Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Adventures in Phobia Part 2

Yesterday I posted about our narrowly missed twin appointments with death and stupidity when I fainted, causing everyone on an NCL shore excursion to collectively change their minds and decide not to ride down the side of an 10,000 foot volcano on bicycles at 20 mph in the fog and rain.

Today I will tell you about the other very stupid shore excursion we booked on our 2005 NCL Hawaiian cruise.

Kona Ocean Kayak & Snorkel (from the NCL Shore Excursion Catalog):
Kayak along four miles of the scenic Kona coastline and black lava sea cliffs to Kuamoo Bay. Along the way, see great sea caves and giant lava tubes; you may even spot a playful dolphin or a green sea turtle! Then, jump into the waters of a protected cove to snorkel and see some of Hawaii's marine life up-close. Don't worry beginners, a friendly and knowledgeable guide will greet you and provide you with basic paddling and snorkeling instructions and safety information. Note: Participants must be at least 10 years of age. We recommend you wear a swimsuit and bring a towel. This tour is not recommended for those with back problems or heart conditions.

This shore excursion was a much smaller group than the Maui Downhill adventure and we rode to the beach in a normal van, rather than the extendo 15 passenger crash mobile I described yesterday. Our tour guide didn't say much, but he looked like he belonged in one of those 1960's surfer movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. He even wore a floppy woven straw hat and threadbare khaki pants cut off at the knee like some kind of castaway. Like our mountain bike guide in Maui a few days before, he also called everyone "Bra" and "Cousin".

We arrived at the beach where life vests were passed out and kayaks assigned to us in pairs. MDH insisted on sitting in the back of our assigned kayak. In other aspects of our lives together he seems to prefer letting me be in front of him also. He says it's because he likes to watch my ass, but I'm pretty sure it's so he can keep a protective eye on me and catch all of the shit that I'm constantly knocking over in stores with my big giant purse without realizing it.

We got into the boat where we flailed around for about 10 minutes while our guide was giving instructions on how to move around, steer and right the boat should we tip over.

MDH and I missed this entirely.

Our guide didn't seem to notice, but we were about 20 feet away from the rest of the group paddling wildly around in circles further and further away, arguing.

By the time we pulled the oars out of our asses and paddled up to the rest of the group the guide shouted cheerfully, "OK, off we go!" and he and the rest of the groups glided out of the shallow, protected cove toward the big giant, very deep sea. I didn't know how deep it was until I heard someone shout out the question and the guide shouted back that it was somewhere between 200 and I don't remember, but it might have been 10,000 feet deep.

It was deep.

It was very deep and we were floating around in crazy circles on it in a tiny plastic piece of shit.

I didn't start to panic for real until we had paddled out of the bay into the deeper water and 3 things happened:

1. I looked back at MDH and he wasn't wearing his life vest. When I asked him where it was he said he had taken it off to use as a seat cushion.
I screeched back to him, "Are you outta your goddamn mind!?" as just then...

2. a swell about 6 feet high rocked our kayak and temporarily blocked my view of the boats in front of us. When the swell had passed...

3. The boat in front of us that had been carrying an older woman (about 50 or so) and her grown son (about 25 or so) had tipped over and both of them were flapping around, spitting and helpless while I watched their oars float away in the next 6 foot swell.

I had 3 epiphanies:

1. If our boat tipped over MDH were too out of shape to ever be able to get back into it and we would drown or a shark would come and eat my legs off, which would only draw the attention of more sharks and we would both die in a horrible blood bath feeding frenzy while the rest of the group kept paddling off without noticing.

2. I was having a gargantuan panic attack that included hyperventilation and if our boat tipped over I was too frightened and freaked out to make safe decisions and would probably drown and/or be eaten by sharks as described in epiphany #1.

3. Fuck it. I realized that we weren't that far out of the bay and that we didn't have to do this. We could turn around and go back. Just fuck it. (How's that for an athletic shoe slogan?)

I screamed back to MDH without taking my eyes off the next oncoming wave, "We don't have to do this!!!", to which he replied, "Good, 'cause I don't want to do this anymore either!" Great minds think alike. Great cowardly, scared shitless minds.

We hailed Moondoggie over and explained our decision and he paddled along side us until we were safely back to the shore where we thanked him and apologized profusely for any inconvenience we had caused. He was really nice about it and reassured us that lots of other people did the same thing. He also explained that we were going to be stranded there until the tour ended 4 hours later, because in addition to being our guide, he was also our driver. We told him we'd find our own way back, thanked him and apologized again.

After Moondoggie paddled out of site I cried like a big giant baby into the crook of MDH's arm. It was that bad kind of crying too with dripping snot and uncontrollable moaning. He held me tight until I was all done and let me blow my nose into the extra t-shirt he had brought along.

Then we began the long walk back into Kona town.

We must have looked pretty bedraggled because we didn't get further than a mile up the road before we got picked up by 2 golfer guys in a shiny red Mustang convertable who gave us a lift back into town. It's the only time in my life I have ever accepted a ride from a stanger. It shocked me to my core when they asked and MDH immediately said "Yes!"

It was an eye opening experience, way more so than the volcano mountain bike thing. I have nothing more to say about it except that we spent the rest of the day in Kona town, drinking coffee and eating pizza by the slice. We had a waterproof camera with us that day, but we didn't take any pictures. I do however, have this business card. It's a little dog eared because I keep it in my wallet to remind myself of what is the better way to spend my time.


WendyB said...

"Just fuck it" has always been my motto. But not about vacation excursions. I kid! Anyway, I get scared just wading in the surf because I'm always expecting some sly land shark to come out and tackle me. I'm also very frightened of sea urchins. Weird, I know.

Anonymous said...

You could have given me a free kayak trip and paid me 200.00 bucks...I would not have even gotten off the beach. I hate water. You are a braver man than I...I am trembling just thinking about that. What an adventurer you are.

I vote for epiphany #3..I am, after all, an old school punk and a metal head. This is a mantra that shapes my life to this day.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you stay away from Hawaii for your next vacation. That place will kill ya!

dmarks said...

"We recommend you wear a swimsuit and bring a towel."

From the looks of the picture, the towel might come in handy to sop up some blood.

Why are you even considering this? Is the "rustic weekend in T-Rex country in Jurassic Park" vacation all booked up already?

dmarks said...

"We recommend you wear a swimsuit and bring a towel."

From the looks of the picture, the towel might come in handy to sop up some blood.

Why are you even considering this? Is the "rustic weekend in T-Rex country in Jurassic Park" vacation all booked up already?

Quiet one said...

I don't do water with living things in it. And I would've said FUCK IT, too!

Man, I am so lame in comparison. I would never try most of the things you have done.

Churlita said...

Good for you. I love the ocean, but I'm terrified of lots of other things. There's nothing wrong with saying, "Just fuck it".

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I am not adventurous and I would rather be hearing other people's stories of daring and escapism than doing them. Give me a comfy chair, a slide show and some popcorn and I will be with you there in spirt.

Salute to the underachievers and the people who dont' need to leave their living rooms to enjoy life.

Claire said...

I love the ocean, but I have 2 rules:
1. Must be able to feel the bottom with my feet. Can't do that in 200 feet of water.
2. Must be able to see the shoreline.
You are brave, cause I would not have gotten in the kayak. "Tanker", "freighter", "ocean liner", "aircraft carrier"...all acceptable vessels for ocean travel. Kayak? Just fuck it.

The Guv'ner said...

HAHAHA he used his life vest as a seat cushion!?!? That is the most classy, fabulous thing ever and MDH is now my hero for all time!

That was making me laugh out loud. Boy I needed that today! :) I think the motto here is "STAY AWAY FROM HAWAII".

Family Adventure said...

I totally respect a lady who knows her own boundaries. And those of her husband. More power to you, I say.

But personally, I would have been having some a little stronger than coffee in Kona that day :)


The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

WendyB - I'm usually good if I can see the bottom, but I don't like for the fishies to come too near me after being stung by a jellyfish in Mexico a few years ago.

Evil - We gave ourselves an "A" for effort and did the rest of our trembling in the coffee shop.

Suze - Hawaii is great when you know your limits.

Dmarks - All our gear was drenched when the first 6 foot swell came upon us so the towels were nothing more than brightly colored "Come bite me" flags. I could tell that our guide Moondoggie thought we were ridiculous.

Michelle - we like to keep these experiences in a file marked "NEVER AGAIN" in the travel drawer.

Churlita - I will try anything almost once and reserve the right to say "Fuck This Shit, Let's Get a Cocktail" when it gets too hairy.

Betty - the photos of this trip are as if these things never happened so we have to bore our friends with oral retellings.

CDP - I too need to see the shoreline, and this adventure included that, but the shoreline was along a 1000 ft deep channel with rocky volcanic cliffs. I was OK on the cruisehip it's the smaller crafts in the big water that scare me.

Guv - I would've killed him if I wasn't so scared of tipping the kayak over and killing myself. It explains a lot about all the wiggling I could feel him doing back there during the guides instruction session.

Heidi - I'm learning what those boundries are and making my world smaller and smaller all the time. It's much cozier here now and I scream a lot less frequently and less shrilly.

Tara said...

Jeez, you two definitely picked some challenging excursions, didn't you? I think the open water and seeing some guy flip off his kayak would make me think twice. Actually I don't know if I'd sign up for that at all. Just go back to shore and sip margaritas on the beach.

paperback reader said...

That was inspired. On the upside, both of you wanting to wimp out makes you perfect for each other, right?

Also, the line "which would only draw the attention of more sharks" was particularly awesome. If only panic attacks were always so hilarious.

The Secretary said...

I have the same rules about the ocean as CDP except add one more:

Always - ALWAYS - make sure someone is further out to sea than you are. That way they get eaten by the big shark first and you have time to make it to shore while it's swallowing.

Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

I have that same fear of shark attack. I think it's part of being brought up as a landlocked midwesterner. We just don't mix well with oceans.