Wednesday, July 6, 2016

From the Nose of Our Kayak: Chapter 6 Out with Old and In with the Older!

Hello and welcome to the JLB Creatives Blog, where you'll find an array of creative features from a hand-picked group of creative geniuses. 

Wednesdays on the JLB Creatives Blog are set aside for our blog book, "From the Nose of Our Kayak." JLB Creatives CEO, Janet Beasley, and her husband, Don, have been kayaking for nearly 10 years. Together they are excited to share with you, their awesome experiences that they have encountered. In this Wednesday feature you'll find kayaking stories, scenic nature photography from their outings, and some helpful tips when it comes to maneuvering your "butt sleds" (aka kayaks) on your journeys.

So if this is a topic that interests you, you'll want to be sure and become a follower of the JLB Creatives Blog, and stop in on Wednesdays each week for the latest chapter in Don & Janet Beasley's adventure blog book, "From the Nose of Our Kayak." 

Previous chapters can be found in our blog archives. We began the series on June 1, 2016.


From the Nose of Our Kayak
Don & Janet Beasley
Chapter 6: Out with the Old and In with the Older!

View on Silver River
From the Nose of Our (new-old) Kayak
One thing we'd like to mention to those of you who are new to the sport of kayaking...beware, kayaking is addicting and you'll find yourself justifying the numerous kayaks you will come to own over time. 

After a year of fun and minimal discovery we decided it was time to move up. We wanted to get away from the softer plastic and move up into a hard plastic body for the kayak. We searched and searched, and finally found the one at the price we wanted to pay. Being it was our first step up, we didn't want to drop a lot of money into it just to try it out. 

Our first hard plastic bodied kayak was a Wilderness Systems (tandem) 145T. This particular kayak was new to us, but much older, and shall we say much more "experienced," than our brand new one in which we had started. The seats in the new-old one were held on by threads, the bottom was pretty scuffed, but it had something we really wanted...a rudder! And for the price of $350 we couldn't argue. It took about another $100 or so to get it up to speed where we could actually sit in seats and adjust them, carry some water with us, and restring the bungees, but it was definitely money well spent. 

Water bottle holders
It depends on who you talk to, and where you're kayaking as to whether or not a rudder is right for you. For Don and myself we found, after giving it a go, that a rudder is definitely for us! Paddling up river winding, bending, staying clear of gators, and dodging downed cypress trees, and lily pad beds lends itself to having to be quick to maneuver at times. With a rudder, the quick maneuvering happens faster, and stronger (for lack of a better word). You've probably heard of cars drifting(?), good news, with a rudder you can actually "drift" some of the bends in the winding river with ease. Some say a rudder is for "sissies." (Fine, then we're sissies, but we're usually out-maneuvering those without a rudder, both up and down the rivers - tee hee) Don always laughs and asks the people calling us sissies, "Would you drive a car without power steering?" The answer is the same every time, "...uh, no."  Don replies, "Case and point." 

In July 2010 we tied the ol' green monster (new-old kayak) on top of the car, loaded up the famous kayak-wheel thingy and deer-drag-rig, and headed back to Silver River. We couldn't wait to give our new-old kayak a try. 

Don in the lingering fog at the
Silver River State Park Kayak Launch
The morning fog was lifting when we arrived, making for some pretty soggy, steamy, air, but beautiful nonetheless. We off-loaded the kayak and were eager to get it in the water. 

We shoved off with ease and headed up river toward the main spring head. 

In no time I had the Canon digital point-and-shoot camera out and snapping photos. We saw tons of wildlife that day, making it a superb inaugural trip. 

The water at Silver Springs (like many other Florida spring-fed rivers) is so clear you can see all of the way down to the sandy bottom in 30 feet of water.

The clear water allows you to see the weeds beneath the water's surface, and it looks as though you are looking through glass.

Alligator next to lily pad bed
Gators are not always out in the open on logs, sometimes they are "perched" on floating weed beds, or nestled next to or in the lily pad beds.

Giraffe at Silver Springs Amusement Park 2010
Silver Springs amusement park was still operating as a family adventure destination in 2010. As we kayaked along the shoreline of the amusement park we could see the giraffes, some of the rides, and had to steer clear of the numerous glass bottom boats making their guided tours filled with curious people who were longing for a glimpse of the springs from a different angle.

Cormorants drying off
Cormorants, like anhingas, rest atop logs to dry their wings before taking another dip for a snack. It took us some time to distinguish between anhingas and cormorants. But we learned it this way: the Cormorant has the "Crooked" beak. When they're not diving, cormorants will swim "on top" of the water like a duck, where anhingas will usually swim with only their necks and heads out.

Cormorant swimming atop the water
Spider webs will often times catch the morning dew along the river and create outstanding, enchanted, pearly, fairy-like appearances. The spiders on the jeweled web in my photo are known as golden silk orb-weavers. The name is reflected in the spider's silk as opposed to the spider's color. They are larger spiders whose venom is potent, though it is not lethal to humans. Female bodies range in length from 1 1/2" - 2". Golden silk orb-weavers can be found in warmer climates within the southeast region of the US starting in North Carolina and ending in Texas.

Golden silk orb-weavers
Dragonflies are all around. I never seem to tire photographing those incredibly visually stunning buzzers. And when they land on the kayak to ride with us for a while it's a sheer treat, nothing shy of amazing. Some interesting facts about dragonflies include one that dates back 325 million years ago; It is a fossil showing that a dragonfly ancestor boasted a 30" wingspan! Another fact is that dragonflies can be found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Believe it ro not, they're predators of tadpoles and small fish, and are also territorial. Sadly, the loss of wetland habitats around the world threatens dragonflies and their habitats. The dragonfly in my photo appears to have decided to land on a floating weed bed and catch a ride on the leaf. (Love those transparent pretty!)

Dragonfly on a leaf that's resting on a floating weed bed
Ibis are always abundant on the Silver River. But even with the "plain Jane" appearance of their white feathers and orange beaks, when they're placed against Silver River's gorgeous backdrop they can't help but look really impressive
as well. 

Needless to say, there was plenty to photograph on our first trip out in the new-old kayak. As always, Silver River didn't let us down regarding its amazing scenery, and interaction with nature. The trip was a successful thrill and joy wrapped into one. We were so happy we had purchased the new-old kayak...with the rudder!


Kayak tip of the week: Be sure to pack plenty of water to drink. Just because the sun doesn't feel hot where you're kayaking, you're still losing body water (sweat) as you paddle. In Florida we like to freeze the drinking water (either in its original bottle or in one of our re-usable containers and put those in the drink holders. We keep back up frozen water in a small cooler as well.  

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JLB Creatives Editor Dar Bagby (L) and JLB Creatives CEO Janet Beasley (R)