Hello, hello, hello!! Happy Monday mornin’ to ya! Can I just tell you what a whirlwind this weekend has been? GUESS WHAT I DID???
I went kayaking!!
Yes, that’s right…Ms. Scared-of-bodies-of-water went out on a lake, in a semi-teeny watercraft that fit only me and was controlled by only me and didn’t throw a hissy fit at all. And guess what?
It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!!
That blue one was mine
Let me tell you the story. I’d made this arrangement maybe a month ago through the Missouri State Park system. It was supposed to be me and two other people, but both of them bailed. Normally, this would’ve made me chicken out as well, but I’d promised myself I was going to go through with it. So I did. I was actually happy I got to go alone, as this was something I had to do for me, to face a fear I’ve had for as long as I can remember. And I’m so thrilled I did it.
The day got off to a rocky start. I left my house on time, but when I plugged the park into my phone map app, *nothing* came up. I tried the name of the park, the address on their website, and nada. So, I figured I’d enter the town, get close, and see cute little brown signs once I got there. Little did I know the town was much bigger than I thought, and there were no cute little brown signs! So I stopped at Casey’s General Store (which is my all-time fave gas station because they have THE BEST ice from the fountain soda machine) and asked directions. 20-something miles and 30-something minutes later, I arrived at the entrance to the park and drove the couple miles down a winding gravel road.
I was met by this:
Y’all, it was beautiful! Seriously breathtaking. However, I noticed just one person actually on the water in a kayak, and a couple others at the edge of the lake fishing. I was scared the “class” had gone out on the river without me, since I was totally late. A park ranger came up to my van and asked if was there for the 2 p.m. session and I said yes and apologized for being late. His response? “That’s okay, you’re the only one from your timeslot that showed up, so you’ll get one-on-one instruction!”. YES!!
So out we went onto this gorgeous space. The rangers were fabulous and taught me so much. We kayaked all around the lake, going back into little hidden spots, practicing strokes and maneuvers. I never once freaked out about the water or tipping or losing my paddle. I even saw a huge turtle swimming around under water (turtles are one of my favorite animals). After a few hours we got out…I would’ve stayed as long as they would let me, but alas, the park was closing. I gathered my stuff and packed up to make the climb back up the gravel road.
This is where the day gets more interesting than fun.
When I say “gravel road”, I mean more like boulders that ended up in some semblance of a pathway. It was awful, and by the time I got about ½ mile from the main highway, I noticed it was way bumpier and louder than it should have been, and the van was pulling to the left. At that point, I knew…
So for normal folk, this is no biggie. I’m anything but normal however…no spare, 3+ hours from home, and zero cell service. To say that prayers to my Heavenly Father started immediately is an understatement. Thankfully, since the park was closing, park rangers were leaving and stopped to help as soon as they saw me. Assuring me I’d get no reception on my cell where we were, one of them volunteered to drive me a few miles up the main road to Echo Bluff, the other state park in the immediate area. So I left Big Red sitting like a sad sap on the side of Boulder Road and got in some man’s truck, trusting he’d take me where he said and not to my death at the bottom of some ravine.
Thankfully, he was an honorable gentleman, a regular knight in shining armor, and dropped me off at the lodge in Echo Bluff. Word of Wisdom being momentarily forgotten, I grabbed a diet Mountain Dew and an ice cream sammich from the gift shop and sat down to try to figure things out.
In trying to make my already-long story as short as possible, I’ll skip the exchange between myself, my insurance company, and the company they hire to handle towing and such. Enter the second knight in shining armor for the day, Jimmy from Whitaker Auto Body & Towing (3215 S Highway 19, Salem, MO 65560, (573) 729-4533…they don’t have a website that I can find, otherwise I’d totally link it and hook y’all up if you’re ever in the area and need a tow!). The original plans had changed a couple times, but the insurance-contracted middle man couldn’t reach Jimmy (because you know, zero cell service in these parts). He was miffed and said there was no way he could take me 30 miles in the opposite direction (the only place I could find that had a tire place, and even they were closed so I’d planned on parking in their lot and sleeping in the van overnight until they opened the next day). Jimmy was having none of it, and I wasn’t about to punish him for the insurance’s mistake, so I told him to just take me to Salem and I’d figure something out.
While on the way (about a 30 minute drive…we’re talking Middle of Nowhere here, folks), we had some fine discussions about kayaking and water, airplanes and family, travelling and lives lived in fear, my divorce and his house and life in Salem. Near the end of the trip, he said his towing company also had a junkyard, and he could open it up and try to find me a used tire to get me back home that night.
Angels sang. Seriously.
Once at the junkyard, he ran into problems such as not finding the right size tire, all of his employees’ tool boxes being locked up and not being able to break the lugs on my tire. He finally called in back-up, Brad…another employee, and knight in shining armor numero tres. Between the two of them, they not only found and installed a tire, but also a donut (my spare has been gone for years).
So 95 bucks and approximately 192 mosquito bites later, I was on my way home, which is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do that night. I’m tempted to send the picture of my tire to the Missouri State Park system and at least express how dangerous the entrance to that park is (especially with zero cell service).
I tried to take a picture of Jimmy and Brad, but they were having none of that, so I’ll reiterate again – they were literally a saving grace, my knights, and I would recommend them to anyone in that area in need of a tow or a used part.
Finally back to normal, I stopped at the same Casey’s as before, got a large cup of ice and went on my way. About halfway back, a fantastical lightning storm started, which made the drive even more awesome (driving zens me out anyway). Closer to the STL, the rain started and slowed highway speed down to maybe 35-40mph (yeah, that kind of rain). It was incredible. I made it home seriously late, kissed my baby and re-tucked her sleeping self in, hit the pillow and was out like a light.
This dreamlike Saturday, followed by absolutely awesome Spirit-filled meetings on Sunday made for a weekend I won’t forget for a long time. A Saturday that started out “bad” and ended “bad” would’ve killed the old me…however, I had such a peace throughout the whole day! I love that our Father in Heaven knows exactly what we need and gives it to us at exactly the right time in our lives. Trusting him means trusting his timing, and I’ll be totally transparent here – I’m not good at trusting anyone. But I’m working on it and getting better, and I’m so thankful that Heavenly Father gives me chance after chance to grow and learn to be more like his son Jesus Christ, my savior.
Go out and do, y’all. Live life. Make memories, whether with your family, with friends, or by yourself. Enjoy every moment. And happy Pioneer Day to you!