Been There, Done That: A step out of the comfort zone

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So I ended up way out of my comfort zone this summer when my friend invited me to go kayaking with her and a few other ladies at the lake where we all have campers. The very thought of me doing that seemed absurd to me. Of course, I had to decline the invitation.

I’ve never been on a kayak before. I’m not really a fan of boats. Dave and I had boats years ago — a tri-hull we affectionately referred to as Dino the Dinosaur due to its advanced age and a V-hull that I spent more time cleaning in the driveway than we did relaxing on at a lake.

But those boats had motors and lots of fiberglass between me and the water. Kayaks have neither. So of course, I had to decline the invitation. At my age, what business did I have even entertaining the thought of getting in a little boat powered solely by me? None of course.

So, no one was more surprised than me when I showed up at the launch site along with all the other ladies. I was very worried about leaving Dave and our Beagle Boy Cletus. Was Dave going to be OK taking care of himself and the dog without me? That was weighing heavily on my mind — for a minute — then I concentrated more on the logistics of the adventure I was about to embark upon.

I required a life jacket (just me and the one teenager in the group needed them apparently). I also required a sit-in as opposed to a sit-on kayak. Trust me, it matters. Standing there with the other ladies and a group of our menfolk surrounded by various kayaks, I was curious as to how we were going to end up in the water.

Turns out it was pretty easy. Each of us girls took turns getting into (or onto) our respective boats, and the guys took turns shoving us one at a time into the lake. Next thing you know, I’m in a kayak on the water with a paddle in my hand.

And going in circles. I couldn’t quite get the hang of paddling to go in any particular direction. So, they tied my boat to the boat of the one who invited me. Karma, I guess. And so much for the kayak being powered “solely” by me.

Getting tied to her boat was a bit of a challenge as I had been strictly warned not to turn and definitely not to lean in any direction for any reason. She tied a rope to the back of her boat and tossed it to me.

By some miracle, I caught it and by some bigger miracle, I managed to tie it to the front of my boat without leaning and flipping myself into the water.

We were a bit slower than the rest of the group with me still not pulling my own weight, which gave us a chance to chat. “I wouldn’t have bet on you coming,” she said. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t have bet on me. Wait, was there a bet? There wasn’t.

Eventually, we caught up to the rest of the ladies just as we were passing a guy fishing from shore. I’m betting that eight “floating females” was not what he was casting for.

I was beginning to get the hang of paddling when I got passed off and tied to a different boat. I did my best to paddle at the same time and on the same side as the person in front of me. If I was always on the verge of running into the back of her boat, then I was doing OK.

I even learned a little secret about my paddle. There are little rings on each side of the pole. The closer they are to the ends, the less lake water that runs down the pole as you raise it out of the water, side to side. Knowing that little tidbit much earlier in the trip would’ve kept a lot of lake water out of the can nestled in my lap. Oh well, the alcohol should kill off any contamination.

When we had floated enough, we headed back to the launch site. The guys were waiting to help us and our kayaks up out of the water. No easy feat as my knees were locked from being stretched straight out for the past couple hours.

And holy smokes, I didn’t think about Dave or Cletus even once — I was too concerned with self-preservation. Maybe being out of my comfort zone now and then is a good thing.

Laura Nethken
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