April 2, 2015 Key Largo, Florida
The Paddle the Mitten SUP rig, Gretchen in the driver’s seat and Miss 1964 Mitty Kitty in Key Largo.
Erin and I in Chatanooga at the Choo-choo.
I finally figured out that being a SUP Snowbird is the life for me. Not only have I practiced my skills, met new SUP community members and been completely healthier this winter in Florida, but I’ve scouted some great places to take clients for next February and March! My winter started out by having the road trip of a lifetime with Mitten Kitten, Erin from Santa Cruz, California.
We started out on the worse day of the year, January 3rd. It was snowing, freezing rain, sleeting and at one point maybe raining and then back to freezing. Nothing like driving a “rig” on ice. It was a cold trip, Nashville low temps were in the 20s. Erin and I were snug bugs in the little canned ham camper, but there was no paddling in Nashville. But, there was a lot of music and libations. We fell in love with Nashville!
Miss Mavis and her SO.
Another few days on the road, Paula (Deen) tried to kill us with butter in Savannah. We were entertained by the breakfast crew on Tybee Island and felt at home at the local coffee house. The Southern Hospitality is no joke. Everyone was incredible friendly and helpful. We stayed 2 nights on the island and then headed to Titusville, Florida.
We had only one goal in Titusville….to see the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral! Luckily I found a perfect site in the Manatee Hammock campground directly across from the launch site. At 5:25am we dragged ourselves out of bed, walked in silence with the other campers to the waters edge and waited. It was incredible surreal seeing this huge rocket laden with incredible amounts of engineering and science silently lifting up and traveling out of the atmosphere. A Bucket List check for that!
Erin braving the cool January temps on the Indian River Lagoon.
3 of the Special Olympic Athletes in Tavernier Key.
Once we arrived with Miss Mitty Kitty to Jensen Beach, it took a while to settle in. I was itching to get out and paddle, but Mother Nature had other plans. I didn’t wait to get involved with coaching autistic kids paddleboarding. It’s been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in years. My mentor, Moose Brown of TC Paddle is a Special Olympics Coach and encouraged me to go get training to be a coach also. In March, I went to the Keys and did just that.
Currently, I’m preparing for the move back to Michigan for the summer season. The last week has been some of the best paddling since January. Yesterday the water was like glass, not only in the Indian River Lagoon, but also the ocean was amazingly flat. Gretchen and I went for a walk in the morning and withnessed sharks, dolphins, pompano fish and crabs on the beach. Living by the ocean really is an amazing experience.
Key Largo – upside down jelly fish, coral, dolphins, manatees, angel fish and more.
The Upper Keys are an amazing area with all of the mangrove trails and passageways to the ocean. I spent 4 hours exploring a mangrove trail. Angel fish were one of my favorite sightings. We (Gretchen and I) hung out and sunbathed, paddled and swam.
We left out of Paddle! The Florida Keys, the owner Scott is a super knowledgable guy and his staff is top-notch. I recommend that any one going to that area rent from them and book at tour!
Next year, I’ll be back in the Keys and on the peninsula. I sugguest that if you are serious about joining me for a SUP Adventure to contact me after you read this and begin planning. If you like what you see here, follow up on FB and share with your friends!