I have always considered myself a homebody, but this past week really has me questioning that declaration. I don’t enjoy being at home as much as I thought.
My husband and I managed to get in a quick trip to Wind Creek State Park this past weekend, because let’s face it: It might be closed soon due to the coronavirus.
The state park’s campsites were nearly full. We were lucky enough to pick a campsite near a large group of very loud teenagers sharing a small tent. Don’t worry, we weren’t close enough to anyone to catch or spread the virus. I understand the importance of flattening the curve, so we were doing our due diligence to ensure we were more than 6 feet away from others at all times. But we did want to get out and enjoy the outdoors, which is perfectly fine to do during this time.
We took our new-to-us pop-up camper. That was fun. We love to camp. We even love to tent camp, but this pop-up is a whole new level. It has an air conditioner and a real bed that doesn’t have to be inflated. I was able to make coffee in a coffeemaker rather than over an open fire. I’m sure some of you will argue it is better made over an open fire. I do not disagree, but I don’t enjoy starting the fire first thing in the morning before having any coffee. I liked flipping the switch; it’s so much easier.
I know camping is not for everyone, but my husband and I like it.
Our last camping trip was way back in September during Labor Day weekend. We drove down to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach. It was our first camping trip at the beach, and what a trip it was!
We got there late in the afternoon and set up camp. We had a nice grilled steak dinner and enjoyed the evening. That night, it was so hot — hotter than hot — and the humidity was through the roof.
The next morning we went out and bought the biggest box fan we could find.
That afternoon the relentless heat returned. We brought our new inflatable kayak and decided to try it out for the first time. My husband is not a fan of the ocean. He is much more comfortable on the lake so it took a lot of convincing on my part.
I talked him into a trip from the state park over to Shell Island, which from land didn’t seem too far away.
We shoved off from the bayside of the park and the water was a smooth as glass. We start paddling and get about 200 feet out and my husband’s paddle broke. I gave him mine and on we went.
Well, as we made our way into the gulf, all of the sudden we were flooded with boats filled with tourists. There were fishing boats, dolphin tour boats, sunset tour boats and more, all coming in to dock at the same time. Some were big and others were huge. One made a wake that, from our kayak, looked to be about 30-feet tall.
My husband yells, “We have to take it head on.”
At that moment, time stopped. I wanted to get out of that kayak and run back to shore. Instead, I closed my eyes and braced myself. We went up and down and down and up. It felt like a rollercoaster ride, but we made it.
We decided to stay close to the big buoys. I’m not sure why. Our kayak is bright yellow. We looked like we were riding in a big inflated banana. Everyone could see us. We had people screaming at us from the bypassing boats as they made their way back to dock. Some were encouraging. One man yelled, “You can do it!” and others were more realistic; “You’re an idiot,” one man yelled.
We made it to Shell Island. We walked around a while and looked for seashells. After about 30 minutes, we started to make our way back to the state park. It was pretty uneventful until my husband saw a fin. He — trying not to panic — pointed it out to me. It was a dolphin. He was hitting the surface with the paddle on one side of the kayak in an effort to ward it off, and I was behind him trying to “call” it closer.
When we finally made it back and loaded the kayak into the bed of the truck, I felt so alive. I know I will never talk my husband into another kayak trip in the Gulf of Mexico, but I can say we did it.
I really do hope everyone is taking the coronavirus health crisis seriously. We have to stop the curve so we can all get back to life as normal, and because I need to talk my husband into our next crazy adventure.
Carmen Rodgers is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.