Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Note To My Friends Up North

There are some drawbacks to living in Florida, but none of them were in effect today. That is unless you were hoping to wear your new winter coat.
I spent the earliest part of the day jogging and then paddleboarding around our lake. The sunrise and air temperature were awesome. The water is a little cold, but I think I might survive a fall into it. It's probably about as cold as the ocean in the summer in Los Angeles right now.
I then came to work and spent the day on my laptop, out in the Zen Garden, using some of the best WiFi around. Friends came by for a picnic lunch and by late afternoon it started getting cool enough to imagine the possible need for a longsleeve shirt later...maybe.

Yes, Christmas won't be white and in a few days it could be rainy and windy, but right now, I have a smile on my face that is hard to put away...

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Special Places

I love the outdoors and find myself to be a pretty earthy person. I pretty much am a skeptic and 'believe it when I see it'. I had something a few years ago and kind of altered that outlook a bit. I was in Hawaii on vacation with my wife and had managed to pick up a flu bug on the flight over. Out of the two weeks of vacation, I was pretty sick for half of it and a number of times we ventured out to hike and I couldn't do it. When I was finally feeling like I could handle a short hike, we took off on the Kalalau Trail on Kauai. It is one of the most beautiful bits of adventure I can remember. On one part, we took a little side trail and found a clearing, that to me made me think, "this is where they sacrifice virgins to the volcano". I half laughed, but I am pretty sure there is a contingent of worshipers of some sort that held services there. There was a hearth and fresh flowers on it and rocks arranged in a semi-circle around it. I found this one big stone and decided to sit for a minute and rest. I was sitting with my back to the mountain, facing the ocean below me in almost 180 degrees. The wind was blowing hard and cold, while the sun was bright and hot. As I sat there, I realized suddenly that I felt better than I had in days. I thought, the scenery is so pretty that it is making me feel good.
I related this event to my sister later, who actually is Pagan, and she told me I had stumbled upon a "Place of Power". There was something about magnetic fields, etc. I knew then, that I didn't actually care about the how or why, I just knew there were more of these and I wanted to find them. I have found 4 or 5 since, and nowdays, I make it part of my nature trips to see if one of these spots can be discovered.
Below is a photo of my wife on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the hike to the Petroglyphs. There were no marks for the spot, but you knew it when you found it....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Purchasing a Paddleboard

Paddleboards can be beautiful things, and even though I am very happy with my board, I continue to admire the new ones in surfshops.
The board I ride now is one of the least expensive boards you can buy, a JimmyStyx board from Costco. I have the Beaver model and was able to pick it up for $650 on a day that they were marking them down. That is the trick at Costco, trying to get one of the last few items when they mark them down. The normal price is $750 and even that is a great price for a fiberglass board with a bag, paddle and racks.
The racks were terrible and got tossed right away. The bag is a little big, but a bag like this costs over $100 anywhere you go. The paddle is basic, and if you get into paddleboarding, you will be buying something better very soon.
I have ridden this board for almost 2 years now, mostly on lakes, but plenty of time has been spent surfing with it. I replaced the fin with a 11" fin I had, and that made a big difference in my ability to catch waves. The only thing I would rather have is a tri-fin setup, which is what I use on a surfboard. It makes turning easier, but you still get the push for catching waves.
Bottom line: you don't have to spend $1600 to have fun paddleboarding. Seriously, this is one of those things where you just DO IT. I weigh about 193 on a good day, and the Beaver works just fine. Weight is definitely something to consider when selecting a board. I'd say too big beats too small every single time. Don't let a salesperson tell you how they know somebody that is 260 lbs and they have no problem on it. Know that if you are big compared to everyone you know, you want a bigger board than everyone else would get.
If you want to read more about my board and others like it, go to

Friday, November 8, 2013

You Never Know When It's Going To Happen

One of the attractions of surfing, probably what has kept me going my whole life, is that you never really know what any given trip will be like. Recently, we had a week at Cocoa Beach and it was a week of fun waves and weather. I was out every day, surfing until I had nothing left.
It could have easily been a week of rain or wind, or most likely in Florida, total flatness.

In fact, I haven't been back for 3 weeks because of bad weather. Even this weekend, we are expecting 25 mph winds and an ocean that looks like a soupbowl. Surfers have to take it when they can get it, and there are many stories of surfers getting jobs that allow them come and go with the swells.
One thing that helped me a lot for where we live, is having the paddleboard. Many days, the surf is too mushy with our sandbreaks and the paddleboard makes the difference. The volume and the ability to get exactly where I need to be, allows me to catch many more waves. The downside is the experience is not smooth as surfing, but it is close. My decision on what to ride is based on how deep the tide is, and the level of chop. Semi-choppy conditions make paddleboard surfing way more difficult for me and at that point, the surfboard is supreme.
The paddleboard excels in conditions where the outside is barely breaking and most surfers are unable to get into the wave until it gets to the inside.
Surfing in Florida means being ready for small mushy conditions, and you can find more and more surfers that have a longboard or paddleboard in their quiver. My last resort is a beach cruiser bicycle for those days when there is nothing to ride at all. A bit of flatwater paddling followed up by a nice ride up and down the beach on the bike makes up for the skunked feeling I used to get, where I just turned around and drove home, cursing the lack of surfable waves.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The View From The Pier

Although I'd much rather surf than watch, sometimes you got to eat and rest up. The Cocoa Beach Pier in Cocoa Beach, FL is a great place for just that.
The food is decent and I've never been unhappy with my experience there. My wife and I head out and chill for a bit, and the waves always seem to look better from that vantage point. In fact, from the surfcams around, the most likely place to find someone out in the water on a board, is right there at that pier. I'd say this place is what most of us think of when referring to surfing in Florida. It's not the best place to surf, it's not the best nor the worst crowd, but it is the place where you will never be alone in the lineup. This, the Cocoa Beach Surf Shop and Ron Jon's Surf Shop count as my main attractions in Cocoa Beach.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Getting Started

I love all things to do with water and nature. I'd have to say that over the years I have been drawn to sports that do not involve motors, but that doesn't seem to preclude riding in a boat to a great fishing spot, as long as I don't have to take care of the boat! Here, I will share the times I enjoy the most, the surprises, and the disappointments along the way...and job one for all of us is to stop and look at the beauty around us.
The photo above is from the day Janne Martinovic and I decided to kayak from Pine Island to Cayo Costa and back in one day. That was a major paddle. The normal thing to do is to paddle to Cayo Costa and spend the night and paddle back the next morning. We did both ways, stopping for lunch at Cabbage Key on the way back. That was a lot of fun.

the Last Thing I Needed the First Thing This Morning.

ahhh, nothing like it. Standing in the middle of the lake, nothing but oily glass and the sun just starting to light up the trees and the crystalline blue sky. A bird swoops to the water for his morning snack and all is as it should be...until my neighbor paddles into view, jabbering away on her bluetooth. I wonder just how many years us humans have been stopping and silently watching sunrises and sunsets. At the beach, I find it common to see people getting up, just to see the sunrise and then leave on to other things. I've been on the west coast, seeing folks with cameras, including myself, just hoping to capture the best sunset ever. Perhaps it is just a reminder that something wonderful happens every single day. One of the strangest sensations is while paddleboarding. Usually, I'm paddling around the edge of a lake. That is the most interesting place, where docks, people, dogs, and so many things seems to be happening, plus this is a way to measure how far you have gone. But...when it is sunrise time, I want to be right in the middle, surrounded by lots of water. I believe that I am trying to recreate a 'place of power', which is something I would have scoffed at 10 years ago, but I am changing my mind. What we sometimes can refer to as "breath-taking nature", can be places that have been used for centuries as a place to stop and think. I have found some of these places by accident and now seek them out. It is difficult to think that it can mean so much to me, while to another paddleboarder, it is just another place to do business....