Water Sports for Families

funny travel stories“Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.” Soldiers? In this case, it’s my mother, my father, and me, militant in our attempt to paddle a canoe out of the grasp of a Florida mangrove tree.

At about day three of a weeklong family vacation, I tend to get bored. In my beach book, the homely detective has solved the mystery of the stolen diamonds, started dating an FBI agent with a heart of gold, and gotten to keep the jewelry. I have presets on the rental car radio. My tan lines are so deep it looks like I’m wearing a white bikini. On my last trip to the Florida Keys, the suggestion came as lazily as a retiree picking a wedgie after a dip in the Gulf. “How about renting a canoe?”

“Left. Right. Le- Okay, just push off the tree as hard as you can and let’s heave this coffin boat. 1, 2, 3 – ” and somehow we’re gliding just like the family on the brochure. On the brochure, the river looked like an ancient and mystical place where we would channel our ancestors by seeing nature as the Native Americans did. In reality, it looks like a Harry Potter movie. The picture on the cover was cut off, so maybe the smiling, tan family also glided directly into the opposite bank. The far side was covered in squat trees with roots that stretched into the water and ensnared our boat a second time. “1, 2, 3 – push!”

My parents and I hadn’t so hard worked at spatial reasoning as a family unit since they taught me to parallel park. If I can’t parallel park without scraping an unmoving car, I certainly can’t be expected to pilot a horizontal tree in a straight line. And if I can’t do either of those things, it’s genetic. Put the whole family in a canoe? We would probably have had better luck solving the diamond mystery ourselves. Count. Glide. Repeat. We zig-zagged down the Florida coastline.

We did manage to become one with the natural habitat. As a glass-bottom boat tour motored by, the guide joked, “You’ll find orange trees on the right, and to the left you’ll see some stuck Yankees.”

If you hear a distant “Left. Right. Left,” about this time next week – don’t be afraid. The Prinzivalli Family is going on vacation.

(photo courtesy of Dr. Joseph Valks/ freedigitalphotos.net)


**Leah Prinzivalli is a writer in Brooklyn. She is currently soliciting beach read suggestions on Twitter at @leahprinz.