I have always had respect for the outdoors. And by respect, I mean that I find rainbows pretty, I love a good sunset on the beach and I like listening to rain from the inside of my house. So, naturally, I thought I was ready for a whole week of outdoor adventures on a family trip to Oregon. What I discovered was that not only am I not a nature fan, but it’s really not a fan of me either.
Before my trip, I had never been kayaking. I didn’t really have much of an opportunity to growing up, nor was it something that I was really itching to try. I was under the impression that it required you to sit in a boat, which could have spiders and bugs living in it, while propelling yourself across open water using muscles of some sort. I wasn’t terribly off with my estimate. It also turns out that I am terrifically awful at it and managed to have an issue with every fundamental part of the outing.
As one would guess, you sit in a boat to kayak. That boat is not only filled with bugs and spiders and the creepy-crawlies that haunt your nightmares, but are also surrounded by the buzzing, flying, swarming kinds of insects as well. Mosquitoes, which are everyone’s favorite insect to swat at, curse at and hate, very much enjoy the water, as well as the people who choose to sit in it for a couple of hours. They got to us like they hadn’t eaten in days. After getting bitten left and right (literally—I’ve got bites on my left and right sides), we managed to convince most of them to leave us alone by swatting at them viciously.
But soon, mosquitoes were the least of my troubles. The second major part of kayaking, other than sitting, is moving, which you do by using your arm muscles and sense of direction. It turns out I have neither, which made moving rather difficult. On top of that, we were all supposed to be fighting a current, which would’ve taken us downhill and into a big wooden spillway.
So the moving was kind of essential. After fighting to get the boat away from the dock, we faced a second battle: making sure we got it away from the danger zone, which is a lot more difficult than you’d think. After about half an hour of paddling, the boat was about 10 yards away from our original starting point. We managed to steer into about a dozen of the branches and bushes that hugged either side of the water, and we had narrowly missed about a dozen people who were enjoying the water.
By the end of an hour, we had quite a scene on our hands. We had our little kayak, which was wobbling wildly from bush to bush, landing us in the branches and trying not to get taken back downstream by the current. We screamed and flailed around at the mosquitoes that were swarming, and got screamed at by all of the other people in the water we were nearly running over. Needless to say, it was a bit of a mess.
This experience has taught me a valuable life lesson: Usually when you hate something or someone, they probably hate you back. Which means that Mother Nature and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms.