Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
1. I need to work on my endurance and speed.
2. I need to make sure I take enough water and nutrition with me all the time, so that if my body is craving calories and hydration, I can take care of it.
3. Invest in a good pair of bike shorts. Tonight I wore tri shorts, which have less padding, and it felt like it.
Tomorrow Aimee and I will be joining Mike for a paddle up Alligator Creek on Eagle's Island in hopes of recreating Thursday's encounter for Aimee. Then I'm going to cook my baby dinner. Have a good Sunday. Cheers.
Friday, April 24, 2009
In Good Company, photo by Garrett Grimsley
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The 1st Annual BFE Oyster Roast and South River Paddle
This time a pig was roasted instead of oysters. We had a perfect night for an outdoor party and camping. Temps in the mid 50's. In addition to the pig, we had excellent pickled shrimp, my jalapeno cheesy cornbread muffins, various sides and salads, and a selection of deserts. It was quite a meal. There were some new faces, and some old ones, and we all had drinks and talked story around the bonfire. The highlight was the Naked Virgin Foot Race, which was hilarious but not photo apropos. Aimee and I camped on the edge of Scott's long-leaf pine forest without the rain-fly on the tent and both slept wonderfully. We woke to the rooster's crow and a very persistent whip-poor-will. Scott worked his magic in the kitchen again with made-from-scratch biscuits and homemade sausage, eggs fresh out of the coop in the backyard, a big ol' tub of grits, homemade jams and apple butter, coffee, and macerated strawberries (Lydia deserves some credit for manning the grits). After breakfast we packed everything up and drove to the launch some 45 minutes away.
The river trip:
Another Magic Bus
We paddled section 10 of the South River, which ends on the Black. The put-in is off of Ennis Bridge Rd, and is familiar to me as the take-out from the previous section, which I've paddled twice now. The morning started off a little cool, but comfortable, and warmed up as the day wore on. Water levels were pretty high at 7.5', and this was manifest in the fairly swift current and the swollen look of the river. We were 16 folks on the water, which is a pretty big group, but we managed to hang together fairly well. About halfway in we found a little beach and took a break for lunch. At the end of the South River, the river braided out into swamp and was hard to follow, but we worked our way through and found the Black for the last few miles. All said we were about 5 hours gone and 13.4 miles covered. It's a lovely paddle through cypress forest with high banked and swamp sections, very green and pretty. The highlight for me was a barred owl that Brooke and I saw perched on a branch about 10' off the water. He wasn't the least bothered by our watching him from pretty close range. After snapping some pictures we just sat there staring at each other for several minutes. It was really amazing.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Geezer and I paddled down Shaken Creek today. We had plans to launch from the WB drawbridge and head N as far as the F8 bridge and then explore marsh creeks on the way back, but it was pretty blustery and the N wind chilled things down considerably. Given those conditions, it made more sense to paddle some blackwater instead, and Geez knows plenty of good ones. Shaken Creek was his suggestion, so we drove out of town and got to the launch at Old Maple Hill Rd just of NC Hwy 53 in Burgaw. It's a smallish creek bordering Holly Shelter Game Land, averaging about 15' wide (my guess), winding through cypress and pine woods until it fetters out into swamp. Due to recent rain, levels were up and we were able to get pretty far back in there. The only sign of humanity once you get away from the launch is the occasional old catfish line hanging on branches into the dark red water. Most of the way the banks are pretty high, which was wonderful help shielding us from the wind, and there are lots of pretty little mossy/grassy spots that make for good lunch stops. This is a perfect time of year for this sort of paddle because everything looks so fresh and green, but without being overgrown and thick, and the bugs and snakes probably get pretty thick back there in the summer. We saw two deer, a dead wild turkey, a couple of broadwinged hawks, and several prothonotary warblers (pictured above courtesy of the Smithsonian). There was a pretty good current flowing (we paddled upstream and then floated it back down), which given the smallish width of the creek and plenty of cypress knees for downed limbs and trees to snag, created a couple of spots that required some work to get through. It would be advisable to carry a small saw and some line to clear the worst of it. All said, great paddle.
After that I went to the Y to swim, my first time in a pool in a long time. The tri that I'm doing in less than 3 weeks begins with a 750 meter swim, which is over twice what I thought it would be when I volunteered to do this thing. It went pretty well, and I think I swam about 20 laps or so, which is 500 meters. Right now I have to stop and take short breaks on the walls at the end of every few laps. Hopefully I can build up my endurance to swim longer without needing the breaks. We'll see.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Wakulla is pronounced "wuh-KUH-luh," but Luke pronounced it "waw-KUL-luh." He was a great tour guide and had all kinds of funny stories and such. We're back home now and ready to fall back into our routine, which we have realized is one that we really love. I'm definitely going to have to make the most of Wilmington while I'm still here. Looking at another place made us realize how nice this place is and how good we have it.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
From the sinks we drove down to Sopchoppy for the 9th Annual Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival and partook in the festivities. There were lots of people milling around, eating food, listening to the live music, and checking out the sellers of crafts and goods. We bought a 5 lb bag of earthworm poo, which is apparently the best fertilizer in the world, we'll see. We got our official festival shirts and sampled some homemade hot pepper jam. The best booth we found, aside from the worm crap, housed a touch-tank filled with marine life. They had several species of sea star and sponges, horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, lighting whelk, channel whelk, banded tulips, the biggest Florida horse conch I've ever seen (estimated at over 100 years old), crowned conch, and sea cucumbers. The festival was a definite highlight of the trip. Worm grunting, holy crap that's authenticity at its finest. For more information on worm gruntin' and the festival, see the link below:
From the Worm Gruntin' Festival we drove down to the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast for a bit to Carrabelle, then back to Panacea and on to Tally. We stopped at one little white-sanded beach and walked a little. It was pretty, but there wasn't anything remotely like a rideable wave, which doesn't bode well for my surf habit. It was full day and we're wiped out. I got lots of photos, but I'll have to load them when we get back to Wilmington tomorrow night or later. Check back soon, pics to come, probably with minutia about the above as it comes back to me.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Aimee and I are in Tallahassee to see if we want to live here. We've got to choose between here and Eugene, Oregon. We were hoping that Tallahassee would blow us away and make the decision easy, but we're still riding the fence. Almost everyone we meet loves it, so that's a good sign, and there are several other bright points, among them paddling. I stopped into the local paddling shop, The Wilderness Way (www.thewildernessway.net), where I spoke to Georgia and Jesse to ply them for information about paddling in the area. I found them both friendly and informative. It looks like there are plenty of spring-fed and blackwater rivers in the region, and the Gulf of Mexico is an easy day trip. The birding should be fantastic. We'll have to get used to paddling with gators, which they reassured me was rather easy. Jesse recommended a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean market-eatery called The International House of Food. After a walk around Lake Ella and an exploratory house-hunting expedition this afternoon we swung by to grab dinner and it was amazing. It's a humble hole in the wall, and the owner/operator Hussein was as friendly as we were advised he would be. I had yellow chicken curry with basmati rice, a salad of diced tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers marinated in oil & vinegar & herbs, and toasted pitas. The chicken just fell apart, the curry was delicious, and the portions were large, all for under $8. What a find!
Tomorrow we're doing more neighborhood exploration, and either a nature walk in the Apalachicola National Forest, a trip to Wakulla Springs, or the Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival. Choices, choices. Perhaps some combination can be achieved. It would be tough to be anywhere near the worm festival and not get a "unique festival t-shirt." Unique indeed. More to come.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I also saw a little blue heron land nearby. From here we rounded the southern end of BI and paddled over to the marshes behind Bald Head Island. After one failed attempt through the marsh (where there were lots of turtles sticking their heads up), we found the right route into the big basin south of Zeke's. I never realized how fricking big that basin is. After paddling for eternity in 6" of water, we rounded Zeke's and paddled to the parking lot. The birding was quite good throughout the day. In addition to the hundreds of white ibis, I saw: ring-billed gull, laughing gull, herring gull, misc. tern (royal and/or caspian, and probably common), cormorant, pelican, great egret, snowy egret, little blue heron, tri-colored heron, american oystercatcher, willet, red-winged blackbird, grackle, osprey, turkey vulture, hooded merganser, common merganser, ruddy turnstone, yellowlegs, and misc. peeps. I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the idea. It was good. All told we covered about 14 miles, about six hours on the water. We enjoyed the falling tide on the trip out with no wind, and rode it back with a following wind on the return. It was a great trip with great people and I can't wait to get back out there again.