Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weedon Island

Here is the Flamingo Family off for a little family bonding on the water:

You'll recall that the Expedition went ka-put so we now have to take two cars when we want to go anywhere that will require hauling something behind (like a trailer or boat) or above us (like a kayak or canoe).

Our trip to Weedon Island started like most of our little day jaunts -- Flamingo Joe woke up early, did all the heavy lifting, and then woke me up to brush my teeth, pour some coffee, and stumble to the car, dragging the kids behind me. Grandma did think to pack us some snacks and drinks, thank heavens, since none of us had eaten breakfast. We stopped at a gas station on the way and Flamingo Joe bought power bars for himself and the boys and I bought a honey bun. I did not get any coffee at the gas station because I am still scarred from my last gas station coffee-fetching, but that's ABPA (maybe tomorrow?).

But I digress.

Weedon Island Nature Preserve is a 20 minute drive from our house and it's free. So it met all the requirements for a Flamingo Family Outing in this Summer On The Cheap. We've never visited there before, though when I put it on the list of free stuff for us to do this summer, Flamingo Joe drove through there and checked it out for age appropriateness -- not that we were expecting cursing park rangers or anything, but three year olds are very impressionable and tend to spook at large bodies of water with sharks in them.

We took the one-man kayak and the canoe. When we put in, Casey insisted that he wanted to be in the kayak even though he would be by himself. If you know Casey at all, you will be thinking to yourself right now that Casey must not have actually understood what we were planning to do today when we left the house. But perhaps he understood and was tired of cowering down to fear -- so he embraced the warrior within and got right into that kayak and even paddled out a little ways. Then he figured out that he would have to actually keep paddling in order to keep up with us and that was the end of that. So we turned around, went back to the dock, and I switched places with him. He ended up in the front of the canoe and you never would have known, by his 20 minute panic attack, which began the moment he got into the canoe, that he was the same boy who just a few moment previous declared that he was going all by himself in the kayak:

That's how Casey looks at me whenever I take a picture of him in mid-panic attack.

(Please note: Flamingo Joe has requested that I remove him from all pictures for this post in which he appears shirtless. We had about 30 minutes worth of fun trying to eliminate him from this photo with the clone tool in Photoshop, but in the end saved our marriage by just cropping the photo. Flamingo Joe is one hunky dude, but we are both of an age now when all we see when we look at a current photo of ourselves is the body we had when we were 20 years younger. This explains why you rarely see me in this blog at all. That being said . . . I have decided to exercise my editorial license and just not include closeups of Flamingo Joe shirtless in this post because every single photo I took today features Flamingo Joe and his two sons in a canoe, so without a shirtless Joe, there would be no post at all. Sorry sweetie.)

Weedon Island Preserve encompasses a large area of protected mangroves in Tampa Bay. The county has created a canoe trail through the mangroves and kayaking/canoeing through the trail is easily one of the coolest nature things I have ever done. It starts like this:

But then all of a sudden you're here:

And then all of a sudden, you're doing an "Austin Powers" in the middle of the mangroves and need someone to rescue you:

I would estimate that about 60% of the canoe trail is through the mangrove tunnels and the remaining 40% looks like this:

The water is no deeper than three feet or so at any point along the trail and when you are paddling through the open areas, if you sit still, you can see all kinds of fish swimming along underneath you (to be fair, I couldn't identify any of the fish, so it may have only been one kind of fish in different sizes and not all kinds of fish).

In the interest of fair play, I post this picture of me in the kayak -- granted, I am not shirtless and therefore I'm sure Flamingo Joe will not think that we're really even, but he can take that up with me in marriage counseling and you don't need to be caught in the middle.

Mmmm . . . pretty girl who rolled out of bed to get in a kayak . . . wonder if she remembered to put on deodorant, cause it looks like she might even smell a little.

Despite his initial panic attack, Casey settled down and enjoyed the trip -- he started enjoying it shortly after Flamingo Joe responded to his whiny, "I want to go hooooome" with "You are going to have fun whether you like it or not!" Mace had a great time. He figured out how to dunk your hat in water over the side and then put it back on your head to keep cool, and he kept us apprised of wildlife by pointing out the little crabs on the mangrove branches.

Look how well I did photoshopping Flamingo Joe out of this picture:

Just kidding -- Flamingo Joe was letting the kids float out in the ocean by themselves again. And don't be fooled -- just because Casey is holding the paddle in this picture doesn't mean he ever helped paddle. Near the end of the trip, he was getting a little fidgety so FJ told him if he wanted to do something, he could PADDLE. That was the first hint that maybe FJ was getting tired of paddling 120 pounds worth of children around the bay. Fortunately, the dock came back in sight about that time. All total, we paddled for about 3.5 miles I think.

Speaking of paddling for 3.5 miles, I won't be able to move my arms tomorrow, so forget about me promising to tell you about my last gas station coffee-fetch. I can already feel my shoulders cramping up.

1 comment:

  1. I was starring at that picture trying to figure out how you photoshopped him out! I was about to be VERY impressed....ABOUT TO BE....LOL Great post. I am looking forward to the coffee post.


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