I am, uncharacteristically, writing to you in the morning. At least the opening part of today’s post anyway. John and I are still at our campsite, and I am still in our tent, while we wait for the current to switch from ebb to flood and hopefully help us during our paddle. We only have about 7 – 8 nms of paddling today, which should take us maybe 3 hours or less of paddling, depending on the current and successful navigating. We’re meeting my sister, Tania, at her friend’s house at MacRae’s Fish Camp in Homosassa this afternoon, so we should have plenty of time (to get lost and found and tired and ecstatic, all in a day’s work).
We have big news to share. We have decided to end the trail for this year in Homosassa, so today will be our (and Miss Pink and Baby Blue’s) last day paddling until we pick up again here in early January.
Ok, how many of you saw this news coming? Did my lamenting recently about how tired we are and how much work is involved, give it away?
We’ll have paddled half way to our original goal of Key West for this paddling season. Which means goals can be deceiving. Well, to be sure, goals are definitely necessary and useful and laudable. But if your goal involves something you haven’t done before (in our case, paddled the Florida CT) and it’s in an environment you’re not familiar with (for us, Florida with its marshes, swamps, heat, bugs and winds), and you need to be conservative (we’re in our 60s and not budding, young athletes after all) and aren’t in a rush (retired), well then goals are a good target but they’re also an unrealistic and lousy whip.
We aimed for three months (Jan -March) but got a six-week late start because of the cold. Adjustment #1. So we blindly recalibrated our paddle time to be mid-February to mid-May. Well, what we’ve read is that the recommended paddling season is through March and maybe into early April. We now know it’s with good reason. It’s starting to get hot and the sun beating on us from above and reflected back on to us from below, takes it out of us. At camp too. We didn’t think that one through when we just pushed our dates back six weeks. Our lame thinking probably just figured that if it was colder in January than normal, then ditto for the following months as well. Actually, the cool weather has been wonderful for paddling. No complaints there. But it’s getting hot now.
So there’s that.
Then our 25-year-old son, Cliff, is closing on the purchase of his home in Durango, Colorado, at the end of the month and he’d love us to be there for it. (Does that surprise you? It surprised me – that he’d want us there for the closing.) But also to help him build shelves for gear and pulleys for boats in his garage and storage room as soon as he closes and before his roommates move in.
When John and I sold our home in Colorado in 2016, we negotiated the free, exclusive use of the 24 X 30 barn John had built a couple of years before, until the summer of 2018. We needed the barn for the storage of everything we’d pared down to (mostly boats: kayaks, canoes, IKs, a raft, a Grand Canyon Whitewater Wooden Dory, but also a few bikes, skis, snowshoes, a ton of tools, and some household items, family memorabilia and art). I picked the deadline of the summer of 2018 thinking it would give Cliff time to graduate (done – Dec 2017), get a good paying job (done – Jan 2018), and buy a house with a garage for storage (to be done, late April 2018). Surprisingly, unlike our Florida CT schedule, our ability to move-out-of-the barn date is now a couple of months ahead of schedule.
Night before last, Cliff called us, saying the home inspection looked good and all systems are a go for closing this month. And he wants us there for the closing. And to build shelving for our stuff. Fair enough.
So, there’s that too.
And that’s a big one.
But closing still is three weeks away, so why not stay on the CT a week or two longer?
Logistically, Homosassa is a great place for us to quit, and to start our Florida CT paddle up again next year, with Tania’s friend living in Homosassa and Tania, herself, living just a two-hour drive away. We’ll be storing Miss Pink and Baby Blue at Tania’s, or at my brother Rick’s, until next winter. And then renting a car to get back to our truck camper at my dad’s in Orange Beach.
We’ve been doing our trip self-supported, without a support team that follows along, other than Rick who met us in Carrabelle with some gear and my dad and Sara who’ve mailed us our resupply boxes, and now Tania meeting us in Homosassa. It’s silly to pass up the support of a family member here, now, with a car, for the sake of making it a week further down the trail.
Our minds have started to shift over to garage storage design, which isn’t far fetched since we owned and operated a custom closet company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for 13 years – during the McMansion housing boom heyday there, right before the late 2007 crash.
Time to go.
And speaking of which, it’s time to pack our boats and get on the water. Let’s do this thing!
We did get lost. Briefly. And then got found. We watched four bald eagles attack an osprey until the osprey got away.
The tide and current and wind were not, after all, in our favor. What else is new, right?
I spoke to another CT paddler today who’s from this local area. He said the cold and the winds have been exceptionally greater this winter.
Good to know.
He also said another paddler went to Uncle Tom’s Island last week to camp, which is where we’d hoped to camp last night but couldn’t access due to low tide, but was chased away by wild boars and their piglets. Hmm. Good thing the tide was too low for us, huh?
Mangroves moving in on the grasses.
Flowering cacti on top of oysters.
Marked poles, thankfully, suddenly, guiding our way.
Ospreys who don’t mind the jet sound of air boats but don’t like kayakers.
And then 7.88 nm later, cranky and hungry and thirsty, we pulled up to Kathy’s plantation home at MacRae’s in Homosassa. And unloaded Miss Pink and Baby Blue for the last time for a few months.
We are alive.
We are healthy.