Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From the Nose of Our Kayak: Chapter 14 "Look Out Panhandle Here We Come!"

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 14: Look Out Panhandle Here We Come!

To celebrate our 30 year anniversary we headed for the panhandle of Florida...the Apalachicola area to be exact. We wanted to visit some long time friends plus do some kayaking in yet another area of Florida that was "virgin" to us. 

Along the way we stopped for some lunch. Seafood was calling our name...something it always does when we're on the gulf coast. When we came upon the town of Freeport we started looking for a local diner. Sure enough we spotted one that suited our fancy. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot.

I have to say that Oyster Po Boy Sandwich was out of this world! The oysters were heaped on in quite the fashion, and the bun was so good and soft, and the tartar sauce - lettuce  - and tomato capped it off.

Don enjoyed a plate of fried shrimp that were absolutely to die for. And in addition to the outstanding food, the service was ever so friendly, fast, and spot on. We made sure we left enough time on the way home to stop in one more time.

Once we arrived at our destination, The Gibson Inn (above), and were greeted with some awesome southern hospitality. Our room was nothing shy of stellar.

We got settled in, all of the luggage and snacks were unpacked and it was time to start exploring, looking for some great places to kayak.

First we stopped at a sharky kind of place. C' know these kinds of places make you laugh, and are always a blast to shop!

Luckily we escaped the dangers of the giant shark and headed on toward some state parks.

There were many other cool sights to behold. The boat docks filled with vessels of every size, sea-worthy displays, lighthouses, beaches, and so much more! 

The weather was not cooperating for kayaking (until the day we left of course! LOL!). Storms had moved in, and left us not wanting to be on the water. So we spent a couple of days visiting St. George Island and State Park, St. Joseph State Park, St. Vincent's State Park, and St. Mark's NWR to scout out the area. 

Believe it or not, sometimes bad weather can lend itself to being your friend, as long as you respect it. 

How can you tell when it's safe or not safe to be on the water in Florida? There are a few quick ways to get an idea. 

Obviously if the sky is getting dark in any direction that's a good sign there's going to be a storm. To be safe check your weather radar. Set the radar in motion if you can to get an idea of how fast and in what direction it is moving.  

Sometimes you may be deep in the woods and not able to see the sky. If that's the case, use your ears. Listen for thunder or "brewing" winds rushing through the leaves. If the wind is kicking up, even on the river, there's a good chance inclement weather is heading your way. 

If you think you saw a flash...if you're in Florida, you probably did. Always take lightning seriously no matter how far away you think it is. If you can't make it back to the dock before the storm reaches you and your kayak, head for the shore...get off of the water immediately and seek shelter. You can even use your kayak for such by sitting on the ground and holding it up over your head. Don't hang on to a tree...they are prime targets for lightning. If time allows you to get your kayak at least back to your dock to your vehicle, you can always leave the kayak out in the rain and lightning while you seek shelter in your vehicle. Kayaks are used to getting wet. Turn it upside down so it doesn't fill with water that you would have to "bail out" later.

Your goals when you are kayaking should be to have fun and stay safe all at the same time. A weather app on your phone is yet another good tool to have on hand. 

The best place we decided for us to kayak would be St. George Island. It was a "prairie" kind of paddle. We were used to the rivers of central Florida...not the open style water with no shade. But it ended up being another awesome adventure in the yak. We paddled for several hours, enjoying the new sights, and paying close attention to the weather. We began to hear the booming in the background and knew it was time to exit the water.

We headed to get some dinner, and found a couple of really cool places to stop and photograph Mother Nature working overtime. The sunset along with the clearing storm late that evening made for some of our best sunset shots to this day!

We plan on returning to the area some day in the fall or spring. Summer can be quite rainy in Florida...and also very hot on the water.


Kayak Tip of the Week: If weather is not cooperating, don't get discouraged, use the opportunity to your advantage for when the storm clears. 


Below are some shots from our launching point...

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