Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Surfing Year....ever

I cannot say why, but this year had more days than I can count of when there were waves and we made sure we were there...and that might be the reason by itself. This photo is from Sunday, 12/28/2014 and it was a day out of a dream. Sure the waves weren't perfect and the weather wasn't perfect...but, in December? A few days ago we were freezing our butts off and we were hoping the wind would just let up a little bit..and then, this. I had to go back and get more. I spent all day today surfing as well. The beach is packed, I assume that nobody is home up in New England right now, but who can blame these people! I mean, our summer days aren't this nice..
Another huge change was me finding out that I could ride a smaller paddleboard in waves, one that turns like a surfboard...the only downside to paddlesurfing in the bigger surf is if you get caught inside, you really get've never seen a mainic paddler like me when I'm just inside the outside break and on my knees paddling to get out when a set is coming in...I need video of That!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The 80's Hairband Pivot

It’s hard to believe where I am right now, writing this. It’s 8:30am, 45 degrees out and I’m sitting on a campstool in front of a fire in the woods. I know, I brought my laptop on a camping trip and I’m writing instead of exploring….but this trip has been MUCH stranger than that. First thing is, I’m in Anastasia State Park, in Saint Augustine, Florida, in the middle of December. What with my extreme amount of free time available to me recently, Ed’s Eco Adventures needed little excuse to go out and find the nature in Florida. I have been waiting and waiting for good weather and suddenly we have some. I didn’t expect a lot out of this trip, except that Pam wanted to see the Christmas lights in Saint Augustine and my Dad offered to loan his camper so we wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent in the cold. The Aliner camper is great and my truck pulled it like it was just a bigger kayak trailer. We took a leisurely drive up A1A, seeing beautiful glassy waves and occasional groups of surfers. We got into the campground and I was immediately amazed at how nice it was. A lot of privacy in our space and I backed that trailer right in like a pro..except Pam wanted it moved over 5 feet to the right, 15 minutes later, yelling and moving to and fro, I finally got the trailer right…next time she’s backing it up.. We had the perfect campsite for me: deep in the woods and yet only minutes from calm, serene blue waves, clear pristine sky and only a short drive from the scenic old town of Saint Augustine and a night of slowly walking hand in hand, thinking how far away we were from the rats-in-a-cage life of the city. Suddenly I heard, “Ayup, Test 1, Test, Test, Test” from what seemed like the PA system from a large outdoor concert arena. I’m going what the hell, is Woodstock next door? I then read the fine print on our campground paper that said we hope you don’t mind the occasional concerts at the amphitheater nearby. Then they started testing the drums, and then the guitar…dude, that guy was good at lead guitar. Next the band does a sound check with “Paradise City” and I realize, this is a very good cover band. I get on the smartphone to check this all out and sure enough, PaperCutt, a local 80’s lipstick and makeup band is performing at 8pm. Starts at 8pm?! When I’m out camping in the woods to get away from the city noise? Hmmmm… When confronted with this situation you: A) go buy some earplugs B) go complain to the management C) go to the concert and rock out D) none of the above There is only one correct answer, C. Pam and I became headbangers for the night. The band was great and I loved some of their over-the-top antics like repeatedly using a can of hairspray on their wigs, but the music was solid, good music, and the crowd just roared like an audience twice the size. We stayed for the first 3 encores and then went back to the camper and to sleep with the sound of the band performing one last rendition of “Paradise City”. And if that isn’t the definition of a Pivot, I’m not sure what is…..

Monday, December 15, 2014

Too Cold? Nah!

To cold to surf? Well, that is a relative thing, as I found out earlier this year in California. Saturday was a beautiful day, but it started out cold enough to keep us Floridians indoors..except for a few of us. I somehow convinced Pam and Carmen to take a trip to the beach. Even with the sun shining bright and the waves looking inviting, Carmen wasn't sure it was worth it, but once she was in, we were both getting some decent rides and having a good time. The best part is that we could both remember a few years ago, when Carmen was really getting into surfing, where she had to coax me out into a day of surfing in colder weather than this. That is what surfing buddies are for: to get you to go when inertia tells you how nice it would be to just pull the covers over your head a sleep a little bit more.
Pam cheered us on from the her bleacher seat on the beach and even complained that we didn't stay in the water long enough when we finally had enough. It was time to head to Our Deck Down Under, the little eatery under the South Daytona bridge.
The food is really good, and the view is better. In spite of all their efforts to keep the birds away, we had plenty of sea birds walking around our feet, looking for handouts. If you are a bird lover, it's an extra treat to come and see the variety of beggar birds we have in Florida. Speaking of that, for some reason, the sandpipers on the beach are getting very tame. While I was taking off my wetsuit, I about had two of them walking up on my feet. I merely looked at one and he came running up. For all of my travels, Florida is the birdiest state of all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Flager Beach And The Ill Wind

A Sunday trip up the east coast of Florida took us by wide expanses of beach with nobody but Kiteboarders out in the water. Overcast, cold and windy, this was not the normal nice day at the beach we seek, but for the kiters at Flagler pier, this must have been a great day, because I have never seen so many of them in one place before.
The way the sails were flying, I fully expected to see one of them thrown up into the parking lot. Up between Saint Augustine and Ormond there of plenty of small cafes and we stopped for a bit for a coffee. I saw at least 3 bands playing to empty parking lots and it truly changed my mind about the glamor of getting a band gig "on the beach". I'm going to head back this way on a nice sunny day just for comparison...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Fish From a Paddleboard!

I never thought it would be fresh water, and I never thought it would be in Lake Maitland, nor two fish in ten minutes. It was all a surprise today. I was out for the morning paddle and decided to bring along my cheapo shakespeare ultralight rod, which I'm pretty sure has never landed a single fish before this day. It was small and I had low expectations. I had a similar issue when I first started fishing from a kayak. You had to bring stuff, and you had to stop paddling to fish, and you really needed to put in somewhere near the place you wanted to fish. Today was totally random: overcast, cool, no wind, and me with nothing but 2 pound test line and a purple worm on a weedless hook. The funny thing was I was using a fishing technique from back when I was a kid; cast into the shallows and just let it sit there for a while, then slowly drag back in and see if something takes a swipe at it. The first fish took about 3 attempts before I hooked him, and the second fish I caught after I saw him splash and cast right on top of him. I was lucky they weren't larger bass, because my rod is so soft, that it was enough to get them in and get my camera out, while keeping the fish on the board and not falling Lake Maitland! The hardest place for me to fish, and I'm poor at freshwater fishing in general....but I'm working on that.