It is getting cold here in Virginia so I jumped at the chance to head to Florida with some friends for a few days during my New Year’s vacation. We drove down to the Gulf Coast to put our kayaks in the warm water and have a little fun before we have to settle in for a long, cold winter.
Crystal Springs was fabulous — our motel backed right up to the river. We enjoyed two glorious 75+ degree days on the water before heading back home. We saw several manatees, met lots of really nice people and photographed plenty of interesting birds. I christened my new boat in the Crystal and Salt Rivers, saw the infamous Three Sisters Springs, tried paddle boarding for the first time, enjoyed the local cuisine and laughed a lot!
Thanks to my men for my new kayak and paddle, and to Troy for use of his truck and for teaching us the proper way to secure our boats to the top of it. Also, thanks to my friends for such an awesome adventure and for use of their words and photos in this post.
Trip Journal from Guest Blogger Linda Byrd Masters…
Merchants Millpond – Gates County, NC
Merchants Millpond is a beautiful NC State Park, home to a 760 acre pond full of cypress trees and wildlife. We saw a small snake, lots of sunning turtles, blue dragonflies, frogs, fish, birds and an alligator.
I guess that learning to kayak in a water hole that has alligators in it is not the best idea.
The webite says they have 6 alligators in residence, the largest one about 9 feet long.
I think the one we saw was about 6 feet long, a rough estimate, since we didn’t get too close. She slapped a tree with her tail to let us know that we were indeed close enough, and we responded by turning in the opposite direction. We got along just fine. We named her “Ali.” The Park Ranger said we were lucky to see one this time of year. I agree.
Kayaking has been on my list for a while now. This year I decided it was about time I started tackling that list a little harder as I work on that “what do I want to be when I grow up?” thing.
My friends Linda and Paula volunteered to teach me the ins and outs of kayaking. The ins and out are the hard parts, by the way. Paddling was a piece of cake, and kayaks are built not to be tippy, so staying afloat was no biggie either. I am pretty agile in the water, pretty klutzy on land, so getting in and out was a little awkward, but the rest was gliding thru the water and feeling like I belonged there with the fishies. With a little practice, the ins and outs should be easier too. This is something I can see me doing a lot of… Good exercise, plenty of sunshine, gorgeous and serene surroundings, picnic lunch on the water, fab friends… an all around great experience. I can’t wait to go back!
(thanks to LB for use of her photos)
~ ~ ~
SIDE NOTE: My friend Leanne has the most amazing bucket list I’ve ever seen or heard of, and she makes great strides at living it. When you get a chance, check out her blog, Girl vs. the Bucket List. Her adventures range from flying on the trapeze to diving in the arctic to going to Comic-Con in costume. It’s a good read.