Weeki Wachee

My daughter has been bugging me like crazy to take her paddleboarding.  That sounds like a no brainer, but I usually go super early in the morning, way before the rental places open and I usually don’t have to pay anything since I have a board.  Free is good for a favorite pastime, right?

But I love the fact that she’s interested in it so we decided to find place to rent boards and go a little later than usual.  My partner in crime and my daughter immediately conspired (this is a common thing, I can’t win) and after much Googling and mapping told me that Weeki Wachee is closer than my usual paddling site (Fred Howard Park) and they found a place that rents boards as early as 8 am.

What?

Weeki Wachee is the faraway land of mermaids, manatees and clear blue waters.  I always think of it as being in the same area as Crystal River, about an hour + drive from home, and a place where no one rents anything earlier than about 10.

Weeki 1

I couldn’t argue with that, so we reserved our boards and off we went to The Kayak Shack.  I gotta say, if you’re going to spend the money to rent boards this is the way to go.  They have plenty of stress free parking and really nice people working there (plus a couple of huge, gentle dogs that may or may not be part of the staff).  They load you up in a van and drop you and the boards off about 5.5 miles up the river.  You get on and can just drift/paddle down the river as you choose until you get back to the shack.  In the few places you have a choice of paddling left or right there are very clear signs letting you know which way to go.  If you are feeling lazy you can literally just drift the entire way.  If you don’t stop to get in the perfectly clear water (don’t be foolish, jump in!) you will get back in three to four hours with zero effort.  Don’t want be on the water that long?  Paddle and you’ll get there sooner.

If you prefer to bring your own board I was told there is a place nearby open to the public to put in, I’ll let you know where after we bring our boards up and find it.  Paddling upstream is quite a challenge in some places, so be certain to start off going upstream so that you can relax a bit on the way back.

Weeki 2

One thing to make note of – a few sections of the river are INFESTED with yellow biting flys.  These things are no joke.  We brought cream bug repellent and all of us look like we have chicken pocks on our legs and are occasionally still crazy itchy, especially after being in the heat.  Bring bug repellent SPRAY, not cream so that after playing in the water you can immediately spray more on.  I usually don’t use bug repellent but I was ready to drink the stuff it it would have helped.  After I got home I bought a bottle of extra DEET camping bug spray and a bottle of all natural stuff, next time I go I’m testing both and will let yo know if the natural stuff works.  Cross your fingers for the natural stuff working. Either way, this stuff is right up there with sun screen for must haves if you go paddling at Weeki Wachee.

Paddling this river is like paddling in paradise – clear blue water, huge fish swimming under you, the occasional manatee and scenery right out of a movie.  We even had a raccoon following us along for a few minutes!

If you get the opportunity you should definitely visit Weeki Wachi.  If paddleboarding isn’t your thing you can also rent canoes and kayaks, or go see the mermaids!  I have yet to see a mermaid…

 

 

Reload – 1 on 1 Firearms Instruction

When I was in my teens and early twenties I used to go target shooting with friends out in the desert.  We shot pop cans off rocks and that sort of thing. The gun was always handed to me loaded and then handed back after I was done.The only mention I remember about safety was to keep the butt of the rifle snug against your shoulder so you didn’t end up with a huge bruise from the recoil.

Recently my younger son  and I have toyed with the idea of going to a range and shooting (no deserts or wide open spaces in Florida!) but to be honest I was a little nervous about the idea as neither of us has a clue and so made the parental call that we would, but we both had to take a basic class first. And then we just sort of talked about it on random occasions for about a year.

Recently a new range opened in Tarpon Springs, Reload Quality Indoor Shooting Range so we decided to check it out.The place already has a ton of reviews, most of them outstanding.

They only offer a couple of types if classes right now because they are so new. One is the 1 on 1 firearms instruction which sounded perfect so we went ahead and signed up. I’ve never been to a gun range so I had no idea what to expect, except it would probably be loud.

Walking into ReLoad was kind of like walking into a big name running store.  It’s huge, clean, and full of aisles of things that you probably know all about if you’re into that kind of thing, but are otherwise interesting and totally worth looking at even if you know you don’t need any of this stuff.  They even have a big section of conceal carry purses.  I didn’t even know that was a thing. Wine purses on the other hand…

ReLoad

Anyways we signed the wavers on line and since we were a little early we sat at one of the the tables by the food place.  Yes, they have food.  It isn’t completely set up yet but the guy there said will be basically an extension of Shlomo’s Gourmet Subs and Deli in there. They’ll even have falafel sandwiches.  Who would have thought the time would come when I could go target shooting and have a great vegetarian meal under the same roof? I was already impressed before the class even started.

So the class starts in the training room with the instructor telling you the basic safety things to know, how to hold the gun, and answering any questions you have.  This part was fairly short and sweet, but there was no rushing and you had plenty of time to ask questions and make sure you understood how to hold the gun and such.  Which was actually a bit more step by step than I expected.

And you know what?  The one thing I thought I knew was wrong, because that place is quiet as can be.

Then on to the range.

Not quite so quiet, but still completely not intimidating. We did all jump at the first shot, but then it was just fun.  The instructor, Marci (I think), was amazing and stood next to us while we took turns shooting giving us tips and telling us how to do each step (I can totally load, and ReLoad a gun now) without once making myself or my son feel like we knew as little as we knew.  That’s pretty dang close to magic when you’re instructing a 14 year old.  Just saying.

Shooting Collage

 

So anyways, if you are near Tarpon Springs and have an interest in learning to shoot but are maybe a little intimidated, this is the place to go.  Check out their 1 on 1 classes, I really think they are a great idea for anyone new to the sport.  Is shooting a sport?  Maybe, my arms did get tired by the end of the night so…

 

 

 

 

 

100/100/3

I was exploring other blogs out there and stumbled across a girl who started a New Year’s challenge for herself to paddleboard 100 miles in 100 days.  A mile a day doesn’t sounds like much, but when you take into account the fact that it’s an activity that you can’t do on a daily basis, it’s weather reliant, and not actually all that close to the house it puts it into perspective a bit.

I liked the idea so much I decided to challenge myself to do the same.

I just started bicycling a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would be fun to bike 100 miles in that time too.  That’s something I can just go outside and do, as long as it isn’t lightening.  Fun!

Then I decided to sign up for the Dare Greatly Trail half marathons.   It’s 3 halves starting in December.  I mean, ya I’ve never run more than 4 miles and I haven’t run at all in a year, but what the heck, right?

I even made this great banner photo thing for my post.

Paddle_Bike_Run

Then I announced my super great plans to the boyfriend, aka partner in crime.  (AKA person I’m volunteering to do this with me.) And he used his stupid logic on me.  How many weeks in 100 days? About 14. So that’s less than 7.5 miles a trip.  Easy, right?  We usually paddle about 3 miles, what’s the difference?  Unless, of course, we skip a weekend which is a given considering 5 kids between us. Plus jobs that easily take 50 hours a week. Plus his other job and out frequent non-paddling adventures.  Hmmm, maybe not quite as easy as I thought.

The bike part really should be easy though, we tend to ride the trails near the house about twice a week so that part should be easy peasy. Heck I’ll ride around the block until I hit 100 miles if I have to.

The running, well that’s not a given and not something I’m great at being consistent about. But we have 7 months until the first half, so it’s probably doable. Right? Sure.

So the question is whether or not I should give it a go.  No point trying something you know for a fact you can’t do, but then how do you know if you don’t give it a try?

Any opinions? Are there 3 things that you enjoy doing so much that it would be fun to challenge yourself to do them a lot more than you currently are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paddling the Mangrove Trails

There is a kayak trail through the mangroves near the area I usually go paddleboarding, but the water is generally very low, resulting in a muddy stinky mess more than a path.  This weekend, however, the tide was really high and the path looked navigable so we tried it out.

I’ve been around Florida water enough to know that mangroves can have some fairly nasty creatures in them.  Crabs and spiders come to mind – always try and duck under branches, don’t let them touch your hair!  Not to sound too crazy girly, but seriously. Don’t.

Anyways, I kept an eye out and saw nothing.  We went down the path and though it got narrow enough that there was no turning around on a paddleboard it was really cool. For those of you who haven’t tried paddleboarding yet take my word for it when I say that trying to paddle when the board’s fin is in front is not an easy task, you really want to turn the board around to go back the way you came.  The board knows you are doing it wrong and constantly tries to turn itself around.

Anyways, the mangrove trail was beautiful and kind of mysterious and very cool.

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It is just as cool as you might think to paddle down a trail covered over by the trees, nice and shady and peaceful.  Paddle may be a strong word actually, because the trail got so narrow I kind if had to just push off branches to keep moving forward.  Fun, right? Oh hell ya, till I saw this.

One Crab

You know what’s a funny thing (not haha funny though)? Once you see one you see they are everywhere.  Kind of like when you buy a yellow car because no one else has one and then you see them at every red light.  But you can’t really connect with a crab like you can with a fellow driver.  Trust me. Or not, whatever.

So then I decided that I had paddled far enough down this path, and should go back to a bit more open water.  You know, the kind with sharks but no crabs.

Which is when I realized just how narrow the path actually was. Even when we found a place wide enough to turn around that meant going forward and back until you bumped the roots and made all the little creatures run about 8 times.  Good times.

I took the picture below of 1 crab. Got home and there where how many?

Crabs with arrows

Anyways, soon after we got back out on the bay we saw another tunnel to add to the list of things to check out, but breakfast was calling so that’ll be another trip.

Am I the only one totally creeped out by things that I know damn well can’t do a thing to me even if it did fall right on me?  Heaven forbid I ever look up and see a snake in the trees…