Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Windy Days On the Water and Off

Monday January 26 and Tuesday January 27, 2015
Myakka River State Park
Big Flats Campground
Sarasota, Florida




This morning I come out the back of our campsite which is in the trees to find a glorious if chilly morning over what I call the Myakka Prairie.  The sky and clouds look gorgeous.   What had felt like a bit of a breeze under the trees, was a full blown windy day out here.


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I turn and head for the bird walk.  I had heard it was going to be windy, I could see the trees rustling around Winnona but I didn’t know it was going to be 24 mph+.   The spanish moss – what my Aunt Carrie always called goat’s beard – isn’t hanging down like usual.  It is hanging side ways. Too bad cameras can’t give the feel of motion.




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Walking almost anywhere in Myakka that isn’t on the longer sand trails means walking on the park road.  There aren’t many alternatives and there is so much water here now that you can’t cut through anywhere.

The normally Upper Myakka lake is fairly placid.  Today it has white caps, waves even.  Too funny!  Surf’s up!!



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When I get to the bird walk I am not expecting much activity with the uncustomarily deep lake waters and the strong winds.


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The lake looks beautiful with the clouds’ reflections.   There are a couple of brave souls fishing and looking a tad wind blown.

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The wind never let up the entire time I am out.  On the way back I see another great egret and he actually makes me laugh out loud he’s so wind blown.

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Even with the wind, he gets down to business and in no time has grabbed a snack from the water.

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We spend the rest of the day taking care of business but I did catch the color at sunset over the “prairie” behind our campsite.









This morning David has to get the second of weekly blood draws for the first month of this new treatment so we drive into Northern Sarasota for that.  The Cancer Clinic he goes to is about a mile down the road from Detweiller’s Farm Market so I drop him off and go back to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies.   It’s great to get there this early, 8:30am, since their parking lot gets full to over flowing later in the morning.


It’s amazing that I am able to get these pictures with not one person in the aisle.  That’s seriously rare here.  They are all behind me.  Smile







Detweilers has everything you can imagine.  Not only fresh but I think they may have every item From Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon too.  I’ve never seen so many in one place.  



How about this bag of carrots?  Or 25 POUNDS of Virginia Peanuts.  I would not have noticed these under the vegetable counter had not a man come up and grabbed one as I was looking around.







After Detweiller’s, we go on into Sarasota and make a stop at Whole Foods to get those things that we cannot get anywhere else.  Then it’s to the bank for some cash and to the gas station for Ruby to fill up at $1.979 a gallon.   That’s just an amazing price and I hear it is even lower in Virginia.   We were paying nearly twice that this summer out west.


We grab some lunch and decide that since it is such a beautiful day we’ll get out on the swollen river and go north from the bridge.  We usually can’t go very far this way because the water level is too low. 





Lots of cormorants today, a few little blue herons and  gators.





The winds yesterday were horrific. They are less today but pick up after we are out for only a short while.  You can see the what they do to the water. 

David spots the tower of the canopy walk in the middle of the tree line in the distance.  I zoom in for a closer look and see it is filled with people.  Don’t think I’ve ever been there with quite that many people.  The numbers in the park during the week in January are nearly as bad as the week-ends.  Guess everyone is wanting to get out of the blizzards of the north.






The winds go in spurts.  Sometimes the water is calm enough to reflect the clouds.  It’s a beautiful day.




One way of getting out of the wind is to take some narrow channels.  Paddling down this one we look up in the big tree on our right and there sit not one but two hawks.



We hang out with them for quite a while.  They don’t seem to mind but then they aren’t doing much either.  Of course I take way too many pictures.  But they’re just posing.   I’m thinking these are red shouldered hawks, an adult and a juvenile.  Judy will correct me if I’m wrong.  When I’m putting this post together I notice the older one’s head looks kind of wet in my close up shot. 














What a thrill!  They are both stunning!!   We finally head on down the way and leave them in peace. 

The water is so uncharacteristically deep that there aren’t many “banks” for the gators to stretch out on so we find them lurking just below the surface and in some of the grasses along the banks.  It’s hard to watch out for them on both sides.  They won’t come after us unless they feel frightened or cornered so we just want to make sure we don’t do that.   You can see I’m making a wide swing around that black spot whose eyes are watching me in the water near the edge.




Sometimes they are easier to spot.  I think their noses are funny looking.  Big and bulbous.





Just before we move into more open water and take on the wind again, David spies a female anhinga on a post in the distance . She’s normally a taller bird with a long velvety brown neck but she’s really scrunched down here.  Don’t blame her, it’s windy.








We turn the corner to go back in the smaller pathways and there is a little blue heron sitting in the top of a bush at the water’s edge.  I watch as one of the cormorants flies over to the bush and flaps his way up to the top forcing the little blue off.  Bully!

The little blue just flies over to the next bush and sits down lower this time.   You do what you gotta do.











Just beyond, tucked in the corner is the biggest alligator of the day.  Well except maybe for the one that David nearly ran into when he was blown into the bank.  Lucky for him the scared alligator didn’t attack in defense but chose flight rather than fight and scared us both to death when he splashed into the water.   Stay away from banks in narrow channels in alligator country on a sunny day in deep water is the message here.






A poor snowy egret is minding his own business and trying to fish from the bank of the channel we are paddling up.  He gets set and then gets worried about us and flies on ahead, gets set….flies….gets set…..flies and FINALLY figures out that he needs to fly behind us.   I just love his golden slippers.
















I could go on and on with a play by play but I’ll just put a few pictures of the birds we see along the way.  The little blue heron,  love his dusky feathers.  He’s on the branch in the picture below.  We swung wide so as not to scare him off.  it worked.  There is a male anhinga with the fancy feathers and the kingfisher of which I actually get a fairly decent picture.















We move out into more open water and the winds really pick up.  Time to head back and get out of the wind.   It’s serious paddling for a while before moving again into the protection of the narrower channels.






As we round the bend, I see that the little blue and the snowy have taken the tree back.  Nice of them to share. 






We have the current with us this time and when the wind is down we make good time coming back.  2.5 hours out, 45 minutes back.  We knew the short cuts by then.  <grin>




The sun is dropping in the sky as we paddle into it near the put in.   Even with the wind, I’m glad to spend an afternoon back on the water.




  1. Even though I grew up in Florida and have been around a lot of gators, I'm not as brave as you are when it comes to kayaking with them. Especially in narrow channels -- I'm always afraid they're going to think that I'm cornering them, even when I'm not intending any harm. Love the second to last photo -- it looks like you're paddling in the clouds.

  2. I love all the birds and can't choose a favorite! How in the world would you defend yourself against a gator that came after you? I couldn't get in the water where I knew they lurked.

  3. What a lovely kayak adventure. I felt I was right there with you!

  4. Boy you could see the wind blowing the trees, the birds feathers. And That picture of Bob's Red Mill products made me feel like I was home. I shop at the original retail store where it all began (after the fire) the originial mill was was within walking distance of where I live. Now I just have to drive a bit further.

  5. My favorite was the young night heron shot. You don't get to them very often.

  6. So all that rain has paid off by giving you enough water to paddle in, and so many birds. But I'm not so sure about the alligators being so close. That sure looks like a well stocked market just don't know what I'd do with 5 lbs. of peanuts. That's kind of like shopping at Costco. ;) I love going kayaking with you.

  7. Nice day- great shot of the king fisher. We saw one as we were leaving yesterday but I was not fast enough with the camera.

  8. Beautiful shots, particularly the hawks!

  9. The moss looks like Bill's beard in the wind! Yep, I laughed out loud at the egret in the wind - what a look! Our gas is $2.21/gal this week, up a little from last, but still a huge improvement over last year! If not salted, maybe they feed the 25 lbs of peanuts to the birds? Or make their own peanut butter.....that's a lot of nuts! The birds are amazing, but I really love the gators. That close encounter was scary for all three of you! I'm sure they see you and the kayak as one critter, and therefore not something worth the effort to "attack". Still, giving wide berth is the healthy approach :-) Glad you didn't let the wind keep you on shore, looks like a beautiful paddle.

  10. Great paddle and super birding day. Love the Red Shoulder Hawks and your photo of the Kingfisher is a WINNER:o))

  11. Really terrific shots of so many birds! Your pictures of the clouds in the sky really say "beautiful day"! Love those golden slippers too.

  12. You're worrying me playing chicken with those gators. You wouldn't be much of a snack and we'd all miss you! ;c)

  13. What a difference a day makes! That was intense and then the placid, clear water reflecting clouds. Impressive veggies! Wow! Lovely paddle...must have been quite an experience with that gator. Glad he chose flight!!

  14. I think I miss the winds and clouds of the Florida skies almost as much as I miss the spring run waters. Your posts make me homesick for a place I never lived. Life at the moment doesn't include a return to Florida any time this year, so I just get to daydream and read your blog.

  15. Love me some Virginia peanuts, but 25 pounds is a bit more than I could handle. Scary encounter with the gator! Glad it ended well.

  16. Very nice! What a beautiful display of produce at the market. So many Bob's packages! I love to buy some of 'his' products. Lots of hawks flying around here in CA too.

  17. We had a lot of windy days in Cancun last week - the good part is that it whips up the waves for excellent body surfing - the bad part is it's a little cool when you get out and it's hard to read a book or magazine in the wind. However, the weather was good. The pictures of the semi horizontal moss are pretty. Also liked the hawk pictures - great shots. The blue heron looked like he was wearing a bow tie. Guess the gators don't bother kayakers very much.

  18. Myakka is such a gorgeous park, and I am enjoying areas I've never seen via your kayaking photos! Our son and his family live in Sarasota, so we visit Myakka when we travel there.


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