Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Escape to Florida Part 6: I love you Florida Style

Day 6 of Florida Vacation was Valentines Day!

What better way to celebrate one's love for your spouse than to get in a small boat and take off into uncharted waters? Excellent!

Day 6 was all about kayaking mangrove forests on Caladesi Island State Park

To get there we were told we could drive to the residential neighborhood north of our motel and walk a couple of miles, which we tried to do, but there was no where to park. So we had to drive back across the causeway to the "mainland", north for 5 miles, and then west again to Honeymoon Island State Park.  Once there, the nice retired volunteer ticket booth lady told us it would be $14 for the ferry to the park and then $10 each park entrance fee.  Screw that. We backed out of Honeymoon Island and found an independent kayak rental joint on the causeway.

A lot of driving to get to nearly where we were.

 He was a one-man-show with nice kayaks.

But the catch was we'd have to paddle a lot farther than if we ferried to the island.  But, hey, Drew and Lucy like to do outdoor activities together, so Let's Go!

Clear shallow waters of the bay.
 The bay was so shallow in places we had to pole with our paddles. 
Lone Oak Point was home to herons. Protected sea grass habitat.
 Bucking a headwind, we eventually made it to the marina.

The marina at Caladesi Island State Park

 From there, we slid into the shady and unknown mangrove forest.
Instead of rock cairns marking the way, they have kayak trail signs!

Paddling the kayak trail.
We hit the trails at low tide. Notice the aerial roots.

 Here is  video of our boats sliding through the mangroves.

The roots that are growing up are called pneumatophores. These specialized aerial roots enable plants to breathe air in habitats that have waterlogged soil. The roots are negatively gravitropic, meaning they grow up and away from the ground.

We mostly paddled through the quiet shallow canopy of mangroves, but at some of the more open areas, we saw cool birds.
What bird is this?

See the bird!

 Disney was fine, but THIS is vacation! 

Tired and hungry with evening coming on, we popped out of the cover of the forest and realized we were quite far from home base.

After 3+ hours paddling through the trails, we still had to get back to the rental place.  The arrow in the pic above is not pointing to the dark strip of land, but rather to the very far off nubbins on the horizon. Zoiks.
Um, yeah. Whose idea was it to paddle from the causeway again?

The waters are shallow so a channel is dredged and signed.

FINALLY, after paddling a total of around seven miles, we reached shore, turned in our kayaks, and said good bye to friendly rental dude, Dave.

Dave was our friendly kayak dealer.

Eager to sit on a bar stool instead of a kayak, we found Dunedin Brewery. 
A great spot after a long day paddling.

The DJ was really into the music and was fun to listen to.
Is it OK to photobomb your wife's attempt to document life? I guess so if it is on Valentine's day.

We left tired, full, and happy.  A great Valentine's Day!

The next day we packed up and said goodbye to our friendly hoteliers, drove to the Tampa airport, and flew back to winter.  We will be back, Florida.

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