Mashes Sands County Park: Day 30, Florida CT Paddle 3.14.18

Dear Reader,

We awoke to another cold, dark morning. Since John and I recently crossed into Eastern Standard Time and more recently switched over to Daylight Savings Time, our internal clocks are about two hours off. Since when is sunrise supposed to be at the ungodly late hour of 7:48 am? And with temps then still hovering in the 30s, how is anyone in a tent supposed to get up at a decent hour? We feel like shameful, freezing sloths before our eyelids even fully open. Not inspiring by any means.

John dutifully lit our stove out on the picnic table and heated water for our coffee and then we both hightailed it into Holiday Campground’s relatively warmer recreation center to drink our morning java. By jove, we were going to get our $44’s worth! And there I ate my cold leftover Shrimp Alfredo and John devoured the breakfast sandwich he ran to the nearby gas station convenience store to buy. He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it was too dang cold for him to cook breakfast and that one cup of coffee was as good as it was going to get.

Needless to say, after a night sleeping sandwiched between two large campers whose gas furnaces roared all night like an oncoming train, John snd I were a bit cranky. What’s with this cold weather anyway?!

Plus, right before bed last night I noticed that birds had shit all over our tent!

But the wind was supposed to be minimal, which was good since as soon as we round the point at Marsh Sands Park and leave Ocklockonee Bay heading north, we’d be leaving the protected waters we’ve been traveling in since we began this trip thirty days ago, and heading straight out into the Gulf.

A fellow Holiday Campground camper, wearing a plaid shirt and walking his poodle dog, said, “I can think of a lot of things to do with my retirement, and what you’re doing with your’s ain’t one of them.”

The tide had dropped so we pulled our boats out in the ankle-deep mud to load, stepping gingerly around the jellyfish.

Could we have current in our favor for once? No. And where did this sudden, brisk, northeast wind come from?

Two and a half miles later, after working our way around exposed oyster beds and sand bars while trying to hug the northern shore so as not to get blown southward, but while also not running aground, we arrived near the point at Mashes Sands Park and got out to stretch our legs on the beach before a pier. We walked out the wooden pier to take a peak around the corner.

Whitecaps. Big whitecaps. As far as the eye could see. We rechecked our wind app, and sure enough the wind was NE 20 knots.

For a second my eyes welled with tears. Could Mr. Plaidshirt Poodledog Man be right? Between the cold and the current and now again the wind, I felt so discouraged.

But what on earth could be cooler for us to do than this?!

So what if we’re as slow as molasses? And sometimes we’re cold. And we piss in our boats.

We lined our boats under the pier and up a teeny tidal river. We might as well enjoy a beach day. Even if it is only 57 degrees.

The shorebirds and gulls and egrets and pelicans alone were incredible.

So, yes dear reader, we stayed.

And watched the tide come up and cover the sand bar. And watched the tide recede. With all the attendant and glorious birds that spend their days and nights, low tides and high, right here.

Why be bummed that we can’t speed on to the next destination? Why not be like the birds and just be here now?

At 5:00 pm I was finally warm enough to take off my paddling jacket. I set up the tent and John cooked dinner. Then I washed the dishes…with some friends.

Tomorrow calls for light and variable winds. Hooray!

And a freeze warning for around breakfast time tomorrow.

Hear that, John?

We are alive.

We are healthy.

We are adventurers.


Cheers, Susana


  1. Richard Wood says:

    Totally understand. Took me 3 tries before I could get across Apalachee Bay. Finally did it east to west at another date and in the afternoon the winds came up. Rough going. I think the worst part is the paddle from marshes sands to the lighthouse. Hope that water lays down for you.

    1. susanafield says:

      Well, it was a wet ride but we got across today. I’m about to write today’s blog.

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