Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

slaying the water demon

Posted: December 23, 2010 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Holiday Season, Open Water Crossings
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The demon is dead.

In the Spring of 2008 Sean and I were leading a group to Anclote Key.  It was an overcast day and the water conditions were mild.  I was doing some stupid things on land the day before and when we were on the Key I slipped and twisted the wrong way getting lunch out of my stern hatch.  Not thinking anything of it we left the Key and headed back to the park.

Then it happened…I thought a bolt of lightning entered my back, zipped down into my left testicle exploding it, then wrapped around my left gluteus maximus, and pierced through my left knee.  I could not paddle anymore.  All I could do was lay on the back deck.  Thankfully I was paddling with experienced friends.  And they knew how to help me. The tow into land seemed to take forever (4+ miles).  After we got to the beach my friends lifted me out of my kayak.

The cause was simple as my doctor later explained…the disk was just counting down like a ticking time bomb and could have bulged at any time putting pressure on the nerve during a simple task like putting away laundry.  It was just a coincidence that the disk hit the nerve when I was in my kayak.

It has taken almost two years for me to work up the courage to paddle to Anclote Key.  And Sean and I did this past Tuesday.  Before we began the paddle we were greeted by an unexpected development.  As of the 22nd of November 2010 Pasco County is now charging a user parking fee!  It was only $2.  I have no problem with the fee as long as it is going to keep the park looking good.  And this park is always clean.

Some would say December in Florida is warm.  Well for us locals it is cold.  Look at how we were bundled up. LOL.

The paddle was great some small swells, and clear water.  The water has been cold, around 50’F.  And we saw the effects of the cold on some aquatic life.  We saw several dead catfish and one small shark.  I think it was a small hammer head, and Sean thinks it was a small Bonnethead shark.  It was about 3 feet long.

We got to the Key to see several raccoon tracks.  How they got on to this island is anyones guess because the mainland is about 4.5 miles away.   But the tracks were not the biggest interest for Sean he made a beeline for the one thing that is always welcoming.  The outhouse!  The Key gets a lot of use and to help keep the land clean the county put up this outhouse.   Surprisingly it does not have a pungent smell.

We had a good lunch and headed back to the park.  The last time I beached my kayak at the park I had to be picked up and carried into a car.  It was so nice to stand up and carry my kayak to the car.

Having a bad experience on the water always makes you respect your friends, gear, and training.  It is good to start the new year with a bad experience left dead on the beach.

-Jeff

Going with the flow…

Posted: July 1, 2010 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Florida Kayaking
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We are back doing trips in Florida! Russell at Sweetwater Kayaks has invited us to work for him in exposing the best parts of Florida kayaking to new paddlers.  And last weekend we plunged into the task.

As guides, Sean and I always have a plan B and C when we start out for a day of paddling.  Saturday June 26 we planed on taking two guests on a scenic trip on the Homassassa River.  We checked the weather forecast, we checked the tides, we checked our kit, but we failed to check one thing.  We did not check to see if any local events were occurring that day at our designated put in.

When we approached the road that led to the put in at Mac Rae’s we came to a stand still.  There was line of automobiles pulling powerboats that rivaled the worst 5pm rush hour traffic.  We talked to a few people along the road and discovered that we picked the wrong day to paddle this river.

The recreational harvest season for bay scallops in Florida opened 12 days early because of the Gulf oil spill.  The regular recreational bay scallop-harvesting season in Florida occurs from July 1 through September 10 each year.  And the 11th Anniversary Homosassa River 4th of July Party was scheduled for June 26th.

Therefore, we had two major things happening at that boat ramp.  If it were just Sean and I, we would have stayed at the boat ramp.  I could tell that there were many good things to eat, drink, and the live band was rocking.  However, we were on a mission to show two guests some of the best wildlife that these Florida Rivers have to offer.  Granted, the life at MacRae’s was wild!

We decided to go paddle on Crystal River and put in at Hunters Spring Park.  The last time we were on Crystal it was Feb. 11, 2007.  The park is  located near the center of Crystal River’s historical district.  It is also the only sandy beach located on the Crystal River.

After getting on the water I noticed that there was more powerboat on Crystal than in the past. The boats were not moving on the river.  They were all rafted up next to the no motor zones, manatee zones, and bird sanctuaries.  All that boat and going no were.  I guess they were collectively keeping their carbon footprints down…

Well, we paddled past the human wildlife to discover the things that we take for granted.  We saw a few manatees, and birds.  But the nicest thing was traveling up some small feeder creeks that are not easily accessible by boats with engines.

Sean treated us to a large lunch.  We ate homemade style fried chicken, beans, potato salad, and washed it down with ice tea.  Yum.  It was a filling meal.

We took our time getting back to the boat launch.  The beach at Hunters Spring Park is well loved by its locals.  So we took our time looking for an opening to land and get out of the kayaks.

It was a nice day and a great start in getting back to taking guests on trips again. – Jeff

Everyone has an opinion and a choice.  Even turning a blind eye towards a problem, putting fingers in the ears, or pointing a finger at someone else is a choice.  Currently there are researchers doing studies on tar balls that are washing up in the Florida Keys.  It does not mater if this pollution is from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill or if it is from another part of the hemisphere.  This type of pollution can float around long after I have lived a long life.  The question I pose is…are people willing to make the hard environmental choice and accept the consequences?

Everyone who uses products that are the byproduct of oil is responsible for the lasting effects on the environment.  Everyone who consumes products transported is responsible.  In other words, unless a person lives off the grid, only walks, wear clothing made from organic materials grown in their own backyard, they are responsible for tar balls washing up on Florida beaches.  But let us be realistic to turn back the clock 150 years is NUTS.

My choice is to try to do my part to help make it a reality that in 150 years the need for oil will be outdated.  If people fail to make this a reality our beaches will have a new futuristic look.  Beaches in the year 2160 maybe devoid of sand and jellyfish and be comprised of plastic fragments and balls of tar.  I just can do my best in limiting my environmental impact.  And maybe my children’s, children’s, children’s, children’s, children will say that their great-great-great-great-grandpa did his best to make their environment clean.

-Jeff

Koreshan Camping/Paddle Trip!!

Posted: October 24, 2009 by Sean Fitzgibbon in Florida Kayaking, Trips
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Hi Paddlers,

    Well just got back from the area of Estero,Florida. What a cool area to camp and paddle. The Park Rangers were very nice and did not even give us a hard time bout nothing!!  This is an update from a small heads up posting I did last week. What follows is a brief summary of the trip and what happened while the group was there. Also some brief history on one of the weirdest state parks I have personally ever been to!

    The trip started on Friday morning, Oct. 16th. I met KayakKev and KayakPeggy at Peggys’ house around 9:30 a.m. After some minor packing and loading our 3 kayaks on the MOOSE- (our affectionate name for Kevins’ LARGE Ford Truck with giant Thule Hull-a vator roof racks), we headed to get the trailer. After grabbing the trailer- which by the way looked darn good with its new highspeed wax job, we were headed south on Interstate 75; headed toward Ft. Myers. After about 2 hours and 40 minutes of smooth driving, we got off on our exit and headed straight for our campsite(#15) at Koreshan State Park! Upon arrival we met up with Judy and Roy- who by Saturday morning had had enough of the rain and packed up and left early. More about that later. Kevin & I set up the trailer and camp as quick as possible, while Peggy started warming up dinner- my wife Shellys’ famous Cuban Picadillo. Did I mention I also had to rush to set up my tent!!

    The rest of Friday night was pretty typical of a night around the camp. Then the 1st COLD FRONT of the year came through and it POURED ALL NIGHT!!!! Luckily my 9 year old tent did not leak one bit. I was up about every hour thinking the GREAT FLOOD was going to start any minute. In the morning to my amazement some other paddlers had come in, they were: Sandy & her husband Bob, Katy, Grayson, John, Carol, Kathy & Jim. Sandy and Bobs’ tent leaked in the deluge of water, although they looked as though it had not phased them. After sending Judy & Roy off, we all decided to go for a paddle up the Estero River. What a beautiful South Florida river this was with many airplants in the trees and an exotic feel about it. The rain had stopped and we all enjoyed our day on the water. Hope to paddle more of this area at a later time. As we paddled,  Sandy and I talked about how we both would swear a babbling creek was running through our campsites the night before!!!!!! When we returned to the boat launch I gave a brief demo of self rescue techniques, despite the signs warning of BIG Alligators!!!!(I personally never saw one) BUT, I know for a fact Katy was looking for them!!!!

    Later on Saturday night we did a potluck kinda dinner, although Kev, Peggy, & I did opt for our own meal, (Peggy-it was delicious). It was during the food prep that Bob asked me about Beam Seas( side waves) coming at the boat and how to handle them. As I began to explain, he was pouring about 20 Gallons of LIGHTER FLUID in a Habachi grill & threw the match- WOOOMMPPFF!!!! The 8 foot fireball that flew out caused Bob to lean away from the Inferno! AH HA, I exclaimed “Lean AWAY from the FIRE, and Lean INTO the WAVES!”.

“What a great way to remember that!”, Bob said. That became the Mantra of the rest of the trip! Later on Sat. night the group went for a late night nature hike. I decided to try to scare them. Here I am wondering around in all black, when I finally jumped out to scare someone; I tripped on a root and landed in the middle of the path flat on my back laughing like a FOOL! All of the sudden there was a bright light over me and Grayson says, “Hi Sean.” Too Fricken FUNNY!!

    Sunday was spent touring the Koreshan Settlement and relaxing around the camp with my Buddies! Monday was pack up day- and the dreaded arrival back in civilization! All in all what a great weekend with GOOD PEOPLE!! Thank You to all who were there and I hope we can all do it again sometime!! KayakKev & KayakPeggy I Love You Guys!! Last but not least we really missed Sue, Karen, Dan & of course my Jeffie!! 

    This state park was sold to the state by the Koreshan Unity- a religious cult from the late 1800’s till approx. the early 1960’s. They believed the world was on the inside of a sphere, and were led by Dr. Cyrus Teed, who was knocked out by high voltage electricity and claimed to have been approached by male/female GOD telling him that he was the Messiah and to start the Utopian city of New Jerusalem in Estero, Fl. I do have appreciation for his right to freedom of religion from persecution. BUT, could not help thinking– What a Wack Job and the closeness of his religion name to a certain other Wack Job from WACO, Texas……… David Koresh.   Hmmmm makes one think doesn’ t it!!

                                                                                           – Sea Turtle Sean

I almost forgot to mention: Robert the awesome dude fishing at the boat ramp who watched my yak when I went to get the bike trailer. Also our neighbors in site 14:  Keith and Maria who I would like to Thank for the Gumbo Limbo firewood & Great Conversation!! I hope to hear from you all soon!!