Big Cypress: Kayaking in the Wind and Battling with Spiders

People use the word “hate” too casually. Some people hate raisins. Some people hate Republicans. I hate kayaking against a strong wind.  I mean, I really really hate wind in the same way I hate people who drive 15 miles below the speed limit in the left lane.   It is windy in southern Florida today. Strong east winds blowing at a steady 25 mph. We almost bagged the day, but we decided to kayak Halfway Creek in Big Cypress today. The logic was that it was (allegedly) protected from the wind and that it would make paddling tolerable. Big fucking mistake as it turned out.

Since my existence as an actual person has recently been questioned, I present the following picture. Be warned that the glare off my legs may blind you.

Yes, my legs ARE as white as my shirt.

Halfway Creek is a nice paddle with manatees in the creek and a lot of lakes and mangrove tunnels in between. The total mileage is around 8+ miles from start to finish. I knew on the way out it was going to suck on the way back in. The wind was to our back and we were paddling with the tide.  It was too easy. 2 miles in and we hit the mangrove tunnels. Mangrove tunnels are kind of awesome.

A mangrove tunnel on Halfway Creek

What we didn’t count on were the spiders. Millions and millions of spiders. They build webs across the mangrove tunnels to capture bugs. Also kayakers.

Millions of the bastards everywhere

I ducked, I tried to avoid them, and still, spiders in my hair and my cleavage, spiders on the kayak and in the kayak. I fucking hate spiders. Finally, one of them bit Troy, leaving a welt. I doubted they were poisonous, but we turned back anyway. You can never tell when you are going to have an allergic reaction to something and 4 miles back in a swamp is not the place to discover you are going into shock.  Unless you are trying to kill your spouse.  I am waiting to see if Troy develops any awesome superpowers.

This meant we had to turn around and paddle into the wind. The wind sucks. Epicly. By the time we made it back to the launch, I was crippled.  3+ miles against the tide and a strong 25 mph wind. Tomorrow should be interesting since I can’t lift my arms to even put on a bra.  I will say that the sunset was beautiful, but most anything is when you take percocet.

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Fashion crisis: drown or look bad

Under the best of circumstances, clothing for active women with a substantial chest is difficult to find.  Flat-chested nymphs who wander the earth with six-pack abs doing yoga and prancing about in tiny sports bras can officially kiss my ass.  Those of us who tend more to the DD size range understand the trauma of shopping for sportswear and yes, tiny flat-chested women, we do hate you.

I kayak. Kayaking in certain conditions requires that anyone with a brain wear a lifejacket.

This is what the Coast Guard says I should wear.

Now let’s talk about Exhibit A, my boobs:

Seriously? This is supposed to pass as functional for a kayaker?

Sweet Jesus on a breadstick. It looks like I have taped a red backpack to my tits. I am not amused.

Thanks Lifejacket manufacturer. Now I can look like a giant slut because my boobs are squeezed upward by the foam packed into the jacket and strapped tightly to my ribs.

I won’t drown, but I look like the fucking stay-puft marshallow man in red.

Goodbye Tennessee, hello Florida

It’s that time of year. The time of year when I ditch my relatives at Christmas and head with Troy to Florida to kayak the warm swamps, bays and rivers of southern Florida. We have new kayaks and will be heading out a week from today for a two-week stint.

Cades Cove in winter: lovely, but cold. Also, you can hear the strains of Deliverance.

Last year, Troy tried to feed me to the alligators in his quest to kill me:

The rare and elusive Jean in a mangrove tunnel in the Everglades

This year, we’ll be doing some open ocean kayaking. Most likely he’ll feed me to the sharks. In case he finally succeeds, it was nice knowing you all.

It's waiting for me. Or maybe just all the old people. It is Florida.

 

Kayaking the Everglades, part 1

As everyone knows, the best part of the holiday season is finding ways to avoid your family.  Going to kayak in the Everglades over Christmas is an excellent way to avoid your family. They can’t call to complain you aren’t home because there’s no way to reach you. Awesome.  Since Troy is always trying to kill me, it’s important to clarify that this trip was my idea. I had envisioned quietly gliding through still waters in this this gothic, romantic moss-draped swamp a la Interview with the Vampire. Not so much.

Moss draped trees are not what you get in the Everglades

 

This is what you get in the Everglades:

Troy took this picture of me over his shoulder. His life expectancy immediately dropped by many years.

The water is not very deep and, in most places, the water we trekked through was only two to three feet deep.  Of course, since I am graceless and flunked my deportment class in charm school as a young child, I took a header into the swamp leaving me wet and smelling like a wookie. I have always longed to be an impecccably dressed and composed outdoorswoman like Karen Blixen who can trek,  camp and cook a gourmet meal on the fire while mingling with the natives, but it’s just not in the cards for someone like me.  The day someone exclaims “that woman is just amazing on the trail” is the day you know the aliens have arrived and started body snatching. Troy had to come rescue me which was extra annoying. Troy claims he is invincible in the woods, and points out he never flipped over. Seriously, after 12 years, I can’t believe I haven’t stabbed him in his sleep.

Troy, being very insufferable

I had my chance to feed him to the local wildlife, but they were very uncooperative:

This Mama alligator with babies on her back was too busy to attack Troy.

 All rivers eventually end in the bay and here’s your moment of zen for this very chilly January day.