Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Have you ever tried to pull off a Surprise Party? Wow. It's a lot of work! I've done a few of these, and each time, I'm sure that I've been found it. This time was especially tough, as I didn't know how to get in touch with a few folks. I had to rely on help from someone that I don't know very well. Also, the guest of honor "D" wanted to go home about 3 hours early. I'm used to being there, getting things ready, decorating, setting food out, etc... I had to leave this to other people to do this time. They did a WONDERFUL job, and I didn't have to worry after all. Lots and lots of folks helped out for this one, and the surprise was a hit. I think D was truly surprised and touched that so many people came out to wish her congratulations. In the end, a fun time was had by all, and the surprise was safe.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Random Test

Apparently, this is slightly above average. Hmmmm.

336 WATTS Body Battery Calculator - Find Out How Much Electricity Your Body is Producing -

This is 34% MORE wattage than the average person
You could light up 3 light bulbs
You could power 84 iPods
You could power 2 Xbox 360s
3 of you would be needed to keep a refrigerator running

Monday, May 5, 2008

Paddle for the Border

I’ll apologize in advance for how long this post will be, but since there are only one or two people reading it, it doesn’t matter much….

What is Paddle for the Border? It’s a 7 ½ mile paddle on the inter-coastal waterway through the Dismal Swamp Refuge from Virginia to the North Carolina Welcome Center in South Mills. The “PFTB” runs parallel to Hwy 17. It’s open to any manually powered vessel, and limited to around 250 boats/people. Cost is around $30.00 and you get a hat, t-shirt, snack, the experience of paddling, and lunch at the end. This year, the route was reversed, and we started at the NC Welcome Center, and paddled to the boat ramp in VA at Ballahack Rd. The PFTB is co-sponsored by the City of Chesapeake and the NC Welcome Center.

This is the 4th year that we’ve done it, and its 5th year in existence (I think). We have paddled it in the past with different friends, and have met folks along the way. This year was no exception; there was a group of us who stayed together.

Things started out wonderfully, as the Welcome Center provided breakfast of biscuits and drinks for us (a first), and the weather was promising to be a beautiful day! It’s always so much fun to see all the different types of boats, and the variety of people in ages and types.

As we started our paddle this year, we talked about how fun it would be to volunteer next year. Half of the fun is just being there, and seeing all of the activity.

7 ½ miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but let me tell you, it’s enough to turn your arms to jelly. It’s a lot. Factor in that for most of us (us, meaning the group of friends I was with) it’s usually our first paddle of the season. So, we aren’t really prepared.

First mile – no problem. Saw the mile marker, and was happy to have made it, but realized that there were still 6 ½ more to go. Hmm. Could be challenging….

Boy was I right!

Somewhere about the 2nd mile, I noticed that my boat was becoming unstable. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I knew I felt uneasy. I didn’t feel like it was giving me the security that I had felt in the past as I paddled this boat. The more I paddled, the worse it got. Somewhere along the way, I realized that the inside (not the part I was in, but inside the plastic area) must have water in it. If the water went to one side, the boat would list, and I wasn’t able to center it properly.

In the meantime, 1000 things are going through my head: Why is there water in there? Did I put the drain plug in? Of course I did, I triple checked it! Oh no, leaning to the right. Got it. But how could water possibly be in there? WHOA, that was close. Focus on staying straight. Is it the wind? Am I going nuts? What is happening to my boat? Lots of water coming over the sides. Doesn’t feel like I’m moving much. I’m so far behind everyone else. What in the world? Something’s just not right. What should I do? I’m not gonna fall out! Have I seen any of the patrol boats? Didn’t notice them. Did someone just ask me something? Not listening. Focusing on staying upright. Is that a patrol boat??? Ask them to come over here. SPLASH.

Yep – I was in the drink. Now, the only thing I can think of are SNAKES. Being in the middle of the Dismal Swamp Refuge, and the inter-coastal waterway, that is the only thing on my mind. I was able to hang on to my boat, and another until the patrol boat was there, which was only about a minute. It felt like much longer. They pulled my boat up and removed the drain plug (so I’m not crazy, it was in!) and water was just pouring out. And continued to do so for a while. They pulled me onto the boat, which was probably harder than pulling my water-logged boat up, and I was safe.

I honestly couldn’t tell you how long I was in the water. It seemed like an eternity, but at the same time, they were quick about helping me. It was a reassuring site to look up into the boat from the water and recognize Ranger “P” whom I had dealt with at NWRP.

How was the water? Chilly, but tolerable, and yucky. Apparently, the snakes didn’t want to be bothered with me that day, for which I am eternally grateful!

Now – my water-logged boat was making the patrol boat unstable. They would have to lift it to get water to drain out, but it was so heavy that it was leaning the patrol boat hard to the side. About this time, a boat with officials/politicians in it came by. They stopped to offer assistance, and patrol boat asked them to take me, since their boat was unstable. So, looking like a drowned rat, I boarded a boat with city officials, travel writers, and even a congressman. Ugh. The embarrassment. They were gracious, and kind, and didn’t laugh toooo much at my misfortune. We started on our way, and I watch my boat go in the opposite direction. Kind of surreal.

We passed my group of friends at one point. I let them know I was ok, and told them I was “volunteering.” I did feel really bad that I was not out there paddling with them. But it was out of my control.

At the finish point, the city had tents up, catered lunch, music, and more. They had a ton of volunteers to help get people out of the water, carry their boats to shore, and then help load them on the cars. I only had to wait a few minutes before the rest of my friends got there. They were exhausted, understandably, and I was glad they were all fine.

I’m a little sore, probably from trying to get from the water to the boat. Or maybe from fighting to stay upright for so long. I’m not really sure, but I know it will pass. I know the others are sore from actually finishing the paddle.

It’s already been said that we’ll all look back and laugh and remember the year that “A” fell in the water. Even worse, is that the night before, I gave a presentation to 4 travel writers and about 10-12 people from the city, and most of them were there! One of the travel writers even took pictures of the patrol boat with my boat on the back, and the surrounding upheaval. Couple that with the fact that I deal with several other city folk (who were there) and know some of the volunteer emergency personnel (that were also there), well lets just say I knew quite a few folks there, and I was the only one to go in this year. Sigh. What can you do?

I still need to find out what happened to my boat to cause it to fill with water. After that, I’ll need to decide whether or not to get a different one, replace the current one, or repair it, if it’s repairable.

Will I do it again? Yep, just probably not next year. Not because I fell in this year… But because I’ll be volunteering….