Saturday, May 3, 2008

day 3: boating on land

having decided not to tempt the sharks or the rip currents by surfing, we went for an early morning walk and did some grocery shopping before we went looking for an airboat ride.

i found a place online, but a phone call landed me with voicemail. since the website said he worked 7 days, i didn't bother to leave a message. silly me.

we headed out (every place down there feels like a long drive to me. must be the acres of wildlife instead of urban sprawl.) wouldn't you know, when we arrived, the airboat man was nowhere in sight. the wait staff at the jolly gator fish camp said they hadn't seen captain bruce all day. pam called and actually left a voicemail for the captain. we had no other plans (except an appointment at the wallymart picture studio) so we were willing to wait for an answer. we sat for about 15 minutes, which was enough time for my alabaster legs to attain some color, namely: pink.

we decided to spend our wait at the daylilly farm we had passed (did i mention that my sister is a hortiphile?) but a woman informed us that there was another place to get airboat rides further down the road--away from the nursery. we figured we could get the flowers on the way home.

at loughman lake, the captain was on duty, but out on a tour. the price was higher and the wait was longer, but we weren't worried about the pictures. if they could blow off a day, so could we. we killed time playing pool, horseshoes, and walking along the beachy promontory. just casual fun. about an hour later, we were blowing our way across the st. johns river and its various marshes.

we saw a million birds and, as promised, gators. pam lost count of how many we saw. it was a bit different from the canoe trip. it was a surreal feeling to be in a boat traveling over land. when we made the transitions from water to land, we anticipated a thump and a stranding. instead, we floated smoothly over everything, including the wildlife. i think the captain intentionally aimed directly for any animals in our way. i'm used to being in boats with submerged propellers, so i felt bad for all of the gators that we ploughed over. we lost many races with fleeing birds. a few times i flinched when it looked like we might actually overtake one or one would cut across our path.

the airboat was one of our backup activities, in case the primaries didn't work out. it was fortunate that we had so many things planned, overbooked, as it were, because several activities did fall through, like the surfing and the horseback riding. the boat ride turned out to be one of the absolute highlights of the trip. we saw awesome sights, the weather was beautiful, and it played to a family hobby: riding a fast-moving vehicle. all around it was an excellent time.

pam didn't forget about the damn flowers, though. burned, hungry, and tired, she dragged us to the nursery to stand in the sun while she debated which one of a thousand varieties she was going to take home. jess and i quickly got bored with that and went to sit in the shade with the cats.


fulfilling as the boat ride was, the day was not done. after scarfing dinner (pam's infamous chicken soup) we grabbed the other kids and headed for the open gym and volleyball!

when i requested this activity, i was thinking more along the lines of wallyball with just the family. friendly, perhaps awkward, but somewhat private. what i got was competitive community volleyball, with aggressive adults and cocky teens. i haven't played in years, to say that i was a little apprehensive would be an understatement. i was more nervous about looking like a buffoon that i was about jumping out of an airplane.

after warming up i felt a little bit better, and a little bit worse. i remembered how to play (duh!) but i had also seen more of my competition--and my teammates. yikes! we were all rusty. (love you guys!)

it didn't take long to exorcise the jitters, though. getting six-packed on the first play helped me loosen up. it can't get worse than that, right? it turned out not to be a severe injury, although i gave pam a hard time about it, and lamented the fact that we had (still) not gotten those pictures taken. i figured i'd have a shiner by morning. my serves were still fast (and inbounds), my setting wasn't horrific, and i had a successful block or two. not bad for an gray-haired lady.

it was such a rush playing again. i never was a top tier player, but i was good enough for community play, or so i thought. pam said that a lot of people left early that night because our team was not up to their level. oh, well, more fun for those of us who did stay. it really made me want to find an outlet up here; i know kisu would love to play, too.