Monday, September 10, 2012

The High-Low Day: Pensacola

One thing I knew I wanted to do in Pensacola is parasailing.  I asked my mom if she and dad would like to go.

“No”, was her quick answer.  Why not I wanted to know.  “We saw someone hit a building once.”

I was confused.  How could they hit a building?  I tried to clarify.  I am talking about parasailing, not hang gliding.  She is pretty sure they saw this happen in Mexico and yes, she is sure the person was parasailing.  How do you hit a building when you are over the water?

Apparently, she isn’t the only one who has seen or heard this.  Several people confirm this can happen.  I still want to go, hopefully the buildings will stay out of the way.

Avoiding the waverunners turns out to be harder than avoiding a building.  When we went back a few days later to rent waverunners ourselves, we were warned not to do this and that it is against the law in Florida to jump the wake of a boat.

Mom’s refusal to go works out for me for a different reason:  she and dad agree to watch my 3-year old granddaughter Kendall while my 17-year old niece Ashley and I go.  They end up going with us to Key Sailing where they can watch from nearby Mom’s Beach.

I was wrong about several things regarding how parasailing works.

I have no idea what was so funny.

First, I thought we would be the only people on the boat.  When we board, there is a family already there and the dad and two daughters are already geared up to go first.  There is also a little girl I estimate to be around 4 that I assume also belongs to the family but it turns out she is with the guy driving the boat.  In addition to the driver who looks like a typical blonde surfer dude, there is McStud.

McStud (I didn't give him that name, his nametag is on his shirt) is the one responsible for equipping us, attaching us to the parachute and giving us instructions.  He is also the one responsible for turning on the reggae music.

I mistakenly believed that when you would be jerked off the boat and that you would land in the water.  Watching the family go first actually helps as we can see how everything will work.

We are easy for mom and dad to spot from Mom's Beach.  We have the big smiley face.  The yellow one on the parachute.  The takeoff from the boat is really smooth, not at all jerky.  You are just suddenly lifted off your feet.

I paid extra to have the camera that took these photos strapped to my wrist.  This camera, once turned on when we get on the boat, will automatically take a photo every 2 seconds.  They advise me to move my arm around, do weird angles and to drag my arm in the water when they “dip” us.

This is one of my favorite shots taken when I was dragging my arm in the water as suggested.

Ashley and I don’t think we want to be dipped.  Again, watching the family helps and we see that they basically drag your legs in the water for a moment right before you land, standing up, on the boat.  We do let them dip us and Ashley and I get our legs tangled up.

That was better than hitting a building.  I think Ashley agrees.

Here we come to land on the boat "standing up like a rock star".  I am a little concerned about how this will work. I am about 6 inches taller than Ashley.

The size difference isn't a problem.  The problem with the landing was when Ashley's sunglasses flew off and McStud almost fell off the boat trying to catch them.  "I had them in my hand!"  Had being the key word, they are in the bottom of the bay now.

I would definitely parasail again if someone else wanted to and didn’t want to do it alone.  I am glad that Ashley and I did it tandem, I don’t think it would be fun to do it alone.

Later back at the condo, we all decide to go out and enjoy the beach.  Kendall, Ashley and I are back out in the water again today under yellow flag conditions.  Kendall is once again insisting I don’t hold her float but it is choppy enough that I lightly hold it under the water where she can’t see.

Then my elbow starts to hurt. 

I jerk my arm out of the water and I see a jellyfish.  I am standing chest deep, too deep to get Kendall completely out of the water but I certainly try.  I grab her and start heading to the beach as fast as I can with an excruciating pain now radiating all the way to my shoulder.  I yell for Ashley and she comes to help me.

We get Kendall to the beach and I make sure Ashley knows not to let her go back in the water.  I stumble up to where my mom and aunt are sitting and show them my arm.  My aunt immediately gives me two chewable pills that I assume are a children’s pain reliever.  They agree to help watch Kendall while I go inside and try to deal with my sting.

Looking at this photo I realize it doesn't look that bad but trust me, it hurts like crazy.

In the condo there is a laminated newspaper article on the refrigerator that tells you what to do in case of a sting.  The magic cure is apparently vinegar and there is a mixture all ready to go under the kitchen sink.  I spray it liberally and go upstairs to shower and change. 

My whole body is starting to hurt and I am concerned that I am allergic to the sting. I start to research on the Internet but part of the problem is that you need to know what kind of jellyfish you were stung by.  How am I supposed to know? 

This is not the jellyfish that stung me.  We caught this one (and released it again) the next day with Kendall's net.  I still don't know what kind it is.  This second sighting seals it...I never swim for the rest of the trip.

After I clean up, I go to the beach to get Kendall.  Just in time too, I meet Ashley on the way to the house, she has been sent to check on me.  Fortunately, Kendall wants to go in anyway so I take her in and slap her in the bathtub to play while I sit on the toilet holding a vinegar soaked paper towel on my elbow.  I am still hurting, all over my body now.

I know I sound like a crybaby but I really didn't expect a jellyfish sting to hurt quite this bad.  I also expected it to hurt only at the site of the sting, not to cause my chest, back, arms, shoulder and head to hurt.  I still wonder whether my experience was normal.

Mom comes to find me where I am still sitting on the toilet supervising Kendall's bath, she has a tube of Benadryl cream.  I slather some on and have immediate relief.  It turns out that the pills my aunt gave me were also Benadryl which always makes me sleepy.  

Good thing Kendall is ready to lay in bed and watch Nick at Night.  I have had enough excitement for one day.


  1. Love the new blog design! Sorry to hear about the jellyfish, that would keep me out of the water too! I think we will stick to early June for our Hilton Head trips, before the stinging jellyfish arrive.

  2. You are so sweet! I definitely am not in a hurry to do the jellyfish experience again. Or the ocean for that matter.

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