem kayak'

Educated in Kayak 101 and acting like the know-it-alls that we are...(ok, the know-it-all that I am) we take our guide-assigned tandem kayak to the shore and entered the chilly 58degree waters of the Pacific and mounted our trusty, yellow water-steed. No sooner had Jim taken his place behind me and I had gained some semblance of balance, we were slammed sideways by the breaking surf and promptly thrown out on our asses!

Mother of Pearl !!!  Dazed, embarrassed, soaking wet, and now with a fine layer of sand in my undies, I climb back into the kayak, balance myself while Jim gets in and SLAM !!! Another wave tosses us like rag dolls! This time, the current has gotten up under my helmet and I am dragged under water by my melon for what seems like an eternity! When I come up for air, Jim declares our surrender and wants to throw in the towel. I beg him to try one more time. I spent money on this and was not going to give up easily!

Our guide, who is thoroughly entertained,  suggests that we wade a little further out into the water to get past the breaking surf. Hanging on to our kayak, striding through the water on foot, we found ourselves in chest-deep water when I hear the voice of someone from our group calmly say, "Cool, look at that shark!"

               'Image Disclaimer: This shark is bigger. Potential victim is safely in his kayak.
Story Fact: I was in the water and "my" shark was big enough to scare the crap out of me'

It didn't take long for my brain to transmit panic to every muscle in my body as I looked to my right and there, just in front of me, was a 6' shark cruising along the ocean floor, looking for lunch and heading straight for ME!!! And here I am, an all-you-can-eat buffet ... every sharks dream!!!

Shark Survival 101 Tip: When Confronted By A Shark,  Do Not Thrash About

As I thrashed about, trying to get my fat ass back into the kayak while avoiding becoming lunch, I recall the guide advising me that this particular shark was a bottom feeder and wouldn't hurt me. Oh, yeah, like I'm gonna fall for that one, buddy. I've seen JAWS and who do you think you are claiming to know this shark, like he's a close, personal friend of yours ...a shark is a shark is a shark and we're gonna need a bigger boat!!! I start screaming hysterically that my feet are on the bottom where the shark was looking for a snack and I want my ass back in the boat, NOW!!!

In full-fledged panic, (and cursing like a sailor, which also heightens a shark's appetite), I repeatedly attempted to pull my terrified, exhausted, water-logged, sand-cracked self out of harm's way whilst Jim has both hands prominently placed on my backside literally trying to shove my ass back up into the kayak and our giggling guide is tugging on my life vest, attempting the same feat as Jim. We were quite the show, I assure you.  When you find the video on youtube, please let me know.

Still cursing, I  right myself in the kayak yet again, and refuse to admit defeat. Jim reluctantly gets back  in the kayak, and our poor guide has to swim us out past the surf where the rest of our group is waiting; dry as a bone and stifling their laughter.

'Notice how dry everyone is!! One happy adventurer even brought their Boxer dog, and he managed to stay dry!!!'

The next hour and a half consisted of Jim paddling laboriously while I put every ounce of energy I possessed into not falling over again and looking for those baywatch-esque firemen. I may need them after all.
If I fell in again, there was no way I was going to be able to get myself back into the kayak. I would either have to surrender myself to the sea or cling to the closest buoy until help arrived...

The water was topped with sea foam (which is so much prettier when followed by the word 'green') and the surf was unrelenting. Below us were stingrays, bat rays, fish, and more sharks. I was paralyzed with fear and stared at my water shoes the entire time.

 As we posed our "look-what-we-did" photo, with fake smiles plastered on our faces, Jim whispered through his clenched teeth::

" We are never doing anything tandem again...not kayaks, not bicycles-built-for-two....
hell, woman, you are not even allowed on the escalator at the same time as me at the mall" ... And I'm saying, " OK, OK, I get it, I get it...seriously? not even the mall??"

Eleven months later and I sadly must report that my $50 in savings have resulted in hundreds of dollars in medical bills, cortisone shots, physical and occupational therapies, and continual pain due to a tendon that was torn while trying to get back into the kayak.  I might have been better off letting the shark get me!!!  Twelve weeks of rest while on disability will, hopefully, keep me from the surgeon's scalpel.

I have more coupons to redeem in my quest for frugal adventures. Since I only have 3 working appendages, I traded my coupon for a guided Segway tour along the cliffs above the very cove where we kayaked for a coupon for a guided walking tour of San Diego's brothels of yesteryear....sounds like an adventure...sounds, right? I mean, anyone can walk!

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