We rented kayaks for the day from a guy who answered his phone by saying, “Are you from Bend, Oregon? I recognize your area code. I used to live there.” I had to sit down I was so surprised. Turns out Curly left Bend when the recession hit and moved to the Keys and opened a marina. We figured out that we knew many of the same people and it was so fun to talk to him. I had gotten his name the day before from a family at the RV park who had rented paddle boats from him. They said he was so nice and would bring the kayaks to us here at the RV park whenever we wanted. Well of course he’s nice, he’s from Oregon!
Dan and I went out first – the kids were still asleep! We hadn’t been in the Gulf water yet, so it was fun to see what was right on our doorstep. These kayaks were a lot longer than the ones we had rented before, and they would glide easier with a stroke. I want to buy one now and strap it on the top of, oh, well, uh, I’ll get one when we get home! It is almost as good as swimming and a great workout.
After the kids finally got up and ate a huge breakfast, we went out for a couple more hours. We headed north, into the wind, and went by the Dolphin Research Center first. They were doing a “show” and we could see the dolphins jump out of the water in response to the trainer’s whistle. We had been hearing that whistle for a month and it was even more annoying up close. We kept paddling north until we reached the bridge, probably two miles. When we turned around to head south, we barely had to paddle.
Eliza took this picture of me – smiling ear to ear because I am having so much fun. Why haven’t I been kayaking every day while we have been here?! (Oh, right, school.) The kids went in to rest then, and I kept going for another hour. There was so much to see!
Nate came back out for awhile and we explored the bay near the RV park. Another RV’er told us that there were trails through the trees, but we went down every finger, and couldn’t find a way through. We saw a lot of fish, but none that we wanted to catch.
I went out again on my own, and headed south. I am so glad I did! I had walked the other side of these homes in the neighborhood for a month now, and had I not seen them from the water, I never would have known how “alive” they were. They were all open to the water, with pools and huge boats and people laughing. It was 3 days after Christmas, and I could tell people were still celebrating. Now I understand why so many people like this area – it’s beautiful on the water side.
At 4:45, the kids and I headed out again to get in position for a good sunset picture. This picture is of Nate, easily sliding back into the water in our little marina. The dock had a notch in it, with a ramp that lowered into the water for easy access in or out of the water. One day and already he’s an expert! I told Dan I would paddle the river tube out and he could have a kayak, but he was tired and didn’t want to go out. I knew he’d worry about us the whole time, and I was right. He wasn’t comfortable with us out on the water as it got dark.
If we just kept going, we could reach the Mexico side of the Gulf…instead we paddled around for almost an hour, waiting for the sun to go down. We kept looking for the shark that the fisherman told us he released just before we went out again, but never saw it. Whew.
Eliza took this picture of Nate at sunset and I love it! It’s better than just a picture of the sun on it’s own. We looked for the green flash every time we watched a sunset while we were here, but only Dan ever saw it. Doesn’t matter. It’s still a great way to spend an evening!