Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blondie in the Bay - An Adventure After the Hurricane

Blondie in the Bay 

I have a pitiful sight in my garage. I own 3 sea kayaks and a 20 foot canoe and they've done nothing but collect dust in my garage since we moved to dirtville.

Every once in awhile I'll stare longingly at them remembering their glory days when we lived near the beach. At least once a week I'd strap wheels to the back of 'fast and tippy' or 'slow and steady' and pull it down the street to the bay or the ocean for a couple of hours of kayaking. 

Fast and Tippy with wheels.
One of my favorite adventures was a lovely fall day a few days after a hurricane paid us a visit. The storm was a category two hurricane (read 96-110 mph winds) and the damage to the area was extensive. Many homes were flooded, trees were down, and there was major damage to the infrastructure along the shore with entire tracts of power lines down for miles. I was itching to see how everything had fared, having been cut off from anything but the radio since the storm hit.

Storm eating up the sky.

I was also tired of being in the dark, hot house with no power. At least outside there was a semblance of a breeze even if the sun was blaring down on me. A short walk through the tree-lined neighborhood and I launched the sea kayak into the warm water of the back bay with blue herons and osprey flying overhead and the water sparkling brightly all around.

My playground for the day.

A considerable amount of debris left by the storm was in my usual launching place so I had to improvise. Luckily I was wearing my water shoes and didn't mind stepping on some rather questionable sea ick. The water felt delicious on my legs and I settled into 'fast and tippy' its light green color reflecting brightly in the sun. I launched myself using the paddle and began exploring the bay. 

I felt secure in my knowledge that the water was shallow and the sharks were more fond of the oceanfront as I paddled along, glad that 'fast and tippy' was making my journey a bit easier. 'Slow and steady' was well suited for the oceanfront with the constant waves and the treacherous breaker crossings. Thankfully, I was oblivious the great white shark that was tracked in that area a few years later. 

Glad I didn't know a great white shark made regular visit to the bay. 

The bay was lined with luxury homes of the disgustingly rich. I was most definitely not rich (see Blondie at the Beach) and enjoyed ogling their toys. It was nice to know these rich people were suffering along with us regular folk with no power, broken houses, and major damage. Not that I had anything against them. Merely that the hurricane didn't just pick on us. 

Tooling along in the bay gave me the inside scoop on many of these houses. From the road it was hard to see how they lived in the lap of luxury. From the     bay their backyards were completely visible, fancy yachts and all. Only now    

    there were trees on top of houses and yachts, and in some cases yachts on top     of trees. 

Lawn yacht anyone?

Contractors were hard at work pumping out the water or removing fallen branches and trees from their otherwise beautifully manicured lawns. One huge brick house in particular caught my attention. A huge lob lolly pine fell through the roof and another fallen tree had cracked the seawall. It looked like they had another few trees down in the front lawn as well, although it was hard to see from my vantage point in the kayak. There had to be water inside the house given the severity of the roof damage. 

Trees were down everywhere.

Seeing the devastation around me made me realize how lucky we were. Our house had made it through the storm with no damage or flooding. The seawall at the oceanfront was responsible for the lack of flooding and just been completed a few months before the hurricane. The storm surge brought the wave just to the brink of the wall, and had it not been there would have brought the ocean directly to our front yard two blocks away since it was all downhill. Our house was a single story ranch surrounded by two and three story homes leaving us in a pocket of safety from the damaging 100 mile an hour winds.

An hour of exploring and my bottle of water was nearly gone. Rather ironic that I was surrounded by hundreds of homes with seven or more bathrooms and none available to me. I was left with few options. A very lovely winding path in long sea grass was a perfect unseen place. The footing is rather difficult back there, not to mention the various crabs, fish and creepy crawlies that may take advantage of me in my moment of relief. 

Please Mr. Crab, please don't pinch me!

I eased my legs over the side of the kayak but it took me awhile to muster the courage to lower myself into the murky water, with all the imagined horrible biting critters unseen below the surface. Luckily I had lifeguard ninja skills as a quick draw McGraw and was back in the kayak all bits accounted for in no time.

I miraculously managed to get back into 'fast and tippy' without losing the paddle, my sunglasses, or my water and continued on my journey. By hour three I decided to head back home to see if the power was back on. A hot shower and air conditioning would be a great end to this day.

As it turned out power was not restored for another week and a half to our area near the beach and even longer for some lower lying areas. Our street happened to be one of the higher elevations in the entire area leaving us with less water damage from the torrential rains. The soggier areas had a lot more damage as a result of the loosened roots creating more fallen trees.

Returning to my small, inexpensive, yet undamaged house I definitely appreciated my lot in life. Our house made it through the storm with no damage at all and after what I'd seen that day it seemed like a miracle.

Although I didn't live in the lap of luxury like many of my neighbors, I still was able to enjoy the gorgeous bay and the sandy beach. More importantly I had the love of my family and friends and no amount of money could buy that. Life isn't about how much you have but how much you enjoy what you are given. I definitely have a full appreciation of all the good things in my life, even if I am living it in dirtville now. 

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When I'm not working on Stealing Time you can find me on my social media at the links below. I hope to have my novel completed by spring 2014 with book two close behind.