Tonight I’m exhausted and cranky. Maybe it’s because we’ve paddled 37 nautical miles in the last three days, since our layover day. Maybe it’s because today’s 11.4 nm paddle was in a fully loaded boat, after shopping at Winn-Dixie this morning, and it was mostly against the current. It could be that I stayed up late last night, fielding birthday phone calls and FB messages, and a Whatsapp business meeting with our Nicaraguan property manager. Hotels and electricity. You’d think last night’s comfort would’ve been relaxing.
We awoke to an absolutely flat sea and paddled back across Santa Rosa Sound to continue along Santa Rosa Island and the near-deserted stretch owned by Elgin Air Force Base.
The sun beat down on us. Wisps of Mares’ tail clouds hung above. Puffy, low-lying clouds formed a line above the homes along the mainland we’d just left.
We stopped for snacks. We stopped for lunch in dappled shade. We paddled on in silence. Hardly a soul about.
And then from below the sea a large black and white shape sprang upward, just a paddle’s length to my left, and broke through the surface. I screamed! And saw it was a loon. It screamed! Saw it was me, and dove.
We have seen so many loons on this trip. But this was the first time I’d ever made one scream. And vice-a-versa of course.
Once we passed the narrows and came upon the stretch of spoil islands created by channel dredging near Fort Walton, we were suddenly no longer alone. Pleasure boats and people dotted the island beaches. And it was there that we found tonight’s primitive camp. Along with bugs, as soon as the sun dipped low and the afternoon’s slight breeze died. Thus our bug suits.
We hear cars. And sirens. And dogs. And planes. And motor boats. John says it’s a beautiful night and the bugs have gone away. I’m in the tent writing. I guess I should go take a peak outside.
Tomorrow we’re taking a layover day. Let our bodies recover.
We are alive.
We are healthy.
We are adventurers.