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High Tide / The Rescue

November 26, 1996


She opened her eyes. Morning. It must be early yet, she thought, noting there was no evidence of direct sunlight on the tent -- no hot spots where heat radiated through the fabric. It seemed like a perfect morning, with just a hint of a slight chill on the air.

I'll bet it's deliciously cool outside, she thought, imagining how the sand would feel on bare feet.

She sat up and stretched, yawned, and stretched again. Hunching over to avoid the upper part of the tapered wall, she stood up and made her way around the end of the cot to the center of the tent where she could stand upright without coming in contact with the low ceiling. As she did so her eyes moved toward the narrow opening where a front window was partially unzipped. Bird Island slid by in the narrow view, but otherwise there were only gentle waves on an open Sea.

She reached out and unzipped the window for a better look. What's this? Where was the beach? She grabbed the zipper and freed the opaque flap of the door, which went all the way to the floor. Water! In a controlled panic she turned and systematically released the windows on the other walls of the tent. Nothing but water! In fact, there was no land visible in any direction, except for Bird Island.

Now she was beginning to panic. She looked around inside the tent. Clearly, there was no sign of water within. She didn't want to entertain the notion that the tent might be floating. Stepping tentatively, afraid the floor would respond like a waterbed -- she took one step toward her husband still asleep on his cot. The floor felt completely firm, but that didn't encourage her very much. She reached down and grabbed his arm.

"Wake up! Wake up; we're floating! We're floating on the water! Wake up!"

Startled, he opened his eyes and sat up.

"What the..."

"We're floating! There's water all around us! I mean all around us!"

He propped himself up on one elbow in order to see out the window.

"Good God!"

He leaped up, pulled on his pants and scrambled with his shirt. Taking the cue, his wife followed suit.

"We've got to get out of here," she said urgently.

She looked out the window, straining to see as far as possible in either direction.

"There's someone coming." She pointed toward the left.

He looked out the side window.

"What looks like a sea serpent. What...with people?"

"A rubber balloon...a yellow rubber snake balloon..."

The object seemed to be just floating, bobbing in the waves. Whatever. It was definitely approaching. It looked like a large yellow sea serpent, alright, with highlights painted in brown and red; a large toy at least fifteen feet long, loops of it's body arching out of the water. There were several people straddling it, men and women and a poised young lady of about ten. The front person, a middle-aged man, was holding a pair of reins, which were attached at the mouth of the rubber beast much like those used to guide a horse.

The whole thing looked like a large swimming pool toy, somewhat out of place on the open sea.

"That's more than strange," she remarked, "to find something like that just floating by out here."

"You need any help?" The lead man called out.

"Yes, yes."

By now the beast was pulling up, right against the tent door.

She fumbled with the door zipper and flung the screen wide open. The two scrambled through and situated themselves straddling the rubber beast. She grabbed onto the bony rubber mane in front of her, and he sat behind wrapping his arms around her waist. Soon the floating tent was receding in the distance.

Everyone was silent. There wasn't much to talk about under the circumstances. They felt so much safer here on their rubber beast among other people than afloat in their tent that the couple gave no though to where they were going or what they would do next -- even if it did probably look ridiculous. What started as a nightmare had turned into an adventure.

After a time, their introspection was interrupted by a shout.

"Land!" The young lady pointed with excitement.

In a short time they found themselves in the surf. The rubber beast bottomed out in the sand and they all excitedly scrambled to solid ground. In a comical and overly dramatic gesture, the young lady, who now acted a bit more girlish than before, extended both arms and dropped to her knees, kneeled down and kissed the sand.

Soon the glorious beast riders were spreading to the wind. It was another beautiful day on the playa and the couple felt lucky to be alive. Although they had lost everything including their vehicle, they were intact and they had each other. They set out for the settlement. It was about a four-mile walk and there was electricity there, and hopefully, a telephone.

November 26, 1996



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