By Karlie Holliday of Just Sleep On It — Chronicles of a Restless Mom
With summer quickly approaching, I have started to think about some fun outdoor activities that the family can do together. Since we live in Florida, we typically like to do activities on or near the water. For many years, canoeing was at the top on my list. Picture it: crystal clear water, beautiful scenery, swimming with manatees, sunbathing, rope swings, and endless laughs with friends. Sounds amazing, right?
While going down memory lane, I couldn’t help to think back about my most memorable canoe trip. When I say “memorable,” don’t automatically assume that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, my canoeing days came to a screeching halt once I visited Juniper Springs, or what I like to call “Hell” Springs.
This canoe trip was horribly different from the others.
We Were Warned…I Think?
We thought it was a little odd that we were required to take a short training course beforehand, but we didn’t overthink it. We did see a sign that said “intermediate canoe run.” But again, we weren’t intimidated. It’s canoeing, how hard can it be? Grab your paddle and let’s do this!
(Apparently, we missed the sign that said the run was 7 miles long.)
What we thought was going to be a relaxing and fun-filled day with friends quickly turned into 7 miles of tears (mainly from me), sweat, scratches, bug bites, dehydration, and thoughts of divorce.
Ever Wonder How Strong Your Marriage Is? Jump in a Canoe Together and Find Out.
Before the canoe trip from hell, my husband and I had a pretty solid relationship. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but overall, we had the whole marriage thing figured out. We made a pretty decent team — so I thought.
The first couple of miles were a breeze. We were communicating well, we were calm, and we were moving at a smooth and steady pace. About a mile in, the two couples that were with us were already arguing and flipping their canoes over. So, we were feeling really proud. So proud that we started to get a little cocky.
“Look Ma’, no hands!”
That was a mistake.
The Nature Gods Turned Against Us.
By mile three, everything changed. We started to slow down — our energy levels began to drop. Tensions began to rise. The current was moving so rapidly that we didn’t have time to stop and catch our breath, let alone drink water. The run got significantly more difficult. The amount of obstruction was insane! How was this place allowed to be open to the public? Have you ever tried to limbo underneath a massive tree trunk? I don’t suggest trying it. My back still hates me because of it.
Our canoe got stuck in the bushes several times, and at one point, I was convinced that the worlds biggest bee had landed on my arm (come to find out, it was just a fly). It was quite a dramatic scene.
My husband and I were screaming at each other — I’m pretty sure I told him that I hated him several times. We were completely falling apart, physically and emotionally. By the last mile, it got so bad that he told me to put down my paddles and to not touch them for the remainder of the run. Apparently, I was hurting more than helping (eye roll).
The only positive thing that mother nature provided us that day was rain, considering it was nearly 100 degrees.
Oh, and we somehow managed to not flip our canoe over, so that was a win!
But, Did You Die?
Thankfully, we didn’t die. We made it back safely to the dock where our friends were waiting for us (for like 30 minutes).
The car ride home was awkward, to say the least. But, after a few hours, a gallon of water, and several stiff drinks, we started to feel like ourselves again.
I was convinced that I was going to be served with divorce papers once we returned home, and honestly, I would have signed them without a fight.
Can you believe that we are still married to this day? I can’t.
Slowly but surely, we were able to move past the day from hell. We had already invested so many years at that point, it would have been silly to throw in the towel because of one life-altering bad canoe trip. But, I am pretty sure that we both contemplated not having children together for several months after the trip. I certainly wasn’t comfortable with birthing a spawn of Satan.
What Did I Learn From This Whole Debacle?
1. Canoeing takes upper body strength, flexibility, endurance, and patience. (If you are not equipped with those capabilities, put down the paddle and bow out gracefully.)
2. Do your research. Not all canoe place are the same. Trust me, I know from experience.
3. Don’t be so quick to assume that you and your partner are the “best team ever.” You may be surprised by what you discover once you are in a canoe together.
4. 95-degree weather, dehydration, and hunger will most likely bring out a horrible side in anyone.
5. In an attempt to justify my near panic attack, according to Google, some flies do in fact sting.
6. The canoe trip from hell was difficult at the time, and I would surely take it back if I could, but it’s made for one hell of a story!
This post was originally published on Just Sleep On It — Chronicles of a Restless Mom.
About the Author
Karlie is a wife, unexpected stay-at-home mom, and wannabe writer living in Tampa, Florida. She shares her honest and humorous stories of motherhood and relationships at Just Sleep On It – Chronicles of a Restless Mom. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.