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Archive for March, 2010

Kayak. If you ever picked up a paddle and stroked the water to propel yourself forward to explore, then you know.

You know that some of the best memories of your travels come from the adventures afloat. Whether the stillness of nature, the rapids of a river, or the majesty of nature that surrounds, you witness some of the best earth offers from your seat in a Kayak.

In my life I consider myself fortunate for these moments. Grateful for all the places I explored in a kayak. From the caves of Thailand to the cenotes of Mexico, the coast of Maine to sunrise on a lake in Ohio, a peaceful paddle in Pennsylvania to a magical moment in the mangroves of the Florida Keys. So many memories, so many adventures.

And this “Sunset Sunday” I’d like to leave you with the image I captured as I just exited the backcountry in the upper keys.  Here I faced the vast ocean with a setting sun, truly a memorable kayak thru the Florida Keys.

...a kayak in the keys

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At first, when I heard “casting contest,” I wondered if reality TV decided to come to the Florida Keys.  After so much time down here, I truly believe a show about life on the souther tip of Florida can top the nielsen ratings. But just steps away from Islamorada, the “Sports Fishing Capital of the World,” casting clearly means using a fishing rod.

Fat Buoyz

Based in the Upper Keys , I asked the “twitter-verse” for advice for sunset locations further south in Marathon. Christy Johnson (@MarathonFlaKeys) responded and told me to stop by Fat Buoyz Bar and Grill for happy hour and meet Captain Spider for his casting contest.  Sounded like a plan.

In the quaint marina located at the base of the 7 mile bridge (mm47), Fat Buoyz provides the grub, entertainment, and patrons you’d expect from the name. A biker bar, with “Biker Mondays” creates a vintage keys experience for any day of the week.

I first arrived when the fishing charters just returned from the day at sea. Captain and crew cleaned up the boats and also the day’s catch – Spanish Mackerel.  And as the Pelicans positioned for the filet scraps, I positioned myself at a table to order the first round.

the lure and the rings...

Nearly done with my first $3 draft,  I spotted a man dressed in a Spiderman sweatshirt. Must be Captain Spider. I introduced myself, learned the details of the casting contest, and signed up to compete.

Captain Spider hosts contests multiple times each month at different locations. Each Tuesday night the proceed benefit the Forgotten Soldiers Outreach with Thursday’s alternating between the marathon high school ‘7-mile marina scholarship fund,’ and other community projects.

The contest rules are simple; 3 practice casts; 5 casts for score. Each contestant attempts to land the lure in set of styrofoam targets floating in the water. With seven rings at sea, each accounts for  a different point total – 50 for the center ring, 40 for either of the outside rings, 20 for larger rings, 10 for the largest rings. The one with most points scored  after five casts- your winner. (Ties go to an intense one cast sudden death shoot out).

the view from above....

The champion takes home top honors and a prize (donated), but essentially all participants seem to receive a consolation for their effort.

I can blame the wind, right-handed rods, (yes I am a southpaw) or casting early at sunset (challenging light)  for my results. An endless list of excuses really, but the reality – I lost.

Yet, the good news is these charities do not. My donation ($5 entry fee) will help create a scholarship for someone who wants a career on the water. Not to mention the evening certainly put a smile on my face.  Hey, next time I’ll do better.

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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the sunset sky on the oceanside in the Florida Keys

Times exist when you wonder. You stare at the sky and wonder if the sun has already set or if the day still “officially” holds a few minutes.  You can’t see the sun dip over the horizon.

Many times this winter in Florida Keys I found myself on the “oceanside” and not the “bayside” with the western view. But that did not mean I did not enjoy the majesty of the moment.

Nearly every night, nature put on a different show, each more beautiful than the prior. Vibrant colors illuminated the sky, the clouds, and my ocean view. In fact, on this very day I can’t imagine a more beautiful sky. Breathtaking.

stay adventurous, Craig

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People always ask me, “What is your favorite destination?”  To be honest, I don’t have a specific answer. I cannot say just one place. One time. One trip.  Every place contains charm. Every place provides pleasure when exploring, and truthfully everyplace holds place in my heart. A memory. A moment.

But, (yes a but) some places seem to last longer in memory. Some places I dream of returning. And if I needed to make a list, I am sure I could.

One place on that list would definitely San Sebastian, Spain.

..the sun sets in Donostia-San Sebastián

So this Sunday, I’ll take you there for a Sunset Shot I took during my second trip to the Basque region culinary capital. After my afternoon of tasty pintxos and robust rioja on the streets of “Parte Vieja” I headed down to the sands to enjoy the sun setting overlooking La Concha’s bay .

I look forward to returning someday; it is the perfect place to finish my novel.

Stay Adventurous, Craig

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