Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kayaking At Manatee Park In North Fort Myers

Part of the fun of being in south Florida is doing things you can't do anywhere else. Yes, kayaking can be done almost everywhere, but kayaking among the slow moving Florida manatees is truly a Florida thing.

On Tuesday afternoon, a gang of five and one-half couples loaded into three cars and drove to Manatee Park in North Fort Myers. We are agile and daring and indeed we will kayak.

We donned the life vests and took our 8 second kayaking lesson.
This should be interesting... Whistles are attached to each life vest -- uh oh.
Nancy, Mary and Ken listen intently to the teacher.
I had never kayaked but wanted to try it ever since my friend Joe told stories about the early morning and late afternoon kayaking trips he takes.  Because Wayne and I love sailing for the quiet grace of being on the water, I knew we'd like kayaking.

So off we go... one by one... then two by two.
Linda goes first through the rust colored water of the mangrove to Orange River. 
Seventeen acre Manatee Park is a cooperative effort by Florida Power and Light and Lee County. During winter months, viewing manatees in the waters of the Orange River is pretty much guaranteed.  These warm waters provide a non-captive refuge for the docile sea cows.

Wayne.  This scene makes me think of the movie, Deliverance

I put my camera in a Ziploc plastic bag. Much time is spent zipping and unzipping. 
The eerie brown water of the mangrove opens into the river within 100 yards or so. Park staff say large numbers of manatee are being sighted today.

Linda is solo in the yellow kayak.  Charlie and Joyce in the blue one.
 Fran and Mary on the far right. 

Joyce and Charlie

Ken and Nancy.
Ken thinks he's in Olympic competition -- and that he won.  

Mark and Janie 
For the longest time, Wayne didn't encounter a single manatee.  A huge one slipped gracefully beneath my kayak and I almost squealed aloud to be so close.  
The Wayner finally got his fill of manatee sightings too.  
The kayak outing was just an hour and was a nice experience.  The time was long enough to get the hang of simple kayaking maneuvers but not long enough to cause soreness in those rarely used shoulder and back muscles.  

Then... back at the campground...
Fran and Mary (and Zoey who didn't want to be photographed)
The photo below has nothing to do with RV'ing or kayaking but has everything to do with lifestyle of southwest Florida. The large purple contraption with giant tires is a swamp buggy. Today it's doubling as a lift and will allow campground workers to trim palm fronds. Necessity. The mother of invention!