Everglades 2003
How We Spent Our Xmas Vacation (or what we did for Alan's B-day)
Yes, we started paddling on Xmas Day!

And the crazy duo are off on another adventure--5 days, 4 nights kayaking in the Florida Everglades. Gear List: 2 large dry bags, 2 small dry bags, one tent (borrowed from Bill, don't ask the weight), one down sleeping bag (kept in a dry, dry, dry bag), 2 New Yorkers, 2 bags of unweighed food (sorry, Ryan), bug juice, suntan lotion, nautical charts, GPS, and 52 liters of water (115 lbs just for the water!).
Day #1: After miles and miles of scraping through dark mangrove tunnels the landscape suddenly explodes into an expanse of everglades sawgrass and blinding sunshine. Birds were everywhere.
Whoops, a friend sunbathing along the banks... 'Gators everywhere--crawling into the water, sitting next to each other and....we now know what "alligator-infested waters" means.
More 'gators
And even more 'gators. Remember they are more scared of you than..... Alison accidently hit one with her paddle as it swam below our kayak. Her paddle blade went zzzzzzzzzzzzzziipp along the scales of its back!
Back into the mangrove tunnels--time to stretch our legs in mucky, ankle deep, boggy grass (while watching closely for alligators).
14 miles later, we find the chickee of our dreams! Lovely spot, manatees rolling around all night, fish rising everywhere, and, yes, alligators splashing away as well. This picture is a good "gear shot." We've just finished hauling all our SH*T out of the kayak.
Sunset from the chickee.
Day #2: ahhhh, it's wonderful what 14 hrs of sleep can do for you. Dawn the next morning. Alison is awake and ready to pack up for the day's paddle.
We spend the day paddling through a series of inland bays and rivers. Alan is very happy even though we have run aground on a shoal (yes, still in alligator infested waters). And so he does what any Alan would do in this situation. He snacks. (blur is water on camera lens from crossing a windy and choppy bay).
Alison, not to be left behind, stretches and snacks as well (she's blurred by water on camera lens as well). There were too many small mangrove islands to count along the way.
10+ miles later, the adventurous duo reaches a second chickee where Alan begins his fly-fishing-in-salt-water-career. But first, a relaxing few minutes and a spot of tea.
Alison not to be outdone, relaxes as well and readies herself for a good New Yorker article she's been eyeing. Gear on the chickee is drying out from a wet day.
Day #3: The adventurous duo reach their first beach campsite. Stove in the forground is poaching a delicious fish (species not divulged) for dinner. We had the island to ourselves!! Well, not completely. A friendly racoon did the dance of the binnacle that night and left his sandy paw prints all over the kayak
Day #4: Now ready to leave their desolate island key, Alan prepares the kayak for a windy and rough open water crossing. We knew the day would be wet so we packed everything up in dry bags, stowed it away, lashed stuff to the deck, and doned spray skirts for the first time in the trip.
After crossing turbulant waters in 25 knot winds, the duo shelters in a calm mangrove protected bay. The crossing proved to be a challenge for Alison who, in the stern, had a number of close calls with death--ok, maybe not, just large swells washing over her--lots of cold water running down inside the spray skirt does not make for a happy Alison.
The Gulf keys are fab! Dusk at another beach campite on desterted key. We had some nice fishing along the mangroves in the background. The next morning we made a short portage (well, a drag) over the sandbar in front of the mangroves.
Day #5: Alan standing on the oyster shell stewn beach below our campsite Alan decides to leave at the crack of dawn and paddle out at sunrise. Alison insists on getting a dawn picture mostly because he looks like a castaway with his pants rolled up.
After surviving their harrowing experience (yeah, right), the adventurous duo makes it to Arnie's place in Key Largo and kicks back to relax. We ate our breakfast on the dock behind the house. Manatees sometimes bask in the sun on the ramp behind Alison.