The Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the south.

Guts are for blowing

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Florida’s Gulf Coast is just jam-packed with adventure, and we’re here to soak it up as the opportunities are right. We sail when the wind blows, and we kayak when it doesn’t. We drive around my old stomping grounds to catch up with old friends when the rain falls, and we walk the beach when it doesn’t. There’s even live music at any number of nearby bars–rain or shine.

On a kayak trip around the marina basin, we see fish so lethargic that they don’t even bother swimming off until I poke them with a paddle. Elegant blue herons stand as still as statues on docks, tempted to fly and yet so desperate stay put. White egrets are the timid ones. They fly from boat to boat looking for bait fish and never let us get too close. This is Eric’s first time in a kayak, and he’s all smiles and doing a fantastic job keeping the wet stuff below the boat.

Eric kayaking for the first time.

Eric kayaking for the first time.

Dad takes us out to Ka Tiki for an evening of live bluegrass music. The band calls itself Corn Fused. I’m not yet sure if they mean puzzled… or whiskey powered. Both could be true given the bemusing drinking jokes between sets. Still, theirs is some of the best live music you’ll hear on the beach. The three men sing beautiful harmonies and create a dialogue with the audience that makes this feel more like a jam session of friends than a performance. They play guitar, bass, drum, and mandolin and sometimes invite other musicians to play along. Tonight they’re accompanied by the throaty hums of an accordion played by a bouncy young lady from Argentina. Here, the ladies dance in sandals.

Beach attire only at the tiki hut.

Beach attire only at the tiki hut.

Monday is a rainy day. We head south over the Skyway Bridge to Terra Ceia Island and show Eric a piece of my childhood.

Atop the Madira Bickel Mound on Terra Ceia Island; this is a big pile of culled bone, wood, and shell from the 1500s when Florida's indigenous people lived here.

Atop the Madira Bickel Mound on Terra Ceia Island; this is a big pile of culled bone, wood, and shell from the 1500s when Florida’s indigenous people lived here.

The Underwood banyan tree is close to 100 years old and lives in and around a house just as old on Terra Ceia.

The Underwood banyan tree is close to 100 years old and lives in and around a house just as old on Terra Ceia.

Eric and I pose in front of the main trunk.

Eric and I pose in front of the main trunk.

Dad and I pose in front of the main trunk.

Dad and I pose in front of the main trunk.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the south.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the south.

Eric smiling and taking in the view of Tampa Bay.

Eric smiling and taking in the view of Tampa Bay.

Eric helps with the daily boat chore of washing bird poo from the deck.

Eric helps with the daily boat chore of washing bird poo from the deck.

We catch the sunset just in time for this gorgeous view.

We catch the sunset just in time for this gorgeous view.

Looking north to Madeira Beach from John's Pass.

Looking north to Madeira Beach from John’s Pass.

On Tuesday, Canada dumps another batch of frigid air over the rest of the country. We wake up to a warm south wind from the Caribbean trying desperately to bathe Florida in summer temps. It does a near-perfect job of making today perfect–blue sky, calm seas, and steady wind.

Sailing means going when the weather’s right, and today the weather is right. We scrap whatever other plans we had for the day and throw off the lines for an afternoon on the water. Everything looks great for about four miles until Eric turns quiet and fixes his stare to the horizon. We make two miles more before I call the day and turn us back to port. Eric looks like he’s ready to blow guts. He manages to keep his guts on the inside for the two hour return trip. I know what sea sickness feels like, and he gets my kudos for holding himself together. Being sick at sea is one of the worst feelings to endure.

The Madeira Bay Docks marina and Madeira Bay Resort.

The Madeira Bay Docks marina and Madeira Bay Resort.

A complex mess of lines and equipment that all do something important.

A complex mess of lines and equipment that all do something important.

Heading 240 degrees to Treasure Island Reef.

Heading 240 degrees to Treasure Island Reef; before the nausea.

A few miles out we run into fog.

A few miles out we run into fog; here comes the nausea.

Eric manages to keep his guts.

Eric manages to keep his guts; this is what nausea looks like.

 

Brian

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