Sunday, May 27, 2012

I want a GoPro!

I've made up my mind. I'm getting a GoPro Hero2 camera.  Waterproof to 197 ft, and capable of capturing professional full 170ยบ wide angle 1080p video & 11 MP photos at a rate of 10 photos per second. At a price of $299 with a variety of mounts, this is a steal!

Here are a few frames taken from some 1080p HD video that my Brother shot on his GoPro Hero2 in The Bahamas where he works as a SCUBA instructor...

(click to enlarge photos)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Whitewater Rafting on the Chattooga River

On Friday, May 18th I went whitewater rafting for the first time ever with the Willow Creek Men's Adventure Trip on the Chattooga River.  The same river that the movie Deliverance was filmed on...

Pictures to come soon. I'm still trying to track them down...

In the meantime check out the pics of our group taken by the Wildwater rafting company here-

(I'll update this post with pictures when I get them)

UPDATE: Here is the video that was put together from the Men's Adventure Trip. Enjoy! -

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kayaking St. John's River & Blue Spring Run

Today I had the morning free while my wife was at a meeting for work. I loaded up the kayak, and headed 3.5 miles from home to Blue Spring State Park.  Actually, I used the free boat ramp (Starks Landing) located at the end of French Ave. (dirt road) just past the entrance to the park to avoid paying an entrance fee, and having to carry my kayak from the parking lot.

st. john's river boat ramp
Starks Landing is located at the end of the dirt road, past the entrance to Blue Spring State Park

I launched my kayak on the St. John's River, and headed south towards Blue Spring State park. About 3 minutes into my paddle I saw my first gator. A FAT one about 9 feet in length out in open water.  It quickly ducked under before I could get my camera out to take a picture.  As I continued south a Great Blue Heron flew across the river less than 20 feet in front of me. Once again, I was too slow with the camera to snap a picture.  I reached the entrance to Blue Springs Run to find a couple of turtles hanging out on the floating PVC barricades meant to keep motorboats out of the spring run.

Manatee Refuge
Sign at the entrance to Blue Springs Run from the St. John's River
 I kept paddling past the St. John's River Tour Boat dock, and headed to an area south of Blue Spring Run known as The Lagoon only to find it blocked with water lilies.  I probably could have navigated my way through, but after seeing the huge cottonmouth in the same type of plants at Wekiva Springs State Park on Saturday, I decided not too.  Instead, I turned around, and paddled up the Blue Spring Run. Where I found  this turtle sunning on a downed palm tree.

Turtle in Blue Spring Run

The water turned from brownish to crystal clear as I entered the spring run.  The water was full of catfish, and gar.  The gar would occasionally jump out of the water. I am told this is because they are gulping air due to the water in the spring run lacking enough dissolved oxygen.  Some of the gar were pretty big.  I bet Glenn & Mitchell from Swamp People would love to get their hands on a few of these big fish.

Gar in the crystal clear spring run
Someday I will learn how to use the different settings on this camera so all my pictures don't come out with a blue tint to them...

Underwater shot of some catfish
I paddled slowly up the spring run until I reached the swimming area. Canoeing & kayaking is not allowed in the swimming area between the hours of 11am - 5pm.  I will have to get an earlier start next time.

Time to turn around, and head back.  The weather report called for rain around 1pm, and I wanted to get home before then...  As I type this at 2:45pm, I am looking out my window at sunshine. Go Figure.... On my way back down the spring run some people up on the boardwalk told me of a "10 foot gator" up ahead.

Missed it. Once again too slow with the camera
I quietly paddled up to find the gator. It wasn't 10 feet, maybe 8 feet, but it was a good size gator.  He was staring me down as I took my camera out to take a picture. I turned it on, adjusted the setting, zoomed in, and ... he went under.  I missed the shot. I headed back out onto the St. John's River towards the boat ramp hoping I would come across another gator.  As I was scanning the banks I found a wild turkey, and quickly snapped a picture.

Florida wildlife
Wild turkey (a hen, not the whiskey)
I ended my trip back at the boat ramp.  I paddled less than 1.5 miles in a little over an hour, and saw 2 big gators, turtles, gar, catfish, birds (I'm still learning the names), and a wild turkey!  I will definitely be back here again soon.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kayaking Wekiva River & Rock Springs Run

I finally got to put my new kayak in the water for the first time this past weekend!  On Saturday morning I packed a cooler with drinks & snacks, loaded my kayak into the back of my truck, and headed to Wekiva Springs State Park to spend the day kayaking with my dad & brother.  After paying the $4 (single occupant) entrance fee, and carrying my kayak down the 1/4 mile trail to the launch site I was ready to see some gators. Off we went...

My new Pelican Apex 100 kayak
It didn't take long before we came across the first gator of the day in the lake by the launch site. It was a baby, maybe 3 feet in length swimming across the lake.  I grabbed my (actually the wife's) waterproof camera, and snapped a picture only to find out that the memory card was NOT in the camera.  I didn't check it before I left the house.  Oops!

(Dad & Tyler) We had the river all to ourselves in the morning
No more pictures for the rest of this trip...  We saw a BIG cottonmouth in the water on the lake before heading down river. I hate snakes, so I didn't stick around to look at it.  After heading down the Wekiva River about  a 1/2 mile we took a left turn, and headed up the shallow Rock Springs Run.  This is an upstream paddle, and makes for a good workout.  We saw a lot of birds, and 2 more gators, a 4 1/2 footer, and a 6 1/2 footer with only one eye.  We paddled up to Otter Camp, our turn around point.  The return trip is downstream, and requires little to no effort.  We saw one more 5 1/2 foot gator on the Wekiva River on our way back to the canoe/kayak launch.  It was 1pm, and the river was getting busy.  It is amazing how many people were paddling within 15 feet of this gator, and didn't even realize it.

In all we saw 4 gators, a cottonmouth, 40 or 50 turtles, and a lot of birds in less than 4 hours on the water... Not a bad day. Next time I will be sure to check the camera before leaving home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sorry Twitter

Sorry Twitter, but 140 characters just doesn't cut it anymore.

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG, When 140 Characters Just Doesn't Cut It...