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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 4 Key Largo to Key West

When you're guiding trips in the Florida Keys, you have to be prepared for a lot of things, but most importantly wind and weather. You have to be flexible. You have to be willing to adjust your route to the conditions, and you need a bail-out plan.

OK, enough of the "Burn Notice" narration! Our Day 3 ended with a downpour and impending thunderstorms. We were going to camp on Long Key, but decided to take our friend Edie up on her lovely gesture of a hot shower and a warm, dry bed for the night! Edie ran support for us to prep for two paddlers joining us (and brought hot coffee!). Thanks, Edie!

Day 4 dawned sunny and beautiful, but with heavy winds. Frankly, the wind kicked our butts! But we had two awesome paddlers with us, Jill and Kathy from Big Pine Key, with great attitudes and a willingness to be flexible.

We launched from Long Key State Park in the lee side of what turned out to be W-NW 20 knot winds gusting to 24. Not so much a problem on the oceanside, but once we hit the Long Key Viaduct bridge, we were basically ferrying across, inching along with probably 2-3 foot swells.

At the other side we tucked up into a lee and took out the sandwiches, already discussing a change in our route, which was to go to the bayside and camp at Jolly Roger Travel Park. Thankfully, there's a little marina on the oceanside not far from Jolly Roger, where they let us pull our boats up and unload. Norm from Jolly Roger was kind enough to bring his truck and pick us up with all our gear. We had a book-signing under the pavilion and great night's sleep.

Thanks, Norm, Tania, Debi and Angie at JR!

Pictured are Norm, Kathy, Bill and Jill. And the truck that has bailed us out before (check out our KL2KW blog from 2008 and scroll down to Day 14!).

In Memory: Today's paddle was the same one we did with our friend Krueger Nicholson (Edie's husband), who passed away this past November. He was a ranger at Long Key State Park and a great friend to paddlers. Here he is making the same crossing of the Long Key Viaduct with us back in 2008 (under much better conditions!). We felt like he was with us on this trip. Take care, Edie, we'll see you soon.

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