I had dinner with Anita, Teresa, Donna Jean, Curtis and Granddaddy a few nights ago, and they encouraged me to tell this story on the family blog. I always forget that Jessica and Manda are far away and not here in good ol' VA. So here's my story.
Almost a month ago, I went canoeing (the spell check keeps stopping me on that one but not offering any other suggestions.. You all get the drift) in the Dismal Swamp in Gates County, NC. Kiel and I drove out there one Saturday afternoon. Now me, I'm picturing a beautiful clear lake with lovely scenery. When we got there, I asked Kiel, "How did you hear about this place?" Kiel's response was, "Bull told me about it." That should have been my first warning sign. "Bull" as he is known to his friends, is Kiel's soccer buddy. His real name is Thomas, but for some odd reason everyone calls him Bull. He even has "Bull" tattooed to the side of his neck. For the longest time, I thought that was his real name until I inquired one day and I learned the truth. But, I digress.
We pull up, and I see nothing but trees and a log cabin.. Off in the distance is a Porter Pottie, and then I see the canoes hanging up on posts. We get to the place where we have to pay, and it's only two dollars to canoe around for how ever long you wish. This should have been my second warning sign. We get a canoe and we start following the other people to the "Launch Area". Still, there is no sign of water. A man hands us life jackets, and then that's when I spotted it. A LARGE sign catches my eye. It reads "DO NOT FEED THE ALIGATORS. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE ALIGATORS. DO NOT MAKE SUDDEN MOVEMENTS IN THE PRESENSE OF AN ALIGATOR. PADDLE ON!!" I am alarmed, and I tell Kiel about the sign. He reads it and says, "Where are we???" Well put Kiel, well put. Third warning sign...
We reach the launch site, and all at once my fears are confirmed. The water is a thick green color. Not just slightly green, but algae, pond skum green. My heart begins to race, and I immediately start telling Kiel, "We can't fall in..." He laughs, and launches me in the water.
Now keep in mind, I have never canoed before. NEVER, not once in my life.
We launch ourselves, and begin paddling. We were supposed to be following the orange markers in the water. However, Kiel had other plans. "Let's go this way.." he said as we paddled off the path we were supposed to follow. We had a cooler of Gatorade and Nabs.. Maybe 6 of each. I kept this in the back of my mind as we paddled. This is when I noticed that I didn't see land ANYWHERE. The water stretched for as far as I could see. Scary trees lurked over the water and patches of lilypads were all we saw in the distance. Everything looked the same. This was the beginning of losing our way.
Two hours pass.... NO SIGHT of any other canoers. I looked at Kiel and said, "I think we're lost Kiel.." "No, we're not lost. We have to go back that way to get back to the launching sight. I'm positive." Kiel says. Another hour passes. We paddled in circles for almost 4 hours I think. We passed two men fishing at a point, and asked them which way was back to the launching sight. They stared at us in a very curious way, almost as if we looked appetizing...There facial expressions alarmed me. They looked at us and pointed in the direction of where we came from. "It's back that way." (insert extreme country accents in the response) All I could hear in my mind was the theme song from Deliverance. It was scary. Kiel looked at me and said, "Ok we're not going that way." The sun was frying our skin. With no shade in sight, all we could do was try to paddle back to where we came from. I pictured a scene from Lake Placid. A giant aligator was going to engulf our canoe and swallow us whole. My mind was beginning to race. Right then Kiel spoke up and said, "Save whatever is left in the cooler.. We might need it." This comforted me little at best. I then began to invision us on the cover of People Magazine. "Couple found in the Dismal Swamp after two day Search. Survived on Nabs, Gatorade and lilypad roots."
We paddled for another thirty minutes until finally we saw the markers again. I said a quick prayer of thanks and breathed a sigh of relief. We put the canoe back where it belonged and headed back to the car. It was starting to get dark. We sat in the car for a minute to digest the events of the afternoon. Kiel looked at me and said, "I didn't want to say anything, but I didn't think we were going to find our way back. No wonder people just disappear in the Dismal Swamp. Everything looks the same!" I knew he had been thinking it the whole time, but that's a man for you. Never the first to admit at being lost or expressing worry.
That's how we almost died in the Dismal Swamp.... FYI- Don't go to Gates County to canoe.... More adventures are sure to come. I love you all and I miss you Manda, Jessie and Travis! :)