Mark and Wendy’s Excellent Adventure: Staying away from water

Editor’s note: Mark Bradford is contributing occasional posts from his diary on traveling the country with his wife Wendy while they rent out their Mishawaka home for six months.

Day 53 of our 190 day sojourn

August 17, 2023 — Syracuse, Indiana 

I am not much of a water guy. The fact is I detest open water.

The reason is most of my excursions on water have ended in near death experiences.

It started way back in my first experience at Camp Lutherwald when I was about eight. Our swimming test meant we had to swim about 30 feet out to a raft and from there we would have all kinds of fun diving into the water and being boys.  I made it about 25 feet and then panicked. I seriously was going down for the third time when an older kid grabbed me and hauled me back to shore. I was embarrassed and determined never to go near water again.

A few years later in high school swim class, Mr. Thompson, our teacher, came up with this great idea about playing water polo. In water polo, there are rules about trying to intentionally drown your opponent but apparently one of the more thuggier guys in the pool did not hear that rule when it was read. I had the ball for only a few seconds when I was attacked by at least four opposing players and the more thuggier kid decided to hold me under longer than required for me to give up the ball. I saw white that day.  No more water polo.

I even had two near drownings as a volunteer at church youth trips. 

The first one was when I was sitting in the boat minding my own business with a life jacket on (it was apparently too loose) at a designated swimming hole when my own son pulled me into the water from behind, thinking it was a joke. The joke turned into a battle for survival when my life jacket floated to the top over my head, which remained three feet under the water. The little teen  girl who was responsible for the boat weighed about 90 pounds while I weighed about 240 and so you can imagine the struggle we had to get me back in the boat. That was my last time I have ever ridden in a boat with less than 10 capacity.

About two years later, we took an inner-tube trip down a slow moving waterway, or at least we thought it was slow moving. Again, I had a life jacket on and this time it was very tight. However, going around a bend, I somehow swung out too wide and got into a faster current that took me straight toward a half-submerged tree. The tree punctured my inner tube and my group floated happily away while I clung for life to a submerged limb. Some teenage boy returned to save me 30 minutes later. Inflatable?  Make that deflatable.

Finally, the last time I ever got in a canoe, Wendy decided to go exploring too near to the shore and promptly got us locked up and wedged between two submerged logs. We were quite literally stuck in the middle of the lake for 20 minutes until we finally got dislodged.

I told you all those stories so that I can tell you this.

The beat-up lake cottage we are renting for the next five days near Syracuse, Indiana has an ancient paddle  boat. Wendy also has borrowed a two-person inflatable kayak from one of our best friends and Wendy has assured me it is perfectly safe. She thinks I am going to go boating with her.

Not on your life, Wendy. 

Not on mine either.