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What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
What Are You Nuts?!?! Part I
The wind’s blowing 25mph, but it’s warm and it’s Thursday, 01/10, my last chance, since I have a full “schedule” Friday. I’ll be moving my nest (slide-in camper on a pick’em up truck) back to Key West. John LaMere with his entertaining antics and music  will be at Willie Ts in the afternoon, the Oyster Race is at Pepe’s Café (806 Caroline St.) at 5pm, where if you’re lucky enough to pick the fastest oyster shucked you can win $500, sound check at the Green Parrot (corner of Southard & WhiteHead Sts.), then the always fabulous unique music with big ACBs, free popcorn, and friendly people, and then, if I’m still raring to go, I’ll go back to nest, stock up with more ACBs that will be chilling in the freezer, and catch the end of the sunset celebration complete with the street performer’s circus acts and meander up Duval Street. Saturday there’s John LaMere again, H.H. at Alonzo’s with delicious fresh steamed shrimp & steamed clams, the sunset celebration again, and watching all the crazies on Duval Street.  Sunday brings a jazz jam session at noon at the Green Parrot, Kevin Poole at 2pm at the Conch Republic with Big Red Shrimp, sound check again, another sunset celebration and more Duval Street. All those places are within walking distance of each other and I pass Mattheessen’s for a free fudge sample many times. Monday I’m leaving and I’ll certainly be out on top!
But now I need to decide whether to pull the kayak out of the water and put it on the nest’s roof or be a little nutty and do my last leg of “around Key West in a kayak in four days.” Not quite around the world in 80 days but it’s my version and Key West is unlike the rest of the world. Not only is the wind blowing too hard to paddle into it and difficult to paddle across it’s direction, this’ll be my 4th day in a row of paddling. Potential grueling exertion is promised, and I know I’ll pay physically, but it’s the last chance to complete the circle. It’s going to be 80 degrees by noon, the wind will be behind me 90 percent of the way; it will push me along, and I won’t have to go into it.  I want to do it, so here goes.
The piece of land by the Florida Keys Community College where I’m starting juts out into the Florida Bay and is a wind block for a while, then the up and down of the swells of water begin and the wind pushes me at the speed of a fast walking pace, no sail needed. All I need to do is use the paddle as a rudder and keep the kayak in the direction I want to go. I know the first point is the Sigsby Military Facility and the second that sticks out in the distance is Fleming Key, where the Army Special Aquatic Forces train. What I don’t know is if I’ll have access to go under the military’s bridge to Fleming Key. What I do know is if I do go that way and can’t go under the bridge into Key West near Simonton Street beach, where I intend to pull the kayak out of the water, the wind will not allow me to turn it and go around Fleming Key. 
For now I have a lot of water between me and Sigsby and Fleming Key is at least a mile away from there, so I can reflect on the three legs of my voyage that have been rather fantastic and broadened my Key West kayaking horizon for future trips here with many more places to paddle to and from. I had the thought of going around Key West Island, but didn’t have answers to the uncertainties, like what water conditions would I have to deal with where the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay, and Atlantic Ocean meet.
I began three days ago in utter indecision. It was windy, which makes kayaking iffy, so I was just going to paddle to Wisteria Island, which is about a half a mile from Sunset Pier, and relax on the beach, but as I started I guess the spirit of Adventure influenced me to turn south and get a photo of me and a cruise ship, that was parked at Mallory Square. That was easy, although a jet boat blew by me and wetted me down with its wake. It wasn’t cold; I dried quickly on that January day and that spurred me on. As I passed the ship, the warmth of the sun gave me the incentive to go on towards the Zachary Taylor State Park. I paddled past the “mole area,” that’s a restricted military section of water front, and saw the fence that prevents free access to the State Park near Zachary Taylor Fort. There was a short peopleless beach, a beach combers delight for shells and who knows what, only accessible from the water by a small craft like my kayak.  I’ll be back!
I paddled on not knowing what turbulence may lurk where the three bodies of water meet. I could see rocks with the tops jutting out of the water. I knew I’d have to stay clear of them, so I paddled out farther from land. There were no waves today or visible currents, so I rounded the south point and the paddling was easy. I could now see the park’s beach. I could not see any lifeguards or security people, so I could’ve gone ashore if I wanted. That light went on again in my brain, I’ll be back! I was enjoying being way out in the water, seeing Key West from this vantage point, and realized I didn’t need to return to Simonton Street Beach where I began, so I kept going. I knew I’d be able to find another place to beach my kayak, when I was done for the day, lock it to a tree or something til I came back, and it would be a short familiar walk back to my nest.  Everything being close by is one of the best things about Key West. 
The Truman Annex Naval communications towers, a military housing area and long restricted access beach was next.  When past the towers I paddled in closer to land hoping that I might see a snorkeling area, critters under the water or something.  That didn’t happen, but I could see the southernmost point monument, quite a sight from the water, and I didn’t have to stand in line. I passed it, past the pier at the Southern Most Hotel at the opposite end of Duval Street from Sloppy Joe’s and all that tourist stuff, the Waldorf Astoria and mansions, then decided I’d done enough paddling for one day.
It was nearing HH, and shrimp at Alonzo’s (700 Front St.), time in the old water front. I began looking for a pull out place knowing I could do it at Higg’s Beach. I headed for shore near the Waldorf and saw a short sandy area at the end of a street. That’ll do. I pulled out, sat on the beach for a while, had a cold one, then locked my kayak to a Palm Tree, and walked back to my nest for a relaxing shower before HH. The really nuts part was yet to come! 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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