The Silver Lining In The Shutdown

I don’t know where you are from, but it has been cold here in northeast Florida!

But, in spite of the colder temperatures slowing things down a bit, we haven’t been wasting the time.  It seems there is always so much to get caught up on – from office work to getting kayaks and gear in top shape for the next season. But my mind never stops thinking about being out on the water, or about my next exciting adventure. Speaking of which…that is what I want to share about now.

So, let me share with you about the “silver lining” and the “shutdown”.

I received a call from a young lady. She and her husband had been planning for at least a year to camp on Cumberland Island. I can only imagine their disappointment when they learned that the ferry was not running because of the government shut down.

They had camping reservations, and wanted to know if we could help them get to the island.  Pausing briefly, (to make sure there wasn’t a major hurricane or any other major calamity bearing down on us),  I said, “ Sure we can!” They were already en route from St. Marys, Georgia, so I told them we needed to get on the water ASAP to best utilize the tide in our favor.  After telling them where to meet us, I loaded kayaks and prepared to leave.  Not one to miss out on an adventure, Amber jumped on board also.   We have done more Cumberland Island and Okefenokee tours this past year than we ever have, and the beauty and solitude of the wilderness areas have easily become some of my favorites.

After meeting up with our newfound “adventure” friends, we all headed out for the Sea Camp boat dock on Cumberland Island. I cannot remember ever seeing so many dolphin as they casually swam around for a part of our journey.

We safely delivered our new adventurers to their destination. Their experience while camping and exploring could easily be a blog all of its own!  I so admire their sense of adventure and their positive attitudes,  proving that real explorers would never let something like a little government shut down dampen their spirits.  After learning all that they did, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone pack so much fun into such a short time, (present company excluded).   ? They stayed only one night, but their experience created memories that would last for a lifetime.

So, Amber and I were headed back for the return trip home. Even with cold feet and hungry stomachs, we could not have been happier. Enjoying the journey is so much a part of life. On her phone, Amber played one of my favorite songs, To The Ends Of The Earth by Lord Huron. I was thinking to myself that it just does not get any better than this. Paddling with dolphins, seeing the white pelicans, and looking at the sun setting over Tiger Island…. What more can I say!

To safeguard our friends’ vehicle, we took it back to headquarters for the night.

The next day, while Aaron and Amber were both busy with tours of their own,  I headed out to bring the campers back home. My trip across the Cumberland Sound was one the highlights of the entire journey.  I was alone for close to 3 hours and once again, the dolphins were feeding all around, and I could see the wild horses on the island.

If you have never been out on the water on a brisk, cool day, you need to try it! There is a whole other element to kayaking that cannot be obtained while being in a noisy motor boat. You can actually hear the birds and the gentle splashing of the water. This just adds to the peace and tranquility.

I watched as a large racoon slowly fed along the edge of the marsh. The quietness of the kayak allowed me to get very close for a few pictures. I then asked it, “How are you doing this fine day?”  Upon hearing my voice,  it turned to stare at me. The look on that masked face was priceless!  I’m sure it was thinking, “Where in the world did you come from?”

After meeting up with my new friends, we stopped off along the edge of the river to hunt for sharks’ teeth. After finding twenty or more, we headed off for home.

We ended our time together by going to one of the downtown Fernandina restaurants. They insisted on treating, and we all agreed that a good meal is always the best way to celebrate such an enjoyable experience that we all shared.

After many hugs and a little sadness, we all promised to stay in touch. Saying, “I hope to see you again” makes saying “good bye” a little easier.

I’m thinking that eventually I am going to have to end this story, but not without a smile as wide as the Cumberland Sound.

The reason for the smile is because I know that the adventure for me will never end. It is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have a spirit of adventure, but the truth is that I am either in the middle of, or getting ready for the next adventure.

Now that the shutdown is over, and the politicians are getting back to work,  we “modern day pioneers” will keep exploring the beauty beyond the next horizon.

Well, my fellow travelers, continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

Until next time, happy kayaking, and may God bless all of you.

~ The Saltwater Cowboy

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