I have loads of friends …
most are married with families
or single and young and busy.
I have, more than once, asked on Facebook “Would anybody like to _____________?”
And I hear *crickets.*
There have been a few times that I wanted to camp so much … that I chose to camp alone. I had a great time, but have to admit that I feel quite vulnerable as a female, camping and hiking alone. Lives are busy and it’s hard to coordinate activities. Add on top of this, the fact that there are many things that I WANT to do … but don’t know HOW to do or have the EQUIPMENT to do … and you will understand why I joined MeetUp.com.
MeetUp.com is website that provides the service of bringing together like-minded people. If you have a group that meets to … run, play scrabble, instruct how to build robots or worship trees, you are free to start or join a group. Through the site, information about the group is offered. There are thousands of MeetUp groups around the world, and dozens of them are here in Augusta, Georgia. I have joined several of the local outdoor groups. My kayak trip in Savannah was a MeetUp trip, as was a trip that Joy and I took this past Sunday.
Sunday afternoon, we met with a group of “friends” (that we hadn’t yet met) at the head gates of the Savannah River Canal on Evans to Locks Road. Chuck Hardin of Whitecap Stand Up Paddleboard was our event service and equipment provider.
I have been interested in trying “stand up paddleboarding” for a while. “SUP” is a cross between surfing (standing on a surf board) and boating (propelling yourself with a paddle) … and felt kind of like standing to paddle in my kayak. Equipment and instruction were my obstruction. Through MeetUp and Chuck, that gap was filled
for a wonderful afternoon!!
We were scheduled to begin around two o’clock, but ended up on the water a little later than we had planned. I think it worked out well, because the sun was a little less intense and honestly, our afternoon could.not.have.been.more.beautiful.
The skies were clear and beautiful, the sun was warm but not overpowering
and the water was just the right amount of wet and chill to be great for cooling dips
(the intentional … not the accidental kind, of course).
As we got onto our boards, I happened to be oriented so that my board was pointed toward the locks (upstream) rather than away from the locks (downstream).
And I’ll be perfectly honest with you: when I f.i.r.s.t pushed away from shore
with both feet planted on the board
– ankles almost s.h.i.v.e.r.i.n.g from the new experience ….
unsteady, trembling and shaky –
my immediate thought was …
“I’ll never even turn this board a.r.o.u.n.d.“
Chuck was quick to point out
that I was being drawn TO the locks by the spin of the current
there at the edge of the canal.
I needed to TURN AROUND AND get out into the MIDDLE of the canal
to help propel me downstream.
*rolls eyes* “Great,” I thought, as my eyes grew wide.
“I’m going to be sucked under the lock. I’m a dead woman.”
In those first few literal minutes ….
*tick tock tick tock*
I thought for sure
that I wouldn’t be able to stay upright
I remember distinctly thinking,
And I made an intentional effort to relax.
I came prepared. I wore my bathing suit, rather than clothes,
so that it would make no difference whatsoever
how many times
I fell into the water.
I was ready to swim.
And Joy …. being a lover of her skateboard,
– with its give and take movement underfoot –
seemed perfectly comfortable on the water … right away.
I was amazed at how quickly my mind and body
adjusted to the give of the liquid beneath me
and the movement of the board under my feet.
What began as a.l.m.o.s.t trembling shakiness,
quickly became a comfort
that was frankly … surprising.
It wasn’t “effortless,” mind you, but it quickly became less and less effort
and more and more enjoyable.
In fact, by the end of the paddle, I was fully comfortable moving from standing to kneeling to sitting and back up to standing.
I loaned my underwater Olympus camera to a friend so only had my dear little Cybershot with me. I leashed my waterproof box (it looks very similar to THIS) to my leg and had my camera, sunblock and other sundry items in the box. I was both comfortable and confident enough to be able to kneel, unlatch my box and easily pull out my NON-waterproof camera out to snap shots along the way. It may not sound like much to you, but I was pretty darn impressed with myself.
See the boat in the middle of the above photo? The captain is Donna. As Joy and I paddled down the Savannah at Paddlefest the other weekend, Donna was out on the water (not as a participant of Paddlefest, just enjoying some water time on her own). As we passed her by, we struck up a conversation. Before I knew it, I had my phone out to enter her name and number. We soon realized that we both participate in MeetUps. So, when she saw this SUP Meetup, she decided to tag along. As it turned out, her boat became a transporter of a few of our “extras” (like Joy’s backpack). She’s such a neat person and I am just amazed at how every day brings another, intricate, fun person into my life. Donna, I’m so glad you joined us on the SUP MeetUp!
And this girl? She’s amazing. It doesn’t matter where we go
or what we do,
she’s a trooper.
She can hang with the big dogs.
She has the strength and endurance,
the agility and the balance
to enjoy every outing.
And she’s mature enough,
that the adults enjoy her company.
I am blessed to call her daughter.
She had her own doubts about the trip. Before we left home, she agonized over the fact that the trip was represented as a three-hour (stand up!) trip. Our last trip on the water (the Paddlefest event), was a little exhausting. By the end of our paddle, she was worn out (I’ve since come to realize that her paddle is too long for her frame. That certainly added to the workload of her Paddlefest experience making it more than it should have been.) In the end, that three hours of our SUP trip included instruction before being water bound and with some loading time in the end. We were probably on the water about two hours total. And she had a blast!
So, we SUP’ed our way from the canal head gates in the middle of the afternoon
down into Lake Olmstead by early evening.
To say that “We had fun,” would be an understatement. SUP is definitely something that we will do again.
We finished out our day with our new friends at a casual dinner at Rhineharts. Left to right: John “The Farmer” (great guy with a fun Jeep!), Mona, Tom, Del, Donna (my kayaking friend), Chuck Hardin (SUP Professional), Eric, Eszter, me and my sweet Trooper – Joy (with closed eyes??).
With autumn near, I look forward to the fun that lies ahead.