Ok, I think I left off with Bill reaching Checkpoint 3 in Flamingo on Thursday night. He was so tired at Flamingo that he didn’t even pitch his tent. He put his tarp down on the ground next to his boat and slept right there. He left Flamingo for Key Largo at 6:30am Friday morning. It looks so easy on the map, just a mere couple of “inches” east and he’s in Key Largo, right? Paddling into an east wind made for a long day on little sleep but a mere 12 hours later he pulled into Key Largo, the finish line for the Everglades Challenge and now Checkpoint 1 for him. This was the first time I have been able to be there when Bill arrives at a Checkpoint or finishes a race so I was ecstatic to have made it there in time to see it. The picture I will post is Bill right after he got out of the kayak. (It takes him in a minute, or two, or three, to get his “land legs,” so that’s why he is standing like that.) I stood back and watched as his brethren of Watertribers swooped in and took care of him. Helping him walk, taking his boat and anchoring it, handing him a beer, etc. When he finally made it to me I was on a roller coaster ride of emotions… I was so happy to see him, but I didn’t want to touch him and was wishing I was downwind from him. So maybe it is not such a bad thing to not get there when he arrives but maybe after he gets a shower? I got a big kiss and wished I had had some tequila and lime to go with all the salt!! 🙂 After arriving at the hotel, I was getting a good idea of how he was doing both mentally and physically. Mentally he was great. Physically, I would have liked to have seen less damage. Mostly his hands are really blistered and one nail got smashed. He does wear gloves but he thinks the day he had to hold the sail rigging did a lot of the damage. Our daughter, Caitlin, is an Athletic Trainer, and did that degree ever pay off. She had trained both of us on how to treat his hands should this happen and we were grateful. Other than his hands, a boat wake pushed his kayak into him while he was beaching and it knocked him onto a rock giving him a bad cut/scrape on his knee.
He began the process of unpacking and repacking gear bags. (I personally would have made laundry the number one priority. Not enough Tide in the in the world to get some of that stink out.) Then it was off to the store to restock. How’s this for a grocery list? King size PayDay candy bars x10, orange juice, Coke, beef jerky, and Cheeze-Its. Is this a race or is he moving in to a college dorm? Wasn’t sure what he was going to want for dinner. In the past he would be having his celebratory steak dinner. I asked if there was something specific he wanted for dinner and I pretty much got that “deer-in-the-head-lights” look so I made an executive decision of bringing back pizza and salad. You would have thought I brought him the immunity idol from Survivor. It’s the little things. 🙂