Saturday, March 14, 2009

How We Lost Our Groove in Florida

I know this is a blog about New Hampshire, but I promised to write a little more about manatees and our kayaking experiences in Florida two weeks ago. Maybe you had to be there for this one. I'm not sure I can really describe our attempt at tandem kayaking.

But Here's the Deal
Tandem kayaking is not for us! We discovered this at Wekiwa Spring State Park in Apopka -- about 45 minutes outside of Orlando. We rented a two-person kayak because that's all they had left. How difficult could it be?

Plenty! The Wekiva River is narrow and has lots of fallen tree branches and at least a few alligators. There were tons of people out in rented canoes and kayaks, so we were constantly dodging other boats. Doug sat in front -- that was our first mistake. We learned afterward that the stronger person should sit in back.

My job was to steer the boat, but I couldn't see where we were going. Doug was supposed to tell me to "paddle left" or "paddle right" to avoid obstacles, but apparently it was more conversation than he wanted to make. Add to that the fact that my reaction time is a tad slow, and you start to get the picture!

Our daughters were ahead of us in a canoe and they could hear us arguing all the way down the river. We hit trees, we hit boats, you name it. It was not fun! Once we arrived safely back at the launch site two hours later (sweaty, exhausted, and a little annoyed) we just looked at each other and laughed. After 33 years of marriage, you learn not to sweat the small stuff.

We vowed not to say another word about it. Sorry, Doug, I just had to break the silence to warn others: If you're going to try a tandem, at least paddle in an area where there's room to make mistakes.

A Rescued Manatee Returns to the Wild

Now, a little more about the manatee released from Disney World during our visit to Blue Spring State Park. We missed the weigh-in and the ultrasound, but we did see this 1,000-pound mammal up close as he got acquainted with life in the wild. Pretty cool!

"Bock" had been rescued as a 66-pound orphan in 2001 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the time he was sent to The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot two years later, he weighed 500 pounds -- and that's on a diet of Romaine lettuce, fruits, and vegetables! After 8 years in captivity, his progress is now being monitored by the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership.

I'm not sure how long Bock will be wearing a satellite tracking device, but I guess he's doing his part -- like it or not--to advance our understanding of life in the wild for this endangered species.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see someone warning about tandem kayaks. When I started paddling with my mother it was with the understanding that my dad wouldn't come. (He would just tell us we were both doing it wrong.) After finding out that we seemed to love it he started talking about getting a tandem so that we could all go together. The salesmen warned them that tandems are also known as divorce boats. He lost interest after that. (yay)

Lucie said...

After our experience, I totally understand why tandems are called "divorce boats." I'm always jealous when I find couples who succeed at it. Thanks for writing. Now I don't feel like it's just us!