Vacation Day 12..

Yesterday was Day 12.  I am almost caught up.

Day 12 was January 24, 2013.  I had been thinking about kayaking all week. It’s been breezy here in South Florida all week. I think when the weather is cold up north, the wind blows down here.  My two choices for kayaking were Key Largo (85 miles away) or Matlacha (120 miles away). Yes, I could have found kayaking in Fort Lauderdale or Miami and not driven the distances. In the end, I decided to drive to Matlacha to kayak. The company there Gulf Coast Kayaks does kayak fishing along with regular kayak rentals and eco tours.

I discovered that I needed to arrange a day in advance for a guide to go fishing. Since I did not know that, they gave me the kayak, a fishing pole, some hooks and some advice. I purchased live shrimp from the bait shop across the street. The owner loaned me a live bucket to keep the shrimp in. He just wanted it back when I was done, no charge. I ate a quick-lunch and headed out on the water.

The first spot I was told to fish in was near some crab pots about 150 yards off the shore. I anchored up and fished for about an hour or so. I caught a catfish and small skate (looks like a sting ray).  I moved the kayak a few times at the first stop, but I did not catch any “eating fish”. I moved about a quarter-mile away to some boat docks and tried tossing my shrimp under the pilings, no bites.

So I paddled across the bay to the mangroves and anchored up in the mouth of the mangrove cove. The bay and the sun were in front of me and the tide and wind were pushing the water in to the mangrove lagoon behind me. I figured there might be fish waiting for the tide to send them a meal, so I fished there.

I caught two Sheepshead. They could be eating fish if you wanted to eat them. They have small mouths and are very good at stealing your bait. I had fun. It was quiet, there was not much boat traffic and even though I was not catching many fish, they were biting at least.

I was unprepared for pictures since I left the timeshare without zip lock bags and the kayak company did not have a dry bag.  The kayak guy had a container with a screw on lid that I put my phone and car keys in. Water proof, not water tight. There were no problems with either my phone or the keys, they did stay dry. I shot a HD video with my camera phone. It is hosted on You Tube.  Click here to see the video.

After getting out of the kayak at sunset, I shot these picture of Matlacha. It’s a funky town. Enjoy!

Namaste

 

Vacation Day 11..

Yo ho, ho..  A pirates life for me..  I am now a bachelor in Florida.  My DW and DS3 went home to the frozen (sub-frozen) north yesterday.  Me, I’m getting the maximum return for my timeshare dollars by staying until Sunday.  Right.  Day 11 was January 23, 2013.

Today’s adventure was to travel to the Shark Valley National Park in the Everglades.  I read about the park in a guide to South Florida bike rides. That guide can be found here.  They have a company in the park the rents bikes and runs a tram tour for people that don’t want to ride a bike. The park is in the Everglades, next to an Indian reservation.  The park has a flat, 15 mile loop trail that takes you out into the Everglades. The mid-point of the ride is an observation tower that allows for a 360 degree viewing of the Everglades. 

All good ideas, when viewed on a webpage.  The drive from Weston is about an hour. Most of the drive is through the Everglades. The State of Florida is doing quite a bit of road work on Route 41 which added nearly 20 minutes to the drive. It also seems from the last two days of driving, that controlling the water in the Everglades is big business in Florida. Dikes, dams, canals, locks, pumps, bridges and construction are all evident visiting this area.

The bikes that they rent are steel frame, one speed, back pedal to brake, type bikes.  The tires are about three inches wide and suited for riding on the sand. The loop trail is paved for its entire length. There are alligators along the loop trail. Lots of alligators. More than you would care to see. And, they are not in cages and neither are you! The alligators were mostly placid during my visit. I would ride by them and say hello, they would ignore me. I would stop the bike every now and then and take some pictures, they would ignore me.

The devil of the ride was the 15 to 20 mph wind out of the north that blew straight down the loop trail on the 7 mile journey back to the parking lot from the observation tower. The breeze kept the temperature down (mid 70’s) but with the steel frame, fat tire, single speed bike, the ride back was a challenge. I really missed my own bike that day. And, for all my carrying on, I really enjoyed the visit.

Instead of heading back east through the construction on Route 41, I decided to continue west toward Naples and pick up I 75 and take that road home. I saw more of the Everglades than I thought existed. Trees, canals, birds, indian villages, and more construction. I was happy to get to I 75 since the speed limit is 70 and the traffic was light.

After I got back to the timeshare I bought some fresh ravioli and sauce for dinner. I took a dip in the hot tub, cooked dinner and called it a day.

Here are some pictures and a video from my visit to the Shark Valley National Park. Enjoy!

Namaste

Vacation Day 9..

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am catching up.

Day 9 was Monday, January 21, 2013. MLK Day here in the United States. That explains why there were so many kids at the beach in the middle of the day during the school year.  After breakfast I asked my DW and DS3 what they wanted to do with their last full day in Florida.  Tuesday (the next day) they had to go home. DW to work, DS3 to get ready to return to school for his spring semester. They both decided that they wanted to go to the beach. Fine with me.

We went to the beach in Hollywood, Florida.  They have a 3 or 4 mile long “boardwalk” along the beach front for shops and people. There is a bike lane for bike riders and skaters and such. You learn very quickly not to either walk in the bike lane or to look both ways when crossing the bike lane.

We played some frisbee on the beach, chasing the frisbee into the ocean until we were all pretty wet. It was breezy and maybe 76 degrees. Up north where we live, a cold snap had just started. The outside temperature in New Jersey was in the single digits. It was a good a day to be on the beach in South Florida.

We walked the boardwalk from one end to the other looking at the various shops and restaurants and decided on pizza for lunch. The funny thing is that DS3 picked the restaurant where we ate and my DW and I had eaten at the exact same restaurant last year when we went to the beach. I guess there was something about the business the appealed to both DS3 and me. The pizza was ok, I mean, you are in South Florida. If you want great pizza, this is not the place to look for it.

On the boardwalk there is a band shell where we have seen musicians perform while the primarily French-Canadians dance to the music. There are a lot of license plates from Canada on the cars parked at the various hotels. Many of the stores have bilingual signs (French and English) and staff. 

After our day at the beach we went home and showered and headed to a Brazilian restaurant. This is one of those places where they bring the meat on skewers and slice it at your table. We feasted big time. The meal was expensive, but everybody enjoyed the variety.

Here are a few pictures from the beach. Enjoy!

Namaste

Doing the Time Warp..

Not the dance, just an abbreviated overview of Days 6, 7 and 8. These were all lacrosse days. The reason, or excuse for traveling to Florida each January is to play in the Florida Lacrosse Classic.  I play on the OWU Men’s 45 plus team. This tournament has three age levels, 45 plus, 50 plus and 60 plus.  The 60 plus guys had two games this year. Most years they only play in one game. I guess there are more active players reaching the 60 plus bracket.

Friday, January 18 was Day 6. The 45 plus team played in four games that morning. Each game was 18 minute running time halves. We played at  8 am, 9 am, 10:30 am and 11:30 am. Wow!  So, you wanted to play lacrosse in Florida.  Welcome home, as it were. The 50 plus team played later in the day at 2 pm and 3:30 pm. I primarily played on the 45 plus team, but I did play some of the 50 plus games when the older guys needed a break.  The 45 plus team went 2 wins and 2 losses on Friday. The 50 plus team lost both of their games.  After we played there was a huge tailgate with red solo cups and much laughter.

Saturday, January 19 was Day 7.  The 50 plus team had a game in the morning that they lost. The 45 plus team played 2 games in the afternoon that we lost both of.  After the second 45 plus game/loss of the afternoon there was another lively tailgate in the parking lot.

Sunday, January 20 was Day 8 and the last day of the tournament.  The 45 plus team played at 9 am, winner would be in third place for the weekend. Looser, not really sure. We won a very close and spirited game against a team that had beat us on Saturday in a close game loss.  The 50 plus team’s final game was won by forfeit. The other team went home.. So, we got our entire team together, along with DS3 and some players from other teams and had a pick up game Sunday afternoon. DS3 was really happy to be able to play since he watched the old guys play all weekend.  Sunday night was the team dinner at the Carolina Ale House where we watched New England lose their football game.

There you go, three-days in 400 or so words.  The daily schedule for those three days was something like this: get up, breakfast was a sandwich from McDonald’s. Play lacrosse. Come home to timeshare, make a real breakfast. Take a nap, get up, play lacrosse, tailgate, cook dinner (or eat out) and go to bed. Repeat until the weekend is over.  All in all, for the weekend I played in 11 lacrosse games.  My DW and DS3 shot pictures of all the games, the tailgates and the sidelines. There are about 3000 pictures on my computer from the weekend. I will continue to go through them for content and clarity and then post them to the web.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend of lacrosse. Enjoy!

Namaste