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Hey all.  Nothing like Le Grande Escape from the cold grip of a Canadian spring to break things up, keep the fires burning.  This Spring was no different for me, well actually it was, as through the magic of airplane travel I found myself knee deep in slush in the morning and knee deep in salt water that afternoon.  Damn I love planes… convenient as all get out!

Two days of my epic Florida adventure was spent goofing off in amongst the mangrove trees Naples and Cape Coral with our host, Jory of Florida Paddlesports.  Jory and I headed out to goof off and try real hard to get lost in the hundreds of islands and channels… the end result, amazing scenery, a great cruise, a new found respect for the iphone and a bunch of great Jackson Kayak Journey touring shots.

First, the decor.  This part of Florida is a weird mix of rich man’s real estate/lifestyle to grassroots outdoor adventure.  Many of our sortie’s began in massive resorts or launches in channels playing host to hundreds of million dollar homes.  BUT literally five minutes later you’re cut off and in some of the most incredible paddling environs out there.  Mangrove trees and oyster bars turn the shallows of this part of Florida’s coast line into a labyrinth that stretches hundreds of miles down to the point of the everglades and over to the Keys.  Some channels are broad, forming shallows where you can hang, have lunch and watch the rays swim by.  Other sections are a maze of tiny, jungle-like trails that you have to push your way through. The Journey did well in both arenas as its length and speed made touring over the wide stretches easy and its turning capabilities allowed us to get outta the vines when needed.

Many of these channels have current, depending on the time of day.  Current there was never like the Sunshine Coast of BC, but it could bother some slower kayaks for sure… but for the most part the Journey cut through and up with no issues… a big change from paddling small whitewater kayaks for sure… Note: You’ll see me running the Ottawa soon in my Journey ;-).

My new toy for this kind of ‘orienteering dependent’ touring was the iphone.  As soon as we got out there, everyone turned on their google map app!  At first I was taken aback… ‘damn, will you guys put the @#$%&! cell phones away!  But with all these channels, the Google map, specifically the satellite mode, saved our bacon a few times.  With pretty good cell reception in the area, even to the farther stretches of the everglades, Google Maps pinged our location via GPS and showed us all the options for travel.  With a gang in the everglades it works well because you can split up and set rendezvous points on a map and know where you are at any given time.  Believe me, you can get VERY lost out there.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend dependence on a cell phone for sure!  But as a toy out there to figure things out… super cool.

Wildlife was something that jumped out for me… sometimes literally.  The start of our day saw manatee cruising in the channels right up by the mansions and the massive power boats.  There’s definitely a worry for their well being as many of their big backs were scarred with propeller cuts… ug!  There are many signs up around warning of manatee presence, but these boats are massive and there’s not much room for them to move.  We caught a glimpse of a large croc out there as well… again, amazingly close to civilization.  Ibis, cool grey cranes and other birdlife occupied the sky and mangrove forests.  Pretty much everywhere you turned there was a bird lookin at ya.  Check out this shot of Jory fishing from his Journey… birds followed him all the way… guess they correctly had him pegged as a good fisherman…. that he is!


Speaking of fish, yes… many fish could be seen escaping your kayak’s path as the water was clear. Florida Red, snook, tarpin, mullets and more can easily be seen in the shallows.  You have to know that the next day we were out there with our Coosa’s 😉

With so much to explore, especially down south more, you KNOW I’m gonna be back.  The kayak provides so much to escape to… two thumbs up for this region and THANKS Jory for the tour!