Today was a mini adventure.
The wavy fringe of the Pacific Ocean hit the beach with gusto. Tall skinny fronds of palm trees waved while pods of people stood around groups of kayaks. We were going to be in the red kayaks.
I cannot believe it’s so rough today!
“If you want to change your mind, I am fine with that”, I heard John, my husband say. At six feet tall, two hundred pounds with a very balanced center of gravity, I was shocked. Over a lifetime of thirty plus years he has always encouraged me to challenge my fear of heights, ledges, and open water.
What is happening? I thought we would be in the bay which looks so calm and peaceful from the cliffs.
Rooted to the beach like a pair of sand dollars we observed kayak after kayak either entering or exiting the water was upended by the roaring surf, tossed in the air and thrown onto the beach. People tumbled like toys.
A video played on the screen of my mind. I reviewed all the water experiences on the West Coast and how peaceful they had been. Monterey, Pacific Grove, several on the Oregon Coast and Puget Sound. The video flashed by as a chill swept my entire body.
Yes, I really wanted to be out there, yes I felt relatively confident about kayaking, yes – but, yes – but, on and on the mind trundled. Memories started to swirl. Memories of Hawaii when my daughter was a baby. A huge wave bounced me in the surf. Since then my left-shoulder has been really wary of waves.
My last adventure in a sea kayak was in Puget Sound, Bellingham Bay in 2016. A particularly bouncy wave appeared just as I reached for water, and I ended up swimming to shore pushing my kayak in Scottish-type cold water, fully clothed with tennis shoes on as yte Alaska ferry patiently waited to leave the dock!
Fear crept around my cells. I watched the ocean crashing in front of me. The swells were substantial out there today. But how would we even get to the swells?
How will we cross those white mountains of water? They are freaking me out!
Adrenalin kicked in.
Dig four courage, I told myself. What’s the next step through this?
It occurred to me that we should return to the store and ask a few questions. Cami, our guide, was very calm. She reassured us that we would have a surf jockey at the back of our kayak who would push us through the surf. The surf jockeys stand in the surf. Grabbing the back of the kayak, they walk, swim and help steer it through the crashing waves. While the waves were possibly four to five feet high the water in the surf zone is only about two feet deep.
We changed, got ready and kept moving forward. Standing on the beach we watched one of the guides be overturned, not once, but twice. My mind justified this.
Oh, but she didn’t have a surf-jockey. She was doing it alone.
“If you capsize, it’s no big deal,” said Cami with a grin. “Remember it’s only about two feet of water, but it sure does turn on the adrenalin”, positively gleefully. As if we looked like adrenalin seekers.”
Into the kayak we went. I was in front. “Straight in, paddle when I tell you, lean back”, I heard Andrew barking at us.
Okay Doreen, trust the process, trust the process. This mantra repeating in my ears we launched. Small wave, water in the kayak, lean back, blue sky, wall of water, lean back, gulp air, thrashing, cold. One more, oh oh, huge, trust the process, impact, pressure, wet, lean back further.
Suddenly I heard Andrew. “Paddle left.” Another voice called “Paddle left.” We both paddled furiously, and I could breathe. A sudden calm embraced us as we found ourselves on top of enormous swells but headed towards the other red kayaks.
One moment a red kayak would be above us, the next moment we were looking down on it as if from a single-story rooftop.
“Blimey, we did it”, I said. “Just keep paddling” came John’s voice from behind.
After this we headed out into the wind, across the bay for the sea caves of La Jolla.
We encountered swimmers in the water, even braver people in my mind, they were so far offshore. We saw sea lions and seals, we saw an injured sea lion and were all very concerned. We worked as a team steadying kayaks, explored sea caves, to see them so far offshore and stroking away with the tide.
What did I learn or relearn?
I remembered to keep asking questions, to take the next step, to trust the process, to follow directions, to have fun in the joyful moments, to congratulate myself for being outside my comfort zone – again.
Against all odds we enjoyed another adventure. Last night I went to bed knowing that life is just a series of bite-sized adventures and feeling so grateful I had faced that one. Today I woke up ready for the next…..keep on moving forward!