Near the end of August 2002 a friend invited me to go kayaking out in Mission Bay with him and I accepted happily.
We drove over to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD is US Marine boot camp) off of which there is a small building that rents kayaks. We chose a two-person kayak, and after grabbing paddles and life-preservers we got in and took off right away down this small river out to Mission Bay.
Paddling out into the middle of the bay is where things got kind of crazy – there were all these huge oil tankers and cargo ships coming in and out, and even at their slowest speed left wakes that rocked our little kayak around like a leaf on the ocean, threatening to spill us over a time or two.
We paddled hard going across the bay over towards North Island where one aircraft carrier was berthed. As we cautiously paddled as close as the orange oil barriers allowed us, we were both awestruck by how humongous this ship was; here we were next to this huge aircraft carrier in this teeny canoe, and it was breathtakingly huge. I felt like an ant next to an elephant! As we paddled into the great shadow the temperature dropped noticeably. I remember feeling chilly even on a summer day when the temperature was well over 90 degrees.
I had no idea but my wonderful future husband was onboard her at the time, and he distinctly remembers the alarm that went out for an approaching water craft; which was my buddy and I in this teeny kayak down at the waterline.
Next thing we know here comes Shore Patrol our way very fast in a speed boat, with their M-16’s front and center, safeties still on, asking “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
We raised our hands, as we flashed our green cards and said, “Hey, we’re military. Don’t shoot. We’re just chilling, not bothering anything.”
The guys realized we were on their side pretty quick, because they relaxed their guns, and then told us we had to disperse, which we did in a jiffy.
It was an amazing 6 hour trip around Mission Bay that day. We got back in as
the colors in the sky turned to violet and lavenders, and then to blues and blacks with that last halo of orange from the sun setting.
We were cold and wet, exhausted but satisfied, and my buddy being the nice guy he was gave me a warm and dry Army shirt to wear that he had in his car trunk. He laughed as he realized how cold I was to wear a US Army shirt. I didn’t give care I put the thing on, and he handed me an additional coat, two sizes huge that I was doubly grateful for as I wrapped around me one and a half times.
Over 10 years later I look back and I am grateful for so many things. Having good friends, great memories, and a wonderful husband by my side are just a few of the things that give my life meaning, and I am thankful.