Paddle like your kayak's on fireThu, 16th Mar '06, 8:40 pm::

Today is a special evening for me. For the first time in my life, I've cooked a meal that I can't stop eating. I made some veggie biryani using my own recipe and it turned out so good I'm jealous of my own cooking skills. I got chick peas, green beans, green peas, jalapenos, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, onion, and garlic mixed in rice with lots of different spices, from cinnamon to Indian masalas. I'm glad I made enough to last me for two more days :)

Anyways, so OMG! Tuesday night kayaking camping trip was AWESOME!!! I don't remember ever having THAT much fun within such a short amount of time. I left from work at around 4:30pm on Tuesday and drove down to Univ. of South Florida in downtown St. Pete. Including me, there were 11 people (6 guys/ 5 girls) and the only one I knew was Mike. The folks at USF Marina already had the kayaks and camping gear loaded on to Mike's truck. Night before, I had my car packed for the camping - two sleeping bags, extra pair of clothes, lots of supplies, Pop Tarts, and Robitussin 151 ;-) We drove down to this point right above Fort De Soto, parked our vehicles, and unloaded the kayaks. We loaded the kayaks with camping stuff and pushed the kayaks into the ocean around sunset. And that was just the beginning of the good times.

It got dark in a matter of minutes and behind us we saw the full moon rising up in the sky, almost yellow like turmeric. The water was pretty shallow and pretty calm. Imagine being in the middle of nowhere, pitch dark, save for the glow of the moon, leaving behind a trail of wispy moonbeams in your wake, as you gently paddle towards invisible shores. And then getting stuck in a sandbar! OUCH! Pretty much all of us hit the sandbars about 1.5 miles into the ocean. We got out of our kayaks and dragged them for well over a hundred yards till the water was 18 inches deep again. If you want to feel the pain, try dragging your sofa from one corner of the room to the other. Now do it a hundred times over, in darkness, in the middle of the ocean, with seaweeds wrapping around your legs, uphill, both ways. Yeah.

So we finally got to the island and man was I tired. Two miles is a far enough distance to row in itself, let alone on a weeknight when you worked all day, had almost no sleep the night before due to the excitement from the anticipation of the trip, and had no clue where you were going. Once on the shore, we unpacked, set up the tents, and Mike lit a bonfire :) Pretty soon there were smores, burnt Pop Tarts, and lots of spirits going around. I tell you, ten shots of 151 can really hit you like a rock. I've forgotten more crazy things I've done after inebriating myself than most people can even remember doing. Next up, were dirty camp-fire games. Let's say I was cow, some girl was TT, Mike was ex, some other girl was [censored], this cool guy Chris was sloppy, and more [censored] [censored] [censored]. A few more games later we sat around the fire just talking and doing stupid stuff. I think I kinda remember pushing Mike and some girl (?) into the ocean and thereby drenching myself completely (no wonder I woke up next morning missing my t-shirt.) I sat by the fire discussing random stuff with Chris and a few others then went into my tent, which I had to share with some cute girl whose name I can't remember and who kept kicking me allllll night.

Well not all night because I'd only been asleep for four hours when I heard the bastardly spawns of Satan circling over our tents. Apparently the birds on the beach love food and will shriek noisily till they scavenge off every last little morsel of leftovers strewed about on the beach by drunk kids the night before. Basically, I couldn't sleep anymore because they were too loud and it got too bright too soon. Oh yeah, the best part - a cold front moved in from the ocean at around 1am, so it got really cold really fast - cold and windy. Joy joy. We remained huddled in our tents till about 7am when I finally got out and started hunting for all my stuff missing from the night before - like my t-shirt and garden shovel (which by the way was very helpful for fishing out food from the fire, thank you very much Ms. Teresa.)

We packed the tents, loaded the kayaks up and sailed into the ocean, only this time, against winds gusting at over 30mph. The only thing on our side was light, so we could actually see where we were going. What took a mere 45mins the night before, took well over an hour because the wind kept turning around the kayaks as we (or at least I) paddled into it. One neat thing that Mike screamed at me from over in his kayak was that if I rode directly in the direction of the wind, it would turn my kayak around less. Makes sense too. Except I had to keep paddling 3x as more with my right hand; me being unsymmetrically lefty strength-wise. I got the workout I'd been needing for the past year and a half.

I had trouble believeing it but we actually made it to the shore, though a quarter of a mile away from where we parked our cars, as I didn't have the time nor the energy to kayak further. Mike and I went to get our cars, leaving Chris and Natalia in-charge of the kayaks with all our stuff on it. And like stupid boys usually do stupid things, Mike and I decided to sprint the last hundred or so yards up to the car, on wild grass, barefoot. It was only later in the day that we both independently noticed the damage done to our soles. Anyways, loading the kayaks up was another chore and we had to drive down to Fort De Soto to pick up camping stuff from another guy with us who kayaked to a different beach. Finally, Teresa, Zach, and I were on the way back to civilization!

I dropped them off at USF, cleaned up and changed there, spotted Mike on the road, and drove up to my work. Yeah, what did you think? I was gonna take a day off? Hell no! Real men do ALL of the above after eight straight hours of work and then get back to another eight straight hours of finger-breaking manual labor of pushing buttons, on an empty stomach no less. Oddly enough, since I wasn't tired mentally despite being dead physically, I actually managed to complete the final section of a new system I was building at work. I had been toiling away at this one piece of programming puzzle for well over three and a half days because no matter what I tried, I couldn't come up with a simple and easy way to show what I wanted. Turns out ten-shots of 151 later, I think like Buddha.

In the book of my life, this trip is definitely under the "Painfully Fun" chapter. I lost 2lbs in one night and feel so much more back in shape. My muscles hurt, my upper-body feels raw, and I've never felt this optimistic about finally acquiring some chiseled abs. Oh yeah, that was my New Year's resolution - gotta get me some abs! I do good things when I drink. That night I was sitting in some shady parking lot downtown with Tay, Kaela, and friends, gulping Champagne from a plastic cup. We asked each other what our NY resolutions were. Everyone said something deep and meaningful like "I want to see the world" or "I want to be more spontaneous," whereas I said "Abs! I want abs. This year, before December 31. I need some of those abs everyone's showing off." Everyone laughed and said "Ha! Good goal. Best of luck."

I've lost 11lbs since then, mostly from my spare-tire. My goal is to lose the tire entirely by end of June. Then come six months of freestyle exercises of all sorts - my revolutionary workout system: SH Ovelling, ab workouts, kayaking, and probably swimming. As long as I can spend 5-6 hours a week outside, I think I'll be good. Oh I know, too many plans, not enough time and energy.

I have a lot of time though, mostly past sundown. Those I spend relaxing around the house, torturing my evil kids, cooking up yummy biryani dishes. And with that I conclude this unnecessarily lengthy prattle of nothingness that pours heaps of salty drivel atop the sweet Chocolate Souffle of scintillating knowledge that is the Internet.

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