I just got back from a trip to the frying pan of the United States, Florida. I was told that while I was there it wasn’t even bad, as Florida heat goes. In any case the people I met and the stoke I experienced was so cool, it helped to off set the constant sweat beads dripping down my back and forehead. I don’t want to ramble on about the Kalama Kamp we did there so I will just say that I really enjoyed myself and the people that attended seemed very satisfied with their experience.
One thing that did make me a little nervous was the sting rays I kept hearing about. You might say I have a very heightened fear of the little creatures after traveling to Japan several years ago with Laird. He happened to get wacked by one of the little buggers and at first I saw him try to man up and disregard the pain. But after rolling around in pain for an evening he went to the hospital the next day to get it looked at. I guess it had managed to get infected rather quickly and he hobbled around for the next few days with a bum wheel and a prickly disposition. In any case it gave me a healthy respect for what the little buggers can do to you.
One of the coolest things I experienced while there was the stoke people have for this sport. With all of the flat water they have I sort of anticipated a bunch of casual recreation type paddlers, but I was mistaken. There’s quite a large community of very keen racers and fitness paddlers there and with the amount of water ways and ocean access they have, you can paddle throughout all of Florida. With people like John Denny ( Jupiter Paddleboarding ) , Brody Welte ( Stand up fitness ) And Jeff Archer ( Yolo ) helping to lead the way in Florida, I anticipate the great camaraderie , stoke and inclusiveness to continue for a long time.
During our down time Brody (The Godfather of Stand up corn hole) taught me all about corn hole. I know what your thinking and get your mind out of the gutter. Corn hole is a sensitive mans horse shoes. You have a two foot by three foot board with about a five inch circle in it that you try to toss a small bean bag through. Also like horse shoes there’s two boards separated about thirty feet apart, with two players next to each board. This game is very conducive to adult beverages and gamesmanship. Anyway despite it’s terrible name it’s actually a lot of fun and provided for hours of laughter.
Another gem of an establishment in the St. Pete/ Clearwater area is Gators. I not only ate there once but several times. Thank God I was doing so much paddling during the day to help compensate for all the grub and beers at night. I’m not used to dinning with bikers, college students, parrot heads, jocks and bar flys, but I must admit just like in Hawaii where multiple races and cultures coexsist together, everyone just kind of gets along fine. Plus after the sun goes down the lights shinning down into the bay waters off their deck, ignite a fantasia of a food chain ballet. Even the birds standing on the dock with their long necks jet down their beaks to grab a little minnow.
Now that I know there is such a brethren of sweepers in Florida I look forward to going back and doing more Kalama Kamps, eating at Gators and hanging with all the stoked Florida boys (and girls).