Over the past few weeks I have been feeling a bit nostalgic, so like any dad who feels like reliving the past, I went out to my garage. Now, why would I go to the garage you may ask. Great question! I went to the garage because, if you know me for any period of time, you will know that, no matter where I live, I have a magic garage.
Side Note: I have a reputation for keeping things. I’m not a hoarder, but I could be. My garage holds some of the most amazing treasures. I had a friend that used to say “Whatever you need just ask Butch to see if he has it in his garage.” Yes, sometimes I did have things that people needed or we needed for ministry. I didn’t get the title of Kid Ministry MacGyver for nothing. That, my friends is another story itself, for another time.
So, I went to my garage and found a box of old video tapes that held our family history. Looking though these tapes made me realize that we could have had a video on America’s Funniest Videos every week for an entire year. It also jogged my memory of our first video camera and the time we took it on vacation.
Our oldest son, Ben, was just turning two. This would have been our first real family vacation. So, Chrissy and I decided to go back to the place where we spent our honeymoon, Assateague Island, in Maryland, close to Ocean City. Since we enjoyed the area so much, we wanted to go back to the place where we created some very special memories camping on the beach.
Side Note: Honeymooning on the beach sounds super romantic, and we thought so too, when we planned it. Let’s just say, sand plus newlyweds in a small pup tent on a beach teeming with wild horses while a hurricane heads inland creates a situation that could test even the strongest of marriages. I almost forgot about the pesky state bird, otherwise known as the mosquito
Back to the vacation. We made plans to vist Assateague Island for a day while camping on the mainland at a nice wooded campground in Ocean City, that sprayed for mosquitoes.
Packing for our big day at the beach, I kept in mind that this was our two-year-old son’s first time to the ocean. All the things that my mom had warned me about ran through my head. “Watch out for the undertow, when you were a baby you got rolled so bad that you had sand for days coming out of you.” And Chrissy’s Nanny, “Don’t forget to put a lot of sun screen on.” With all these voices in my head, I could hardly hear myself think. The biggest thing in my mind was making sure we had the cameras, the regular one and the video camera too.
On this special day, I thought to myself (louder than all the other voices), “I want my boy to have a great time at the beach. He needs a boogie board! Yeah, he’ll love a boogie board!” I really don’t know why I thought that. Still, we stopped on the way to the beach at a small store to buy the cheapest styrofoam boogie board I could find because things were tight on this vacation. Once I had boogie board loaded in the car, we were set to go. Whoo-hoo off to the beach! On the way into the beach area, we saw the wild horses, this was a plus. They just roam anywhere and everywhere they please; it’s very cool! We even have a picture of one sticking its head in our car window!
Finally, at the beach, we grabbed all our stuff and headed down to the water to pick our spot for the day. It was great, the sun was shining, temperature was perfect with a nice cool breeze blowing. As the wind blew off the waves, it picked up salt that you could taste from the mist of the crashing waves, it was a gorgeous July day. The best part was that the beach was not very crowded.
We did all the things you would imagine parents doing with their child at the seashore for the first time. Ben loved playing in the lapping waves of the ocean. Chrissy took pictures and occasionally, we would use the camcorder to capture some priceless moments for our little family.
After a while, I took the boogie board down to the water for Ben to ride. I placed him on it, sitting down. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but here’s what did happen. A wave came in and knocked him right off. Epic dad fail on this one, I thought. So, I marched my sand-covered, squalling son up to his mother, so she could comfort him. After all, I had just let him get tossed around by the ocean tide.
So then, me being me, I decided to show my son that boogie boards could be fun. I said, “Ben, watch Daddy do it!” I grabbed the boogie board, and ran down to the water. I waded out into deeper water and waited for just the right wave to roll in. I looked out to see if Ben is watching, and I saw Chrissy getting the camcorder ready.
And then it was now or never; the water sucked back and I knew it was going to be a big one. I readied the board and jumped as high as my short legs would take me and landed on the crest of the wave! I remember thinking, “This is awesome! I’m riding a wave! Yes!”
I jumped off the board just before the wave crashed down onto the sandy beach. I ran up to Chrissy and Ben, out of breath, and exclaimed “I did it! Did you see that! I was great! Yeah baby!”
Chrissy said, “Sorry, I didn’t get it you’ll have to go do it again.” I now believe she secretly knew what would happen next and just wanted to egg me on to make sure it happened. I was, oh, too willing. I was like a dog playing fetch with his favorite ball. You know right before the dog’s master tosses the ball, he’s so excited to get the ball. Yup, that was me.
So Chrissy readied the camera, ben sat playing at her feet. I galloped down to the edge of the ocean with the boogie board over my head like I was some champion surfer ready to rip some gnarly swells. I made my way through the crashing waves out quite a bit further than before. I positioned myself, and waited for the perfect wave.
I could see Chrissy recording as I waited for my dream wave. I waved to her with a thumb up. I was ready for this epic moment. Just then the water powerfully pulled quickly past my legs sucking my feet into the sand. I looked over my shoulder this was a huge wave! It was quickly rolling towards me, building momentum. Higher and higher it went.
I bent at my knees and with all I had jumped into the air at just the right moment to be caught on the top of the wave. Cowabunga dude! I was riding on top of this wave! The rush of water around me was exhilarating, the adrenaline was pumping though my body. It was like the rush you get when riding a smooth roller coaster, but a 100 times better. The wave was accelerating, and with every foot it got closer to its crashing destination.
Then, just before I could jump off the boogie board, the wave took me by surprise curling under me only to drop me, fast and hard head-first onto the shore. I hit the sand with an audible crunch. I was involuntarily rolling through the water, gasping for air. I could feel my heart pounding. I clawed at the shifting sand to get my balance and pull myself up out of the water. I shook off the water from my head and wiped the salt from my eyes. I could feel sand in places you never want to feel sand.
What seemed like an eternity only took seconds. I crawled to my knees. Still being pummeled by aftershock waves. The tide rolled out enough for me to get to my feet and somewhat get my bearings.
I desperately looked for my wife on the beach. I thought to myself well, that was definitely spectacular! Though blurry eyes, I saw Chrissy laughing hysterically all the while frantically tring to get the camera lined up with where I was now standing. I waved to her laughing all the while trying to get some forward motion going.
There are those times in life when things happen, and you know you just came through something that could have had disastrous results, only to realize the worst had not hit yet.
That is when I felt it. The cool breeze and water lapping bare skin in a place, well, a place that should have been covered. I looked down and terror struck me to the core only to realize that my swim trunks were gone. I quickly threw myself down into the shallow water. Fumbling around like a fish out of water. I was flopping around as I tried to grab my shorts that had luckily got hung up on one of my feet.
I quickly maneuvered my other leg into my swim shorts and pulled them up, filling them with even more sand in the process. I embarrassingly looked around to see who else had caught an eye full of me in all my God-given glory. To my surprise, I didn’t see anyone running in horror or pointing and laughing, well, no one except Chrissy.
Side Note: Thinking back to this experience, all I can think of is the You Tube song, “Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground, look’n like a fool with your pants on the ground!” That was me. I was a naked fool!
My attention then turned to retrieving my white Styrofoam boogie board. After paying good money for it, I wasn’t going to lose this thing. Right at that moment, I felt something smack me in the back of my legs. I turned to see what it was– it was a piece of Styrofoam. I bent over and grabbed it for a closer examination. It looked like a piece of someone’s boogie board, I wondered who broke their boogie board. As I look down the beach, I saw 2 more white pieces being pushed up on the beach and it sadly occurred to me that it was my boogie board.
I gathered my wits, picked up what was left of my pride, and retrieved the rest of what was left of the board. I than sheepishly slogged up to Chrissy and Ben. Chrissy was reviewing her newly captured footage of my major wipeout. She looked up at me, snickering all the while and said “This is going to get us 10,000 dollars!” Then she disappointedly said, “Oh no! I missed you losing your shorts! I guess I just couldn’t find you in the camera. Darn, that would have been awesome,” she said. We both laughed, and I sat down to nurse my wounds.
Not only did I lose my shorts, demolish a boogie board and hurt some of my pride, I also had bright red welts across my chest and under my chin where the board had hit me when it exploded under the impact of the wave. I was a washed-up man.
Life has always been an adventure with the Hunter Clan– even at the very beginning!