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Friday, September 28, 2012

What's SUP?

This is how we looked. Okay, this is how we wished we looked.

Julie Owsik Ackerman

I realized this summer that I’m a surfing Goldilocks. On days when the waves are just right, nothing makes me happier than paddling out, sitting on my board, catching some rides. I hope heaven is like that. But many days, the waves are too small or too big, leaving me onshore, longing for a SUP, a standup paddleboard, to paddle around the ocean or explore the bay.

After the ocean pummeled me on a too-big-day last week, I called Kara, my trusty old partner-in-crime, to see if she wanted to try standup paddleboarding. Of course she was game. Secretly I wondered if this would be another JulieandKara mishap. Sure, we found our way to D.C. without a map; yes, my bones healed after the Tae Kwon Do incident; no, I did not seriously injure that child on the ski slopes, but history showed that we tended to leap before looking.

The woman who ran the rental store seemed confident that we would be fine without any instruction. She showed us how to adjust the paddles, and suggested we start out on our knees until we felt comfortable enough to stand. "Are there any places we should avoid?" I asked, realizing that I rarely ventured near the bay. In her limited English she recommended that we go with the flow. That sounded easy enough.

It was a warm and sunny September morning, with very little boat traffic to disturb the water. We each quickly rose to our feet. I savored the peace, the view, the absence of toddlers. Kara said, "This is very Zen." I said, “I’m so proud of us. I was worried this might be another debacle.”

You see where this is heading, right? As we congratulated ourselves on our maturity, we were unknowingly paddling with a strong current, the whole way. When the ocean came into view, we were sucked through some rough waters into the inlet. We turned around, paddling our hearts out. Remembering my surf training, I looked to shore for a landmark. After 15 minutes we hadn’t advanced moved more than a few feet.

A boat hovered nearby, the older couple inside watching us. Finally, the man said, "You're not going to be able to paddle against this current." I had to concur. He instructed us to paddle to the beach, and said he would pick us up to give us a ride. We had no money, no cell phones, no shoes, just the bathing suits on our backs, and very large, very heavy boards. Safely on shore, we turned to our rescuers who asked where we had gotten the boards. When I said 3rd street, the woman said, "Oh, you can walk back there," and they zipped away. Kara and I stared at each other in shock.

Luckily the island wasn’t quite deserted yet. I borrowed a phone from a nearby tween, asked her grandparents where we were, and called Carl. He happened to be near the rental place, where he explained our predicament to the store owner, obtained Kara’s car keys, then drove her minivan to the beach, our knight in a shiny Honda.

Although we had a dicey hour, I've been smiling about that morning ever since. For the first 30 minutes, standing atop that board, floating through the bay with my dear friend, I felt the same pure joy I see so often on Daniel’s face. And after a year of being so grown up and responsible, of focusing on mothering our new babies, I was glad to see that underneath it all, we’re still just KaraandJulie, getting ourselves into a little trouble. I hope we’re never too old or wise for that. Though next time, I think we’ll paddle upstream first.


  1. Sounds like a scene from a fun sit com. Two moms out on an adventure, getting into a little mischief. I've had similar moments and they are fun! ~ Peggy

  2. Julie, your post made me laugh--and shiver with a bit of fear, too. Like you, I had my own recent first time adventure on a stand up paddle board. Unlike you, I played it safe, hugging the shore in the Cape May Harbor, less I be swept out to sea!
    Your post reminds me, when we try new things, it is okay to do it our own way.

  3. Julie: I laughed out loud at KaraandJulie's excellent misadventure, especially the part where you congratulated yourselves. I've been there too. Upstream is so not fun. We're not salmon. File this scene for a future novel. Chris

  4. Julie, JulieandKara made me laugh and remember a funny story about my long time friend, Tina, the other half of CarolandTina. Once, I went to a party without her and when a friend introduced me to his new girlfriend, she asked "are you carolandtina?"
    She had heard our names linked that way so often she thought it was one person named Carol Entina!

  5. Thanks, ladies. Glad you enjoyed the post. Carol Entina - that's awesome.