Red Neck Smile

Four or Five years ago, on Memorial Day, I decided to go ocean kayaking. When I was up in New Jersey, ocean kayaking is something I did about once every other week. The routine would be to load up the kayak early in the morning and drive over to Seaside Park. Once I was parked near my parent’s street, I would wetsuit up, grab everything I needed, and haul it all onto the beach. I had, and still have, no issues with kayaking alone. I would tell my mother my plan and when I expect to be done so someone would know if something went wrong. I really enjoy kayaking with company, but I also enjoy being out on the water by myself. And ocean kayaking is something that I would not bring a novice kayaker to go and do. It’s a different type of animal.

This particular morning was amazing. The waves were not massive, the sky was clear, and the water was bloody cold. It was the perfect morning for kayaking. So I dragged the kayak into the water, climbed on board, and started paddling out into the ocean. There is nothing like being in a wetsuit, sweating because of how warm the air is, and having a cold ocean wave slam into you. It is both exhilarating and comforting.

Well, after about 45 minutes, I decided that I had enough. It was still early in the season, and I was not in kayaking shape yet. It wasn’t the first time I was out in the ocean that year, but I haven’t been out all that often. So, I started heading back into shore. While I was out, the waves breaking near the shore got bigger, but nothing I haven’t seen before. However, I was caught by surprise by one wave and was knocked out of the kayak. It was actually fun, but then I did something stupid. I knew better, but I still did something stupid.

I decided I was going to get back into the kayak and continue paddling in. So I swam up to the kayak, and placed the kayak between the oncoming waves and me. When ocean kayaking, you want to see when the waves are coming, and I could not see past the kayak because my head was at sea level. This was the ocean after all; I wasn’t tall enough to touch the bottom. So, as I pushed my self up to climb back into the kayak, a wave came, and lifted up the paddle, and smacked me in the face with it.

The force of the wave hit me so hard with the paddle that it knocked out one of my teeth. It didn’t hurt all the much, although the cold water may have helped. The subsequent waves dragged the kayak and paddle (they were attached to each other) away from me and I had to swim after them. By the time I caught up to them, I could touch land. I walked back to the car, lugging the kayak that assaulted me. As soon as I got to my car, I called my mom, told her what happened, and asked her to start calling dentists (remember, this was Memorial Day).  Lucky for me, her Dentist said she would come into her office and take a look. So, after a quick shower, and washing down my kayaking equipment, I headed over so that she could mend my mouth.

It was one memorable Memorial Day.

Red Neck

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