Slippery Otters Paddling Club

Slippery Otters Paddling Club

Promoting paddling sports to foster an appreciation for their benefits of fun, adventure, and fitness.

My Reasons for Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing is more popular now than ever. Everywhere I go (including the farm supply stores) there are little plastic fishing kayaks for sale. There are lots of reasons for…

Kayak fishing is more popular now than ever. Everywhere I go (including the farm supply stores) there are little plastic fishing kayaks for sale. There are lots of reasons for this interest:

  1. Kayaks are cheaper to buy and maintain than most fishing boats (especially if they are motor driven.)
  2. Kayaks can get a fisherman/woman to spots the guys in a big boat cannot get close too.  
  3. Kayaks can be set up with most any accessory a serious angler might desire.
  4. Kayaks are a greener alternative than gas burning boat motors. Kayak fishermen experience the natural world without screwing it up in the process.
  5. Kayak fishing is good exercise! We burn a few calories while feeling good about being low impact. We live longer so that we can watch our kids enjoy this sport and the great outdoors.
  6. Kayak fishing is good for my mental health. It is my favorite way to relax, to meditate. I can picture myself right now paddling and fishing among the Cypress trees on Lake Santa Fe. The rhythm of the paddle strokes, the sound of a good cast, the bird songs, the water and wind all speak to me and I relax.

Just imagine paddling through the Cypress trees on the edge of your lake heading to your spot. It’s just before sunset, and the fish are hungry. It’s quiet. It is beautiful. There are no distractions. You are totally present. You love being right here!

What might you catch? You approach your spot, and with a final paddle stroke, you drift into place. Oh boy! Here you are, right where you have caught fish before. That familiar feeling that you are going to be lucky hits you and out of nowhere you just start grinning from ear to ear. What a terrific feeling! You ease your anchor into the water and down to the bottom as quickly and quietly as possible. The only thing left to do is bait your hook and cast.

 


Mitch Hammond is one of the original members of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. He is a musician, outdoorsman, father, and friend. He is also an avid fisherman. Mitch wears a lot of different hats and is now blogging about kayak fishing for the Slippery Otters.

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Paddling My Way to My Happy Place

Stephanie Greathouse is a founding member of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. She is often referred to as Mumsie Otter. Stephanie prefers calmer paddling (better birdwatching) but she also enjoys…

Stephanie Greathouse is a founding member of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. She is often referred to as Mumsie Otter. Stephanie prefers calmer paddling (better birdwatching) but she also enjoys whitewater rafting.

Everyone has stress in their life. I know that I do.

Last year, I had more than my share. Apparently, good stress, or eustress, can motivate you. Eustress can help you accomplish your goals and challenges. Eustress pushes you forward like an engine. Bad stress pushes you down and tries to bury you. I must admit that I did not feel so positive about my stress. I looked at my bad stress in contempt and thought, “Oh, there you are again. You follow me around like a bad relationship that resurfaces at inopportune times.” Actually, there is never an appropriate time for stress to come knocking at my door.  When the missionaries of stress are at my door, should I close the curtains and hide or turn the knob and greet the visitor head on? This is what I did.

Dealing With Stress

I tackled the stress like it was an invader in my body.  My stress coping strategies include: yoga, BodyFit (a circuit training, yoga, and meditation workout class that I do twice a week in the woods with my awesome friends), Zumba, positive affirmations, prayer, and “quality time with my spouse.” I also added a daily dose of wine and dark chocolate.  Unfortunately, without deliberate intention, I had eliminated paddling from my life. Why?

Paddling was actually what I needed the most, but I did not realize it.


The Breakthrough

My husband, Zane, and I had a couple of guided kayak tours on the calendar that were booked months in advance. The first one was fast approaching. We would launch from a county boat ramp next to the Margarine Kinnans Rawlings state historical site in Cross Creek Florida, and paddle Lake Lochlossa, Cross Creek and part of Orange Lake.  We left early in the morning to meet our guide and a few other paddlers. It was sunny and in the high 60’s. I climbed into my kayak as I watched twin twelve year-old girls struggle to maneuver their kayaks. This was their maiden voyage. Zane and I ventured ahead as the guide gave instructions to the new paddlers. We relaxed under some trees as we waited for the girls and their parents to catch up.  I looked up at the vibrant blue sky and spotted an eagle flying above. Moments later, a second eagle was spotted in a tall pine tree. I have never seen two eagles in the same day. Now, I knew that this day would be amazing. As I began to traverse the waterway, I closed my eyes for a moment as I felt the warm sun on my face. The temperature was rising as I breathed in the fresh air. The lush grass bent as the breeze kissed it. I had a stark realization that my burdens had lifted and I felt joy that had been smothered for some time. This led me to a remembrance of why I loved to paddle. I became immersed in the beauty of the shimmering water and luscious green landscape. I thanked Mother Nature of all of her glory and healing powers that she bestowed upon me.


A Lesson Learned

When the water calls you, do not turn your back. Go!  Paddle! Find that place that renews your mind and soul. Are you having a rough day, week, or year? Do yourself a favor and get out on the water. Give yourself the self-care that you deserve.
Stephanie Greathouse

 

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Paddling a ‘49 Ford

My wife loves hot rods. Her last project was a 1972 Buick Riviera Boattail. It is beautiful. It is also huge. Some people have referred to it as “A Boat.”…

My wife loves hot rods. Her last project was a 1972 Buick Riviera Boattail. It is beautiful. It is also huge. Some people have referred to it as “A Boat.” My only ‘old car purchase’ has been my ‘49 Ford.

I appreciate repurposing as much as anyone. I love antiques. I appreciate the way old things were made and engineered. How could I ignore a canoe that had been made out of two hoods and a roof from old trucks?

This story starts with a confession.
“My name is Zane and I have a problem with eBay. Some people Netflix and chill. I browse eBay and spend.” There I said it. It is now in the open.

One hot and humid Summer’s day I was sipping my Coke Zero and browsing through eBay. I have a thing for canoes, kayaks, and all things you paddle. There I was looking at used canoes and Wham! I see something I have never seen before, a canoe made from the hoods of two 1949 Ford trucks welded together as a bow and a stern with a center made from what appears to be an old car roof. This is thing is ugly. It is black, dusty, and has some rust. It is dented and very heavy. It is real. It was also in Tennessee and I live in Florida. Then I remembered I was about to go on a family vacation to Western North Carolina. We were headed to my old stomping grounds, The Nantahala Outdoor Center. I was heading up there with my wife and two step-sons for a few days. Could I made a side trip of a 100+ miles or so and pick up this repurposed piece of steel art? I decided I could and I placed a bid. I think it was one of those auctions where you make the best offer. They countered. I caved and it was mine. You know I don’t remember how much I paid. It was a great deal (he told his wife). I would do something creative with it. We would repurpose it into a something really awesome (never happened).

The ‘49 Ford Canoe was mine and I traveled to East Tennessee to pick it up. I brought my Honda Ridgeline pick up truck with the bed extender I use when I carry boats in my truck bed. I also brought tie-downs and a young man with a strong back to help me load it. It was an interesting bit of hide and seek to find the location but we got there and met the seller. He was a nice guy who was selling this “Barn Find” for a relative. It seems his Great Great Uncle loved to go fishing in a rocky whitewater river (the dents verify this story). He had access to a junkyard and a welder and decided to make his own version of Old Ironsides. The boat was put together CIRCA 1953. That is the same year I was put together so I know we (‘49 Ford and I) were destined to be together. We loaded up my newest canoe and eventually got it back home.

This is where my story goes haywire. I thought I would repurpose this boat into something awesome (see above) but instead, I stored it in my barn where it stayed dry and got dustier. What do you think I should do with this heavy unique piece of history? It does float. I put it in Santa Fe Lake two weeks ago and I paddled it around. It definitely floats. I piloted it solo and then with my buddy. It was a breezy afternoon so I stayed close to shore, but I had no problem getting it where I wanted it to go. We enjoyed dressing up to look “Mid-Century” and were delighted that the canoe was leak free. It was fun. Presently it is parked lakeside at my canoe rack waiting to give someone a ride into history.

So dear readers, should I leave it as is, patina intact? Should I refinish it and paint a mermaid on the bow? Should I sell it? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, get out there. Don’t let rocks, heat, or humidity stop you. It is beautiful on the water!

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“You are crazy!”

I am going to paddle across Florida. I am going to start in the Atlantic Ocean, paddle up the St. Mary’s River to the Okefenokee Swamp to the Suwannee River…

I am going to paddle across Florida. I am going to start in the Atlantic Ocean, paddle up the St. Mary’s River to the Okefenokee Swamp to the Suwannee River downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.

What I know for a fact:

I am going in May of 2019.

I am not the first person to ever do this.

I will be 65 years old.

I will be writing about the trials and tribulations of my trip on this blog.

I have a lot of planning to do.

I just have a lot of to do’s.

 

What I don’t know:

The list if soooooo long. There is so much I don’t know. I have so many questions to answer.

How long will it take?

How do I transition from the St. Mary’s River to the Okefenokee and the Okefenokee to the Suwannee River?

Should I use a canoe or a kayak?

How much water do I need to take?

The questions go on and on and on.

I am putting together a “Trip To Do List.” I hope my readers will help me. How would you go about this? I have a tendency to look at things as problems/challenges that I will have to face. What are the challenges? I will write about each and every one during this planning phase. During the trip, I will keep in touch the best I can while I am underway. By the way, that is definitely one of my challenges. How should I stay in touch?

I am a purpose driven guy. I use goals, objectives, and actions/activities to get myself going and make sure that I accomplish what I set out to do. I will post my “Goals” along with the “Objectives” that I will need to meet in order to reach those goals. Then you will see my lists of “Actions/Activities” that I will follow to meet each objective.

I need your help. The first objective that I have is to come up with a really good name for this adventure. “Zane’s Cross Florida Trip” is just too dry and uninspiring. Maybe “Zane’s Epic Cross FL Adventure” would be better. Can you come up with an awesome name for my trip?  I hope you will help and I hope you will follow along and be inspired. Slippery Otters Paddling Club is all about sharing my/our love for the great outdoors, mother nature, adventure, and the environment with others. We want to inspire you to go on your own adventures. I am not a superhero. I am not the world’s strongest man. I am not a competitive athlete. I am just a guy who loves to be outside. I am a guy who loves nature. I compete with myself. I respect the natural world and I learn from it. I am a teacher. Please join me and share your thoughts and ideas.

Goal: To paddle across the State of Florida starting in the Atlantic Ocean at the St. Mary’s River and ending in the Gulf of Mexico.

Objectives

  1. I need a great name for this trip. I need to something that captures people’s imagination and attention. (due: 29May2018)

Actions

  1. (Obj/1) Share my request for help with the name on the blog and with the other Slippery Otters. (due: 15May2018)
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Kayak fishing – you should try it!

Mitch Hammond is one of the original members of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. He is a musician, outdoorsman, father, and friend. He is also an avid fisherman. Mitch wears…

Mitch Hammond is one of the original members of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. He is a musician, outdoorsman, father, and friend. He is also an avid fisherman. Mitch wears a lot of different hats and now blogging is his latest.

Kayak fishing? Well… Do you like fishing? Maybe you’ve never tried it. Do you like kayaking? Again maybe you’ve never tried it. Hi my name is Mitch. And like many others I love both fishing and kayaking. Sometimes I combine the two for an extra special adventurous treat. Now, I don’t mind admitting that I am not a pro at either fishing or kayaking. I am an amateur, but man do I have a lot of fun! I simply grab a rod and reel, sometimes a couple Rod and reels, and I load up my simple little ten foot Sun Dolphin fishing kayak. I grab a little bit of bait and off I go. Now if you own a kayak please understand it doesn’t have to be a “fishing“ kayak. I’m pretty sure that any model kayak can be used for fishing. Some differences may be stability, size etc., but it is totally up to the individual. Use whatever Kayak is most comfortable for you. Although I’m not a pro, I have learned some things through trial and error. For instance, in my opinion, and in my experience, the more comfortable you are, the more likely it is that you will be successful. Now unlike some sportsman, I don’t seek the most expensive fishing gear available. Although I am pretty sure that sometimes better equipment can mean more success, I simply cannot afford it. So, I stick with my favorite rod and reel which is the Zebco closed faced reel and rod combo. There are many models and sizes to choose from. Once again it is totally up to you. When I choose tackle once again I keep it inexpensive. Depending on whether I am going freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing determines what gear I choose for the trip. That’s right… Saltwater fishing in a kayak! I have seen lots of video footage of people catching very large saltwater game fish from a simple small kayak! The same can be said for all freshwater game fish as well. Personally, I have caught a variety of fish right out of my own little kayak including everything from Bream, Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Gar, and Mudfish. The list goes on, and I could not be happier with my own results. I highly recommend kayak fishing to anyone who enjoys nature, the great outdoors and adventure.

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Traveling Gluten Free

Adversity: Food Allergies AKA I am hungry, but I don’t want to get sick. Lunch was delicious and very Costa Rican. This is where having a concierge/guide/driver/translator comes in handy….

Adversity: Food Allergies

AKA I am hungry, but I don’t want to get sick.

Lunch was delicious and very Costa Rican. This is where having a concierge/guide/driver/translator comes in handy. I hired a wonderful Costa Rican gentleman named Jose who runs Passport Adventures.

Jose, Passport Adventure

I have to be careful whenever I eat because I have Celiac disease and get sick when I eat anything with gluten in it. Jose explained my issue with the waiter who brought over the manager who took me to meet the chef. The chef is his Momma. I love this place. The bottom line: the food tasted great and I didn’t get sick. Jose has looked out for me before and he has done the same for my daughter and granddaughter (both have Celiac). I really enjoy Latin style food and I often eat at places which are referred to as typical, rustico, cafe’, etc.. It is easy to find good food in Costa Rica. Since I have Celiac I have to avoid gluten, wheat protein. It isn’t all that hard. I avoid wheat flour and fried foods (the grease gets contaminated by frying goods with flour batter). I eat fresh fruits and veggies. There are lots of interesting and delicious foods to try. When in doubt I suggest you go with the local stuff. I always try to eat clean and simple. I avoid processed foods, casseroles, and sauces because the more complicated the recipe the more likely that there is something hidden in the dish that will make me ill. You should always ask lots of questions and don’t assume that they know what ‘gluten free’ (substitute your food allergy/sensitivity here) means. When in doubt eat simple foods and avoid things that were deep fried. If you do that you should be just fine.

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Handling Adversity When Traveling

What a beautiful day! I am back in Costa Rica. This trip will be unique because my wife and I are taking her parents to Costa Rica to celebrate their…

What a beautiful day! I am back in Costa Rica. This trip will be unique because my wife and I are taking her parents to Costa Rica to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. There will be paddling (whitewater and ocean) as well as hiking and zip lining, birdwatching, flowers, wildlife, and volcanos. There will be Pacific sunsets, spa time, and delicious food. This first day is about airports, great food, a coffee farm tour, and a beautiful lodge.

Adversity: Traversing the airports

Travel = Stress
For many the stress of travel is just too much. Some just don’t travel or they avoid it. Others medicate and over pack. I cannot tell you that I don’t feel stress. I do, but I work hard to reduce it as much as possible. Here are some tips that help to reduce adverse experiences when traveling. We had a great first day. Everything related to the airport experience went very smoothly, and it wasn’t by chance. This family knows how to pack!

TIP #1

Everyone got all their clothing and such into two bags each. We all have one carry-on bag that went into the overhead bin and a backpack that stowed under the seat. Traveling light and small alleviates so much stress and I travel in part to reduce stress not to make more.

TIP #2

Stephanie checked us in online and got everyone’s boarding passes the day before our flight. We found out then that we had gotten the coveted TSA Pre-check that gets you through security screening quickly.

TIP #3

Empty your pockets and try to avoid wearing or carrying anything metal. Even my belt buckle is made of plastic.

TIP #4

Check the monitors that list departing flights. You need to make sure there have been no changes in your departure time or gate number. I hope all of you have the good fortune we did today. We got there plenty early and had no problems.

Pura Vida!

 

Photo: Stephanie’s parents Jan and Steve – celebrating their 50th Anniversary!

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And now from Wisconsin: Canoecopia 2018!

You may be asking, “What is this Florida guy who spends so much time in Costa Rica doing in Wisconsin?” I am here for Canoecopia 2018  It has been described…

You may be asking, “What is this Florida guy who spends so much time in Costa Rica doing in Wisconsin?” I am here for Canoecopia 2018  It has been described as the “the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world.”.Now I like big, so I am especially attracted to the world’s largest. So here I am in sunny, icy, cold Wisconsin to experience “more than 250,000 square feet of kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, outdoor equipment, and clothing.” If there is one thing I love more than playing on the water it is looking at gear, stuff, and toys. There will be three days of presentations, and exhibits. This is a stretch for me. I have gone to a place that I do not know to meet people I do not know. I am so excited!

Here are the details: The show is being held at Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Way, Madison, Wisconsin. Canoecopia goes on from March 9 – 11, 2018. It hours are Friday 4:00-9:00; Saturday 9:00 – 6:00; and Sunday 10:00 – 5:00. Tickets cost $15 per day or $25 for a weekend pass. Anyone 17 or under is free. There are more than 180 seminars and clinics scheduled. I want to make sure I mention that Canoecopia is presented by Rutabaga Paddlesports. I am sure that I will have lots to report about them as the weekend goes on.

BTW I am new to this. I have never attended a Paddlesports Expo before anywhere. Many years ago when I worked for Allen’s Trail and Aquatic Center in Gainesville, FL I attended the National Sporting Goods Association show in Chicago. That was a wholesaler tradeshow event and consumers were not allowed in. This is a totally different animal.

I am also new to Wisconsin. Everyone I have met has been wonderfully hospitable. Last night I was introduced to a local beer called Spotted Cow, very nice. I also got my first taste of Cheese Curds. The waitress told me they were pretty good and by Madison, WI standards they are at about a 75%. I know that my Mac and Cheese eating friend, Jacob would go hog wild over a plate of these fried cheese nuggets. Mine even came with a beer and cheese dipping sauce. This weekend I am in search of the best Cheese Curds in Madison.

My goal for this trip is to find a lot of great content for this blog. I hope to meet a lot of great people and learn their stories. I want to tell you about places and equipment that may be new to you. I hope to find some funny stuff to report and maybe something that will make you stop and think. I am looking forward to meeting some of the people who make the boats and gear that I love.

Otter Out!

Photo Credit: Canoecopia 

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Welcome to the Slippery Otters Paddling Club!

Welcome to the Slippery Otters travel blog. This blog is all about water and paddling sports. It is certainly influenced by my love for travel. Slippery Otters is about adventure,…

Welcome to the Slippery Otters travel blog. This blog is all about water and paddling sports. It is certainly influenced by my love for travel. Slippery Otters is about adventure, fun, and information. There are stories, interviews, reviews, and opinions. The travel is centered on my home in North Central Florida but covers everywhere I go from Wisconsin to Costa Rica. I especially enjoy whitewater and beaches. I canoe, kayak, and raft. I love to surf (“Gidget” style long boarding) and I am learning how to use my Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). My passion is sharing my love of the natural world with others. I want you to feel connected to water and land because only then will you care enough to protect this beautiful place we call home.

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The Rio Savagre: An Ever Changing Evolution

Today we paddled Rio Savagre. Actually we paddled the upper Savagre and the lower commercial section. I have rafted the lower section a number of times. Today was my first…

Today we paddled Rio Savagre. Actually we paddled the upper Savagre and the lower commercial section. I have rafted the lower section a number of times. Today was my first time on the upper.

Rio Savagre was greatly effected by the storms that flooded much of Costa Rica this rainy season. The bridge at the old put in is gone. The suspension bridges are gone. Farmland, villas, and lodges are gone. My landmarks are all gone. All of it became part of the river. The river has changed. It is still changing. It will continue to evolve until the dry season kicks in and the river course stabilizes.

The drive to the put in on the upper Savagre required 4X4’s. We drove on one-lane tracks, forded a river, and made a number of steep climbs. On the way one vehicle broke down (radiator problem) forcing us to consolidate and shuttle using the remaining vehicle. No one got stressed. No one got angry. We just continued on. Mr. Ramirez, the owner of the rafting company, and I had an interesting chat about success. Antonio (raft guide) and I walked and talked our way to the put in. He is an amazing young man. We did our safety talk and began our trip. The sunny day went dark. It started to rain. It was a stinging chilly rain. But it was beautiful. We saw and played in a lovely waterfall. We ate fresh cut pineapple and drank water. We crushed a rock into pigment and gave ourselves war paint. We paddled. We laughed. We splashed each other. We teased each other. We got wet and then wetter and some of us even swam.

This group of guys has morphed into a team, a family, a club. We are the Slippery Otters Paddling Club and tonight, for Halloween, we will don pirate hats and become “The Pirates of Pacuare.”

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