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.

DSCN1540

 

DSCN1521

 

DSCN1537

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…

 

 

 

The 5K Zombie Run 2016

Another year, another zombie run in Tampa!

Everything started off fine this year.  Happy faces all around.

zombieRunSmile.jpg

But then some of the runners started acting a little strange.  No offense, but people just weren’t looking all that healthy.  Myself included.  That’s what I get for wearing a dress to a run. How are you going to outrun zombies in a dress?  And so I became a zombie. So sad.

zombie run Collage

I’ve been lucky enough to run in the 5K Zombie run for years, but this was my first time as a zombie. OMG Fun.  Since my partner in crime was not allowed to run due to surgery a couple days before we switched from runners to zombies kind of last minute.  I mean, plus there were those bites.

Turns out being a zombie is AWESOME. Much more fun than it looks on The Walking Dead.  I didn’t even get an arrow to the head or anything.  Want to take it easy? Just stand dead center and moan about it.  Want to get rid of an excess of energy?  Well there are all those tasty looking humans to try to catch. Being a zombie can actually be MORE work than being a runner when a long wave of humans goes by!

Being on the zombie team was every bit as much adult recess as being a runner.  Maybe even more because you are hanging out with strangers trying to strategize about taking down the next horde of humans. Not to mention the extremely scientific discussions regarding why there aren’t more retired age zombies in the movies and why there really should be. Amongst other philosophical discussions while awaiting the next victims.

I got to say, we were pretty good at being the running dead.

IMG_20160319_094614.jpg

Want to try the zombie life?  Take a look and see where you can catch The 5K Zombie Run next! You’ll have to be in Florida though, because these runs are put on by a local Tampa company.

 

The Cider Press Cafe

Being vegetarian forever and vegan-curious for a couple of years when I first saw that The Cider Press Café was opening in St. Petersburg I was inappropriately excited to go try out their food.  Everything on their menu is raw vegan, which may sound more healthy than tasty, but that’s only if you haven’t tried it yet.

After eating at a couple of raw vegan places during a trip to North Carolina I was hooked and wanted to try The Cider Press Café even more, seeing how it’s about a thousand miles closer to home. So, of course, I did.

Cider Press Logo.png

I went the first time a few months ago and started with the Florida Roll – tamari infused watermelon ‘tuna’, mango, riced jicama, avocado; ginger, wasabi & tamari sauce. Sounds so strange, tasted so wonderful. This is the only one of their ‘starters’ I’ve tried but I want it again.  The problem with that is they have a few other items on their starter menu I really, really want to try too.  Cauliflower buffalo bites, coconut spring rolls…  everything either sound totally delicious or totally so far outside of anything I’ve tried that I HAVE TO try it.

I’ve tried a few of their main dishes (if you eat out with me you share with me) and my favorite two so far are the Garden Lasagna and The Three Amigos – spiced dehydrated corn tortillas (3), walnut-sweet potato picadillo, cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo, poblano cream, pickled jalapeños, corn maque choux. Heavenly.

For the record, the deserts are the bomb as well.  I tried the pineapple sorbet and will definitely be having that again.  The person I was un-guiltily stealing food from had key lime ice cream and there is no way you could go wrong with that choice either. And yes, I’m like that. The people at the tables next to me are lucky I didn’t try their food too.

Final piece of advice – drink the Pearly Pear –   it’s an apple & pear cider and seriously, what else is there to say about that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manatee Season!

You’ve probably seen news articles on all of the manatees at 3 Sister’s Springs, it seems that people everywhere I talk to have.  I’ve been up there a few times. Once I did the ‘swimming with manatees’ thing and the second time I rented a board from Manatee Paddleboard and wrote about what a great time we had on their tour.   But I never went when it was actually manatee season.  I think that is about October through the beginning of April.  In other words, when it’s cold enough you aren’t sure you want to be in the water.  Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

This time we brought our paddleboards instead of renting.  This way we could be on the water at sunrise, before the crowds.  We didn’t actually get there quite that early, but good enough. We were the first ones at the little park where you can put in your boards or kayaks. We had barely even started out before we saw our first bunch of manatees.

First manatees.jpg

Because manatees are gentle, trusting creatures and humans are human rules have been put in place to ensure that the manatees are kept safe and unstressed.  The springs themselves are closed at certain times because there are so many manatees in there it’s not really a good idea to add us humans to the mix as well.  We got there at low tide though, before the manatees were able to get in the 3 Sister’s part of the springs.  So we could go in, we just had to leave the boards outside of the area.  No one else had walked in yet when we got there so I got to take a couple of pictures of the springs completely unpopulated. What a beautiful place!

Lonely Springs.JPG

The main rule is that you are not allowed to chase or hassle the manatees.  However, if you stay in one place long enough they will very likely come up to you to check you out.  There are always rangers and tour guides there, they will ensure you know and follow the rules.  The great thing about this is they are a wealth of knowledge. Be sure to take the time to talk to the rangers because they seem to know just about everything about manatees and lots about some of the individual manatees that are there.  Pretty awesome. One thing I learned is manatees like bright nail polish.  Good to know!

Well hello.JPG

 

Manatee Collage.jpg

The only downfall of the bring your own board approach is I don’t have enough boards for the kids, and ever since they saw my pictures they have been wanting to go.  My son prefers kayaking anyways, so next time we’ll most likely be renting. April’s getting here awfully quickly, so I better get a move on to plan the next trip!

 

 

VMM13 Squash and Lentil Casserole

I haven’t done a vegan meatless Monday in a while, so I decided it’s time to get back to it.  I think the fact that Ben & Jerry’s now has 4 vegan ice creams INCLUDING CHUNKY MONKEY maybe got me motivated.  I am super excited to try those, but they aren’t yet in my area.  The guy at Whole Foods (I figured they were the best bet) said it could be about 2 months before it’s offered widespread and I may be able to find it.  Boo, but probably worth the wait!

Anyways, back to meatless Monday.  I couldn’t decide what to try and make today, but as it was 4:30 Sunday evening and I still had to figure it out and go grocery shopping, I voted for something quick and easy.  What’s quicker and easier than a casserole?  Decision made.

I thought squash sounded appropriate for January, and decided to add some beans to make it more of a main dish and less of a side dish. Being short on time I went with lentils as they don’t have to soak before cooking.  Plus, I really like lentils.

So lo and behold, spaghetti squash and lentil casserole was born.  And I have to say, is was pretty dang good and very comfort foody. Plus my two teenagers even liked it and you KNOW how teenagers are if you aren’t serving pizza.  My son even took a second helping and he’s one of those that would typically be going to try something, find out it’s vegan and change his mind.  My favorite thing to tell him is “You probably shouldn’t eat that apple (or whatever), it’s vegan”.

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 cups thin sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used the ones with basil, garlic and oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (heaping, of course)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 servings instant mashed potatoes (it’s what I had)

Start by cooking the lentils in the water.  Just bring them to a boil and then simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until they are tender.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, seed it, and put it in a dish with about an inch of water. Microwave until tender, 10 to 15 minutes and them scrape the flesh out into a large bowl.  As each thing (besides the mashed potatoes) is finished just throw it all into this bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Pan fry the onions, peppers, garlic and zucchini.  I don’t use oil for this, the onions put off enough liquid to get the job done.  When the onions are translucent and the zucchini is a bit tender add this to the big bowl.

DSCN1135.JPG

Cook the mashed potatoes according to the package directions.  I used Earth Balance butter(ish) and Rice Dream milk and they came out great.

Mix all ingredients except for the mashed potatoes in the bowl and then turn them out into a greased 3 quart casserole dish.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, and rough them up a bit so that they will get nice brown spots on them.

No need to cover, just put the casserole dish I the oven for half an hour and you are done.

DSCN1137.JPG

I have to admit, I used a lot of pans and it took a bit more time cooking from scratch and cutting all the veggies, but this was totally worth it and is going to be a part of our regular cold weather meals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perceptions

You already know by the mere fact that I live in Florida that I do not love the cold.  But I do find it fascinating how a place can look cold.  I don’t mean like covered in snow and sleet, a bit more subtle that that.  Take a look at this picture.

DSCN1006.JPG

With the blue sky reflecting off the water and the green little palms in the foreground I don’t think it looks cold at all.  But look again.

DSCN1011.JPG

This picture was taken from the same spot not even a minute later, I just took a couple of steps forward and turned slightly to the right.  To me, this picture looks like it was taken in a place that was very cold.  Which it was if you count Florida cold as cold (I do).

I don’t know why but I find it fascinating that just turning a slight bit can give you such a different perception of the world.  I can’t help but compare it to people’s mental perception.  Ever wonder why some people seem to be upset and offended by such tiny little things?  I know that I do.

I always try to chalk it up to the fact that everyone has a different view of the world which depends on their lives so far and I think a little on the attitude that they fall into the easiest.  The thing I try to remember is that both perceptions are real, both pictures reflect unaltered reality. It’s not even a matter of what people choose to see, because you don’t have any way of knowing what you would see if you chose to go a little to the left or a little more to the right.

I guess the moral of the story is there is always another way of looking at the same thing.  The next time you are talking to someone and the two of you just can’t see eye to eye, instead of trying to change the other person’s mind try seeing their point of view or at least a view a step or two to the side of your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Winter Blues

Here in Florida it’s currently 50 degrees out. It’s windy and my heater is broken. So sad, I know. I’d feel a lot worst for myself (and the other Foridians) if when I am working I wasn’t so often talking to people in negative degree temperatures, ice storms, and weather bad enough that they had to close the office.

But rest assured, I still feel bad for me. I haven’t been paddleboarding in weeks, and as windy as it is that’s not going to happen for a while even with a wet suit. So I decided to live vicariously through other’s Instagram pictures and share a couple of my favorite pictures I came across today.

I lived in Arizona for the vast majority of my life, but never saw the Grand Canyon or anything quite like this. It looks pretty amazing!

I finally went and saw the new Star Wars movie last weekend! But no words necessary for this pic. 🙂


How terrifying and awesome would this be? I would LOVE to have been there.

Paddle boarding into the sunset @joe_kennard #Thailand #sunset #paddleboarding #travel #kohtao #Beach #LivingInTheOcean

A post shared by Tom Rodgers (@tomrodgersstunts) on


This one I love because it is just everyday paddleboarding – it could have been taking here or anywhere on the water. Kind of magical, don’t you think?

It’s ON. Zombies and Colors.

So like 4 months ago I wrote a couple of posts about The 5K Zombie Run and out The 5K Color Blast.  They were both scheduled to happen November 14th at Lake Park. And then this:

201512565f09906286b

A sinkhole opened right near the entrance and the races (along with other events I don’t actually care about but other people do) had to be postponed until an evaluation could be done.  Said evaluation made it clear that the park had to be closed, indefinitely.  Hopefully they will be able to get the sinkhole fixed and re-open the park again soon.

But now, good news!  Both The 5K Zombie Run and The 5KColor Blast have been relocated and rescheduled for March 19th at Northwest Equestrian Park.  It’s just north of Citrus Park Mall, putting it very near where I work but I’ve never heard of it before.  I love finding new places!

Anyways, the timing is perfect for me.  I haven’t run consistently since the Spartan Race which was all the way back LAST February.  Sad, I know. Too many excuses to list, so I won’t.  But I am now over a string of random illnesses including a stupid stomach flu thing I think I am just over as of today, and positively jonesing to go for a run. Weird, I know.  The point is it’s been so long since I’ve done anything remotely like a workout that I decided to start all over with the Couch 2 5K plan again. I’m hoping to be able to skip ahead in it a bit. But seriously, I did a pretty mellow yoga routine the other day and stopped before it was done because I was tired.

But now, I have a goal!  I have zombies to avoid and colors to run through.  So March is perfect.

It seems they still have tickets available for the run, and not only for the Tampa run, both runs are also going to be held in Largo on February 27th!  Check out the races web sites for all of the details as far as times, registering, and bling.

The5kZombieRunLargo_2015_DSC_0156

 

The 5K Zombie Run Tampa

The 5K Color Blast Tampa

The 5K Zombie Run St/ Pete/Clearwater (Largo)

The 5K Color Blast St/ Pete/Clearwater (Largo)

 

 

If you didn’t sign up before, you should totally sign up now.  These runs are fun, casual, and fun. Plus it’s always cool to support locals.  You don’t have to be able to run a 5K to run one of these, you just need to run when you see zombies. Especially if you see them in The 5K Color Blast.  Just saying.  You never know.

bling

You should also follow them on Facebook, because not only can you get up to date info on all of their runs, they post funny stuff when they aren’t sad about sink holes and maybe wondering why they don’t live in California.  (Because every other natural disaster). Here’s the link to The 5K Color Blast’s Facebook and The 5K Zombie Run’s Facebook.

Welcome.

Consistantly Doing Nothing

Hello world!  It’s me again.

I’ve been totally off line for a long while due to a series of unfortunate events.  My computer broke about 2 months ago and I don’t have the funds to get a new one.  My colitis came back, I got bronchitis, I coughed so much I pulled a muscle all the way around my right side so it hurt to breathe, and I’ve been working enough hours to fill in all the time I haven’t been sleeping. Well, trying to sleep.

But all my ills are working themselves out and I finally broke down and decided to write on my work computer.  Ya, probably bad karma but maybe I paid it in advance? Let’s hope so.

Oh, then my eldest shot my air conditioner with a dart the other day (letting out ALL of the freon, look up how much THAT shit costs) so now that winter has finally hit Florida I can’t run the heater. Did I mention I’m a huge cold wimp? Hopefully I get it fixed before it gets hot again, at least in the cold you can pile on clothes and blankets.

But, there is always a bright side.  I went to the humane society 2 weekends ago and got 2 bunnies.  Ya, I know, priorities. Don’t judge, they were a gift.  Charlie (the white one) and Corona hate each other with a passion, this bonding thing is turning out to be a wee bit more complicated that expected.  But I went in tonight and low and behold:

20160113_195053[1]

Maybe, just maybe they won’t try to kill each other next time I let them meet without bars between them.  Or maybe they’re tricking me so they can get into round 2.  How would I know? At least they both get along with the cats and dogs.

So I’ve decided it’s time to stop moping about and time to get back to paddleboarding (if my wetsuit still fits), running and writing.  Plus I got a bicycle for Christmas and it’s about time I start using it!

So, here we go again….

🙂

 

 

 

 

Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting 2015 Review

The Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting was a REALLY good time. Just starting with that.
First and foremost – there WAS Brown Jug Bourbon Cream floats. And they were every bit as amazing as anticipated. They also had it mixed with coffee, which I could also live on. I actually went hunting at all of the open liquor stores near me trying to find a bottle to bring to Thanksgiving for floats, but I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so no luck. But I’ll keep looking!  🙂

The other winner of the night? Jim Beam Honey. It’s good enough to sip but also great in a hot toddy or mixed with lemonade. Yes, I did find out about those two after buying a bottle after the tasting. I have found a new go-to drink.

 

You want this. #BourbonandBrew #jackdanielshoney

A post shared by Kinda Zennish (@kindazennish) on

 

I cannot claim to be a country girl or to be a big listener of country music, but the bands were great and the music set the perfect vibe.  I even bought and wore a cowboy hat, special for the occasion. Now I am busy looking for more excuses to wear it.

 

Got my hat for the #BourbonandBrew tasting! #loveFL #Tampa

A post shared by Kinda Zennish (@kindazennish) on

 

I ran into my niece and her other half there, which made everything that much more fun.  The fact that we were at Armature Works on Tampa’s Riverwalk didn’t hurt either, we were able to grab a drink and sit beside the stage while looking out at the lights reflecting on the water.  You really can’t beat it.

I have to say, changing things up by making this a ‘tasting’ instead of a festival was a great idea.  It was fun to be able to try so many different bourbons and moonshines and really cool that I was able to find a couple of new favorites.