Little Sarasota Bay

I was almost torn about what to write about this week or even to write at all.  I had a very serious mountaineering experience a couple days ago.  I was alpine climbing and had a couple epiphanies.  It seems you can gain the most clarity while in nature.  The trip was really heavy and I will journal it here next week, but one I made a realization about my writing.  I realized I want to shift my focus of these journals to be more EMOTIONAL rather than TECHNICAL.  I believe there is ample information available about how to get to such and such places, where to turn, how many miles, what to expect and so on.  Trip reports can sometimes lend themselves to be more of a map, which is informative, interesting, but only factual. I want to continue with bits of that for context, but I want to craft these entries more personal to my FEELINGS.  *Ahhh felt good just to get that off my chest.*

I went back to Florida this Summer to see my family, they all live there; Mom, Dad and Brother. Despite any natures of growing older, everyone is in a good place in their life.  Things have not always been that way, so it was a real pleasure to be "home."  I put home in quotes because my home is now in Los Angeles.  I have lived in California for twice as long as I lived in Florida.  I love and miss my family, but home is where the heart is.

During my week stay I tried stand up paddle boarding.  It was everything I expected, pretty boring.  I grew up skateboarding and even snowboarding so SUP just didn't cut the mustard for me.  Nonetheless it was on my adventure bucket list to try, and it's now crossed off this year. I have been burning through my bucket list and it's only the second season of the year.   I also went kayaking with my wife, step-daughter and mom. My Adventure Log is filling up, thanks Word Notebooks!

This adventure was a little different, not because it was on the water instead of the mountains but because it was guided by the American Littoral Society, whose mission reads The American Littoral Society promotes the study and conservation of marine life and habitat, protects the coast from harm, and empowers others to do the same. This hit close to my heart as I am a leader and member of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, which parallels a mission to Explore, Enjoy & Protect.

The trip was low key, about 4 hours, with all the equipment provided. Billed as: Quiet Water Kayak Trip: Enjoy leisurely paddling and observation at a variety of sites difficult to visit by any other means, sounds perfect to me!

This particular trip just scooted around what's known as Little Sarasota Bay. Sarasota Bay is a lagoon located off the west coast of Florida in the United States. It is generally treated as an estuary, with three "passes" or inlets, giving access from the Gulf of Mexico.
It's one of twenty-eight estuaries in the country that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an estuary of national significance. The bay lies between barrier islands called keys, that separate the body of water from the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida mainland. Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, and Casey Key are the major keys that delineate the main bay and its smaller portions.

I highly suggest going on a trip like this.  Organizations like Sierra Club and the Littoral Society do an amazing job at integrating activity with education. It's seamless.  It's an excellent time to just ask a million questions about the type of trees, or the food chain in the area, or the history of the area. 

I love being on the water, who doesn't?  Heading to Florida in mid-August is a bold move.  I am wearing a "sun hoody" in this photo.  It's a lightweight technical garment made for fly-fishing, essentially just sitting under the sun.  It wicks moisture and keeps the rays off your skin.  The loose hood also allows me to avoid having to put sunscreen all over my neck and ears.

The weather and water was calm.  I loved the bright colors of the kayaks.  Personally, I love neon colors so it was fun when I loaded my photos.  I'm not too manly for a bright pink kayak!

This was the first time Desiree has ever kayaked so her mom took the rear of the boat to navigate. You had the option of a one or two man kayak, I think they were the only people to use the 2-person ship and had no regrets about it!

My mother "Siesta Leslie" has fully embodied the spirit of Florida. Sarasota County somehow got a reputation of being Florida's "cultural coast."  One could wonder how, but with influential characters that bring art, achievement and education to the public, it's really not that surprising.  She is definitely living on island time, Siesta Key to be specific!

The group was a mixed bag, some older folks, some young, some with their own kayak, some regulars, some snow birds (from the midwest).  Here is a photo of most of the squad.

We all just sort of leisurely followed our awesome guide John around the bay as he recounted environmental science, like how snook were called '"soap fish" and deemed inedible along time ago, and how now they are game fish and too sparse to be consumed.  He also pointed out a dolphin, some manatees and sneaked local laws like how it's illegal to "chase wildlife" like dolphins (just watch from a distance don't pursue too close).  I see what you did there John, you're try'n a learn me something and protect nature while we're having fun.  I see.  Good work John.

The trip sort of pinnacles as we briefly dock at what seems like a secret beach.  We pull up the kayaks from the Bay and walk over the other side of this pass (Midnight Pass) to Gulf of Mexico. Not an easy place to access without a kayak. 

This part of the beach was beautiful.  It was sort of surreal, I grew up around here and couldn't even recognize where I was.  I think this was my second time ever being on Midnight Pass, the first time involved getting there on foot but lots of trespassing.

We took a short swim, the water was so warm. Felt like a bath! felt great to stretch our legs from the kayak.  John offered everyone some granola bars and we chugged some Gatorade.  It was probably 11am at this point, 3 hours into our trip.

We headed back to the boat launch and ducked a quick tunnel of mangroves.  I love this photo Desi took from her kayak, you can really get a first person perspective on what it's like to be on the Sarasota Bay.

When we got back from our 4 hour trip, I helped John load the kayaks on his truck trailer, and thanked him for his time. It was odd but there were multiple news crews there doing a story on Mote Marine Laboratory, whose staff was there about to restock the area with Snook.  It was really cool to be colliding with two different efforts both preserving our wildlife.  Touching.

It was an awesome trip, great to be out with my Mom and see Desiree, the next generation, all enjoying nature.  I hope my readers enjoyed this entry, my writing is sincere and can't be sterile from how adventure FEELS. But if you think this was to mild for your mind, stay tuned for next week, it's a doozy!!!

FOREVER OUTSIDE symbol made of seaweed, thanks for the help Nancy!