AFB and cue the monkeys

Joe’s rental kayak with sunken boat in the background

Joe’s rental kayak with sunken boat in the background

The gators looked well fed and no threat

The gators looked well fed and no threat

South Pole Mike and I cruising the St Lucie River

South Pole Mike and I cruising the St Lucie River

December 2013

Greetings fellow rule breakers,

            My December holiday break was wisely spent in warm, sunny Florida while the rest of the country was whining about the ice and cold. First up was a nice dinner with Pat to celebrate 32 years of marital bliss, and since it was stone crab season in Florida I got to break my way into the claws on my  plate while Pat munched a salad like a good herbivore. The next day I headed north to Ocala to meet up with Joe, one of the Antarctic docs I worked with last year who recently moved with his family from frigid Maine to Tallahassee, Florida, which he describes as “easy living.” Ocala was a good middle of the state meeting place, and we planned to canoe the crystal clear Silver River the next day. I lobbied for a 5 mile downstream, one way canoe ride with his wife and kids, and then driving the canoe and kayak back on my car’s roof rack instead of having to paddle upstream to return the boats. When I called the canoe rental concession earlier in the week and asked about this option, I was told it was not allowed because they didn’t have a shuttle service, so I simply figured once we were on the water who could stop us? Joe and I drove our cars to the park downstream and I left my car there and we drove Joe’s car back to the hotel to get his wife and kids. Pat had to work and didn’t want to be a part of my plan of deviance anyway.  Our group assembled at the put-in point after Joe gave the rental guy his name and we both handed over some cash for the canoe and kayak. No papers to sign or any check to see if we had a drivers license or had just shot our way out of prison, and off we went.

            The river was beautiful and soon we spotted a number of birds, turtles and gators. Once on the water Joe’s family agreed to go to the downstream park as long as it was clear that ABF (all Bob’s fault) was the explanation we would give at the end. The kids liked to chant  “ABF, ABF” as we cruised along, and as a special reward near the end of our run we saw a few trees full of monkeys left over from a 1940’s attraction that never took off but the monkeys remained wild in the swamps bordering the river. I said once I had “cued the monkeys” it would be the conclusion of Bob’s adventure travel trip. Once ashore I strapped the canoe to the roof of the car and drove back to the park, much to the consternation of the lady at the entrance gate who declared that I was a “bad boy” and the canoe rental guy that couldn’t quite get why I hadn’t asked him, knowing that he would tell me “NO!” We paid him for the extra hours on the water and bought him some beer to soothe his temper, and figured that since all he had was Joe’s last name that he was now on the “no paddle” list similar to the TSA’s no fly list and he may be banned from future rentals throughout the state. No harm, no foul and I thought the kids learned a valuable lesson of asking for forgiveness and not permission when you know the answer is “no.” Joe mentioned that he might send them to me when they are teenagers to keep those skills sharp.

            The rest of my holiday was spent enjoying time with Pat and her family, hanging with Lauren and her dogs, biking on some new trails with friends and windsurfing and kiting when the wind gods were smiling. I also got to dine with my mom and dad, and did a final canoe run on a river near our Florida place with Mike and his family, another Antarctica hiking buddy who just returned from a dark, soul crushing winter at the South Pole. Now it’s back to work and the Colorado snow country until the next jaunt to the warmth of the south.

Cheers,

       Bad boy Bob