Seven days since our taste of adventure has come to an end and there has not been a moment that goes by that I am not thinking of it. Trying to hold onto that piece of solitude I left somewhere up North. The scary moments that waves or unbelievable currents heading my way that reminded me I was truly embedded in the world. Trying to recollect the noise of the day winding down. Birds taking their last flight of the day or the fish started to become active. It was a truly a eye opening experience to watch the start and finish of every day. The changing of the seasons from the summer to the bitter cold of winter. The dramatic change of the landscape ranging from the mountains meeting the ocean to the vastness of the Mississippi Delta.
After being gone for so long there were a few times I lost sight of why I left. The idea of not wanting to work and to do something I love was an obvious reason and was never forgotten but I felt like there had to be more reasoning behind it than that. Like many people throughout my life I have struggled with seeing things through. When the tough came around, I would walk away from it. I would be lying through my country teeth if I couldn’t say the same for this trip. There were multiple occasions that I wanted to leave it, go back to Tennessee, and continue my life back home.
Its at those moments that those reasons would come back to me. I can tell you how satisfying it is to be self sufficient and to lose yourself in something bigger than yourself but to experience it is something that will change your life. It was those low desperate moments I needed in my life. To realize that there is something amazing beyond your comfort zone. To immerse myself in something that downright scared the shit out of me at times.
There were days that I can remember down to such detail I can paint a picture of it, there are others that I remember nothing from. Getting into that grove and the daily routine really helped time pass and it also opened my eyes to a few things. Wether I was kayaking or at home working and living, I can’t give up on it. I was so tired of having that thought of what it would have been like. I came to that conclusion somewhere between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico, I made a promise to myself that I never want that doubt again.
Our last night out we slept under the stars like cowboys and talked about our favorite moments of the trip. I get the biggest smile on my face just at the thought of the two of us laughing like little girls at the awkward and amazing moments along the way. We must have stayed up till 1:00 a.m. telling stories that often times only one of us remembered immediately. “Oh yea now I remember that!”
Since I did not complete my thru hike of the Appalachian Trial, I did not know what to expect that last day. It was such an overwhelming blast of emotions as I counted down the miles until the meeting point where our family and friends awaited. With one mile to go we had our last visitor of the Odyssey. I spotted a dolphin in the depths, we both stopped, and the little guy continued to get closer. Close enough that with might have scared him off with our shrieks of enjoyment. It had been such a long time since we had a close encounter with wildlife and he could not have picked a better time to say goodbye. We said goodbye to him, to each other, and to the ocean.
I broke into tears as the closest people in my life were cheering and welcoming us back to land. Knowing that these were the last couple of paddle strokes was bittersweet. All of the hard and persistent work had finally paid off. Waking up every day and heading to this exact spot for seven months and had finally maid it. These people had been there for us the entire way. Anything from a early morning phone call that got me through the day down to an email that I would look at when I needed a pick me up.
This has truly been the happiest time of my life and will always be such a unique chapter of my life. The strong bond that has grown between me and Austin, the amount of amazing people that we have met, and the most amazing beauty of this place we call home will always stay with me. It has been a true honor to share this trip with you and hope to see you on the next one. When there was nothing left to do but to go home the age old phrase was stuck in my head. All good things must come to an end.
The former beach bum/river rat, Captain Patch