A Top Ten List

What’s on Yours?

Do you have a top ten list of the greatest things you’ve done in your life so far either written down or in your head? I never much thought about keeping one. I mean, what event would be so exciting it would be one of the TOP TEN things I’ve done IN MY WHOLE LIFE? I couldn’t even begin to sort, and categorize ,and label the cool stuff I’ve done . . . until three years ago. That’s when I first did this:

Wanna Take a Ride on an Airboat?

I don’t like roller coasters and I don’t like ferris wheels. Heck, I don’t like driving over high bridges. But I do like speed, the faster the better, and I like boats and I like speed. Uh, yeah. I guess I said that already. 

The first time I rode on one of these babies

A fan boat

an old Cajun was in the driver’s seat. Everything about him was slow and deliberate, until he got out into the canals of the Everglades in one of these babies. Then, THEN he drove like a man possessed. He had us flying down one-way canals at top speed, bursting into lagoons and fishtailing first one way and then the other. Then he jumped that baby up onto a thin skim of water across a long sandbar. Man, I felt like I was in a James Bond movie and we were the bad guys, escaping 007 the first time unscathed. By the time I got back on dock, I had a permanent grin grooved into my face and little gnats plastered to my front teeth. I was hooked.

 Darryl was our driver last month. Well, not at first. He was training a new person and let him drive the first leg of the trip, but I could tell Darryl chafed at being a passenger. Very shortly, he was motioning the guy out of the driver’s seat and he took control. That’s when things began to get interesting. Soon, he pulled into a grassy section I had never visited; it was completely unfamiliar with paths cut through the grass almost like a race track. Darryl cut the engine, hopped out of the driver’s seat and motioned me into it. Figuring it was a photo op I jumped aboard and smiled for the camera.

 I   WAS   SO   WRONG.

With a grin, Darryl began to give me driving lessons; they were pretty basic since the equipment itself is about as basic as you can get: a gas pedal (to stop, take foot off gas pedal) and a long stick attached to the rudder (pull back to go left, center to go straight, push forward to go right). The catch is to learn to steer using the loosey goosey stick. My husband Mike was a little green around the mouth as he watched us.

 And then Darryl directed me out into the main canals. We agreed he’d operate the gas pedal while I did the steering. And we were off, flying down the canals. Darryl had the pedal to the metal and I was steering for all I was worth. Tree branches slapped along the sides of the boat and Mike half crouched in the front. We flew down a canal, then burst into a lagoon.

 “Cut hard left. Now! Now! All the way!” Darryl yelled as he pushed the gas pedal to the floor.

The boat dug into a tight, hard turn. We were practically parallel to the water. We could have trailed our fingers in the gator-infested water mere inches from the edge of the boat if we were so inclined because that’s how close we were to it. Mike, out in front, was holding on real hard to the side of the boat.

One false move

 By the time we slowed to a stop I could have danced on the water with happiness and excitement. And Darryl? That man has nerves of steel. Or maybe he’s just crazy.

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