Friday, June 23, 2017

Father's Day on the Blackwater River

On Father's Day we decided to take the Island King up to the Blackwater River for a day of paddling and playing.

We packed up our kayaks and his canoe (he says the Indian in him whispers that he needs to be in a canoe not a yak) grabbed the Youngest Island Boy's girlfriend, Miss Mocha and her brother, Astronaut John and off we went.

On our drive up there were two crows flying around and they seemed to be following us. No matter how far down the Interstate we drove, they flew along, circling trees, resting and then catching up with us.

I jokingly told the Island King that crows following you is a “harbinger of death.”

Unless you're my cousin MG who has a crow that comes to her window every day to chat with her.

We put in about 4 miles upstream from the pull out spot and down the river we floated.



The river was a little high but there were still plenty of sandbars to stop and play on.



Being Father's Day I expected more people on the river but there weren't that many folks out there.

A few groups from Blackwater Canoe Rentals came by in tubes and there were several groups of locals messing around but we had a lot of time just floating along by ourselves.



This was the first time Miss Mocha has been kayaking and her and the Youngest had some serious trouble getting in sync with their paddles. I thought for sure one of them was going to konk the other on the head but they finally managed to get a rhythm going and luckily there were no head injuries.


We hadn't been on the river for long when two crows – which I am positive were the same ones who followed us on the Interstate – showed up.

They circled us for a LONG time and this one kept landing on trees near me and then crowing at the top of his lungs. I have no idea what he was saying but it was slightly unnerving after me joking about them warning of death.

I sat still, listened to what he was saying and after a few minutes he flew off and we didn't see him or his friend for the rest of the day.


I guess he had something on his mind and once he was able to tell me about it, he was off to bother speak to someone else.

I don't speak crow so I have no idea what he said.

We stopped on several sandbars to swim and then picked a big bar to have a picnic lunch on.

It just so happened that the sandbar we had our picnic on was directly across from a big bluff so we got to watch a family do some bluff jumping.




They had 3 generations of men, a 70 year old grandad, his two sons and one of their sons and let me tell you, granddad put those young ones to shame.

He climbed straight up that bluff like a spider monkey, jumped in the river and then did it again.

It didn't take long before the younger generation realized they couldn't let grandpa show them up so they all climbed up the bluff, lined up and took the plunge together. 



I noticed the Island King and the Island Girl with their heads together, whispering something and I knew they were going to be the next ones to jump off the bluff.

They tried to talk the rest of us into jumping as well but the Youngest, Miss Mocha, Astronaut John and I all have better sense so we decided watching would be good enough for us.

The bluff was about 15 feet above the water and after he jumped the Island King told me that 15 feet is just far enough for you to have time to change your mind before hitting the water. Of course at that point there's no going back so no matter what your mind tells you, your body is going to hit the water.


They enjoyed the jump but both of them agreed it was a one time thing and they didn't need to do it again.

We spent all day on the river and pulled into the pickup spot about 5:30.


When we got there a Blackwater State Park ranger was there and everyone was looking down river.

I walked up just in time to hear that a woman had gone past the pickup spot with no tube, yak or floating contraption of any kind.

The Park Ranger was on his radio calling for a search vessel so I offered to take my yak and head down stream to see if I could find her.

He agreed since it was going to take a while for the search vessel to arrive but just as I was about to get into my yak a man walked up and told the park ranger that the woman was his wife and that she was sitting on the other side of the river on a sandbar just around the bend and that she wouldn't come back because she was mad at him.

The park ranger walked across the bridge and then we watched as he blazed a trail along the river down to the sandbar where the woman was sitting.

He was just a cussing as he was chopping branches and clearing a path but that was nothing compared to the cussing the woman did when he made her walk back with him.

They got to bridge where her husband was waiting and the two of them had a huge screaming fight – which ended with a hug and her getting in the truck with him.

The ranger just stood there shaking his head and when I asked if it had been a rough day he said “Well, the domestic disputes are a common thing but since no one drowned today I guess it was a good day.”

The Island King enjoyed his Father's Day and even though the crows were watching us nothing bad happened.


It was a wonderful, relaxing day and I always enjoy taking someone who's never been.


Most people only think of the coast when they think of Florida but there is an absolute paradise hidden in the woods and I love watching people fall in love with that part as well.



And as usual, I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mayday

By definition the international word for distress is Mayday.

Well, that seemed to be the word of the day for the ENTIRE month of May.

We started the month off with the refrigerator breaking. And because the fridge is seventeen years old, the part needed to fix it couldn't be found.


We lived out of coolers for almost a week while calling every appliance part store known to man trying to find the part we needed.

Once we realized there was no fixing ours we were off to buy a new one – which was a shocking experience. Obviously it's been a long time since I've bought a fridge and I had no idea they cost as much as a small car.

Not long after, I sent the Oldest Island Boy out to mow the grass and the lawnmower died. He and the Island King worked on it for quite a while but it too was beyond repair.

While they were working on the lawn mower, the Youngest and I went to Chick-Fil-A to get dinner and as soon as we pulled away from the drive-through steam starting pouring out from under the hood.

We called the Island King and he showed up, added some water and limped the truck home. One of the hoses had broken and needed to be replaced.


A few days later the kitchen sink backed up and no matter what he did the Island King couldn't get it unclogged.

We've had a LOT of plumbing problems in this house so we added an access panel on the outside of the kitchen wall so the Island King can get to it.

Of course the clog couldn't be resolved so until a plumber can come he left the cap off the pipe and now my kitchen sink drains into the side yard.

After all of that I decided we needed a great day on the water so we loaded the boat with kids, food and a ton of stuff and left the dock on Sunday, headed for the beach.

Our plan was to take the boat to the beach, spend the day playing in the water and then watch the Memorial Day fireworks before coming home that night.

Except...

We launched the boat, left the dock and just as we came out of the bayou the steering cable on the boat broke.


We made it to shallow water near the fishing pier and dropped the anchor.


The cable is toast and we knew we were going to have to call Sea Tow to take us back to the boat ramp.

But, being one of the busiest boat days of the season, Sea Tow was busy so we were going to have to wait a while.

We were anchored down the street from our house so the kids bailed and the Island King and I sat there, “enjoying” our day in the boat.



When Sea Tow showed up they towed us back to the boat ramp and we pulled the boat and headed home.


We were sitting in the back yard and the Island King told me that he felt like grilling something so we decided to have a BBQ instead of a boat night.

Sadly, our grill is really old and he's been limping it along for some time now and when we opened the lid, the bottom of the grill literally fell out.



We just sat there looking at each other and the Youngest walked out long enough to tell me that it seems statistically impossible for all of these things to have broken in one month's time.

Yes it does but we're talking about me and I'm pretty sure Murphy had me in mind when he made his “everything that can go wrong will” law.

We ended up grilling over our fire pit so at least we had a great dinner.


I heard this song on the way to the store yesterday and I'm pretty sure he's talking about us.




Friday, May 12, 2017

The Mullet Man

The Island King were sitting in the boat last weekend watching a school of mullet swim by, making me wish we'd brought the mullet net.

After sitting a bit I went for a walk along the shore and when I looked up I saw the Mullet Man.


The Mullet Man is awesome. He's been running the Bay for years, catching mullet and selling them to the fish markets.

The Island King flagged him down but the Mullet Man told him he was on his way to make a big cast.

He did say he'd be right back though.

Sure enough, a few minutes later he came back.


We walked over to his boat and the Island King told him we wanted whatever $20 would get us.


He opened his cooler and let us pick the ones we wanted. Those fish weren't even dead yet which meant we were getting true “fresh” fish.


We'd point out ones we wanted (we prefer the smaller ones) and he'd stuff them in a 5 gallon bucket. He was also grabbing fish and putting them in the bucket so I don't know exactly how much $20 will get you but we finally had to tell him to stop because we had more than plenty.


Once we finished he was off to catch some more and we headed home to fry up some still flopping mullet for dinner.


We had so much that on the way home we talked about cooking some and then freezing the rest for bait.

It's a good thing we got so much though because when we got home there were 3 college kids and 4 teenagers hanging around the house.

The Island King couldn't cook that fish fast enough. He'd pull a batch out and it would disappear immediately.



In the end, everyone had full bellies and we still had a tiny bit left to freeze for bait.

Running into the Mullet Man is always a good thing.

DISCLAIMER: In a lot of places mullet is considered a trash fish. They are bottom feeders and if the bottom is silty or dirty, the meat will taste fishy and dirty. BUT our bays have clean, sandy white bottoms which means the meat from our local mullet has a nice, sweet flavor. If you're visiting Northwest Florida try some fried mullet. You'll be glad you did. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Meet Clarice

A few years ago we beached our boat on a deserted island and got out to do some exploring.


As I was wandering around the island, I looked over in a bush and saw a mannequin head.

She was looking right at me and I knew I had to help her. After all, she was stranded and helpless on this island.

I picked her up and proudly placed her on the bow of the boat for our ride home.


The Island King was a little creeped out by her but I knew he'd warm up to her after he got to know her.

I named her Clarice. Except, you have to say it in an Anthony Hopkins voice from Silence of the Lambs which actually sounds like “Claireece.”

Which means I get to say “Hello Claireece” whenever I see her.

The odd thing is that this is the same island my Dad found and rescued a different head on several months before me. 


Not sure what's going on out there but obviously it's not a safe place for mannequins to hang out.

I brought Clarice home, picked the seaweed out of her hair, gave her a bath and she now lives in my office.


And yes, I talk to her often.

Talking to her beats talking to Bob.


The Island King made Bob for me one day when I mentioned (sarcastically) that he never listens, which translates into I never have anyone to talk to.

I wonder sometimes if Bob and Clarice talk quietly among themselves when I'm not around.

The Island Girl looked at Clarice the other day and said “You are bats$&% crazy. I can picture you in a cemetery with that thing in the middle of the night like something out of the Garden of Good and Evil.”


I have no idea why she thinks that.