Monday, April 25, 2016

Salt Springs, FL: Escape From City Life, Almost

Ahhh...camping in Florida in April. A mere 90 minute drive from the crazed traffic of Orlando to the middle of the Ocala National Forest you find yourself with no cellphone service and more than 30 miles to the nearest Walmart. You may expect a starry night around the campfire and the chance to fall asleep to the sound of crickets chirping...well, it is something like that.
First thing, I had to turn this into an adventure and made that drive almost two hours longer by going to Sunglow Pier in South Daytona Beach and driving A1A up to Flagler pier. That is my favorite stretch of road in Florida. I looked at some pretty messy waves until I got up near Flagler and then saw enough surfers that I had to give it a shot. It was a tough paddleboard day, lots of whitewater, short wave interval, and bumpy waves. It was fun and difficult and 45 minutes of that was all I needed.
I then drove the final half of the journey to meet up with my brothers at Salt Springs. This year, we got a very nice spot to camp in. At Salt Springs, you need to carefully select your campsite or you find yourself in the middle of a field with no trees in the blazing sun. This time we got the trees...and then it rained. This is the first trip I've been rained on, and it was bad enough that we drove the 35 miles to Palatka to eat at Sonny's because it was pouring too hard to cook.
Fortunately, my tent turned out to be fairly waterproof and the only other issue with nature were the few ticks I found crawling up my legs....seeing that was enough to make me get up and dance like never before.
Saturday was nothing like Friday. It was a beautiful day of hiking, sun, snorkeling in the Springs and cooking way too much meat for meals. In fact, it usually takes me a week to detox from our camping trips.
Actually, most of the time is spent talking politics, movies, the good old days, our jobs, and the world in general. My new thing of sleeping with a CPAP machine has definitely made a difference because I am now offically not the first one to go to bed. On the flip side, I can still remember laying in my sleeping bag at 12am in the morning, listening to an Airboat with a V8 and no mufflers roaring around the big lake...I sure hope they found some alligators, I'm telling you it was worse than sleeping next to a biker bar at closing time.

The water temp was awesome and it is well worth bringing your mask and snorkel...just bring earplugs if you plan on sleeping there!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Building a Kayak Trailer From A Kit

I just finished assembling my first big deal kayak trailer and I feel pretty good about it. I saved about $600 doing it this way. The one thing I forgot about was cheering too soon about avoiding sales tax by buying it online...They got me at the tag office anyway...arrrrgh.
This project was a Yakima Rack N Roll, which is a lot of money to lay out for something that comes in a box but it was pretty easy to assemble, assuming that you have some metric sockets and wrenches.

I've actually built a trailer from a kit before, but it was an inexpensive galvanized canoe trailer from eTrailer. It was a great trailer, very hard work putting it together and it lasted for many years. I did have to go to a metal shop and get a reinforcing beam for it that added $150 to the inexpensive price, so I decided this time to buy something quality that was super light for my little car.
The Yakima rack filled that very well and I'm getting ready for my first trip with it soon. Even with the large expense and quality components, mine arrived with 2 defects: a broken light lens, and a stripped nut...a critical nut. I was able to replace the nut with something similar from the local hardware store for $4, and Yakima quickly sent me a replacement lens.
I now feel like I know a lot about my trailer and how well it is put together....would I recommend this project to a friend? the extra money, let somebody else deal with the missing/broken parts, and let them handle the warranty stuff. However, if you are in a place where you have no choice but buying one online, I really liked the service I got from

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finally Survived A Left!

One of the really cool things you can do while paddlesurfing is to ride a wave, get off the wave at the right time and paddle right back out to look for another wave. You save a lot of energy and it looks pretty tight. I got this down about a year ago, but was never able to pull the maneuver off going left (backside). I'm not sure what it is, but most surfers find that doing anything backside is more difficult. Even better than being able to ride a left and get off the wave without "dismounting" is getting it on video. The video here was taken last week and the first wave shows what normally happens and the second wave shows me looking like doing it was no problem at all.
The biggest downer about GoPro footage, is that you feel you were doing something awesome and it just looks OK when you watch the video. However that does make me think about what most be going through the minds of guys riding those 75 foot waves. If it looks that big to me watching, I can't even imagine what it must feel like in the moment. Anyway, I have a pretty good idea of what it's going to look like now when I take the GoPro and don't have huge expectations. It is nice to document the first time you get something right!