Vacation from hell becomes one hell of a vacation

I have literally been to hell and back, or was it the Deep South? It was tough to tell by the temperature and the circumstances.

Our eight-day Tour de South featured record-breaking, suffocating heat without air conditioning; a back-breaking canoe trip down a river that almost required a search party; and a heart-breaking hospital stay for my stepfather. Not exactly my idea of a vacation getaway, but memories work in mysterious way.

Despite all the hardships and heat rashes, my wife, daughter and I are finally back home safe and sound. And for the physical, mental and emotional toil the trip took on all of us, it turned out to be an experience we will treasure for a lifetime. Tough times can bring out the best in friendships and family ties.

We should have known something was up when we left for the Florida and our AC went on the fritz. We laughed at an SUV full of people for duct-taping their luggage to the roof (I’ve got to send that one to Foxworthy), then felt the stares of others when we were riding with our windows down in 100-degree heat.

But with the van in the shop, we went to one of my favorite places on the planet, Blackwater River in the Florida Panhandle. We had told our 8-year-old daughter she was finally old enough to join us on the canoe trip to enjoy the ice-cold spring-fed waters and white-sand beaches and scenic beauty of the national forest.

What we didn’t know, at least until after we launched 6 miles upstream, was that the water level was so low that the local outfitters had halted trips down that stretch of river. We spent the day carrying our canoe over sand bars and fallen trees that blocked our path. It was slow-going all day, and almost all night.

As darkness fell with no cell phone service and no clue how close we were to the end, we began to consider a camping trip. We had enough shrimp, beef jerky and water to last until morning and we couldn’t see beyond the nose of the canoe. That’s when an angel (or some guy who happened to be night fishing) came to our rescue.

He gave us his flashlight and told us we were just a couple of turns from the end. Riley bravely sat up front and shined the beacon over the dark waters until we reached her nervous grandparents … and four sheriff deputies who were about to launch a search boat. I’ve never been so happy to reach dry land.

My wife and I celebrated our 17th anniversary, an occasion we have previously spent in the Bahamas, Key West, New Orleans, Chicago, Highlands and the Outer Banks. I took her to the only fancy restaurant in her hometown that turned out to be closed. We celebrated instead at the local bar and grill and by shopping at Wal-Mart (yes, she’s still with me).

As our journey continued north to Alabama and my native Tennessee, things just kept going wrong. My stepfather was rushed to the emergency room for what turned out to be an extended stay and the family reunion was postponed due to the heat. We had planned on seeing old friends and relatives – just not in the hospital.

But as usually happens when you keep the right attitude, good things came from the bad. Daddy Woodsey’s illness allowed me to reconnect with family members I hadn’t seen in three years. I got to play with my “new” 2-year-old nephew Davis, my brothers Lynn and Jamie, my sisters Bev and Stacy and my niece Tara in one day.

And my dearest friend Chuck stepped up to the plate, allowing us to stay, swim and play at his place. His wife, Brooke, and kids Winn and Audrey allowed Riley to hang out with them while we went to the hospital, and we spent a great Fourth of July with them and longtime friends in the pool and shooting off fireworks.

To sweeten the once-sour vacation, we spent the day boating with my brother on Old Hickory Lake on our last day in Nashville and Riley got to use her surfing skills to go wake-boarding, tubing and jet-skiing. We drove all night and stopped in Columbia, where we hit the Riverbanks Zoo all day before making the final leg home.

All things considered, it was a great getaway. All our grand plans got shot down at every turn, so we had to wing it and make it a great experience. Now that Woodsey is recovering, the van is fixed, the physical and emotional scars of the canoe trip have healed and and the worst anniversary date ever are over, we can laugh.
They will become punchlines in the tale of our vacation from hell that will stand as one hell of a vacation.

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Braves shut out by Trojans

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Braves shut out by TrojansMatt Reel sighed more than once when talking about his [more]

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bid

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bidThe only thing harder than winning a state championship is [more]

Stormy weather big winner at CNB Kickoff Classic

Stormy weather big winner at CNB Kickoff ClassicTwo blowouts, a lightning delay and ultimately three of the [more]

Coast FA boys kick off fall season with strong outing

Coast FA boys kick off fall season with strong outingFive Coast FA boys teams entered the Charlotte Invitational over [more]

Hemingway follows family, teammates to Gamecocks

Hemingway follows family, teammates to GamecocksSix minutes after his youngest child had announced his college [more]

MB Track & Field Club set for cross country season

MB Track & Field Club set for cross country seasonBuilding on the success of the track and field season, [more]

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football poll

Seahawks, Trojans, Chiefs in preseason football pollDefending state champion Myrtle Beach opened the 2019 preseason as [more]

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sun

Ten beach games that add fun to the sand, surf, sunThe Grand Strand’s 60-mile strip of sand and surf is [more]

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball Classic

New blood infuses lineup for '19 Beach Ball ClassicIt’s been quite some time since this much new blood [more]

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur title

Gray becomes first Chant to win SCGA Amateur titleCoastal Carolina rising sophomore Tyler Gray carded four-straight rounds of [more]

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFL

Renfrow comes full circle before making run at NFLThe past six months have been hectic ones for Hunter [more]

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy cause

Surfoff makes waves for fun times, worthy causeThe water is a second home for August Powalie. The Myrtle [more]

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meet

Jordans go coast to coast for Junior Olympics meetIt has been a long and winding trip to California [more]

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs

Six former Pelicans make big-league leap to Cubs The distance from Myrtle Beach’s TicketReturn.com Stadium to Chicago’s Wrigley [more]

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff Classic

Local teams look ahead to 30th CNB Kickoff ClassicConway National Bank will sponsor the 30th annual CNB Kickoff [more]

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titles

CAC swimmers team up to capture six state titlesSouth Carolina Swimming welcomed almost 800 swimmers from 25 Swim [more]

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels Memorial

Surfers hang 10 for 20th Guy Daniels MemorialAs surfers prepare to hit the South Strand this weekend [more]

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior Olympics

Six MBTFC athletes make National Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sand

Beach volleyball growing on Grand Strand sandWhat was once a leisurely pick-up game on the beach [more]

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haul

NMB boys hoops hopeful Walker in it for long haulNorth Myrtle Beach believes Ryan Walker is the person to [more]

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut

Injury halts former Chant La Stella's All-Star debut Former Coastal Carolina standout and Los Angeles Angels second baseman [more]

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures Game

Pelicans well represented at All-Star Futures GameMyrtle Beach Pelicans’ catcher Miguel Amaya has been selected to [more]

Baseball bonds all ages at Legends for Youth Clinic

Baseball bonds all ages at Legends for Youth ClinicEight former big leaguers - and about 60 aspiring ones [more]

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior Olympics

Jordans lead MBTFC to wins at Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club was represented by [more]

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program

Hunter brings new energy to MB volleyball program New Myrtle Beach High volleyball coach Alyssa Hunter knows she [more]

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Braves shut out by Trojans

Week 0: Chiefs top Tigers; Braves shut out by TrojansMatt Reel sighed more than once when talking about his [more]

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bid

Chiefs try to stay hungry, humble in title repeat bidThe only thing harder than winning a state championship is [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2019 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach