We’re in Key Largo, FL now! The cats have joined the adventure. Congratulations to my brother, sister and parents all buying new homes!
Quick and dirty: We left Marfa, TX and drove to Austin, TX where we spent a month (and maybe one day we’ll tell you about it). Then we left Austin, TX and went to New Orleans, LA for Jazz Fest (Alabama Shakes is what you need to know ’bout that). Then we went to Atlanta, GA for two nights so we could visit the Georgia Aquarium (which is amazing), on to North Carolina for about a month (during which we jetted out to Portland, OR for a fantastic wedding – congratulations, person!), Richmond, VA for another successful GlynnDig, then D.C. so Mo could fly to Macchu Piccu (all the things!). There to Hampton Roads, VA to do a bunch of house work with the family, some curly cues around Virginia that involved a bachelor party, a pig roast, and a music festival, before finally driving south to Key Largo, FL via St. Augustine, FL (because cats). Side note, really wanted to visit Ice Plant Bar in St. Augustine, but we didn’t have the time.
Going forward, if we actually document anything, there will be many aquatic adventures to follow. (We’ve already gone on six dives, and each subsequent dive just seems to get better and better. Thanks Ocean Divers!)
Mo and I grabbed a couple of inflatable stand up paddle boards (iSUPs) off the internets and took them on their maiden voyage yesterday. Key Largo, FL (and the Keys in general) has miles and miles (and miles and miles) of waterways to explore paddling. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park itself boasts “50 miles of natural mangrove wilderness trails.”
So like, Mo and I, basically, have no idea what we’re doing.
So I Googled some stuff, found some boards, found out we needed to have life jackets (and also a whistle) (and also a light(?) to signal to other vessels if its dark (?!) – but that we can’t leave the lights running because we’re not boats – so like, we have to see the other vessel, signal that we’re there so that they can move before they run us over, but not too long to signify that we’re motored craft, but again, early enough so that we don’t get run over… seems a silly game, but whatever Florida Fish & Game)
Okay, so we’ve got these inflatable boards (that smell like they’re made in a death factory, so, sorry, China), and we’ve got our life jackets (and whistle) (and light), where do we put in? Apparently just about anywhere? What about routes? Again, pretty much “don’t get run over by a cruise ship.” I found an area labelled “No Motor Zone,” so I figured, that probably means we won’t get hit by a jet ski, so let’s do that.
We drove south (or west) (I haven’t figured out what mile marker we’re at, but I know zero is Key West, FL which is southwest-ish) (so like, we drove –> that way) down to Harry Harris Park, parked and inflated our boards.
Inflating an iSUP is simultaneously no big deal and a very tiring pain in the ass. With nothing to compare against, I feel like the pumps that came with our iSUPs are pretty good. It is a nice little pre-workout to your paddlin’ though! All said, it takes less than 15 minutes from setup to inflated. Depending on the humidity level, that’s about – how many quarts are in a gallon? A lot of sweating. (Should I start rating my own jokes on the pre-publish read through? This is a solid 1.5/5. Enjoy!)
And then we were off! We just walked them in on the boat ramp, which was definitely an amateur move. The ramp was pretty slippery with algae, so we’ll probably avoid that again, but hey, nobody fell – we’re learning.
If you’ve never stand-up paddle boarded (is that the way you say it?), it’s not very easy the first time. This was not the first time for us, but the boards are a little different because they are not rigid boards; its also our first time in the ocean – maybe our first time on saltwater – the slightest bit of chop is a ton of movement in the water…
Holy sh*t, an Eagle Ray – we were in about 4 feet of water. It was not 5 minutes into the paddle. A beautiful, brown ray with white spots gliding off to my right. I loudly exclaimed “Holy sh*t , an Eagle Ray!” I scared it off… which was stupid on my part… but I was surprised! I’ve been on 80 dives and have never seen one!
Mo saw a few Southern Stingrays as we continued paddling north along the bank. Mangroves to our left and open ocean to our right. Other than one jet ski hanging out in the general vicinity of the boat ramp, we were all alone.
In addition to stingrays, we saw some herons fishing in the mangroves along our brief out and back. The weather was fantastic, the current was light, and the tide was lazily pushing us to shore. We couldn’t have asked for a better first time out.
It may sound strange, but the clouds here give the horizon wonderful magic and infinite depth – as does the rum.