Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Buffalo River Adventures, Our Love Story

Another day of rain here on the island.

I have a lot of new followers (welcome!!) and I was talking to my friend Ashley today and realized, none of you know the story of how Mike and I become the couple we are.

*Disclaimer - this is a long story. Be prepared :)*

Soooo let's rewind it back to May of 2010. I was in a weird place in my life, living in Fayetteville, Arkansas and working double shifts Mon-Friday at the local sports bar. I was steeping into a form of mild depression and I didn't really know what to do with my life. I've NEVER had an issue with depression, no matter the bad high school experiences, dropping out of college, or my siblings getting shipped overseas for the war.. I've always been able to look at the bright side of things and enjoy life. It was a scary world for me at the time and I didn't know how to fix it.

Everything had been the same since the summer before. I hung out with the same girls, we did the same thing every weekend (partying, drinking, pretty much killing myself slowly), and when March came, we went to Panama City Beach for Spring Break - everything changed. 3 of my good friends and me road tripped to Florida, and it was a week I'll never forget.

Lauren, Sam, Me, and Whitney

My best friend at the time had met a boy on the last night we were there who she continued to see for over a year afterwards, I got into a physical fight with another best friend which ruined the friendship and made the entire week a struggle, and spent one day at the dentists office for the third friend to get her tooth fixed, which she knocked out during a slip and fall. It was a week of nonstop events, good and bad, and after it was all said and done, things were severely changed.

The best friend that met the boy and I weren't hanging out like we used to. I got a new apartment with a new roommate and it seemed like I hardly saw her anymore. That saddened me a LOT. I couldn't grasp the fact that things were not going to be like they used to be. So many things in my life had changed at a rapid pace and I didn't know what to do about any of it.

Come May, my friend Whitney had asked Sam and me to go camping with her and float the Buffalo River (in Arkansas). She said she would be with her cousin, who I knew from the summer before, so I was interested and said yes and this is when the adventure begins...

Whitney had gone with her cousin on Friday night. She told me the campsite she was at and what time to meet and where so we could follow her the next morning, but that was it. The last time I heard from her was around 10:30.

Sam and I woke up early Saturday morning because we were supposed to meet up with Whitney in a town called Marble to follow her to the campsite, I have never been to the Buffalo before. We set out in Sam's tiny, two door Civic, GPS in hand, and bags packed to float the river and camp that night. I was so excited (I'm such an outdoorsy kinda girl). I still had not heard anything from Whitney and was unable to get a hold of her.

Sam and Me

We arrived in Marble at around 8:30am like we were supposed to. There was no sign of Whitney anywhere. I still couldn't reach her on her phone, and we didn't know if she was even coming. We waited for 30 minutes and still no show. We decided, since we had already driven this far, to keep going. I knew the name of the site they were staying at, and I knew what kind of car her cousin drove, so that was our plan, to find them ourselves. Sam was driving, so I navigated with the GPS on where to go, but deep in the woods, we could only go so far before we were starting to get lost.

We arrived in a little, bitty town called Ponca and immediately found a Buffalo River Info Center (luckily!). We stopped there and I asked one of the workers for directions to a specific campsite called Kyle's Landing. She drew us a map, explained exactly where to go and we were on our way again. Remember, we are in a small, two door Civic. It was time to go off roading.

By the time we found Kyle's Landing, it was around 10am. I remembered Whitney telling me they were planning to head out to the river around that time, so I was getting really nervous. We entered the campsite and started driving around, looking for the only thing I could think of that would help us, the jacked up, red Jeep Cherokee that her cousin drives. The first place we looked, we found it! Nathan (Whitney's cousin) was standing with several other guys, but Whitney was no where to be seen. We started honking and I yelled out the window to get their attention. It was such a close call, but we actually made it!

A minute later Whitney comes out of the woods and runs over to us. Apparently they reason they had not left yet is because of her. What a blessing in disguise. We met all of the boys in the group and packed into the cars to head to the river. Sam and I crammed into the back seat of a truck and that's when I met Mike.

At first, we didn't even like each other. He had preconceived notions about me, and same goes for me about him. He was annoyed that Sam and I had arrived and didn't even want us there. So I poked fun at him for the car he drove and the fact that he was wearing rolled up khaki shorts to float a river. Let's just say it was a funny start.

We ended up in the same canoe. Dan (a friend of Mike's) was in front, followed by Whitney, me, Sam, and then Mike. 5 people in the canoe - it was definitely an adventure.

(L-R) Mike, Me, Sam, Whitney, and Dan

The first stop we made to hang out and swim a little is when I really started to notice Mike and his personality. Dang was I attracted to him. Why? I didn't know at the time, but all I wanted to do was be close to him and get his attention. So when we loaded back into the canoe, I sat in front of him instead of in between Whitney and Sam. I couldn't get enough of him.

Later on down the river (I had been drinking at this point), I was practically laying in the canoe trying to get a tan when all of a sudden we flipped. Since I was laying I got caught underneath the canoe instead of falling out. I was under for what seemed like a long time, dragging across the rocks until someone pulled me out - Mike. He tried to blame it on the fact that I was wearing his favorite hat and wanted to save it - I know better :)

The float was a very long trip. It took us all day to complete the river with two canoes and one kayak. But it was a blast! A trip I will never forget. Later on that night I was exhausted. We ended up flipping again, and from all of the swimming, cuts and bruises from the rocks, and not to mention the drinking in the sun, all I wanted to do was sit by the fire and chill... And that is exactly what my happy self did.

Yup, drunk and worn out little ol me.

Mike started to pay attention to me. And I was loving it. Eventually we ended up going to a tent to have some privacy (get your mind out of the gutter!) and talk and get to know each other. We ended up falling asleep together and shared the tent with Whitney, Dan, and Sam. Sounds cramped but it was nice and cozy. 

The next morning Sam had to work so we had to get up extra early to leave. We rose at around 6am when the sun was coming up. While I was getting out of the tent, Mike sat up and kissed me good bye - the rest is history. I couldn't let him go. I was hooked. Determined to make him mine. I had fallen.. and fast. I don't know what had come over me but the only thing I did know was that I wanted to spend every moment with him from then on.. I will never forget that trip to the Buffalo River and will always cherish that weekend forever and ever. My life completely changed from that moment on.. but that's another story for another time :)

The first time Mike took me around his friends.

Sorry that was so long dears. But thanks for sticking through it :) 

That is the story of how the man of my dreams and I met. He saved me from going into self destruction and has made me a better person. I love him with everything I have. Don't worry though I'll go into further detail about how our relationship kicked off.. that's another adventure in itself :)

Happy Hump Day!



Kelsey Eaton said...

What a fun story you guys have! Love it!!

Emily B said...

Cute story! It's very awesome he helped your life turn around for the better. Great timing ;-)

Robin said...

Wow, you had a tough time that year...I'm glad Mike came around and made it all better!

Kimberly H said...

That's such an adorable story! I loved the part about him trying to save his "hat." Yeah right ;) You should definitely share more about the two of you - you're adorable together!!

The Cantrell's said...

I love this and I can't wait to read more! Part 2 coming soon?? :)

Carolynn Markey said...

what a beautiful love story :) you are such a beautiful girl!

The Coulters said...

I love that story! Its beautiful

New follower here :)