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    Posted July 1, 2014 by
    Big Pine Key, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Hurricane season 2014

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    Florida Kayaker runs into waterspout

    Welcome to summer officially. As I was kayaking off of Big Pine Key on Sunday, June 29th, a waterspout kept me from being able to go home for 4 hours. It was blocking off the opening to the canal leading to my neighborhood of Port Pine Heights, so I headed north instead. The thunder and lightning was as terrifying as it was beautiful, as my silkie terrier Flash and I huddled beneath an umbrella between 2 mangrove islands for the first blast of torrential rain. I kept wondering whether the umbrella was a lightning rod. The thought occurred to me to try to paddle south to escape the waterspout, but I knew I wouldn't make it in time. As I sat like a deer in the headlights, a warm feeling of acceptance came over me. I wet my finger in the Gulf of Mexico and stuck it into the air to guage which direction the wind was carrying the bank of threatening dark cumulonimbus clouds. The horizon was blacked out by heavier rain that was rapidly heading my way. As the pounding raindrops started lashing my legs, I thanked God for anointing me, and prayed that Flash and I would make it out alive. Walking the fine line between safety and adventure makes one feel alive. As I listened to the booming thunder emanating from the rapidly west moving rainstorm, I instinctively paddled north, pulling harder with each stroke. On the way, I found an overturned boat, that has probably been there since hurricane Wilma, a hurricane that effected people's ability to breath in South Florida. One elderly neighbor of mine told me at a recent yard sale I had, that he lost the use of one lung during the aftermath of hurricane Wilma. Coral dust, Saharan dust, and pollutants severely damaged one of his lungs. The power of Nature is palpable. Gas masks could be important equipment to have on hand following a hurricane. The mangrove island just northwest of Big Pine Key hadn't come to an end in 3 hours of paddling, so I finally turned around to retrace my original course. The storm, now off to the west, like bling bling BANG, was out of the way so that I could return home. When I got there, I realized that, although I had used sun block, my hands, arms, and legs were badly sunburned. Afterward, I stocked up on gallons of water, gasoline, candles, and batteries. Mother Nature constantly reminds us that she's in control, but there are ways to prepare for the unexpected.
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