There are few things in life that I know for certain. For the most part I consider myself to be pretty laid back, I try to keep an open mind about new things. I try to find joy in new experiences, and learning. It is true, however, that on the rare chance (ahem) that I have a strongly held conviction, I very often am not swayed. I am like a mountain…or something. Unmovable. And not one of those sissy day hike mountains. I’m a mountain with the wind, and rain, and snow. The kind that those whiskey dogs have to live on. The kind that people actually prepare to hike up…a force to be reckoned with. Certainly, in those situations I am not easily convinced to go against what I know is right.
And then comes Joe.
Now, one would think, that in times that I hold these strong convictions that it would take hell or high-water to get me to go against what I know is the right thing to do. Ah…and to that person I would say, “you don’t know my husband”, more importantly, “you don’t know me like my husband knows me”.
For instance. Every fiber of my being could be screaming “No!” and “what are you thinking!?!?” and “why would you CHOOSE to do that!?!?!” and some other choice expletives, and my dear husband can wave something in my face…and like a dog with a bone, I am sunk. Wagging my tail, actually excited for the experience, and just so DAMN happy to go along with it.
Case in point. Nature and I don’t mix. I’ve been hiking, and survived sprained ankles. Camping trips with bugs, gophers, and “Fiesta Rap Music”. Hypothermia, scaling a waterfall, drinking from a stream…doing my business in a hole in the ground behind some tree…after having Joe check that I wasn’t going to be squatting in poison something or other. I’ve become quite the camping-outdoorsy pro. But notice my choice of the word “survive”. I haven’t ENJOYED doing these things. There isn’t some tiny masochist inside me saying “hey, I think I’ll shit in the woods for FUN today”. Noooooooo. I happen to enjoy toilet paper, and water that magically makes my poo disappear. Showers are really underrated in my opinion…and I happen to like mascara, and not smelling of bug spray and two day old crusty deodorant.
But here’s the thing. Joe LOVES the outdoors. LOVES them. And they love his happy ass right back. He doesn’t get bit, he doesn’t get cold…and for some reason the boy can go three days without showering and still smell like…well, not good, but not stinky. It’s like he’s a walking L.L. Bean catalog, complete with the size charts, the walking stick, and the two-day old scruff that makes him look devishly handsome (now, if we could just upgrade those stupid sandals).
My two-day-old scruff makes me less fun to cuddle with.
Do I complain??? Yes. But at the end of the day, this nature-lover knows me too well. And with our last camping trip, he had me at “new kayak”…
There are few things in life that I know for certain. One of those being that Mother Nature is a crazy sadistic wench who’s been gunning for me since I first strapped on my hiking/water shoe hybrids.
The latest duel between us: A week before Joe’s winging, I thought that it would be lots of fun to do something with our group of friends from Pensacola. Kind of a “last weekend all together” type thing. Through discussing with Dineen’s and between ourselves, Joe and I thought that camping on the beach would be a great time.
I was picturing bonfires, staying up late, laying out in the sun for the few hours the next morning. Cuddling as the breeze picked up at night, and listening to Pat play his guitar, and the rest of the boys chat about flying and where they thought everyone was going to go. I thought we’d have to drag stuff from the truck to the beach, and spend the rest of the day chilling with all of our friends, and just enjoying each others company. I was thinking cornhole and s’mores.
Joe had a different concept. The day before, when we were solidifying plans with everyone, we found out that none of the beaches we were thinking about allowed camping. SO, we decided on Fort Pickens. Come to find out, it was a seven mile hike in sand to get there. I was surprisingly okay with that, and changed my veiw of s’mores and beer, to exploring a creepy abandoned fort. Certainly it could be fun.
A few hours later, Joe heard that one of the guys had secured a boat. SCORE. So the hike was off, and the party was back on. Only for a short while though…because things fell through with the boat, and we were back on for the day-long hike. This while really sucky, didn’t deter me from thinking positively about everything. Joe, on the other hand, had come up with a great idea. “What if we just get another kayak? ” I looked at him, surprised that he was wanting to drop a couple of hundred dollars on another boat. “We’ve always wanted to get you one, and then that way we can use both of our boats to get across the sound rather than hike down the beach…” certainly, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to kayak from NAS Pensacola to Fort Pickens. It sounded like a great idea.
Then, our group started dropping like flies. “It’s supposed to rain”, “I don’t want to put all that work into it”, blah blah blah. And just like that, Joe and I were watching our fun ship sink…as all of our friends bailed. Not one to be upset about that kind of thing, Joe was excited about the adventure, and happy that Matt, Lauren, and Dallas were up for it still. “We’ll have more fun with people who want to be there, rather than a bunch of people who are just coming because they said they would.” Point taken. So I looked a the positive, and was excited about my new kayak, and about the great pictures I was sure I was going to take.
The morning of, we woke up to the sky falling down. It was horrible weather full of tornado warnings and lightning. I immediately got nervous, but managed to pull it together. Chalking it up to a typical Florida summer storm, we went and got my boat. Headed back to Milton, packed up our ridiculously huge cooler of beer and food, and headed to meet up with Brian Gilbert at NAS Pensacola.
We got there, and Brian was there with his dog. I was happy to see that at least one of our friends was there. Joe and Brian headed out past the first island to set up camp. There were gone for what seemed like two hours. It was closer to one…but still, ridiculous. By the time Joe got back, I had already worked my way through half a bottle of sunscreen. “Bad news.” I gave Joe the dirtiest look I could muster. “We can’t go to that island. They don’t allow dogs.” I looked around. “So, where’s Brian?” “Well, I left him there, you and I are going to check out the middle island, and then we’ll go and get Brian.” At that point in time, Matt and Lauren showed up. Matt and Joe took off for the middle island, and Lauren and I held down the fort, as I tried not to loose it.
One of my super fun pictures while waiting to be escorted to one of our many campsites.
So, six hours (between hauling all of our stuff back and forth), three campsites, and loosing Dallas later…we were pretty much set. In all of the commotion, Lauren and I managed to set up camp, and our camping trip started to take a turn for the better. Joe was finally done being a tug boat, and Dallas had managed to make it across to the island by hitch-hiking a boat. What a day.
My Handsome Tug-Boat…er, Husband:)
Dallas, prepping his camp stew. YUM.
Joe’s foot, and Brian’s Dog in the background.
Brian took off for a number of hours with one of the boats. He was going crabbing with a string and hook. While all of us were excited, we started getting worried when 3 hours later he was still out. Not wanting to be really worried about it, we just waited him out, and I worked on getting some pics.
Our campsite at dusk.
It wasn’t too long before we realized that we had to hunt down fire wood. Unfortunately, being that our island was little more than an oversized sandbar, the pickings were slim.
Our plethera of firewood.
So, being that we had enough wood to have a 30 second blaze, Dallas offered to kayak across to get some more wood on the other island (the one we were going to be on…had it not been for the dog). Joe was thankful for the break, and I started walking around finding interesting things to take pictures of, and trying to spend as much quality time with Joe as possible.
She sells Seashells…
Lauren, playing with the fishing spear.
While Lauren and I were entertaining ourselves, and the boys were taking it easy, Matt looked over at the next island and was like “wait…who’s climbing in your boat?” All of us looked over and sure enough, some random person had climbed in my kayak and was taking off down the beach. Dallas had left our boat on the shore, and some teenager was joy riding.
Not being one to let a little thing like not having a boat to get over there (remember…Brian had gone all Houdini on us with the other one) get in the way, Joe improvised and borrowed one from a retired Marine.
Joe to the rescue!
By the time Joe had started across to the other island, the kid had seen him coming, banked the boat and took off back to his friends. Joe grabbed the boat, and paddled down the shore and laid into the kid. As it turns out, Dallas had asked him to move the boat down the shore so when he found firewood, he didn’t have to drag it as far. Joe, of course, apologized all over himself, and thanked the kid for his help.
Meanwhile, on our island, we spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out what was going on. Just as Joe was headed back, we saw an old dead tree topple over on the other island. Dallas had cut down a freakin’ tree. And everyone in their boats started honking and cheering. Nothing like making a name for ourselves…
Brian’s poor pup. While we were watching the kayak commotion, we had forgotten that we had her back a the campsite. I turned around to this, her sitting on the beach wondering why we were so ignorant…having drug that damn board with her. Hahahahahahahahah 🙂
This was about the time that Matt was like, “enough! I’m drinking!”
By the time Dallas had returned, Brian had also returned. So we were back to being complete…our friends, and both our boats. Yeah. And with the addition of a tree it was time for the campfire, s’mores, and beer. Dallas made the most amazing camp stew, and we dug sand chairs and ate and played with the fire to our hearts content.
And, I was getting much better with my camera.
Boys, being Boys…
I was super excited with the pictures I was getting, and having so much fun with everyone. I had forgotten about camping! As soon as I was done with my camera, I packed her up and put her in our tent. All sealed away in the camera case, and in the tent. Safe from sand and water.
We sat and drank beer, and chatted about life in general, and how much fun everything was going to be over the next few years. I snuggled back into Joe’s chest…my toes tingly and warm from the fire, and really felt blessed to be sharing this moment with everyone. This is was I had wanted. Regardless of how we had gotten there, the campfire with friends and laughs was what I had needed.
Just about that time, Mother Nature reared her ugly head, and the wind picked up. Our tent. The one that I had been responsible for putting up. The one that we were to sleep in. The one that was keeping my camera safe and sound. Got picked up by the wind. Rolled….like tumble weed. Over all of us. Over the fire. Down the beach. And into the big drink.
We all looked dumbfounded for a second. And then the boys took off.
It was too late. Our blanket, tent, and everything else was soaked. I didn’t even touch my camera…hoping that some how, when it dried out…things would be okay. Joe’s phone got nailed too. Stupid Mother Nature. And just as I was cursing her, I noticed that she brought greater wrath than the wind…I spent the night shivering against Joe, with our soaking wet blanket wrapped around us, with our leaking tent, scared to death that we were going to be struck by lighting. It was like Chinese water tourture all night…our damn tent drip-drip-dripping on my forehead. All night long. One storm after another.
I will never look at thunderstorms the same way again.
That morning I was done, and more or less shoved everyone onto the boats, and was ready to peace out by 6am. I had gotten it. Mother Nature wanted nothing to do with me, and I wanted nothing to do with her. And while we sat and waited for Joe to drag us back and forth across to NAS Pensacola, Dallas looked over at me. “I’m sorry, Nichole. I really would like just one camping trip to go well for you.” “So, it wasn’t just me…this one wasn’t great?” “Nope, this was bad.” I smiled back at Dallas. “It’s surprising that I am still willing to try it, huh?” Dallas laughed at me. “At least you didn’t bring mascara this time.”
We returned home, pruned and ready to get sand out of our buttcracks. Joe’s phone was a lost cause, and was quickly replaced. My camera was done. It’s currently waiting to be shipped to Olympus, were they can hopefully make it work. I’m holding out hope. I just need to get it there.
So…Mother Nature won the battle. But I think I won the war. While my camera isn’t currently working, my memory card was unscathed (which also gives me hope…because my camera was internally dry). I may have spent the night praying that I wasn’t going to die…and I may be in NO hurry to return to nature…but something good did come of this.
I caught her, in all her glory.