Sunday, September 21, 2014

Caladesi Island State Park Florida

We paddled out across the blue green expanse, about two miles or so and it was like being explorers discovering a new and unknown paradise. Okay, other people had found it but with the wide open, uncrowded area of bay that surrounded the island state park the feeling of peace and freedom was amazing. We could see the bottom for most of the way out with schools of bait fish running through the clear water and an occasional stingray dashing across the white sand.

We paddled the kayaks to where we could get out and stand in the shallow flats, being not as prepared as the rest of the group, I spent more time keeping my kayak from wandering off. No one caught anything but a man on a paddle board came by and mentioned he could see a small school of bonnet head sharks, they are small hammerhead sharks and I was disappointed that I didn't get a glimpse of them. 

We all hung around  the pass, parked the kayaks and watched as a storm passed us by and the cool breeze was so welcome after paddling across the bay. I will have several paintings of this area with the storm and the silhouettes of fisherman. I also found some horseshoe crabs along the beach and interesting birds and wildlife. It was such a beautiful day and even though we didn't catch much, a bad day fishing is better than any good day at work.

How far is too far? Out of cell service, unprepared, stressed-

Our whole trip was originally planned around a trip to Kentucky and more specifically Dale Hollow Lake. We were going on a guided smallmouth bass trip and hoping the elusive fish wouldn't skunk us again. I should have realized how far off the map we were when we arrived at the lake with no cell service.

After a long day of travel through the southern portion of Kentucky, a two mile trek deep into the longest cave in the US-Mammoth Cave-a 400 mile long cave system. I was disgusted when they looked at me and asked if I was okay for the tour-I did just fine by the way, just fine. It's a dramatically large cave right up until you get into the depths where you are squeezing through tight areas-it seems every time we explore a new cave , there is always something different from the wildlife to the stalagmites and cave bacon, for Mammoth cave I would say it was the size of the ceiling and the history  that was literally etched on its walls.

After driving all day, we were ready to relax and enjoy our cabin. Unfortunately I learned that in Tennessee-we needed a youth license even though my son was only fifteen-can't find his social security card and can't buy his license without it, try to explain to someone on the phone how to find the paperwork where his number would be-unfortunately very weak cell service and short memory on my part made this very difficult. There was one place where we could use the cell, on the top of the mountain, in a small area where we must have looked like lurking criminals parked on the side of the road in the middle of the night.

Stressful, frustrating evening finishes out a rather exhausting day. Up early to go fishing, misplaced license, unprepared for eight hours on a boat and another day we end up fatigued instead of relaxed. I was the only one that caught a smallie and it was a pretty reasonable size. Now I realize that eight hours on a lake when your not catching anything is a bit tiring especially when it's unseasonably warm. It always seems that there is a point in a vacation where the fatigue or the cost of the trip catch up with you or perhaps its just the fact that face it, you always forget something or fail to prepare-in the end it's what you do with it that preserves the memory for the better.

Next on our agenda was Gatlinburg, an amazing ski town in south east Tennessee. I'll be honest I was looking forward to being in a  town that had lots of people and was less remote. First stop, a small barbecue shop that my son found in man vs food-it was in Knoxville Tennessee-Dixsons' Barbecue, the idea of finding great places to eat has turned into the texture of this trip and my son has not failed as of yet, Dixsons' was no exception. A very modest trailer with a very interesting cook who I would have loved to spend the afternoon talking with and in retrospect we probably should have. We had these ribs that had a spicy kick that we have tried to decipher but it was an incredible taste and well worth the trip. The presentation, wrapped in tinfoil and put in a paper bag, felt like locals and one actually did remorse the fact that there weren't as many true quality barbecue left in Knoxville-we were happy to have experienced it.

I fell in love with  Gatlinburg right away, even before we got to  Gatlinburg. There is a long road through Pigeon Forge with amazing buildings and tourist attractions that felt like we had taken a turn to fantasy land. From Dollywood to the Titanic and wonderworks-we were intrigued by the different activities that we could experience in Pigeon Forge and we definitely will return to explore all the bits of fantasy you can experience just in view of the Great Smoky Mountains. We were on to Gatlinberg and I was happy to get there.

Artistgordon - Find me on