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Showing posts from April, 2010

Tampa Bay Paddle Distractions - St. Pete's Most Famous Debate!

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How can I admit that I went to St. Petersburg in Tampa Bay, Florida with a camera that I hate and fell in love with the city the first few hours and refused to take any pictures of it out of respect. "I'll be back with a better camera. This is just a scouting mission for places I like enough to visit twice."

After several hours of exploring the city by car, nature called. Where to go? It's not the land of fast food stops that I usually only use for things other than food. "Head to the marina, there must be something there."

A sweet historic looking Byzantine style little octagonal brick building on the water across from the boats in the marina suddenly caught my eye.

"No way, it's a public restroom!" Never mind more immediate needs, out came the camera I hate to snap a shot of it.

"Why am I doing this? I've never taken a photo of a bathroom before!"

People needing to enter the establishment are stopping to let me take a shot unobs…

Boats for Cockroach Bay Paddle, Big D's Kayaking

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Cockroach Bay boat launch, Tampa Bay, Florida

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Cockroach Bay, Tampa Bay, Florida - Kayaking with manatees and dolphins

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Finally, a blogworthy paddle from a beautiful boat launch in Cockroach Bay, paddling a sweet Romany S with a Werner paddle in open water with views of St. Petersburg across Tampa Bay, and deep enough in high tide to get through miles of mangrove islands, manatees, dolphins, and leaping mullets all along the way, and the photo that makes the post is a guy straddling a little 13 foot Tampico demonstrating wind and water dynamics using a banana for a kayak?

Yes!

That's Don Thompson of Big D's Kayaking. Who else does that? He calls it "banananimation" but the rest of us paddlers called it a snack after the lesson. Hmmm, maybe I've been edging my boat wrong in a cross wind too? Bananas are convincing teachers.

At the end of the 4-hour paddle Don also showed us how to chop open a watermelon with a Lendal paddle. I thought he was just joking, but he actually made a perfectly clean cut with it. I hid behind the German paddlers, they were my "splatter-guards" j…

Mangroves, Caladesi Island, Barrier Islands, Tampa Bay, Florida

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Looks nice? Enjoy the pic. It's better than being there. I'm wondering why other paddlers around here would recommend this? Not me. Come to Canada and paddle! Short and sweet at least. Only took 10 minutes to get through it in murky water and no room to move the paddle. The paddle to get there was not interesting. I wouldn't rent a rec boat to do it for $30 for two hours in this area. But the beach around the corner from the mangroves is a nice place to hang out in swim gear and get toasted by the intense Florida sun, if you like that. On the way back from the shallow water, hit a deep spot with some wind and boat wakes and some dolphins passing by.

I was the only one in rash guard and neo shorts. Ha! There are so many places I'd rather paddle . . . so far.

Pier along my beach cycle path, barrier islands, Florida

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I don't have much to say about this photo. The day left me speechless. Not a cloud in the sky. Sunny, warm. A lucky winter day in Florida. Winter is not always warm in Florida, but always much warmer than Canada The water was calm on the ocean. Perfect for kayaking or paddle boarding.

And I was riding a bike on the beach? A perfect day for paddling, but when we travel, we don't always have our awesome sea kayaks with us and arranging to rent sea kayaks is a lot more work and expense than renting a bicycle.

I found it's really not a good idea to cycle on the beach. The sand kicks up and gets into all the gears. Not good at all for a bicycle and it's not easy at all if the sand is wet. Salt water and sand is not good for gears. You have to hose it all off after the ride. At the time, I was the only one doing it  Now I know why. Better to bike the trails?

See my other posts:
Biking the Barrier Islands, Florida
Cycling one of America's beautiful beaches-Fort de Soto Flor…

Giant Jellyfish

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Happy Heron

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Pelican Convention

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Wild Green Parrot Treehouse

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Biking the Barrier Islands! Gulf of Mexico, Florida

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Finally doing something wow! And no, it wasn't paddling. When paddle plans temporarily fall through, it's time to hit the beach on a bike!

After three days of researching where to paddle in Tampa Bay Florida, chatting up locals, looking at maps, trying to find my way around a new place, I finally made peace with the noisy fridge in my Barrier Islands basecamp in Bellair. And I finally found the best spot on the patio to dodge the hot Florida morning sun to catch the Internet connection with my laptop poolside to blog. Trust me, putting up with the "pool rats" when they are out and about is an impossible feat I have not mastered . . . yet. Headphones! There's an idea.

Today I rented a bike I totally fell in love with at the Energy Conservatory Bike Shop in Dunedin, Florida. Only $20 for 24-hours and it came with a great helmet (optional around here) and a bike lock. What a deal! It's a Giant Farrago. When I first looked at it, I had my doubts - I didn't k…

Biking in Tampa Bay, Florida

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When the paddle plans fall through and demo days aren't really demo days, it's time to give up on hitting the water with a paddle and hit it with some wheels.

Getting a bike around here is way easier than getting into a boat (sea kayak) you have to rent, especially on an Easter weekend. Paddling will come later. Bike shops abound and some of them are pretty sweet! OutSpoken Bicycles in Clearwater, Florida!
When you ask about bike trails in the area, most shops will point you to the Pinellas Trail and hand you one of the best guides of the entire trail that I've ever seen. It's a 34-mile trail that runs north and south of the western Tampa Bay area. It's a super convenient trail if you're using it for transportation, like heading to the quaint town of Dunedin (Dun-ee-din) for restos and the marina.

The bike trail was not very scenic on the (recommended by locals stretch) I did from Dunedin heading north. Very urban and often runs along busy roads and smelly st…

Sweetwater Kayaks, St. Pete's, Florida

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Yesterday was another day of running around gathering input from locals and putting together all the clues of what to do. Mission accomplished. The rest of the week will be spent "doing"!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Russell Farrow yesterday at Sweetwater Kayaks, an expedition paddler with all the credentials. He is overly tan (by Canadian standards), as are all Floridians, tall and lean with long silver hair and the trademark stubble of a guy just returning from an expediton. He has a beautiful, big, three-year-old German Shepherd dog named Cedric who would not sit still for a shot.

Russell had just gotten back from a trip to Baja. He's a guy to interview if you are a writer or journalist . . . if you can catch him! He's busy. Some have. I asked him if he would post the interesting story of his "Vacation from Hell" that I saw framed on the wall of his store. Cross fingers.

He had a blog that timed out and so is now lost, but the good news is that …

Tampa Bay, Florida - Day 1 - April 2, 2010

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Took a direct flight from Ottawa to Tampa Bay on April 1st on WestJet. Only 3 hours. If you like incessant jokes that make you wonder if they really know what they're doing, fly WestJet. Maybe it was just the timing! It was April Fools Day. The leather seats are comfortable and even my long legs fit in between the seats. Hertz had a nice selection of cars, no complaints. Took a cute,(can't figure out the colour) KIA mid-size SUV. Like it!

Went to bed last night at 1:00 a.m. after hanging out at the pool researching stuff and gathering info from the tan and friendly locals, who also helped me get the Internet connections fixed on my laptop which needed major updates! The only place you can get it at my Belleair basecamp is at the pool! (I mean the Internet.) Boo hoo (ha!). I wanted to write from my balcony.

Up at 7:00 a.m. to catch the morning moonshine and a giant pelican fishing in front of my window. Everything looked nicer and larger when no one else was around. More space! …