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EXTREME SPORTS: The Dodging Sharks Edition

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Well, don’t YOU look tasty and delicious? NOM NOM NOM.

Casey’s mom and step dad own a condo on the beach in Ft. Myers, FL. We go there a few times a year for long weekends and family trips. It’s really become a home away from home. Every time we go we try to come up with new and exciting things to do, like drinking on the beach, sun tanning on the beach, drinking in the pool, drinking in the hot tub, drinking in the bar, drinking on the porch, sleeping, eating, and one time we rented a boat.

So this past trip down, we really wanted to mix things up and do something extreme. So extreme, so scary, that it literally had my legs shaking.

That’s right. Paddle boarding. Or, as it’s properly known, stand up paddle boarding. Or, if you want to be particularly douchey, SUP.

I’m not sure of the entire history of the sport, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that one day someone, probably a guy, was all like, you know what? I bet that if I invented this sport where you stood on a board and paddled around in open water for no apparent reason, it would really take off. Americans like nothing more than LOOKING like they are doing something when they are really not. It will be huge. What can I call it? SUP. Perfect. I’m calling my patent attorney.

And lo’ a trend was born.

I have never met a trend I didn’t like to try at least once so I could make fun of it, so I was dying to try my hand (feet?) at SUPing. Casey was skeptical at first. He failed to see what would be so fun about standing on a board for an hour. But, he loves me, so he said sure. He was in.

Now there was only one thing standing between me and sweet, sweet SUPing: my complete and utter terror of sharks and all things sharks related. As much as I love the beach, you will not catch me in the water past my ankles. I don’t swim in the ocean. I don’t like watching other people swim in the ocean. Frankly, it mystifies me. You KNOW for a FACT that there are sharks in the water. FACT. It’s like walking into a jungle whistling a show tune, like, oh hay lions and tigers and pumas and whatnot. Why don’t you just get out of my way even though I’m in YOUR habitat and you could totally eat me?

People are arrogant and feel possibly immortal, is the only reason I can come up with for boogie boarding, body surfing, regular surfing and swimming. Oh, they think, a shark will never eat ME. Because that’s what everyone thinks. Right up until they get eaten by a shark.

I had to ask myself, was getting out there and doing it, just so I could blog about it, WAS IT WORTH IT??

Yes. Yes, it was. See what I do for you people? And that’s how we found ourselves heading to Lover’s Key to hop on one of these bad boys:

So these ‘bad boys’ are really the sissy boards of the industry. They are the YOLO Yak boards, and per the web site they are ‘perfect for the whole family’. Which really translates into ‘wimp’.

Now, you can opt to get a real lesson, for $50 an hour, per person. Or, you can do what we did – watch a five minute You Tube video and glean a few pointers from the lovely gentleman that works the concession stand.

So basically, you stand up, and you paddle. And you try to not to get eaten by a shark.

You actually ‘lay down to paddle out’, until you’re in calmer waters, then you get to your knees, find the ‘sweet spot’ on the board, and stand on up.

It looks like I’m further out than I really am. I’m maybe 20 feet off shore. Casey does not share my fear of being eaten by a great white. He is cruising right into the danger zone.

So once you get up on your knees, the next step is to stand up. But you know what? Those people don’t know my life. I was perfectly content to cruise around my knees for the entire duration of the event.

You can see the look of disgust on Casey’s face. He is all like, get UP woman. I am sure he’s hoping that Jones didn’t get my ‘giant fearful nerd’ gene.

I couldn’t stay on my knees forever (insert your own off color joke here). Mainly because a.) I hate giving Casey any ammunition to make fun of me, and b.) probably easier to see a dorsal fin from higher up. So on shaky legs, I made my way upright.

There I am, in all of my glory. Going left.

I was trembling like a leaf, but I was up and had yet to see a single shark. So I decided to do the unthinkable – turn right.

DEATH DEFYING! It is really hard to stay balanced and not fall down when you’re shaking like booty at a club. I am surprised I didn’t pee myself. OR DID I?

I got up and I stayed up. Those giant sissy boards we used made it relatively easy. After a few minutes, I actually had the hang of it. There I was, SUPing around in what was most likely shark-infested waters. I had neither fallen nor gotten eaten. I got, dare I say it, confident.

Casey and I paddled up and down the surf a few times. Like world class SUPers by now.

There we are. Standing our little hearts out.

All of this took up roughly the first ten minutes of our hour rental. We paddled around a lit bit more, then decided that only a fool would tempt fate out in here in Satan’s cauldron. Also, it was very boring.

We paddle back into shore, drag our YOLO Yaks for Pussies (seriously, you were basically standing on a large kayak. Thus the YAK. It wasn’t a BOARD. It was a BOAT. If Tom Hanks had this shit in Castaway the movie would have been 15 minutes long) back up onto shore decided to head somewhere with a full bar.

Would I paddle board/stand up paddle surf/SUP/whatever it is again? No. Did I tell Casey that I loved it and couldn’t wait to do it again so he wouldn’t give me any shit about how it sucked and he was right? Yes. Yes I did.

I think what he is trying to say here is SHARK!!!!!!!

Yours in I saw Jaws one too many times as a kid,

Bethany

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3 responses »

  1. I used to live by the beach…and hated going in the water past my waist. I mean, there are signs warning you to do ” the stingray shuffle” so what happens if you swim…you lift your feet off the sand…and there isn’t any “shuffle” so how do you know where to put your feet down? I have SEEN dark spots under the water, blink, and they are gone…. Also, heard one too many shark stories actually happening right where I lived. Things on the news..not just hearsay. I love to snorkel…but the entire freaking time I am repeating this mantra: No sharks, no eels, no snakes….no sharks no snakes no eels….any ocean..no matter if snakes and eels are part of the local fauna.
    Oh..and don’t get me started about the barracudas…evil monsters

    Reply
    • Funny you mention stingrays. There was actually a sign at the beach that said “Stingray Season starts May 1st. Make sure you do the ‘Stingray Shuffle'”. It was May 1st. Casey nods at the sign and says to me, “You better make sure you shuffle.” To which I said, “Oh. Like the Stingrays know what DAY IT IS. They are all like, Hey, guys, it’s May 1st. Let’s roll out. I’m sure we will be fine.” And I rolled my eyes and walked into the water.

      That night we were at dinner and our waiter told us that someone brought a woman in, screaming, from the beach. They had to rush her to medical treatment. She stepped on a stingray. Turns out, THEY KNOW.

      Reply
  2. Not to mention, the jellyfish…

    Funny how the ocean (or Gulf) seem to have so many more things that can kill you, just by walking around in it, than, say, a sidewalk or parking lot on land.

    Reply

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