“Do what you fear and fear disappears”.
David Joseph Schwartz
Being an adventurous soul, I am always looking for a new challenge and try things I have never done before. It is both scary and exciting all at once! That is exactly what happened during my trip to Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands last spring.
What really motivated me to go were the many activities on the menu and among them was river kayaking. In order to prepare myself for it, I watched a few videos on YouTube to learn the basics. However nothing prepared me for the real thing!
What I truly feared the most was capsizing or tipping over but since I am a big mama, I didn’t think it would be possible! Did I even mention the fact that there might be some alligators in their natural habitat?
After getting a great night’s sleep at The Boca Grande Resort, I woke up a bit earlier than everyone else because I wanted to see the sunrise from the marina which is located in the back.
After enjoying it for a few moments, it was time to meet with the group and head to the Outlet Restaurant to refuel (breakfast) for the busy and fun-filled day.
What better way to start the day than having breakfast al fresco at this waterfront property!
Our fabulous group:
The food is delicious and the portions are huge. Just look at my plate!
As we were leaving, something caught my eye in the garden. It was literally calling me & I had to make my way to get closer and capture its beauty!
Right after we traveled for about 1 hour to reach our next destination, Shell Creek which is located in Hathaway Park in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Our host & guide Chris Warren from Phoenix Rising Kayak Tours was waiting for us. His company organizes kayak tours throughout Southwest Florida. From sunrise to sunset, from a river to the Gulf! He can even arrange an intimate Kayak wedding as he is fully authorized by the State! Pretty original idea right?
Now as you know kayaking requires a few steps and they are:
Step 1: Put on life jacket (but of course!)
Step 2: Listen very carefully to the instructions (what to do and what NOT to do)
Step 3: Choose your kayak, adjust footrests and become familiar (how to get in and how to get out, how to use the paddle)
Step 4: Get in the water
Step 5: Do NOT bump into your instructor 🙂
Step 6: Paddle away
Let me be totally honest with you. I was not scared…I was petrified! My heart was beating so fast that I think animals heard it from far away 😉
What was I thinking? Let’s see:
“Am I doing this right?”
“Oh everyone else is moving faster and I’m like a turtle.”
“What if an alligator comes and bites me, boy is he going to have a feast. I will be the meal of his day!”
“Oh I’m so glad I bought life insurance”
Really ridiculous thoughts crossed my mind which now make me sound like and realize that I was indeed in a state of panic!
I obviously had a long face and Chris, who was way ahead of us, slowed down, turned around and came over to see if I was ok.
I shook my head to say no and he simply said: “Karla, take a deep breath. Take time to center yourself. Mother Nature is here wanting to show you her beauty. Just let go, you can do it!”
He then made me realize that my paddle was not in the right direction (notice it in the step 6 above) and patiently showed me, once again, the technique to move forward and to stop which may seem easy at first but it’s not. It takes practice but after a few attempts I got it. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher, motivator and energetic guide!
Chris kept encouraging me by paddling right next to me and told me amazing stories from his youth. For instance, when he was in his teens, he was an instructor and lived in Maine. There was no other transportation method other than a kayak, so he had to paddle from island to island and as far as 40 miles apart.
I could tell how passionate he is about what he does for a living. What an inspiration!
“Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you.”
-Huron Indian proverb
What is great about kayaking is that you move slowly and really have the time to listen to nature as well as admiring wildlife, breathe in fresh air and it is also quite a workout. Concentration and strength is required, so you challenge your body to create a balance!
We heard the thunders in the distance, so that meant that we had to go back to where we started or we would be caught in the rain.
It was much easier upon return and believe it or not I was one of the first persons to arrive safe and sound on the shore. It started to rain and I couldn’t help but laugh & cry of relief. Lucky me, no one noticed as rain & tears all looked the same ha ha! Divine timing I said to myself.
What a proud moment! I conquered my biggest fear and mastered my 1st kayak experience. That was definitely something I needed! Thankfully I didn’t skip it because it taught me a very valuable lesson of courage and determination.
If you are ever in Charlotte Harbor or in Southwest Florida and would like to go kayaking, you can do so by visiting www.prkayak.com to get more information. The website contains gorgeous photos and really great quotes!
A very special thank you to Henry, our tour driver from Doris limousine in Port Charlotte who took all the photos of the kayaking tour while the photographer was in the water! I will certainly remember this for the rest of my life 🙂
Tell me, when was last time you were really afraid?
How did you overcome it? Did someone help or encourage you?
Share your story with us.
If you have a link, leave it in the comments section.
Better yet, I invite you to write it and let me know once it’s done.
P.S: I hope you enjoyed reading the longest post to date! Actually it’s a mini book chapter. Yes good things take time but when they come they are a great surprise 🙂
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