Monday, October 23, 2006

PPP Event

Results are in! I finished the race (Paddle, Pant, Pedal Triathalon) and had a blast. 45 min paddle, 52 min run, and 1 hr 22 min bike ride, for a total time of 3:00:05. That makes an easy goal for next year to finish in under 3 hours. The group was fun, the race was well organized, and the course was excellent. I thought it was a nice balance of the three events; a little heavy on the running for me, but hey, it was put on by a running club. I could improve the run time if I train more in that. I am also sure I could do the other two events faster if I did it again anytime, but during the race I didn't want to push too hard because first priority was to finish and I just didn't know how much it would take to get to the end. All in all not as strenuous as I would have thought but not easy by a long shot. I passed a few, got passed by a few. It was neat to see people on the course; the paddle route turned around twice so you see other people, then as you run you see people on the turnaround and then see the ones ahead of you again as they bike past. This was my first bike race of any kind, but I'm sure was a lot different than a regular bike race since we all were starting at a different time. Today is the day after, and I'm feeling pretty good. Bring it on next year...

Friday, September 29, 2006


I've been in training, somewhat. A spin class here, a jog there. Today I took a serious stab at it, and did a 5 mile run then a 23 mile bike ride, just like the race will be. It's not hard to ride the bike after running. I kept up my usual pace but did feel slow at the end. So, where I am right now: 5 miles in 50 minutes (run). 23 miles in 1 hr 45 min (bike) with several breaks. I also took a 10 minute break in between. So if I do that each weekend before the event... and one of these weekends, throw in a paddle before the run, I think I'll be ready. I estimate:
4 mi paddle in 1 hour 10 min (I'm really not sure about the time there)
5 mile run in 50 min
23 mile bike in 1 hr 20 min
So that's a solid 3 and a half hours of exercise. Better prepare with some energy bars or some energy food in addition to plenty of water. The cool thing about this race is I already have everything I need to do it - the bike, the boat, all the accessories. This is my first bike race. I have done a few running races with GCRC, and I did the one kayak race at the OS Kayak fest in Jun '05 (which was a blast), but have not entered anything resembling a bike race. I'm glad the first one will be with people who are primarily runners, rather than the elite bike race crowd. I'm sure I don't know all the ins and outs yet.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I realize all these GPS tracks look the same to you, but they tell such stories. This day, the red track was a bike ride with Tyler in the morning. The purple track is biking out to where my kayak sat waiting for me. The blue is a short paddle out in the bay and back... then bike back, and run just under a mile for good measure. What fun! And now I found out about an event -- paddle, pant, pedal -- held in just 4 weeks near here.

I need to work up to the 5 mile run, but the 4 mile paddle and 23 mile bike trip will be easy. I ran 4 miles the other day so I think I can do it, but still could use a bit of conditioning. So, that's my mission for the next few weeks. PPP!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mileage Record

I set out for St Andrews and made a few side trips, and accumulated a big 38 miles in a 3 hour bike ride today. I'm working up to over 50. Then I'll know I'm ready for a race of some kind, maybe a metric century. I have heard that the pace of these races is faster than most people expect when they try it for the first time. I usually maintain 16-18 mph, and sometimes 20 for few minutes. I will try to keep up the faster pace when I go for distances and I think that will help get me up to speed.

Belle Fontaine beach drive is looking more natural, and the debris is gone for the most part; either cleaned up or becoming overgrown by grass, weeds, and trees. I counted 102 house lots along this road west of the light house (water tower) that is now laying in the golf course. Of these 102, all were destroyed. 7 are in some state of rebuilding, but not yet to the point of anyone living in them. None are rebuilt completely yet. I counted 12 travel/FEMA trailers; those that live there have the place to themselves! It is quiet, the water was calm today, the pelicans plentiful as they usually seem to be out there. The pelicans seem to be enjoying all the pilings that are sitting in the water without docks, providing them plenty of places to rest. They were fishing, socializing, and flying around, generally looking as if they owned the place. I noticed a difference in size in some of them today. Saw a few of average size, then one much smaller - a young one - then a HUGE one flying around in the same area. I took a picture, not because it's all that beautiful, but because it is typical Mississippi coast. Flat, shallow water. Hazy horizon and sky, blending into the water. Underwhelming as far as the big ticket items - sand, waves, water - that you see in other coastal areas - but very rich with birds, crabs, fish, plants, and other naturally co-existing forms of life.
I went down a road to the old Pine Island golf course (leg sticking northwest on the west side of the GPS track), which closed a few years back. Someone made an attempt to develop this land and live out here... will it be developed again? Right now it's a little spooky, very deserted, and I won't be going out there again by myself.

The traffic was cooperative today and I had no mishaps or close calls. The bike still suits me well and recently had it's initial shop visit to tighten all the cables after the initial wear... now it's smoother than ever - I recommend the Giant FCR-1! The gears work well for me on all inclines, and is also easy to pedal standing up. I wish I had more time. I would ride every day and paddle every evening, or vice versa.

Happy Labor Day :-)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Biking OS

Ocean Springs has a lot of area yet to discover also. I went to the park to rent a pavillion for a cookout, then let the bike take me where it wanted to and headed south towards Gulf Park Estates. I found that Point Aux Chenes, a road that takes you towards St Andrews, goes way farther west than I knew. This is the part of the track on the bottom left, extending west. I heard this mentioned in a documentary about Walter Anderson and I believe this is the part he talked about. It goes to the water on the west side, and there are some beautiful properties down there. Of course, lots of trucks and repair activities present as this is waterfront land, but many houses seem to be fixed up. I got the feeling that may be some of the longest-owned property in OS outside the downtown area. This land is between OS and St Andrews and has some of the feel of both. (27.6 mi.)

2 great paddles in one day

Last weekend went out with Mom in the morning and Dale in the evening. The morning trip, track shown above, was an adventure through the bayou somewhere we didn't know was possible to go through. It makes the bay seem so much bigger, to keep finding these new places to go and new ways to get around. This was Mom's first trip all the way to the gulf. Evening was a nice sunset - you never can tell when they're going to be good - sometimes the clouds look like they're going to block the whole thing but then the sun burns on through and surprises you. Dale made a good discovery while we were up near the bank watching the fiddler crabs run around. If you wave a paddle in the air, they can see that and they all start moving for the grass. It's funny; kind of like conducting an orchestra. We also saw a snake swimming, then slithering up through the mud into the grass.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Graveline Sunset

Sun, sun, going away
See you again another day.

Fort Bayou, North

Fort Bayou north of the interstate is mostly a freshwater world. The plants and the fish seem quite different than the tidal part of the bayou down towards the bay. I think the dividing line is around the interstate, though a test of salinity would help tell for sure. I wonder if the salinity varies a lot. I tasted the water and it wasn't salty at all.

Dale and I went up to a sandbar that we had been to before in the boat. I remember back then walking up a short path to a cleared field. This time, surprise! The whole area has been turned into a golf course. If anyone had seen me on the path they would wonder why a golfer had on a PFD and water shoes.

There is a paddler in this picture (me), with the Mississippi pines, bayou, and late afternoon sun.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wailua Falls, Waimea Canyon in Kauai

Lucky me, got to go to the island of Kauai in Hawaii again last week. In a place where you could kayak forever, I made just one trip on the east side of the island to Wailua Falls. It was a guided group and I was in a triple sit-on-top -- not exactly what I'm used to! But worked out much better than I'd have thought and we had a great time, despite the rain that came continuously after the first leg of the trip up the river. Hiking through the woods through mud and rain, made it to the falls and swam in the pool and up under the water. Awesome!

I'm sure I would kayak the ocean waters around the island if I had more opportunity. Would have to be ready for surf, sharks, colder water, and higher seas -- but it's obviously done by others so I'd go for it. The island is beautiful and mostly in a natural state, unspoiled by over-development. It's small but it's still more than any one person could see in a lifetime, if you consider all the hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking available. It seems to me again that people there live a very balanced life, in harmony with the people and the environment around them; like the land, not over-extended beyond what should be, as so many people here on the mainland are.

Also did a Bike Trip: "Bicycle Downhill, Canyon to Coast" down the Waimea Canyon road to Kekhaha. Only had to pedal a few times and other than that stayed on the brakes all the way down from 3,500 feet to sea level. The bikes were outfitted with special drum brakes and were easy to ride. Beautiful scenery and fresh scent of Eucalyptus trees and the Pacific Ocean. Must return someday for more!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Biking St Andrews

Most of the roads here are not bike-friendly, but if you go out early on Sunday morning on some of the less-travelled roads then it's fairly pleasant. I found some really nice smooth paved roads in St Andrews, and also really enjoyed the trip out Belle Fontaine Beach. I wouldn't have enjoyed it if I hadn't seen it already. Only a handful of houses are left out of probably well over a hundred. All I can say is it looks a heck of a lot better than it did in September of last year. It's really a pleasant area. Some of the best of coastal Mississippi, but seems tucked away; a little sliver between the gulf and the bayou. I sure hope no one puts a condo out there.

I went jogging tonight and thought, you know, I should carry my GPS with me, ha ha, showing 6 trips around the .8 mile block... OK, I won't get carried away. Though my biking and other exercise must be doing me good. Resting heart rate was 46 at a visit to the doctor today. The technician took it twice to be sure, then asked me, "do you exercise a lot?" :-) I'm feeling a lot better than in my most recent couch-potato days a year an a half ago. Since then I've been slowly building up to better aerobic shape and stronger muscles, and I haven't been sick a single time in well over a year. Not that I don't still have goals to attain, but I'm really happy with the effects of exercise. I highly recommend it... especially if you make it fun!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Tracks in Graveline

It's amazing how many places there are yet to see through these bayou trails. Today was the first proof-of-concept of taking the kayak on the boat. We put me out on the beach at the gulf entrance on the right side of this track, and I went up some of the north bayou legs, meeting Dale back where we saw a nutria the other night. The tide was high but the fish weren't biting. I got back in the boat easily, too. I'm psyched about this!! Now now we have the option of anywhere we go in the boat, we just load up the the kayak also and I can take a side trip just about anywhere.

This picture of a skimmer was taken from the boat. Funny how the eyes are spaced so high up on the head. I've been trying to get a good shot of them skimming the water. They must pick up some tasty things in that beak as they cruise along. They're going plenty fast when they're skimming, too.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Deer Island; Summer Day

Saturday Mom and I did a trek to Deer Island in both of our kayaks. First trip there without Paul as a guide, and Beriniki's first trip in the open sea. All went well! Boat traffic was light and the bay was calm. Going across we saw plenty of jellyfish. Cute little ones without visible tentacles; they looked like button mushrooms. They clustered together near the channel, where there were dozens within view at one time, but then none closer to the island.

The birds still like this area. Like Round Island, which we visited last week by boat, Deer Island has hundreds of dead pine trees. I didn't see a single one alive on Round, but Deer has a few. In the picture you can see them showing green through all the dead brown.

Armies of fiddler crabs covered all of the exposed mud. Tyler tells me only the males have the big claw... but they all seem to have a big claw. Are they bringing food home to the females?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Smooth Water

Funny how sometimes the breeze blows and yet the water is completely flat. This was a nice summer night and the bay was quiet and peaceful. Went over to the otter home (where I have yet to see an otter since the first time) and found a rather bold gator. When he had his head out of the water he wasn't particularly paying attention to me; something caught his eye just inside the marsh grass.

The water is full of comb jellies. They don't sting. If you let your hands run through the water as you drift along, sooner or later you bump into one. We've discovered recently that they light up at night, too.

The sun competed with the clouds, but burned defiantly through in a sunset blaze.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Solstice Sunset

Mom and I went out this evening to enjoy Graveline on the longest day of the year. We went to the spot where I saw dolphins once... the part of the bayou where you start to breathe in the gulf air, where the mouth of the bayou to the gulf is just around the corner and a little bit farther down. GPS track log says this trip is 4.75 miles. There were a lot of fish but apparently not biting today. The water is full of comb jellies, which apparently have some phosphorescense at night though I didn't see it today. It was almost dark when we got back. It's no problem to kayak in the dark, really, and there aren't any boats to worry about, but I know if I'm in the dark a boat can easily run me down before they saw me. Anyway, the water is nice, the tide is low. There are some oysters along the bayou but not as many as I saw last year. A few fish jumping, lots of red-winged blackbirds singing in the swamp grass, the air temperature perfect... very enjoyable trip.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Longleaf Trace - Epley to Lott Circle

Biking entry -- Did the trace again, and this time started at Epley Station which is as far as we went last time. This portion of the trail goes through more rural countryside, including farms with cows and horses. On the GPS track, the black is last trip, the yellow track is this trip. Although the weather was HOT and humid, quite a bit of the track was shaded, and we got a short thunderstorm and rode through it on the way back. One final treat was the snowcone stand at Sumerall.

Even on a Saturday, hardly anyone out there. You can't beat this for entertainment! Tyler loved it and rode strong the whole way. I keep wondering, who do I pay... Just can't believe you can have this much family fun for free.


If I've never said it before, Graveline is pronounced 'Grav-e-leen' (make that an upside-down 'e') and is my favorite kayak spot. Graveline Bayou and Graveline Bay are a most unique and special part of the Mississippi coastline estuary. I got back in the kayak this past week and re-experienced 1) warm water 2) Mississippi birds 3) Mississippi mud 4) low tide 5) high tide 6) the feeling that alligators were close, but not showing themselves 7) the joy of paddling and cruising in this most awesome mode of transport. The kayak has advantages over the bike -- but what a good pair they make! One for the top half, one for the bottom half. I want to start a new bi-athalon sport event of biking and kayaking. Can't decide which should go first though. In tri-athalon they swim first, but I think the water would be more refreshing in the second half.

I don't have much in the way of pictures. Just a heron taking off from a pier. I was just happy to get back out in the water.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ocean Springs Memorial Day

32 miles on Sunday and an easy recovery. I stopped by the MS Vietnam Veteran's Memorial before the day's ceremony, then went for a nice ride. There are still not many people out having fun, even on a Memorial Day with nice weather. I saw more people working on rebuilding their houses than were out on the beaches and out in boats. Let's hope they all took a break for an afternoon of relaxation for the holiday!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Longleaf Trace

Another bike trip... though I think this holiday weekend I might get the kayak back in the water. I'll have to do something to exercise the top half instead of the bottom! Dale, Tyler, and I went 22.6 miles on the bike trail in Hattiesburg this morning. I love this "rails to trails" concept, and this appears to be one of the top trails. I will definitely go back and intend to do the whole 42-mile trip (84 round trip) someday.

Tyler was such a trooper!

I've figured out this concept about working up to greater endurance. You go on a long trip, figure out what ails you the most, and purchase some new gadget or equipment to address the problem. At this point I've got the bike, the clipless pedals and shoes, helmet, water pack, the handlebar mount for the Garmin etrex. Waiting on the bike shorts I ordered the other day, and may need another pair of gloves as it seems Tyler is quite attached to mine. My wrists hurt but overall I'm in pretty good shape. Except for getting progressively more high-performance equipment, though, there really is a limited amount of gear that you need to do serious biking, and the same is true for kayaking. Once you're equipped, you just go out and enjoy it.

The Longleaf Trace bike trail is really nice, and today was ideal weather. The right side of the GPS track is the USM campus where the trail begins. The left side is as far as we went today, although the trail continues for another 30 miles. USM students are dispersed right now for summer, so there really weren't many people there - just enough to talk pleasantly to a few, including a UPS driver of 30 years who rides the trail several times a week. He had some good advice such as "you've got to learn the art of figuring out when you're half-tired so you can make it back to where you started" - a concept I'm quite familiar with from kayaking! The trail is mostly woods on both sides all the way, and the hills are extremely gentle grade from its days as a railroad. There are places where you feel you're completely out in the woods. Plenty of birds, a few woodland creatures, and nice scenery. Along one stretch there are about 20 trees with signs identifying what type of trees they are. It's evident that there was plenty of Katrina damage even in this area; there are lots of sections of trees that are pretty torn up. I think they had more tornadoes than we had on the coast. We went to a stop called Epley and talked about going to Summerall next time. I think there is a spot to eat lunch in Sumerall, which would make a nice day trip, though you'd have to remind yourself to keep it light.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! May you have plenty of outdoor adventures, lots of BBQ, and family fun, and remember our fallen heroes... our ancestors, family members, loved ones, neighbors, and friends who fought and died for this country.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Well, obviously I'm not getting out in the kayak as much as I want to. The logistics continue to be an issue. Soon, our new boat will arrive and open up all kinds of possiblities, as we can transport the kayak to a choice spot; Dale and Tyler can fish while I go off paddling.

For now, the bike is my new love, so my tracks are land-based. I actually find many similarities between it and the kayak. I was thinking yesterday, a kayak is to a motorboat what a bike is to a motorcycle. Both, in my opinion, are more enjoyable without the motor! It's so much more of a rich experience, to me, when you experience the mode of transportation, AND you are challenging yourself physically.

Yesterday: 27.5 miles, approx 2 hrs, top speed 24mph.

Visited the OS bridge where the yacht club used to be. Hmm, can you tell which photo is pre-Katrina and which is yesterday?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Florida -- Wakulla River

The Wakulla is * clearly * a spring-fed river. Clear, blue, and beautiful! Peggy said it’s one of her favorite places to paddle, so I figured it would be a winner. We went first to the state park at the spring. There is a swimming area and a platform that looks down into the spring. Talk about blue!

They say it goes 300 feet down into an elaborate aquatic cave. Private boats aren’t allowed in this part of the river “a good thing”, one guide book says, “because the place is overrun with alligators.”

Dale and Tyler took put me in the river a few miles down under the HW 365 bridge, then they headed 4 miles farther down to HW 98 to meet me an hour and a half later.

The current is light and I found the water to be amazingly clear. I talked to one man in a canoe and he said its browner/greener than he’s ever seen it – on past trips it was clear as drinking water. Well nonetheless, I was impressed. It sure wasn’t Mississippi water. I could see the bottom at 10 feet; beyond that it was a little hard to tell if it was vegetation, rocks, or manatees on the bottom.

I spent the first half mile wondering if I would be able to tell a manatee if there was one below me. A mile later I spotted two on the right side of the river, and they were unmistakable in shape and size. I think I saw them on a trip to Florida when I was 11. Don’t remember seeing them when I lived in Ft Walton Beach in ‘89-‘91. I wouldn’t have guessed they would be so unconcerned about my presence. I stayed close to 10 minutes and drifted pretty close to them. Here they are munching side by side. Is that cool or what?

I remembered to take a video with the digital camera, and got a nice 25 second shot of them sticking their noses up to breathe, moving around a bit, and as a rare additional treat, emitting a stream of bubbles from the opposite end. Boy was Tyler impressed when I showed him a video of a manatee fart! :- )

There are quite a few private docks on the river. I bet that land costs a bundle.

The turtles were bold; they must get tired of plopping in the water every time someone goes by. I saw a few birds but not as many as I thought I would. Either Peggy’s really good at spotting them, or they were just elsewhere that day. There were a lot of fish, and I’d say other than the manatees, the gar were the most impressive creatures. The gar were huge, 3 or 4 or even 5 feet long, cruising around the river in all different directions like cops on patrol. I could have got a picture of one if I tried hard enough, but there was so much else to look at. I found myself wondering if I would see more above the water if I wasn’t so intent on looking IN the water.

We headed straight home from there and it took 5 ½ hours. Good chance we’ll go back some day. I’m interested in seeing the lower part of the river when it gets into the tidal area. Overall it was a really great place to paddle. North Florida has a lot to offer and provided for a great family trip.

Florida -- Merritt’s Mill Pond

Spring break trip mission: camping, fishing, and kayaking. Inspired by Peggy of paddletales we headed to Florida around Tallahassee for a few days, April 11-13th. We took the dog, Jazz, which limited our options somewhat but was fun. She’s a good boat dog and did fine in the john-boat. For the road trip, the kayak rode on top of the john-boat which we pulled on a trailer, and the dog rode in the Truck backseat with Tyler. We had the tent and all that ready and loaded in the truck, but we were trying to do a lot already so we kept it simple and rented one of the cabins at Merritt’s Mill Pond Arrowhead Campground. That turned out to be a winner because the highlight of the trip for Tyler was renting the paddleboats, particularly the barracuda which is like a jet ski and has a prop instead of a paddle wheel.

I did a kayak venture about halfway up the pond on Tuesday afternoon. Got to the power lines and just a bit beyond. There’s a strange humming in the woods just north of the power lines. Don’t know what that could be. Other than that it’s a quiet, peaceful place. A lot of houses and docks, but still mostly natural surroundings.

Very blue, clear water! There’s a lot of grass and algae and that covers half the bottom. It’s strange, makes you feel like you’re on a magic carpet floating 12 feet high, looking down on bushes, grass, and trees. Turtles and fish are easy to spot swimming around. Some of the plants make it hard to paddle through. Once my paddle snagged and I almost had to drop the paddle or flip the boat, but at the last second it let go. I didn’t have a lot of time before sunset so I headed back.

Wednesday we took the boat up to the top of the lake. The recreation area was closed, but we found one of the large springs (THE large spring?) on the west side under a rocky cliff. I was fascinated with the water coming up out of the spring and how it made kaleidoscope patterns with the rocks. Dang it -- my camera batteries died just before we got to it. New mission! I knew I had to make it back in the kayak later in the day. So a little while later I set off from the campground again, went all the way to the top of the pond, and visited the spring again. Got some good pictures this time.

It was a long trip back since I haven’t done any long trips lately, but felt great. The general conditioning I’ve done lately, jogging, spinning, biking, walking, seems to make a difference in stamina even though I haven’t been paddling much. Well, now’s the season, so I intend to paddle a lot if I can figure out the transportation challenges.

The pond was a beautiful place to camp and kayak.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

March and spring is here

New discoveries in the bayou. Mom and I went all the way up to the causeway through the third bayou from the bay. Saw 4 gators along the way and named 2: Ferdinand and Sparky. Sparky lay on the bank with us not 12 feet from him (what were we thinking?) but eventually slid into the water. The red-winged blackbirds are singing, the egrets and herons are flying and fishing, and the fish are jumping. Most of the bayou still looks brown but the green grass is pushing up through the brown grass from last year. The weather is nice and it feels like another kayak season!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

December paddle

This paddle was a couple of weeks ago on Dec 18th. Mom and I went up north of the bay, up behind some of the houses on the north bayou. She is in Beriniki, the Pamlico 145T. I'm in the Millenium 160. She took a photo of me on this trip and I've added it to my profile. We saw this heron along the way. I have a new camera with much more zoom power, but not sure when I'll get the nerve to take it out on the water.

I edited these photos with Microsoft Digital Image 2006. Downloaded a trial copy, but I think I will end up buying it as I do like it quite a bit. The reviews on photo imaging software are deceiving, because I think to the average user, ease of use far outweighs the ultra-technical capabilities available.