The Manatees of Weeki Wachee!!!

We’d heard about paddle boarding in waters where Manatees live and took a tour with Anik Clemens from Anik’s Perspectives.  She’s lived in St. Petersburg, Florida the past 9 years and knows the SUP shops and venues for paddling.  She took us to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where we put in for the 6 mile down-river paddle.  She’d set us up with boards from the Kayak Shack that sat right on the water at end of the trip. We parked at the shack and got ferried, with our boards, to the put-in point at Weeki Wachee Springs.

The water was cool and clear.  The surrounding jungle close.  The river was teaming with small schools of Mullet and a smattering of Sheepshead thrown in for fun.  Needlefish slipped in and out of sight while Anhinga and Kingfishers punctuated the trees.

We shared the river with a few tour boats, and some fun-loving folks who climbed a tree to a diving platform.  As it turned out, Anik and our very own Donna were not afraid to take the plunge.  Check out the video for a two minute look at our trip.

We’d found six Manatees by the end of the trip.  The first one glided under my board like a ghost.  Down river a pup scratched its back under a submerged log.  My GoPro Hero 4 Silver captured most of the footage.  Super Slow Mo thanks to iPhone 6S Plus.

The little one is Kyra, Anik’s lovely 4 year old daughter.  Donna, Kyra, and Anik took a stab at singing Nimo’s song “Planting Seeds and Nothing More,” in front of one of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids.

If you like this post you’re sure to like our tour through the mangroves.

Sarasota Mangroves

The weather in St. Pete cooled for us which is a good thing given the 60 degree swing between the lows in Maine and the temperate Florida gulf coast.  We’re here to visit our niece and her daughter.  They’re cuter than cute and they love St. Pete.

Yesterday we drove to Sarasota where we shot video for a Chakra Meditation with Anik Clemens, Janice Baxter, and Donna Blethen.  Janice and Anik then guided us through the mangrove tunnels on SUPs provided by Surfit USA.

South Lido beach is a serious wild life area full of White Ibis, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Common Egret, Horseshoe Crabs, Little Blue Heron, Mullet, and more.  We had to lie low paddling through the close cover of matted mangroves that squeaked in the wind.  The overhead sky leaked through to shallow clear water then came blasting out in full fall blue once we exited a grove tunnel.

If only there was more time we’d surely do it in the early morning light.

Bye Bye Boston

Blog post

We started and ended our New England adventure at Logan where water surrounds the greater Boston area. It was odd to have the ocean so near yet not be aware of its presence, it’s scent. But the leaves left me longing for more.
The stately yellow tree on Letti and Dan’s quiet little Cambridge street was my favorite. It must have peaked the week we arrived. In the early morning light it simply glowed.

One windy afternoon we returned to find the street littered bright yellow. The stairs to our neighbor’s porch wore a fresh dressing from the fallen leaves.

Returning from a week in Maine where I found flannel-lined jeans and an extra thick beanie my best friends we found our tree quite barren. The wind and chill had shaken the color right out of the hood.

 The final image hints at winter with blues and cool pastels.

  We’re headed for warmth and paddle boarding in the Florida Mangroves.

SOPOSUP in Portland Maine

SOPOSUP is what. We met the owner, Raf Adams, at his store in South Portland, just a few miles from the surf at Higgins Beach off Cape Elizabeth.  After driving around Portland for a few days we realized that all you need is for the wind to lie down and there’s paddle boarding everywhere.  There’s so much water it’s just nuts.

The store was stocked with surf, glide, and race boards.  I was drooling over the lovely shape of the Focus boards.  Raf told us about great October waves they’d had at Higgins.

IMG_0477This Higgins right was photographed by Dustin Turin and it makes me want to see the place on a nice little 2-3 foot day.

We bought a SOPOSUP T Shirt and the latest STANDUP JOURNAL then drove out to Cape Elizabeth to watch the very flat ocean and grab a pretty solid bowl of clam chowder.

I took a minute to stick my hand in the water. It was cool but not the high 30s that settles in during the winter.  Raf told us he wore 7mm boots and wanted 9mm.  He’s seen below on the Presumpscot in January 2013


Wish there were waves since SOPOSUP rents boards too.

The Speckled Ax

If the waves were larger, if the temperature was higher, if the wind would lie down I’d get in the water. Or so I tell myself.

We even saw paddle boards, yesterday, at the L.L. Bean mothership, where I went to buy boots but left with a bright blue non-spill mug with LL Bean stamped on the side.  I’ll curl up with it this winter watching waves while wondering just how cold it would be in Portland.  I might even ask my iPhone.

Outside L. L. Bean, in the breeze, I couldn’t pull my hands from the warmth of my flannel lined pockets to touch any one of the boards on display.   But today, while Donna stretched herself back together at Portland Power Yoga, I started a post from the Speckled Ax and felt like I’d come full circle and don’t really know why. A double cappuccino and salted chocolate donut can do that.

the speckled ax

What SUP Portland Maine?

There’s water. There’s color; a hint of winter in the sky.  And there’s paddle boarding that might be a shade cool, if not down right freezing in the early morning light.

I bought my first pair of flannel-lined jeans to walk around the breezy streets, before an evening with writers at Longfellow Books. Tonight G.A. Morgan, author and editor, was in conversation with Kate Christensen, author of How To Cook A Moose.

The two were clearly connected to each other and embrace the people, the land, and the work ethic shared by Mainers.

G.A. discussed the second book in her Five Stones trilogy, Chantarelle.  It’s a young adult fantasy whose setting was inspired by her childhood trips to the Acadia area.

She and I briefly discussed SUP and writing. She told me to check out Higgins Beach. It’s 20 minutes from our Portland home.  There’s a paddle board shop close by. When in Maine?

D.A. Morgan, left. Kate Christensen, right

Walden Pond

I tried to like Thoreau. I admire his sparseness. I almost bought a Simplicity Tshirt from the store. But would Thoreau approve?  How many shirts did he have for his two years two months and two days at Walden Pond?  And the winters in a one-room house. How much work did it take to stay warm during the long, low-light, bitter-cold season.

It’s only 1.8 miles to Concord where he lived as a child. Did the two hour hike through snow and ice test his resolve. I think the book has the answer. If only I had the patience to sit through it.

And would he laugh or cry at this photo?  Or would he even care?

The Green Monster

I started this post from the Fenway Park writer’s press box where sports writers craft articles about the Red Sox and their opponents. We’d just stood atop the green monster and heard how Ruth was sold to the Yankees back in 1912 for a stunning $100,000, then went on to set record after record while the Red Sox struggled.  To this day some feel there’s a curse on the sox from that ill-fated sale.

Fenway fans are close to the action in this small, intimate ball park.  I could be a Boston fan.  I could live in Boston.  There’s water all around the city, and waves in the winter just up or down the coast.

Among other Hollywood movies Moneyball, Ted, and Field of Dreams were partially filmed at Fenway.

There’s still a single red seat in right field that marks the longest home run ever hit in the park.  It was a 502 foot blast by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946.

Grounded in New England

This isn’t about standup paddle boarding though there is a paddle board in the garage and two outside the next-door neighbor’s porch.

Sup Harrington  But the Narragansett wind has yet to lay down since we arrived in Barrington.

We visited Colt State Park yesterday where blue sky and dark water framed sail boats playing in the bay.  The park could have been anywhere, except for the age of the buildings that had a sturdy maturity to them; a certain regal angle about the way they held themselves.  Not pretentious, but stable, connected to the earth, set against a treelined backdrop.

We drove into Bristol where some of the trees were turning, and the street lines were a patriotic red, white and blue.  The waterfront cafes varied from contemporary burger joints to the historical DeWolf Tavern where rum barrels and old photos were the last vestiges of the slave trade triangle from the 1700s.

We finished the day watching Tom Brady lead the Patriots to a stomping of the Dallas Cowboys while listening to our host’s sister discuss authors whom she’d lead around the Boston area including Anne Lamott, J.K. Rowling, and T.C. Boyle.

I’m looking forward to seeing the blast of fall color that has so far only punctuated the landscape.  But I’ve been happy just to roam New England and marvel at the old wood floors, the simple shingle structures, and the lacework water ways that weave through the countryside and the city.

New England Paddle Boarding?

Been here two full days and have yet to see a paddle boarder. But they’re here. In fact there’s a paddle board in our Rhode Island garage. There’s water everywhere around Boston and Rhode Island so it’s just a matter of time before a paddle boarder appears.

We met a mariner living on a bluff over a Cape Ann bay. He was building a boat, by hand.   Below his home lurked a left that surfers rode during large winter waves. Cold water waves. Last year there were paddle boarders in the lineup.