Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Is Not A Dream (Part 2)

Onwards! On Monday, we swam gigantic circles in the Marriott's pool, basked in the tropical sun, drank Lava Flows and Pina Coladas (this is also when spill #1 occurred--to be explained at a later time) until they kicked us out (otherwise known as "check out").  Then we headed over to where we would be staying the rest of the time--The Beach Boy (Kauai Coast Resort).  I had to laugh at Dale being all sentimental, when the day we got back from Kauai, he was upset, thinking that there was someone else sleeping in "his bed" back in Kauai that night.  Poor Dale.  I get him.

Anyway, so we hustled over to Costco and Walmart and busted out the groceries and then hopped in our Ford Flex (enter Bob Marley CD) to tour the island.  I take full responsibility for picking out the Flex at the rental car place, despite the protests over whether or not the car was "cool" enough. Hello?  I *only* do cool, and you guys were taking way too long to decide. I thought it was "beachy"...we named it lovingly "The Woody".  We chose well.  Plus, we could fit all our crap into it. Thank you, a-thank you very much.

So we drove The Woody down to the south end of the island and (of course) found a brewing company to lunch at.  That is The Hubbs job and he does it well. The boys enjoyed the drinks and nachos.  Erin and I enjoyed the rocking chairs and art (and drinks and nachos). On our way back up north, we stopped at Kauai Coffee and taste tested--they grow it right in their backyard, but the highlight was scratching our names on the leaves of a tree just outside.  Look for us, next time you're there.

Back on the road, we stopped at Koloa Rum Co. for some rum tasting.  Not my thang, so Erin and I walked around the beautiful grounds and I took pictures of a train for my brother (he was excited). We would end up coming back later in the week for an amazing Hawaiian Luau. Nevertheless, Dale declared the rum not tasty enough (that's his job) and too many coconuts, so we made our way back to the resort for pool, refreshments and homemade fish tacos.  We were full.

Where we regained much respect for the ocean.

We were thrilled on Tuesday to get to the beach.  We decided to rent boogie boards and snorkels and drive up north, beach hopping all the way.  It is just beautiful everywhere you look in Kauai. It's called the Garden Isle for a reason.  I love, love, love all the flowers growing on trees. There were actual bananas growing on trees too--in real life!  Kauai is so clean and you can tell that the people that live there take great pride in where they live and love on it.  They have one way bridges everywhere.  It's an unwritten rule there that you let seven cars drive over at once, before you go.  And they do it!  They even wave and smile while they do it! It's not even a rule.  Only in Kauai.

After we rented the boards and snorkels, it literally took us five minutes to be in the ocean.  We stopped at the first beach we came to.  We were so excited we threw our towels and flip flops down on the sand and ran into the surf.  Erin loves the water (that's her job) and so she and I swam out into the waves to swim.  It was wonderful.  I couldn't remember how long it had been since I had swam in the ocean.  You just don't do that in Oregon.  But I am a good swimmer--I wasn't too worried and I could see that Erin was a good swimmer too (again, that's her job).  When the boys came in with their boards, I clucked at them all Mother Hen-like (mostly to The Hubbs)--Take it easy--don't get all cocky out there.  The Hubbs is basically No Fear and I was just noticing how strong the current was.  It was pulling us to the right and not messing around.  I looked at where we threw our towels and flip flops...they were dots.  Within five minutes (ten minutes since we had rented the snorkels and boards) we were about 100 yards out.  That was my first indication that something was up.  I remarked how strong the current was (cluck, cluck, cluck...) and noticed that everyone was getting further out.  Everyone was smiling, swimming, high five-ing, etc...all along we're all getting pulled further to the right, and further out.  I rationalized--We're Oregonians. We never actually go IN the ocean.  This is what the ocean is.  This is what swimming in the ocean is, it's hard, you can't just relax, you have to actually swim and use muscles. 

Right about that time (we're still in the five minute mark), I see a lifeguard pull up and he's waving his arms at us.  I yell to the gang, I think we have to go in! I start swimming in.  It's not easy.  I'm definitely working.  I can feel muscles burning, so I flip over and swim on my back the rest of the way.  I make it in, preparing to get yelled at (We're from Oregon, dopey, dopey, doh...), and I see the lifeguard putting his gear on while talking on his radio.  It is then I know we're in trouble.  I turn around as he runs into the surf and immediately count, two, three.  Over and over I count, two, three.  I see a boogie board go flying and immediately think, Never let go of the board!  One, two, three...Time feels like walking in thick mud, though in reality everything is happening really quickly.  I'm praying out loud.  Please, please, please...

Dale recounts that he panicked when he saw the lifeguard, realizing he was in trouble.  The second he started to swim back in he just got slammed with wave after wave, no time to catch a breath, all the while getting pulled further out.  Erin and Chris had tried to help him, but they realized that was no good either, as they were in trouble as well.  One, two, three...

Finally, I see The Hubbs stand up--he's still far out, but he had found a sand bar (pointed out by the lifeguard as he swam by him).  I look to the left and see Erin stand up as well.  Okay, okay...Two more lifeguards show up.  At this point, I can now see the original lifeguard pulling Dale in on his back.  Even in Dale's panic, when the lifeguard finally reaches him, Dale's first thought is Erin, Save my wife...The lifeguard assured Dale that Erin was swimming, she's fine (you're not).  Sweet Dale.

Erin and Chris make it back, grateful and exhausted. When the lifeguard gets Dale to the shore, Dale and I make eye contact and I briefly think, he's okay...I see true relief all over Dale's face.  But he can't move.  He can't even sit up. The lifeguards lift him and bring him further up the beach.  He refuses an ambulance (though I think we probably, in truth, needed one), but gladly takes the oxygen.  I know Dale is in bad shape, because he's telling the lifeguards the oxygen isn't working.  He is exhausted, out of breath and probably swallowed too much ocean.  It takes him a good hour to recover.  He's in shock, slow motion, insisting he can drive, insisting he's not covered in sand from head to toe--I just don't want to get my hair wet. But he is okay.  He is alive.

The four of us had very quickly got pulled into a very strong riptide. The lifeguards told us that we were swimming in a "No Swimming" zone.  There were signs everywhere.  In our blind excitement, we just didn't see them.  The lifeguard that saved Dale (he totally saved him) said that he had pulled four other people out of the same area the week before, and that Dale was the first one this week.  We were swimming in the strongest current on the beach.  Boy, can we pick them!

In all sincerity, I don't want to think about if the lifeguards weren't there.  There are beaches there that do not have lifeguards.  We were lucky.  Dale was so lucky. We had rules now:  Read signs and beaches with lifeguards, ONLY.  Duh.


Thumbs up, we're alive!

After our near death experience, we were starving, so we headed to Tropical Taco and devoured plates of fish tacos and glasses full to the brim of ice and Coke.  Dale was slowly coming back, starting to make jokes that had nothing to do with what we just went through, because it wasn't funny yet, and we recounted our experience over and over.  What just happened? Dale called his family.  He knew how close he came.

We managed to beach hop two more beaches that day.  We made it all the way to Ke'e Beach.  That's as far as you can go in a car.  Beautiful beach for snorkeling. Dale, admired the water from afar. Erin was very quiet.  The Hubbs and I snorkeled. After a while, we were all sitting together and realized that we all weren't feeling quite right.  I was dizzy and nauseous.  They agreed they felt the same.  We think the shock was wearing off, the adrenaline.  What we had gone through, what could have been our day, really sunk in.  We packed up our things and headed south. 

On the way back we regained our spirits (thank you Bob Marley) and decided to stop at another beach.  Finding a spot in full view of the lifeguard station, we settled in.  Dale tried the water.  Not ready.  Too soon.  The rest of us got in.  It was a beautiful beach (they all are), but again, the current was really strong right at where it hits the shore.  We didn't go far in at all, but even just where the waves break was rough.  Not scary rough though. We had fun.  Erin and I got beat up.  The waves would slam you on the sand, push you up the shore and immediately pull you out, not far, just this constant back and forth scenario.  We had SO MUCH sand in our suits.  We were literally packing.  Erin was looking very Bo Derek-esque with her hair covered in sand pebbles.  It made Dale happy. It was fun, and it made us laugh.  We really needed to laugh.  We were a sight, literally rolling all over the sand, squealing, trying to outrun the waves, showing each other how much sand we had in our suits--oh look, coral!

We finished the day good.  Grateful.  Alive.

p.s. while we were at that last beach, the lifeguards did another rescue, firetrucks and ambulances included.  Respect the beach, y'all.

1 comment:

Rena said...

Wow! You guys were so lucky!