Kayak outing turns treacherous
Right then and there — even though I could not really feel my toes — I made the decision that I was not going to stop kicking or paddling until one of three things happened to me:
One, I just got so tired that I would sink right to the bottom.
Two (and worst case scenario), I am eaten alive right there in the channel. Or, worse even, I am eaten over a series days and the rest discarded to smaller fish and crabs. Yes, totally gross, but if you love science like me — then also very cool!
Three, I make it to a shoreline and eventually home to all my peoples! I was so striving for the latter, and was not going to give up because I have too many people who count on me and they are all my life so I was not going to give it away to the river and elements as long as I still had breath in me.
And so, I did just that: I kept kicking and paddling and swimming.
Lights on a distant shore:
I figured I had been in the water for some hours, and suddenly I was able to see a little light on a distant shore, and a white light blinking tower that becomes red blinking lights after sundown. They became my target and I never took my eyes off of the one shoal light, and what appeared to be a pretty large home that was also completely lit.
I wondered then if the people inside were warm and cozy, and if they knew how cold the water is or how dark it can get at nighttime. I also thought of them maybe watching the local news and hearing about a lost kayaker that may still be out on the water after nightfall.
I hoped I could make it that far to them and if they would help me when I did reach them. I wondered if I would have enough energy left at that point to even cry out for their help. I felt so cold and lonely down there in the darkest water I have ever known — and though I was well past fear now — just set and bound determination for reaching them, I did think of my family especially and what they must be going through right then, not knowing where I truly was right at that moment.
I thought of other things. My time in Iraq during Desert Storm, and the day I had on the beach there as a stretcher-bearer bringing back injured and extremely wounded soldiers to the tenders and Red Cross ships that assisted in the Indian Ocean during the battle there.
I truly cried remembering the horrific things that I saw, smelled and unfortunately was a part of, and also unfortunately (at the time unknowingly misled and deceived) that I was proud to be a part of.
Oppression is the ugliest form of inhumanity that I have ever known, or seen with my own two eyes. It is ugly and horrible and unforgivable. I cried aloud for a while as I continued my path straight for the lights — that even in tears — I never lost sight of.
By this time (and surely many, many hours in the water), I could at least see that I was closing the distance between myself and those beautiful warm and welcoming lights ahead of me. I gained a little intensity in my kicking and paddling to warm up my body more in the cold current.
I continued on for quite some time, and after an extensive amount of time being exposed to the elements — and due to my sever exhaustion, muscle fatigue and long since dehydration — I started to hallucinate some. I kept thinking someone was coming at me from behind. SOMEONE (not just something) was coming for me!!!
Also, I thought I was closer to the lights than I actually was. I tried to put my feet down and walk through what I thought, or was hoping, would be only waist deep water, but it never became that shallow. I went on like but I will say this state of mind kept me kicking and paddling non-stop and ever constant to get me to the lights I now saw slowly closing in before me!
I was in and out of it for sure! But finally it happened! What an incredible feeling it was to have my feet down on a surface. Now I could walk, rather than swim, as I had done for the past (I assumed) eight to ten hours.
I made my way to the sea wall, actually pulling enough energy to yell at the top of what lung capacity I now had left. I tried and tried to deliriously get up over the sea wall and with my kayak too, continually falling back into the cold water.
I then decided to walk the kayak down to the port end of the sea wall and pier and came around the corner to some big rocks at the edge of the wall. I pulled up into the cove of rocks, while also tugging my kayak up as far as I could physically do — before passing out right there on the rocks for what must have been a good half hour to forty minutes.
I came to cold and wet and wanting to get up to that nice, well lit, warm and welcoming home atop the hill. So, I trudged up over the edge of the wall and onto marshy, hard crunchy reeds and grass. No longer caring, and now unable to walk as a result of fatigue (I tried a couple of times and fell), I crawled through the reeds and grass towards the light and the house, yelling and screaming for help all the while that I am crawling closer to it. No one is coming out to help me! I am thinking to myself: “Can they really not hear me or see me down in the yard now crawling towards them?”
I am in tears that they don’t, or can’t, hear or see me!
As I get ever closer now and pull myself up on the railing to the stairs, I make it to the main level where all the lights are illuminating the entire home from where I was standing, not realizing just how magnanimous of a home at which I had actually come ashore.
Right then I peered in through a side window. I could see a bottle of water in on the counter inside. I started looking for an open entrance and all the while knocking and yelling for help.
Survival Mode kicks in:
After realizing that the place was locked up like Fort Knox (and no one was there and/or hearing me), I got desperate for that water and wondering if there were any food in there as well. I made the poor decision (in full-on survival mode now) to break out the front door window panel and go inside to retrieve the water.
I did and it was so refreshing! I was astounded by how well it tasted to me! Rather than gulp it all down instantly, I slowly swallowed and savored the entire bottle!
I then made a brief inspection of the quarters. As tired as I was, I only made it down one level to peer into the garage, then went back up to the main level to find the thermostat (working) and cranked up the heat. Found a restroom to use (#1 only) and a sheet and blanket from a bed, which I had already decided that I was not going to sleep on.
So, I started back for the couch, and to find food, when I spotted a remote control of some sort
on the credenza, or hutch, and pressed the on/off button to find that it lit an open gas fireplace in the living area where I would sleep!
I first fixed a couple of microwave cheeseburgers and had some Tostitos and a lemon-lime soda (wish I could have found more water) and a couple of Little Debbie swiss cake rolls. I did not touch the
Oreos, by the way, though I was very tempted I must say.
After eating I decided to disrobe and hang everything in front of the fireplace to dry while I laid down to rest my extremely exhausted body and mind now. I did go around and turn out all the lights so it was nice and dark, save for the beautifully warm glow of the fire before me, slowly warming my bones.
As sore as my muscles were, I was able to exhaustingly fall asleep for a few hours.
At some point during the night, around 2:30-3:00 a.m., I later learned that Deputy Jeremy Lee from the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office stopped at the location where I was already sleeping, did not discover me inside, and left.
Continued on next page . . .