Photo of the Day: Beach

I had some family-related time in Florida and shot these on the beach near where I grew up. During the day it was all hustle-a-bustle, but at sunset everyone but the Ospreys go home and suddenly it’s the empty beach of my teen years, suffused with memories.

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The Return

Do you ever spend so much time prepping and planning for a trip that when you come home there’s this weird vacuum in your existence and you can’t quite figure out what to do with yourself? That was me last week.

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However! I am now back to reality and finally starting to postĀ some stuff from my trip to the Florida Keys. I didn’t get many pictures of the kayaking portion – the outfitter rushed us a lot, as they were trying to finish early to get on to another trip in Costa Rica – but the bike portion was spectacular. I’m already pondering doing just the kayak segment again next year, but as a series of day kayaks to make it a little easier – and to avoid the heart-stopping traverse of the 7 mile bridge (which I did my first day, and don’t ever need to do again – yikes!) If I do I will start at the south end of the Bahia Honda bridge, which is truly spectacular and where the scenery starts to get really great.

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Happy Monday, and check back for more photos this week. There’s loads šŸ™‚

 

 

Packing List

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I’m starting to pack for my upcoming Keys kayaking/cycling trip. As I have to carry everything for the first 5 days (the kayak portion) on my kayak, and the first two days of the cycling bit on my back, I’m having to pare down really tightly. I’m usually a light packer, but I’m veering into cut-the-toothbrush-in-half territory (which reminds me, I haven’t packed my toothbrush…)

I’m not a fan of buying a ton of new stuff for trips, if for no reason than you don’t know how it will hold up until you’ve tested it, but for this trip I bought two Outdoor Products one-liter water bottles (these are similar, and slightly cheaper) and a headlamp for wandering around camp at night, trying not to be eaten by crocodiles. Or tripping over my own feet, which is slightly more likely.

Also on the pack list: my Cressi mask, the only mask I’ve ever had that fits my hamster-shaped face and doesn’t leak, my gopro with the dive housing and camera (I may only take the Canon camera on the biking segment) and a bright green hair scrunchie, just in case the 90’s return while I’m traveling. I am ashamed to admit how many hair scrunchies I actually own.

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Not pictured: lots and lots and LOTSĀ of sunscreen.

And it all has to fit in two daypacks… oh boy. Time to power-fold…

Writewritewrite (and edit)

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Doing a large amount of writing is both the most exciting and the most boring thing imaginable.

Right now it is a slow time for the commercial production I do, which means I’m taking the opportunity to work on some longer-format projects that I have been meaning to do for a while, and occasionally deep-cleaning a closet just for the sake of variety. Because writing, as I’ve said, is not always exciting stuff. I love the research, the excuse to read and reference and take notes for hours – I feel like I’m in the research montage of every heist movie ever at that point – but the actual chained-to-the-desk writing part can be a bit tedious, especially if the weather’s nice and you hit a segment of writer’s block.

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Fortunately I have some fairly exciting things that I’m writing about, which I thought I’d catch everyone up on today. You can picture me surrounded by maps and charts and cups of coffee and my favorite pens and endless notebooks as you read. My cat should probably be trying to sprawl across my laptop at the same time. Life’s tough for a writer.

You could also picture me swearing under my breath as I peruse the online thesaurus for yet another synonym for “amazing” and trying to re-find a tab I just closed and mopping up the coffee my cat spilled, which is probably more realistic. But it’s your mental picture so you get to choose.

So… projects!

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My biggest upcoming project is a combination webseries/podcast called The Haunted Seas, about ghost stories, legends, and hauntings involving the ocean. We’re aiming for 2 pocasts and one webisode a month right now, and I’ve just finished writing the first podcast, about the Ghost Ship of the Northumberland Strait, a fiery phantom that plies the channel between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. We record it tomorrow, and it should be live in time for next week’s blog update. Then late next week I go to St. Simon’s Island in South Georgia to shoot our first webisode, about the haunting of the St. Simon’s Lighthouse.

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not actually the St. Simon’s Lighthouse. This is the Tybee Light in Savannah.

In between writing sessions for these, I’m working on two e-books: one is a guide to spiritual and meditation retreats in the Southeastern US, and one is a guide to Georgia golf courses. If I canĀ find a spiritual retreat in Georgia that involved silent meditation AND golfing, I will have hit the mother lode. There’s some sort of joke to be made about the crowds at a golf tournament being practically a silent meditation anyway, but I just… can’t… find it.

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When I absolutely cannot take the desk anymore, and the cat’s spilled all the coffee, I get to go outside (assuming it’s not raining) and train for my other upcoming project, which is a 240 mile combination kayak/bicycle trip through the Florida Keys, which I’m attempting – probably solo, as none of my friends are sufficiently insane to go – in April or possibly May. Starting in Key Largo, I’ll paddle to Key West, and then ride my bike back to the starting point. I’m calling it “The Turtle Traverse”, because “There and Back Again” is already taken, and because I’m planning to make a donation to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon at the end of the trip.

So that’s it for projects! Stay tuned for updates on these and any other Constant Holiday crazy I can come up with. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, where I try to post at least one photo or video daily.

Now I need more coffee.

 

 

At Sunset

Happy 2016! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday and a safe new year.

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I spent most of my holiday week ping-ponging around central Florida, not because I was on vacation but because that’s where most of my family lives. I didn’t get a lot of downtime – who does, really – but I got to spend two evenings taking long walks on the Dunedin Causeway that leads out to Caladesi Island, a state park and nature area near where I grew up. The park itself is spectacular, one of the few completely natural areas left in that park of Florida, and I’ve been out there swimming and kayaking many times, but this time I contented my self with walking along the causeway, which is a sort of free for all beach during the day, with kids on bikes and paddleboarders and kayakers and general family-friendly mayhem.

As the sun goes down it becomes the province of the fishermen, who either cast from shore or wade into the shallows with nets, the rhythmic sweep of their casts echoing the steady lapping of waves on the beach. A few people linger, gathering to watch the sunset as it sinks below a neighboring barrier island. Shorebirds stalk the flats and the ospreys wheel overhead, scouting for the last meal of the day.

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When I was a kid, it was a rare thing to see an osprey. They were one of the many raptors impacted by DDT, and their numbers had crashed to the point that to see one flying around was like seeing, I don’t know, a unicorn. Or Santa. I distinctly remember being taken to see an osprey nest at a state park as a field trip, and the general feeling was that those might be the last of these birds.

Instead, though, DDT was banned and the populations began to rebound, to the point where a few years ago I sat on a patio with a college friend admiring a pair of ospreys tearing into a fish on top of a lightpost nearby, just going about their bird-oriented business. And to the point where I could sit two weeks ago and watch the sunset, while they swoopedĀ overhead, so close I could see their sharp eyes and the warm soft light play on their feathers, diving for fish and letting out sharp victory cries when they succeeded. They wheeled and dove and brought their spoils, small silvery fish, back to the nests where come spring they will raise a new generation, a set of chicks that won’t have to be watched by the wildlife people and schoolchildren in mingled dread and awe, as they teeter on the brink. They will simply hatch and grow and join the ranks, letting their bright cries carry on the shore wind, as the sunset watchers admire them in the golden light.

Just a natural part of the scenery.

Which is as it should be. And I count myself very lucky to have seen it.