Unfortunately, Sunday was calling for thunderstorms in the early afternoon, so I ditched my plans to take it out for an extended maiden voyage in the marshes north or south of town (I hadn't picked which one), rather opting for something much more convenient & closer to home.
A little bit down the road from where I live there are signs for the Bartram Canoe Trail. Evidently back in the day (1770s) William Bartram, a naturalist and explorer from Philadelphia (ironic?) did a tour of the Southeast and pretty much discovered and documented many of the plants and animals of the area.
|William Bartram Sketch of Alligators on St. Johns River|
There's a high school in Philly named after his father John Bartram, and funny enough the high school down the street from my house is named after William, (Bartram Trail). William did a lot of his early work in the area I live around the St. John's River. The water I paddled in today, Durbin Creek, is part of the waterway system he explored almost 250 years ago.
Right off the highway, there's a nice little "park" with enough room for a few cars and a canoe/kayak launch.
The water was pretty calm and it was an easy paddle. It's a swamp after all, so I didn't have the concern of fast moving water, etc... I largely took the opportunity to feel out and move around in the kayak...adjusting the seat...reaching for things...rocking back and forth...I even tried standing up from a seated position. That's going to take some more practice. The kayak handled it well, and I did get upright, I just don't have my sea legs yet.
I brought a fishing rod, and tried casting it for a little bit, just to get a feel since I've never really done that before. I didn't catch anything, but honestly, I didn't know what I was fishing for in the first place. Probably gators. Didn't much matter, it's really beautiful back there and plenty to look at to keep one's interest.
It was a relatively quick little paddle...I went out about a mile and and a half before backtracking back to the park. I really wanted to avoid the impending downpour, so I cut the trip short. It was a good call because pretty much as soon as I got home, the skies opened up in true Florida fashion.
Footnote: When I got back to my SUV there was a business card wedged in the window from the Durbin Creek Wilderness Society. Evidently these are 3 "everyday Joes" that are the keepers of Durbin Creek and do a great job volunteering their time (& manpower) to keep the water clear of both natural and man-made maladies so folks can continue to enjoy the resource. Hats off to them for doing a great job! They have a blog at bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com and a Facebook page HERE. If you're interested in learning more, there's a ton of great pictures and information at each resource.