Wednesday, 8 January 2014

You should give kayaking a try!

Our early morning alarm caller!
During our recent visit to the Gulf coast, we were having a walk round Lovers Key, a place we've visited on previous holidays. Along the way we came across a couple of ladies who were paddling a double sit on top and were having a breather on this sweltering hot day. They were excitedly telling us about manatees and dolphins they had seen before announcing "You should give kayaking a try, it's great!" We still don't know what was funnier, the fact that we should "give kayaking a try" or the thought of Hubby dear and me in a double! - I don't think so!
A bit further on, we saw our own manatees and ospreys.
The not so slow resident tortoises
White Egret
Belted Kingfisher
We hadn't planned on paddling this part of our holiday, that was to come on our next leg, down in the Everglades. We've paddled this area a good few times before and we were really looking forward to it. Unfortunately the US Government had other ideas! They were on shutdown. The whole of the Everglades is a National Park and was closed. You'd think it would be impossible to close such a vast area, but no, they managed! So no paddling for us there. We were only there a couple of nights anyway, long enough to have one of their fabulous grouper sandwiches washed down with an ice cold Bud.
A smiling local!
Blue Heron
Little Green Heron
Enjoying Grouper pieces and cold beer
Our next stop and final part was down to Key Largo, a wonderfully laid back area popular for diving, but as we still hadn't had our paddle, we had a little visit into Florida Bay Kayaks to put this right. Organised for the next day, we arrived back at the shop bright and early and was then taken over to Ocean side at Garden Cove where we launched, not in layers of thermals and drysuits like our previous paddle up on Skye, but just our cozzies, buoyancy aids and sun screen - bliss! We headed off round Rattlesnake Key, thankfully no rattlesnakes were spotted! We then cut across to Sound Point where we spotted Spiny Lobster in the mangrove roots. We cut right across Whitmore Bight to save a bit of time, we had to get to the bottom of Sound Point before lunch when the tide would change and it was still a good distance off as we hadn't been paddling fast, nosying around the mangroves. We passed Willie Point, then on past El Radabob Key where we paddled over a massive Eagle ray and made it to the bottom on time. We stopped on a small chain of islands for lunch and a wee snorkel with lovely little Butterfly fish before cutting back across to South Sound Creek where we passed over a nurse shark. Once back inside John Pennecamp park we had to make a bee line for ice cream which we guzzled whilst watching large iguanas wandering around folks sitting on the beach! We then cut through a channel back to the Gulf side only to meet another couple of paddlers just coming off the water. On finding out we were from Scotland, they asked if we knew of Gordon Brown. Their jaws almost dropped when we described the last time we were paddling.
Hubby dear crossing over to Rattlesnake Key
Lunch stop on our own wee island
Crystal clear water
Heading into Largo Sound
Green Iguana
Cutting through the channel

Next day, up bright and early again and off for a couple of dives. I was a bit nervous as we hadn't been diving since last year, I needn't have worried. We went with Key Largo dive centre who were superb! Just Hubby dear, our dive master and myself. We were out at Molasses reef where the water wasn't particularly deep, 35 and 40', but wonderfully clear. Lots of fishes, eels, corals and sponges. Quite surreal looking up through the clear blue water to see a Caribbean reef shark cruising past in one direction and a large ray drift past in the other direction, just like being in a giant marine tank!
About to be pushed in?

Last pic before the waterproof camera was no longer deemed waterproof!
Black racer

Colourful Red Cardinal
 Unfortunately holidays come to an end - just as the American government opened for business again. We did manage a walk through the now opened Everglades before getting back on the plane.
Wild Orchids

The End

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