It all started pretty early this past Friday morning. My friend, Jaimy, and I went to Bass Pro Shops in nearby Ft. Myers, FL. In case you don’t know what Bass Pro Shops (BPS) is, allow me to elaborate a little bit. It is one of the most amazing stores on the face of the planet! If you do anything outdoors, this is the store you go to for your equipment. I could easily spend half a day just looking at all the things they have for sale there. My Christmas list grows longer the more time I spend inside this store. Every time I go in there, I see something new that I want!
Speaking of finding something new I want, I found something while we were there. I’ve never owned a crossbow before, but after holding one in my hands and envisioning myself shooting a deer with one, I have found myself wanting one! Unfortunately, they are pretty expensive, so I don’t see myself getting one any time soon. This particular one was $999.99!
I’m not even sure how long we spent at Bass Pro Shop, but however long it was, I’m sure it wasn’t long enough. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat after spending a good part of the morning looking around BPS. While we were eating lunch, I suggested we take the paddle boards out and see if I could actually get up on one of those things!
We loaded up Jaimy’s two paddle boards into the back of my truck and headed to Bonita Beach, which isn’t too far away. I recall thinking to myself, “What am I getting myself into? I’m not even a strong swimmer and I’m going to be swimming with sharks and only God knows what else in this HUGE body of water known as the Gulf!” But once I saw Jaimy’s boards, I knew I had to try it at least twice! So that’s what we set out to do. She’s been doing it for awhile now. Me, first time! Once we got to the beach we unloaded the boards and headed down towards the water. Thoughts kept popping into my head as we were getting closer and closer to the water. Thoughts like, “Why am I doing this again?” and “What if I die?!” But those thoughts were fleeting. Once I set the board on the water I knew there was no backing out. I couldn’t be shown up by a girl!
So we’re on the water and we lay down on the boards. Jaimy was kind enough to give me some pointers right off the bat. One big one was where the center of the board was. That’s a pretty key piece of knowledge so you know where to keep the center of your body while on the board. I couldn’t think of anything worse than falling off the board while we were out on the open water! Thanks, Jaimy! So yeah, we swam out a few hundred yards; well past the designated swimming area. Jaimy suggested that we get up on the boards, on our knees first. I thought, “Psht, I got this!” So up onto my knees I went. I grabbed the paddle and started using it to propel myself further away from the shoreline. I look over and Jaimy is jumping up to her feet! “Yeah, that’s not for me…not yet anyway” I thought. I was just fine paddling around on my knees.
Meanwhile, Jaimy is going even further out while standing up on her paddle board. She made it look incredibly effortless. I wasn’t even about to attempt to stand up on my feet though. Remember, I’m not a particularly strong swimmer (yet). I decided that I just wanted to float around out there for a bit. Soak up some sun while listening to the sounds of the water slap the underside of the board. So that’s what I did for a while. Jaimy was paddling around like a pro and came back closer to me. She suggested we start heading in at that point because the wind was picking up and taking us out further into the Gulf.
Laying back down on the board, I began swimming back to the beach. Or so I thought. I was paddling like I’d never paddled before! I could feel the burn in my arms, my shoulders, and my back! It seemed like the harder and faster I paddled, the less I actually moved to the shore! I kept thinking to myself, “Yup, I’m going to be a story on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week!” I was just waiting for something large to bump up into the underside of my board and take a bite out of one of my legs or one of my arms. I think I even expressed that thought a time or two to Jaimy. I remained positive though, thinking that if that did actually happen, and I survived, I’d have a pretty sweet story to tell.
I stopped paddling for a minute and Jaimy reminded me that the wind was taking us out further into the Gulf and that if we stopped, we’d end up floating to Texas – assuming the sharks didn’t eat us for lunch on the way there! So back to paddling even though my arms and shoulders were on fire! I stopped again and Jaimy suggested I hold onto the back of her board while she paddled in for a bit. That sounded like a WONDERFUL idea to me! I secured my paddle between me and the board and I grabbed onto the back of Jaimy’s board while she paddled in.
Once we got back to the designated swimming area, which seemed like it took forever, I let go of Jaimy’s board and started swimming back in myself. I knew that my shoulders were going to be fried after this little adventure! We got back to the beach and there were a couple ladies standing there with bottles of water for us. They said they saw us way out there and thought we might have gotten a little thirsty with our swim back in. Bless their hearts. Little did they know we already had some refreshing beverages awaiting us back at our cooler. We had packed a few beers and put them on ice! Great idea, Jaimy!
My shoulders and back were still sore three days later. The following day I could barely even wipe my own butt! Which tells me a few things: one, I had a lot of fun, two, it was a great workout, and three, I need to do it again and again! I’m addicted! I can definitely see myself purchasing my own board at some point so I can go out whenever I want. The next time I go out, I’m going to try standing up on the board…but I’ll be trying that little move in a part of the water where I can touch bottom. You know, for when I fall off!
Thank you, Jaimy for exposing me to this great Florida activity! I had a blast and I was not only able to add something exciting to my bucket list, but I was also able to cross it off quickly!