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January 9, 2012
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Huge swells slammed mercilessly against the side of our sea canoe. My stomach did somersaults as the boat was lifted a foot into the air and heaved back down at a steady rate. Weak with sickness, I pathetically paddled alongside my peers. The wind juxtaposed with the enormous cliffs bordering the east side of St. Bernard Island caused massive waves. Brilliant white seagulls croaked above, soaring carefreely through the steel gray sky. The rocky outcropping to our right appeared as if it had endured years of molding from the tides constant toil. My eyes stung with salt water, my arms ached with the constant stroke of the paddle, and my ribs rattled as our raft got batted around like a ball of yarn to a cat. Or should I say Poseidon, ruthlessly releasing his wrath upon fourteen unlucky seagoers. Kroka Expeditions planned a trip where we would paddle between and camp on six different islands through out two weeks.The moist air reeked of shellfish and felt prickly on the freezing cold sections of my exposed skin. To our left the sun was trying to break through the light gray mist. The ocean went on for miles creating a mirage with the periwinkle skyline.

As we neared the tip of the island, the swells got bigger and crashed more rapidly. Shivering uncontrollably, I layed down my paddle in order to remove my soaked navy blue t-shirt. However, I was still drenched to the bone and felt severe nausea. My stomach fluttered, it was ready to vomit at any moment. That's when a skyscraper of a swell swooped the canoe up higher and higher, the crest about the height of three canoes piled on top of each other. Time slowed down, then the dreaded moment occurred; the boat lurched forward as the water was sucked away from underneath us, the raft jolted down smacking the water with explosive force. A spray of droplets rained down upon us, showering our already wet clothes. Ryan grabbed his stomach, keeled over, and violently hurled off the side of the boat. His face contorted awkwardly, his mop of greasy blonde hair flew forward all in one sickly, fluid motion. Shortly after my stomach twisted in a knot, I grabbed a water bucket and blew chunks for a solid thirty seconds. It was a miserable journey to the other side of the island. Coming around the west side of St. Bernard's Island, we tirelessly pushed onward towards our next undetermined location. We passed a small island town, silent and unnoticed. The town was simply a backdrop to the brilliantly sparkling ocean. The fog had given way to bright rays of sun, piercing through the overcast skyline. There were faded gray shingles on the old victorian houses lining the shore. The grass was turning brown, and a couple of trucks were covered in dust and dents, lounging forgotten in the shade of a droopy willow tree. We paddled on past a decrepit dock, and what appeared to be the general store. On the dock, an old fisherman stood crooked with his hands in the pockets of a tattered pair of overalls, and he gazed ruefully towards the sea through his weary eyes. We pushed westward past floating debris and calm waters. The sun was retracting into the sea after eight hours of paddling. My shoulderblades burned and my back was excruciatingly stiff. The groan of my companions gave me reassurance I was not the only deathly sick one.

Naomi sang an old folk song as she continuously pulled the paddle through the ripple of the sea, her arched back folding over and up again like an accordion. Namoi's bright countenance was attributed to her smooth cheeks and upturned playful smile. She flashed her strikingly bleach white teeth and gasped, “Oh my god.” We turned our heads to see why she had stopped singing. She whispered forcefully, “Look!” and pointed to what looked like a few rocks jutting out of the water. Then they moved, three beautifully sleek silver seals swam gracefully right in front of our canoe. Everyone shared a moment of silence, as the mysterious creatures cut through the dark waters. The mother seal bumped alongside her two children as they whooped and played, making high pitched squeaks. Naomi's dimples created valleys as she squinted at the seals, entranced by their playful manner. Ryan's icy blue eyes were normally clouded by a cold hard stare. But he saluted the sun with a raised arm, and the shade provided him a glimpse of the majestic beauty which were the seals, basking in the sunset. His irises brightened to a robin's egg color, and his jawline relaxed, as did his shoulders as if they were collapsing into his body. The counseler, Georgia, set down her paddle for the first time during the century-long day. She was as caught up in the stunning pockets of Mother Nature as the rest of us.

The wind hammered down upon us, steering and harassing us with its chilly force. The reflection of the sun was caught on the beach before us. Everything was still, we silently rejoiced with completing yet another journey. The island was a perfectly round doughnut, the shore lined with collossal flat rocks and scattered with a few pebble beaches. Everyone got right down to work, hauling the boat onto shore, setting up tents, and preparing dinner on a perfectly flat rock. The interior of the island was occupied by a dense pine forest and a small section of lush green moss, with just enough space for four tents. I trampled through the thick brush, the overwhelming aroma of pine filling the air. Ten minutes later I returned with an armful of firewood and plopped it down next to fire, complimenting the cooking crew. Several armfuls later I sat down next to Ryan, as everyone started gathering for dinner. Georgia ladeled piping hot servings of cous-cous and stewed vegetables, our mouths watering with the prospect of food.

The sway of the trees slowed as the wind died down. The clouds were tinged with a hint of pink and the last glimmering rays of the sun twinkled as it faded into the horizon. Seagulls honked goodnights to each other as the silence of night settled in. All that remained was a calm lapping of waves licking at the beach. The commotion of the day had settled into an extraordinary peaceful evening.





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