02/02/2013 - 02/02/2013 75 °F
Another beautifully sunny morning, although it's much chillier first thing in the morning when I'm walking Dobby. Today, I have reserved to go paddle boarding at Fort Lauderdale beach with a Groupon I purchased. While I'm here, I want to experience things typical to Florida that I may not be able to see or do back home in Boston. I've seen multiple Groupons to go paddle boarding, so this seems like one of those things to do. Carpe diem! I got ready to head back to the beach, now understanding my way around a little bit. The beach was much busier today since it was the weekend, but not terrible.
But it's time to conquer this fear of trying paddle boarding! It always looked difficult- having great balance seemed scary enough to me that I may end up falling into the water. The guys running the shop and tour were very nice and reassuring that I shouldn't fall. phew! So we take off to the intercoastal waterway dock, about 11 of us in the group. We knee onto the boards one-by-one from the dock and get strapped in. Starting off on our knees to learn stability and finding our "sweet spot", we paddle around the small canal into the larger opening towards the channel. Here our instructor is teaching us to slowly stand up on the board - your feet should be shoulder length apart surrounding the little knotch in the middle of the board. Knees can be bent and should be if you're riding over waves to keep your center of gravity low. *Nerd moment over* The only intimidating part for a newbie was getting past the channel of boats flowing by as the initial challenge of this whole experience. Slowly, but surely (emphasis on the slow part) I got through no problem. We then trailed into a canal beginning our "Venice of America" tour. I didn't understand what this meant until we starting paddling ourselves down a canal with views of gorgeous million dollar homes with private docks for each house on either side of the riverway. It was then that I felt like I was a Gondola operator touring down this scenic route of Fort Lauderdale, similar to that of Venice. The weather could not be more perfect, roughy 75 degrees, low wind, and sunny skies with some clouds breaking in. The only thing that could've ruined the sights were the group in our tour of 6 Russian guys who came out fully dressed in shirts, shorts, hats, and sunglasses. They were clowning around on the boards and not taking the instructions seriously, which resulted in them constantly falling into the water. I wouldn't have cared but I stayed far behind the group for a reason - because I knew I might uncontrollably crash into someone else that could cause them to fall, and I didn't want anyone crashing into me. But these guys still managed to.
Moving along this tour- we learned to duck under numerous small bridges by having to get on our stomach and paddle through each one. The bridges were consecutive so it made me nervous having to re-stand up each time, but I got better as it went along. About 2/3 into the trip, we came up to an interesting transition from glamorous homes gleaming in the sun to the "mango groves" which consisted of a huge tree hanging over the water, enough that we were able to reach the branches standing up. Our instructor was able to snatch some pictures with me and a new friend I made on the tour, Jalana who has been paddling for quite some time now, so she was able to help me out also. Two and a half hours later, we finally make it back to the dock we started at after trudging through more waves from the boats in the channel. It was a great workout nonetheless and we'll see how sore I'll be feeling tomorrow.
After getting our things gathered and heading off, I grabbed a drink and bite to eat right within that same little mall at Lulu's Bait Shack. I did the most touristy thing possible and ordered a drink within a souvenir glass. Go me. Though I was able to get a nice little table for myself overlooking the beach from 2 stories up! I ended up going back to the paddle board shop after Lulu's to buy a Shark Pack, which is what held my iPhone to take pictures during the tour. It's a sturdy clear plastic bag with little inflatables surrounding it to float if it ends up in the water that holds a phone or camera within it nicely and seals it up. It is then attached to a lanyard for you to keep around your neck. For a touch screen phone, it functioned easily inside this bag so I had to get it since I've never seen anything like it before. Whenever I want to bring my camera out onto the water, I would makeshift double ziplock bags to keep the water out. I won't have to do that anymore with the Shark pack!
Overall, it was a very exciting and mentally draining day. I'm glad I tried something new and got over the fear I had of it all on my own! *pats on the back* I ended the night with some lime jello and updating this blog from the past 2 days. Now you can enjoy some of the pictures from today.
Jalana and our instructor, Jon
The group as we are venturing out into open waters
Jalana and I
At the mango grove