A Dangerous Day of Kayaking in Tampa Bay
Wilbur Harrington departed from Philippe Park April 29th at 9 am. It was a beautiful 72 degrees. Since there was an 8 mph breeze from the East, he decided to head right into the breeze and go East 2 miles to Oldsmar. He paddled 30 minutes, and he was there. He decided to get out of his kayak and explore.
Oldsmar is juxtaposed between Safety Harbor and Tampa on the mouth of Tampa Bay. (I do not know what juxtaposed means, but I always wanted to use it in a sentence). Oldsmar was founded in 1916 when Ransom Olds bought 37,000 acres and dreamed of opening a Oldsmobile factory. Ransom abandoned his plans after the Spanish flu in 1918. Oldsmar has floundered ever since.
Today, Oldsmar is a rough and tumble town occupied by descendants of the Oldsmar family. Most residents of Safety Harbor are afraid to venture there. Wilbur has no fear, and said “I am always up for an adventure.”
There is an old power plant that was dismantled on the Southern tip of Oldsmar. It is only accessible by small boats. Wilbur paddled there and got out of the kayak. This is where everything went wrong.
He climbed a small embankment, crossed a dirt path and entered some woods.
Twenty feet into the woods, Wilbur saw a clearing. He noticed an old run down building. Sound was coming out of the building, so he quietly crept up to the building. To his astonishment, it was a functioning factory. There were dozens of ninety year olds assembling cars. The car said Oldsmobile on it, but resembled a model T.
The manager, who was at least 100 years old, spotted Wilbur. He yelled “there is that damn union organizer!” Management was infuriated and thought Wilbur was there to cause trouble. They all grabbed their muskets and bayonets and chased as fast as they could.
Wilbur ran like the wind, but a spry 91 year old caught up to him. He bludgeoned Wilbur several times in the rear end with his bayonet, but Wilbur kept running and eluded him. As Wilbur reached the shoreline, he saw that the tide had risen and washed his kayak to sea. There was no choice but to swim.
Several minutes later, he was exhausted and blood had attracted the attention of sharks. The sharks circled Wilbur in anticipation of brunch. Life flashed in front Wilbur’s eyes. Then, he felt a nudge on his foot. Then another on his side.
Wilbur shrieked “get this over with” but this massive force in the water just continued to swim next to him. He looked over his shoulder and a giant eye winked at him.
It was a 9 foot long alligator, yet somehow Wilbur trusted him. He climbed on the gator’s back and was shuttled all the way back to Philippe Park, while fending off the pack of sharks. Wilbur said “it is wonderful to have friends in nature”.
Wilbur vows to continue kayaking, but will steer clear of Oldsmar.
Go, Willie! You’re my kayaking hero!