"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
This past weekend was definitely one to remember. Friday, May 24, 2013, I spent the day at St. George Island in Florida with my friend Rachel from the Veterans’ Center. Rachel is an Art Therapy major and invited three of her friends from her major. All were really sweet girls, but all were older and spoke mainly about their major. I tried to become involved in the conversation when I could, but it was often difficult because I didn’t share their same experiences. Plus, I am shy around those I don’t know well. Sometimes, I wonder if I come off rude because I don’t speak much around larger groups, especially when I don’t know everyone. It’s not that I’m not interested, I just like to observe. I find it fun to people watch and analyze people. Okay, that sounds rude. What I mean is that I like to see what makes them them, you know? Anyway, we spent the day at the beach. This was kind of my first experience at the Gulf of Mexico. My grandparents live near Tampa and I know we have visited the beach by them when we visit, but it’s not something I remember clearly. I just remember a tacky one-piece bathing suit and lots of bright light, maybe some big rocks and trees. It’s very fragmented.
We began our day on the beach by eating at The Blue Parakeet. It was a relaxed restaurant, right on the beach that offered the option of dinning in or out on the patio, to the sound of the waves kissing the sand. We chose the latter. Under a table umbrella, we managed to fit all five of us, drinks, and some delicious sea food. After finishing off the last few spice covered French fries, we paid our checks, made one last pit stop and headed out to the sand.
As mentioned, we spent the day visiting and enjoying the sun. We dipped our toes in the pleasant water and finally ventured deep enough to be in the ocean. To dry off, we soaked up some sun, enjoyed some interesting reading (one of the girls brought her school work and read about the different genital diseases girls can get from common sense things like not bathing…it made us giggle and roll our eyes). When we were finally pooped, we headed back down the road towards home.
The real adventure didn’t begin, though, until Sunday, May 26, 2013. My boyfriend’s best friend has a boat that they have been working on to get it up and ready for the summer and Sunday became the test run of sorts. We headed back in the direction of St. George Island with a group of friends, stopping before we got to the public island. After struggling to figure out how to get the boat off the trailer and into the water, and making sure that the fuel problem was actually fixed, we set out on our way into the great blue, the great blue being in the bay. What I thought was going to be a simple trip ended up being a trip to the White Trash Beach Bash 2013 on Dog Island, which is a private island. Cracking open a few beers, the guys directed us towards the shore, pulled up, and dived into the chilly water, searching for a spot to make anchor. There was some hesitation when coming to shore because we only saw a couple of other boats. But, our doubts of the correct beach soon melted away as we heard blaring mixes from a yacht and saw more boats headed our way. We had arrived successfully to our destination.
I felt a little awkward at first because I have never been a party girl, and all I could think of was the typical beach parties that are depicted and staged for shows that appear on MTV and things of that sort. That is exactly what I expected, especially because more boats kept on coming in, including a stripper boat. Yup. There was a simple boat that had an open top with two stripper poles protruding from each end of the boat. And, naturally, there were girls in bathing suits dancing on the poles. Thank God that was all they did. No stripping to my relief. It was a chill experience, sipping on alcohol and visiting with friends, while people watching. The sun was high in the sky, beating down strongly, allowing our skin to acquire a golden glow.
During our time on the beach, one of our friends that had come along with us saw some of his old friends who had a beach house on the private island. At first, I was weary again, not fully trusting these older men who I didn’t know. They were carrying around a big bottle of vodka, and were extremely friendly, so of course my protective self would be weary. I didn’t know them. Plus, they were fairly drunk. As the day progressed, though, we came to know these three gentlemen as who they were; gentlemen. They were extremely polite, friendly and accommodating. They had invited our entire group to spend the night on the island. After some contemplation, a few of us agreed. I mean, how often do you get invited to stay on a private island for free?
As the day was winding down, we surveyed the land. Waiting for drunk drivers to progress
their boats back to the mainland were three police boats. After scoping it out, and deciding who was the least intoxicated (that being me) to drive, we headed out to arrive at our new friend’s dockside. The police followed our boats with their eyes like hawks, but thankfully, I was sober and didn’t crash the boat. It was exciting to be in control of such a large machine, knowing that there weren’t any lines I had to follow, like driving a car on the road. It was just me, the boat, and the open water, with the sun high above and the wind in my hair.
We arrived at the sand bars of our friend’s island, where my boyfriend and I hopped out of the boat and into the water with our friends to wade to shore. We had our backpacks strapped on high, and were on the lookout for stingrays in the shallows. As we watched the boat turn around and leave, I felt like I was on one of those survival shows, where you are dropped off on a deserted island for two weeks with only some rope and the clothes on your back. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but I wondered what the night would bring.
As we walked to their Oceanside house, ghost stories were told, while we took in the land. Sand spurs, brush, old, dead trees, and seashells covered the area. We eventually met up with some friends and were able to ride the rest of the way in an old, sometimes working red truck.
We arrived to find a wooden house on stilts. Our new friends shared with us that they had just moved their large house back from the water after hurricane season nearly destroyed their home. A graveyard of old concrete pillars marked the original lay of the structure.
We were welcomed in to their home with open arms, and found it to be such a lovely and cozy place. The guests were given their own bedrooms, while the rest slept in the big room where multiple beds lay. But, before bedtime, more drinks were shared, as well as crazy stories.
One such story involved our new friend’s fist fighting with one of their neighbor’s husbands, who happened to be the husband of an actress from Sex in the City. I am not a follower of that show, so I really couldn’t tell you who it was, other than the supposed Burnett chick.
The best story, however, involved beer, neighbors, and a shark. Seeing as this was a vacation home for our friends, they spent much of their time on the island drinking. On one such occasion, one became highly intoxicated, and ran into a group of friends who had happened to catch a large shark while fishing. His friends could not figure out how to unhook the hook from the shark, and so, naturally, our dear drunken friend stepped in, hugging the large animal that was nearly as tall as him, and yanking the thing loose. He then proceeded to carry the thing around like a giant teddy bear (why? I’m not exactly sure), bringing inside a neighbor’s home, one of which he had not met yet. He threw the beast into their kitchen sink, shoving and pushing, trying to make it fit; turned and told the family they had a lovely home, and left. When the story was over, we were in stitches. What made these stories so great were the contortions our friend made as he described each incident in detail. I’m still not 100% sure how true his stories were, but they were definitely part of what made the trip.
Despite the fun, we had to head back home the following morning, taking the trolley-like boat back to the mainland. As we waited in the blistering heat, with our tummy’s empty, beautiful dolphins swam close to the dock in order to get a bite of the fish that locals were trying to catch on their rods. This wasn’t the first time we saw dolphins while on Dog Island, being that they enjoyed coming close to shore while out in the deep blue (we could see them from the vacation home’s back porch), but this was the closest they had come. It was a magical end to a magical trip.
I suppose what made this such a fun experience for me was that it was completely spontaneous and nothing I would ever do on a regular basis, or without the full knowledge that I would be safe. That was what made it so special. My boyfriend, sweet Andrew, assured me throughout the entire trip that he would protect me and keep me safe. There is always something that makes me feel warm when I hear that, because I know it is true, and that I’m so blessed to have him. Other minor details that made the experience so worthwhile was how each man was a gentleman to me, making sure I had food to eat that wouldn’t trigger my allergies, such as borrowing some stripped trout from a neighbor’s catch, and making me feel comfortable, all while entertaining and having loads of fun. It was a great vacation, that I wish could have lasted much longer, but unfortunately we all have to return to the life of paying bills. I will never forget Hans, Van, and Brit, as well as Dog Island and the wonderful time we had there.