Slippery Otters Paddling Club

Slippery Otters Paddling Club

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

Author: zane Greathouse

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!

2 Comments on Paddling a ‘49 Ford

“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)
6 Comments on “You are crazy!”

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.

2 Comments on Traveling Gluten Free

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!

No Comments on Handling Adversity When Traveling

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 

No Comments on And now from Wisconsin: Canoecopia 2018!

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.

No Comments on Welcome to the Slippery Otters Paddling Club!

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.”

No Comments on The Rio Savagre: An Ever Changing Evolution

Turriabla, Costa Rica and Rafting the Rio Pejibaye

I am in Turriabla, Costa Rica today. We will raft Rio Pejibaye. Today it will be Mitch, our guide, and me. The river is high and strong because of the…

I am in Turriabla, Costa Rica today. We will raft Rio Pejibaye. Today it will be Mitch, our guide, and me. The river is high and strong because of the recent rains. It should be an interesting trip. We are rafting with a new company, and this is their first trip. The company is new, but the guides are experienced. In Costa Rica many of the raft guides work as independent contractors and they go where they are needed. The raft we will use will be rented from another company. In Turriabla all of the guides and rafting companies know and seemingly get along with one another. It is interesting to hear stories about the older guides who have mentored the younger ones. Here it is all connected, and everyone relies on each other. In Turriabla everyone is fond of saying, “Safety First!” The guides I have worked with here have all been very professional and safety conscious. This new company is the first female owned rafting company in Costa Rica. Karol, the owner is fighting against a macho culture. She is highly respected and I have high hopes for her.

Pura Vida!

Zane

No Comments on Turriabla, Costa Rica and Rafting the Rio Pejibaye

Running the Rio Reventazón

Yesterday we ran the Rio Reventazón. This is huge. We ran the Rio Reventazón. This river is beyond famous. It is legendary, and it was only by chance that we…

Yesterday we ran the Rio Reventazón. This is huge. We ran the Rio Reventazón. This river is beyond famous. It is legendary, and it was only by chance that we were able to run it. My crew and I have been training for two years to run the Upper Rio Pacuare. We have pushed ourselves and sacrificed money and time to be ready. The day before, we ran an even higher section of Rio Pacuare. That section is difficult to access. It is on land that is the home of indigenous people. There are not paved roads. There are no stores, souvenir stands, or restaurants. It is a one lane dirt road that we struggled up and through with our two 4X4 vehicles. The people were gracious and polite as we passed them while they walked on the side of the or rode their horses. There was one store. It was an older 4X4 Land cruiser flatbed truck that carried store goods to the indigenous people there. That Land cruiser would pull over and the locals would walk up and make purchases. The women would be choosing flour and oil and the kids, like kids everywhere, would be begging for a piece of candy. It was a great glimpse at a different culture from home.

This day on the river was a true training day. Our guide is an expert whitewater paddler. He is one the first of the Costa Rican raft guides that learned their craft on the Rio Pacuare years ago. He took this seriously. He was fun, but he worked us. We were always changing direction and we knew it was all about preparing for the next day, the day we had worked for, for more than two years.

Rio Reventazon is one of the best whitewater rivers in the world. In the 1990’s there were three championships run on it. Then the government built a dam and it has been lost. Yesterday we were in the right place at the right time with the right people. The electric company released water from the dam. It is never scheduled so no one can take advantage when it occurs. I have read that luck happens when preparation and opportunity collide. We were prepared. Yesterday we were locked and loaded and heading to do the river of our dreams, the upper section of Rio Pacuare. To get there we crossed a bridge over Rio Reventazon. I have been here before. We stopped once and a guide told me stories of this river, of its past. He spoke of it with awe and wonder. He was emotional. I thought he might cry as he described how beautiful it was and how he wished he could run it again. As soon as we crossed the bridge yesterday, our driver got a phone call and pulled over on the shoulder of the road. He got out of the truck and walked to the back. I thought something was wrong. I stepped out and was waved over by another guide, one who spoke fluent English. He told me that if we wanted to, we could change our plans and do the Rio Reventazon instead of the upper Pacuare. I had a choice to make. My crew had no idea. They only knew that we had been training for a specific river. Could I change our plans? Should I? I could see it in the eyes of these Costa Rican paddlers. They knew how special this opportunity was. Could I appreciate it? Thank God that guide pulled over last year and spoke of this river with such emotion. It only took a minute and I had given the OK to change our plans. We were going to do the Rio Reventazon.

Our trip was the first commercial raft trip to run the class five sections of this river in 18 years. We ran it as clean as anyone ever has. No one swam, and our raft did not flip. My God, it was beautiful. It was exciting. I am so glad that my team was trained and ready. We took care of each other. I grabbed Mitch when he was falling, and he grabbed me. Stephen and Mitch grabbed me several times as I was going out over the side of the raft. It was amazing. The guides, and safety boaters were so complimentary on our technique and teamwork. Of course, they were part of the team. We were surrounded by world class Costs Rican paddlers. Our guide is a former national champion and so was his assistant. I will always remember El Horrendo. El Horrendo is a class 5 rapid and we hit it perfectly. There was a huge wave. I reached out and sunk the blade of my paddle into it as I tried to help get us over it. Then, I was flying backwards into the laps of Stephen and Melvin. They had dragged me down out of the air. They kept me in the raft. I got back in position and we kept paddling. The talking and celebrating was held in until we reached the calm pool at the bottom. When we had finished the final drop, we started paddling to the take out. Unknown to us, there was one more surprise in store for us. Out of nowhere, for the first time ever for me in Costa Rica, appeared the head of an Otter. He just looked at us. We all saw him right there in the middle of this fast -flowing river. Then he was gone. What a beautiful moment. The Slippery Otters and a Costa Rican otter together. Wow!

When we got out we were all strangely quiet. We had experienced something totally awesome. It was too much for us to process at that moment. We were kind of numb. We were also proud.

Today we are recovering from an adrenaline overdose. We are nursing a few bruises and lots of sore muscles. We are smiling.

As soon as I finished my first draft of this entry I sat down in my hotel room and I cried. They were tears of relief. We had accomplished something that we had worked towards for two years. We had accomplished something even more special than what we had hoped and dreamed for.

Pura Vida!

2 Comments on Running the Rio Reventazón

We have made our way to the Pacific Coast.

It is warm and sunny here, and the sunset over the Pacific was beautiful last night. Yesterday was so special. I will be writing all about it. My notes from…

It is warm and sunny here, and the sunset over the Pacific was beautiful last night. Yesterday was so special. I will be writing all about it.

My notes from yesterday:

  • Big water
  • After the flood
  • Huge trees littering the banks
  • Muddy water
  • It is a river reborn. The river is still finding itself as it cuts new channels and forms new rapids still unnamed.
  • Thunderstorm
  • Constant rain
  • We were almost naked to the elements
  • The darkness, lightening and thunder set the stage
  • A natural soundtrack with special effects
  • When it ended everyone was so psyched, so excited
  • It was badass!
No Comments on We have made our way to the Pacific Coast.

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search