Manatees at Blue Springs State Park

We moved on from Wekiwa Springs State Park to go look at the Manatees. I’ve never seen a Manatee before and was told that most viewing locations you get to see a couple of blobs under the water which occasionally surface for air, at which point you can see their noses.

Blue Springs State Park is the exception to the rule. When the weather turns cold, the manatees move into the spring in large numbers to warm up. The spring water is crystal clear, so you can get a good view at large numbers of them. Unfortunately I left my circular polarizer at home, so some of the pictures have a bit of glare.

The springs also contain a large number of fish species as well. I believe this one is a Florida Gar.


Manatee feeding on the bottom.


There were all kinds of cool trees with moss hanging off of them. This is a shot with a manatee underneath.


Momma and her baby (and a couple of other fish).


at the park there was a blacksmith making various trinkets. He didn’t like me because I was wearing my Seahawks gear and he is a 49er fan.


Heating up the rods so they can be bent. He was making triangle dinner bells while we were there.


Tools for getting the job done.


After watching the blacksmith, we looked at manatees some more. As you can see, there were quite a few there. They do a count every day and the day we visited the count was around 220, which is a bit on the low side.


More fish, I think these are Tilapia.


A manatee kiss


Ok, this wasn’t at Blue Springs, but the next campground we stayed. He was hanging out right outside the RV door.


Also took a short video of the Manatees.

Wekiwa Springs Kayak Trip

Well, it has been quite some time since I last updated my blog. For once, it is because I haven’t really been doing anything worth posting. That has changed this week as I’ve flown to Florida for a week to hang out with my parents in their RV.

Our first adventure on this trip was a kayak trip through Wekiwa Springs State park.My mom and dad did a bit of research before I arrived to determine the best drop off/pickup locations for the run. Since I had a rental car (and they towed their Jeep), we had two vehicles to set up for the drift (and didn’t have to deal with paying someone for a pickup).

The trip begins at King’s Landing…


My kayak is an inflatable, so my mom and dad handled all of the vehicle logistics while I set my boat up. Here are the kayaks rigged and ready to go. In the background is the little shop at the King’s Landing launch…doesn’t really look like a castle Smile


Took a picture of the launch while killing time for the car swap to be completed.


Looks like there will be gators on the float.


First gator of the trip!


Still waiting to start…a hawk was hanging out and let me get pretty close for a picture.


We finally started! There is a small waterway from the launch out to the river.


The river itself was very narrow, and had lily pads up and down the sides. Looks like a good place for a gator to hide.


The early part of the river is outside the state park and there are many run down houses and docks along the waterway. I was waiting for some spooky banjo music, but it never started.


There were tons of turtles along the float. Many of them had cool orange or yellow on the bottom.


A wide angle shot of the river as we enter the state park…you can see the entrance sign on the left. The river really never widened more than this.


Went past a small group of American White Ibis.


We would occasionally have to go underneath large branches or trees. This one looked like a big hand reaching across the river.


The first real gator! We almost went right by him. I bet you go past ten of them for every one that you see.


Drifted up pretty close to some Black Vultures. There are two of them in the picture if you look closely.


Close up of a Black Vulture.


Another shot that does a good job showing the feel of the river.


A bigger gator hiding in the weeds.


Near the end of our float, a Great Blue Heron posed for us.


One final gator on the trip…nice smile!


The river was so shallow that I could not use the skeg on my kayak. This made it tough to track straight or to zip through the twisties. So, I expended a bit more energy than I would have expected for a 9 mile float. I’d still do it again though!

ChelanMan–Half Ironman

Race morning, I got out of bed around 4:30a…of course, I’d been awake since about 3:00a thinking about all of the things I needed to transport from my campsite to the transition area – it was about a 1/2 hour drive one direction, so If I forgot something I would be out of luck. I was extra paranoid about this now after I forgot my tri suit for the Padden Tri. Also adding to my lack of sleep was the fact that this would be my first half ironman – my longest race to this point was Padden, which was just a little shorter than olympic distance. My main goal for the day was to finish – I figured I’d be somewhere in the 6:45-7:00 range.

I had my scheduled breakfast of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and an apple – I’d been having this same breakfast for the week prior to the race, just to make sure that my stomach would be ok with it. I did have some late changes to my nutrition plan because of the heat in the forecast (nearly 100 degrees for the day) – the breakfast change was to add a bottle of water with a couple of salt sticks. After breakfast, I put on sunscreen with little confidence that it would stay on throughout the swim.

My wife Kim was awesome support leading up to and during the race. She went with me to set up transition at about 5:00a or so, while we left my younger daughter and her two cousins behind in the RV for some added sleep. She helped me haul gear down to the transition area as I began to set up for the race. There were a couple of differences that were new to me this time around – I dropped my bike off the day before. Since it was a hot day out, I slightly deflated the tires to make sure they didn’t pop. Pumping the tires back up was the first thing I took care of while setting up. Next was all the fuel I was carrying – I had way more than any other race that I’ve done. The first hurdle of the day – I hadn’t actually raced in the tri suit I was wearing (due to the Padden debacle), and I found that I could only fit two of my gel flasks into the pockets on back. Fortunately I had extra gel packets that I put in my bento box. In addition to the extra fuel, I was carrying lots of salt tabs – in the bento box on my bike and in my run belt. Finally, I had a bottle of sunscreen to reapply after the swim. Other than that, pretty standard transition area stuff.

There were about 200 people doing the half ironman distance – the swim was a mass start. Probably the biggest start I’ve been in…the chaos at the beginning lasted a good 5 minutes into the race. One cool thing about this course is the marker buoys are attached to a floating line, so you could just follow the line without having to sight. There were a couple of issues with this – I felt like the beginning of the race was a little more cramped because everyone was trying to get near the line, and if you follow with the line directly below then you run into the buoys that marked the course (not that it happened to me…well, too many times anyhow). Once the swim calmed down a bit, I got in a groove and found someone to draft behind – the first time I’ve actually done this in a race. They were going slightly slower than I wanted, but I figured the energy saving would be worth it. Once we rounded the first turn buoy, I lost my draft. About half way through the long stretch (close to a mile) I noticed someone off to my side and tried to drop behind and draft some more. It turned out there was a mini pack of people there and some combat swimming occurred for a few minutes – this was probably the most stressful part of the swim for me as I could tell my heart rate was going up.  After the pack broke up, I did find someone to draft for the rest of the swim. When I started training 8 months ago, I would never have thought that the swim would be the easiest part of the race, but it ended up being that way. Swim time – 41:58.

Moving into transition, I found that I was not too tired from the swim. I took my time getting to my area. Stripped off my wetsuit without any issues today. Took my time and applied some sunscreen. Got into my biking shoes, helmet on, sunglasses on, and jammed out of transition. T1 time – 3:57 (although it seemed a lot faster when I was there).

Off on the bike! As I get about 5 bike lengths away from the volunteer directing out of transition, I hear someone shout “You are sending them the wrong way!”. They were sending us out the way the bikes were supposed to arrive at the end of the bike leg. I continued along the wrong way (along with 80% of the rest of the racers) – added maybe a 1/4 mile to the bike length. The plan for the bike was to stay at 140 watts for the first hour, and if I felt good bump to 150 watts after that. On hills I should try to hold at about 180 watts and could spike up to 200 watts (my ftp). I was passed by lots of people while riding at my 140 watt pace – it was so hard to stick to my plan! I just reminded myself that I wanted to be able to run at the end. At 1 hour in, I was feeling good, so I bumped up to 150 watts. The first 30 miles of the race was semi-flat, no real big hills. After that things change up a bit – there was a 2 1/2 mile hill climb on highway 97a. I felt great going up! kept my power in check and had plenty of legs. Just before the top of the hill was an aid station – I stopped for a quick bathroom break and topped off my water. Continued up the hill, and then down an awesomely fast 4 mile descent. I must have pushed too hard on the down, because my legs were pretty tired when I got to the flat at the bottom of the hill (about 40 miles into the ride). Now it is starting to get hot outside, and I’m starting to feel it – just in time for an 8ish mile climb. Even though I had been spot on with my nutrition and power plans, this climb took a lot out of me.It was steep for a mile or so, flattened out a bit for a few miles and then got steep again. As I climbed this hill, the bottom of my right foot started to hurt. The pain gradually got worse and worse – almost to the point of being unbearable. For temporary relief I would curl my toes up to change the pressure point on my foot, but couldn’t really hold that position for very long. Eventually I made it to the top and started my descent – this one was a bit more scary with a hairpin turn halfway down and a stop sign at the bottom. Half way down my nutrition timer went off – I skipped my gel and figured I would try to get it in on the flats back to transition, which I never did (I believe a key mistake, which you will read about in a minute). I get to the bottom of the hill, my foot hurts really badly, but I know I’m close to transition and that the ride is fairly flat from here. Close enough that I decide to skip my gel and get it in transition instead. One scary moment happened along this part of the bike – the shoulder (riding lane) was separated from the cars by orange cones, a car clipped one of the cones right in front of me pushing the cone over in my path. Fortunately I had plenty of time to react, but had I been a bit closer it could have been a pretty nasty accident. Bike time – 3:49;37.

T2 was pretty straightforward ditch the shoes, get on my running shoes, race belt and hat. Grab my water bottle, take a shot of gel (I believe this was my critical mistake), and go! T2 time – 1;57.

I knew the run was going to be tough because of the heat and the amount of time I’d already been racing – the plan for the run was to hit 9:30-10:00 min miles (my normal 1/2 marathon pace is an 8:30 mile) and walk for 3 minutes at each aid station to bring my heart rate and core temperature down. I started out at around a 9:30 pace – my right foot felt fine after the painful end to the bike leg. Then it happened! As I approached the first mile, my stomach starts to feel heavy. I get to the stop and walk my 3 minutes. Start running again, my stomach is feeling worse and I’m slowing down now at about a 10:30 pace. Make it all the way to the next aid station. Start my 3 minute walk. I know that I am supposed to take a gel soon and I’m dreading it. The fuel at the aid stations is Heed, and I’ve never tried it before – don’t want to start now. Start my run again get to the 30 min mark and decide to try to choke down a gel – a really bad choice. My heavy stomach turns into cramps and I had to start walking ahead of schedule. Try to run some more, and I just couldn’t do it. At this point, I’m feeling really down – I’ve got 8ish miles of run to go and I may have to be walking all of it. My attitude really started to spiral down – almost to the point of giving up. Then I came up with a strategy – Kim  likes to listen to her iPod when she runs and she’ll run for a song and then walk for a song. Since I didn’t have music on the course, I decided to run for 5 minutes and walk for 5 minutes. It seemed to work well. After a couple of intervals like this, my stomach started to feel better. So, I stretched it to 6 min run/4 min walk. That didn’t work. So I went back to 5 on/5 off. Taking more gel was out of the question, so I started trying the heed at the aid stations. It didn’t seem to make things worse, and was getting calories into my system, so I figured that was a good thing. I plugged away at most of the run just doing the run/walk pattern. With a mile to go, I decided that I was going to run to the end of the race – the worst case was sucking up 10 minutes worth of pain to make it happen. So I did. My run time – 2:48:38

My total time ended at 7:26:09 – much longer than I expected it. I have to admit I finished with a bit of mixed emotions. I was extremely happy that I finished, but was a little disappointed with how long it took me to complete the course. As time has moved on from the end of the race, I’ve actually become happier with my accomplishment – very few people will even attempt a race of this magnitude, and had my run been on plan, I would have finished about where I expected. Now I have a lot of room to improve!

It has been two days since the race – my recovery has gone well. The evening after the race, I put on my 110% compression pants and filled all of the ice pockets up. My legs really haven’t been sore at all  – my shoulders and my back have been a little bit tight, but not too bad. The big issue has been the massive sunburn that I ended up with on the back of my shoulders and sides. I don’t think I did a good enough job w/sunscreen in T1, and probably should have applied more in T2. Definitely a good takeaway for the next race! And at this point, I think there will be a next race at this distance – if you would have asked me immediately after I finished, I would have said no way. Well, time heals all wounds, and after only two days, I’m ready to get after it again!

Disneyland RV Trip: End of the trip

Thursday: Universal Studios


Thursday we made the long drive up to Universal Studios…ok the distance wasn’t that far, but the traffic was bad, so it took a bit longer than we expected to arrive (and it was even worse on the way back). For this destination, we had purchased front of the line tickets. This allowed us to go to the front of the line for each attraction one time each.

We kicked things off by going on the back lot tram tour. The King Kong experience was the highlight of this ride for me.You put on 3D glasses as you enter a tunnel, and you find yourself in the middle of a giant 3D movie. There is action happening on both sides of the tram, and it actually moves from one side to the other.

We ended up hitting all of the rides, taking full advantage of our front of the line passes. The Transformers ride was similar to the King Kong experience, except longer! The Simpsons ride is the old Back to the Future ride – I found it to be pretty lame.

Friday: The Beach

The girls wanted to hit the beach while we were here. So, off we went. The temperature wasn’t that warm – upper 60s maybe, and there was a good breeze coming off the ocean. That didn’t keep the kids out of the water though.


There were also a bunch of shore birds feeding on the edge of the water.



Once the girls were done in the water, they decided it was too cold with the wind, so it was back to the RV and the heated pool at the RV park.

Saturday/Sunday: The long drive home

We got an early start on Saturday around 6a. I planned the fuel so that we wouldn’t have to get any gas while we were in the city – in fact we went about 300 miles before we finally stopped. The drive was mostly uneventful except that Taylor decided to get car sick and didn’t get to the bathroom in time, making a huge mess in the RV. Just north of Sacramento, there was a brutal car fire – I checked the news when we stopped for the night, but couldn’t find any details. Hopefully nobody was hurt.

Sunday, the drive was from Redding back to Seattle. It was just a long day. We arrived home around 6:30p after an 11ish hour day in the car.

Disneyland RV Trip Day #4, #5, and #6

Theme Park Madness

It has been a crazy week so far. Normally I like to update my blog at the end of each day, but I’ve been so tired, I’ve just had time to take some quick notes before heading off to bed. I’m finally getting some time to get a post written up.

Monday: California Adventure

I woke up early on Monday to get a quick morning run in…I also used it as a way to scout out the pick up location for our rental car. My run went along the trail that parallels the Santa Ana River. I was on the trail around 6:30a or so, even though it doesn’t officially open until 7. It is a nice paved trail – made me wish I’d brought my bike along. After the run and a shower, Kim and I walked to pick up the rental car.

California Adventure was our first theme park for the trip. We met Kim’s cousin for the day – He is currently attending USC and managed to fit a visit with us into his busy schedule.


The weather wasn’t super hot, and it was pretty windy out. That didn’t stop us from going on the river rafting ride.IMG_1807IMG_1808

Brian and Molly were the lucky ones that ended up totally soaked at the end of the ride.IMG_1813

Also went on the Toy Story arcade ride…had to get a picture of the kids sporting their cool 3D glasses.


The park was not very crowded…in fact the line for California Screamin’ (the big roller coaster) was shorter than 20 minutes all day long. Needless to say, there were multiple trips through that ride.

The latest ride in California Adventure is the Cars ride. We used our fast pass for this ride as soon as we arrived in the morning, and our timeslot arrived at 5:00p. As soon as we handed over our fast pass tickets, the ride broke down. We had to wait an extra 20 minutes or so while we waited for the ride to be fixed, but that was way better than the 90 minutes+ for the people in the normal line.

After we were done with the park, we walked down the street to Bubba Gump’s and had some shrimp for dinner. We packed all of the leftovers for the poor college student, but he forgot them at the table!

Tuesday: Disneyland

This was the only day we actually went to Disneyland on our trip. We planned to be there right as the park opened, but getting 6 people ready to go in the RV took a bitt long. We still managed to get to the park fairly early.


Our first stop – get a fast pass at Space Mountain, but it was temporarily closed for repairs! This seemed to be a theme for our day at Disney. While waiting for Space Mountain to be fixed, we went on the Buzz Lightyear ride (of course I got the highest score in our group), and the revamped Star Tours. Space Mountain finally opened up and the line was short – didn’t need to use our fast pass.IMG_1827

Continuing with the broken rides – Indiana Jones broke down while we waited in line. Pirates of the Caribbean was broken all morning. The Haunted Mansion stopped a couple of times while we were on the ride.

After getting through all the broken rides, ended up with some photo ops wit the kids…Got a picture of Maddy with her new kitty.


and the two girls that are graduating this year.


and the little girls on the tea cups.


We met some friends from our college days (we were in each others weddings as well) at Rainforest Café for dinner. It had been 15 years or so since we had last seen each other. We had a blast catching up!

Wednesday: Knott’s Berry Farm

Got another run in! That makes two, only one more to go to meet my goal for the week!

The first challenge going to Knott’s Berry Farm was getting into the parking. The signage is a bit lacking. We ended up making a couple of U turns and looping the eniter park before we finally made it into the parking lot.

The park itself was pretty empty. The big kids ditched us, leaving Kim and I to chase the little kids around the park. There basically were no lines, so they would go on each ride multiple times before moving on to the next.

Getting ready for the Silver Bullet – a roller coaster that you hang from.


Going up the sidewinder.


Don’t remember what they called this one, but you spent a significant amount of time upside down.


Had an easy dinner at the motorhome. I had some time to process pictures in Lightroom, but was still a bit tired to blog.

Disneyland RV Trip–Day #3

We got up early today to get a fast start on the day – today’s goal was to make it the rest of the way to Disneyland! I took a couple of pictures at Sherwood Marina and RV park before we hit the road.  First is a picture of the RV.


Immediately behind us was the marina. The boats are fairly large, the Sacramento River must be pretty deep. There are quite a number of marinas along the river as well, I assume there are interesting places to go/see.


We let the kids sleep for a bit while we were heading down the road. At the first rest stop, they snagged some breakfast. Here is Maddy ready to go for the day.


There was lots of driving today, and it was uneventful driving at that – probably a good thing. We hit a little bit of traffic as we pulled into LA which delayed us by a half an hour or so. Here is our spot at Orangeland RV park.


We did get in early enough for some pool time…Melissa chillin’ by the pool.DSC00878

Maddy showing off her freakish flexibility.DSC00880

Kimberly supervising.DSC00881

After swimming, we walked across the street to grab some dinner. There was a great debate choosing the restaurant, and we finally settled on the Prime Cut Café.


It sounds like we made it here just in time. There are high winds predicted for tomorrow – could gust up to 40mph in the city and 80mph in the mountains. With wind speeds like that, we would have had to wait for it to blow through. I’ll be curious to see what the theme parks do if the winds hit their predicted speed..

Disneyland RV trip – Day #2

We spent the night at the Baldock rest area just south of Portland.  About a month ago, I scouted it out with my Dad on our way to pick up his new Terra 650 motorcycle. This particular spot is cool because there is an overflow parking area that moves you far away from the freeway, so you don’t get as much road noise. We scored an “end” spot (well, it may not have been an actual spot) and had another RV parked next to us blocking the noise should any trucks pull in during the night.

Had a good night sleep going until 5am, when the sound of child puking in the bathroom woke me up. Shortly thereafter, Taylor came into our bed and informed us that she was sick. It could have been worse though – I could have been Kim, who walked into the bathroom half asleep, in bare feet, to find out that Taylor doesn’t have very good aim with her projectile vomiting. Yuck!

We managed to lay in bed for a bit longer, but I don’t think we really slept anymore. The RV was not stocked with any meds to help Taylor settle her stomach, so we headed down the road a bit to Walmart. Along the way there was one more incident, fortunately she was much better with a bucket than the toilet. After we got some pepto in her tummy, she was fine and didn’t have any issues the rest of the day. None of the rest of us are showing any signs of having caught it, so hopefully it was just something that she had eaten.

For lunch, we stopped at a rest area near Grant’s Pass and stretched our legs out a bit. It had been raining most of the trip up to this point, so there hadn’t been a lot of outside time. The only good pictures I got were of the RV and Molly.


After lunch it was time to go through the Siskiyous – the weather wasn’t bad, just spotty rain showers. The further south we went, the fewer showers we ran into, but we still haven’t found a ton of sun. Hopefully tomorrow!

Our goal for the day was to make it all the way to Stockton. Given our Walmart detour and an extended lunch, it just wasn’t going to happen. Kim started searching through Woodall’s and found an RV park on the river in Sacramento (current home of the future Seattle Supersonics?) – Sherwood Harbor and RV park…it is a bit off the beaten path. I’m not sure how much there is to do here if you don’t have a boat. That being said, it was getting dark as we pulled in.

Tomorrow we should make it the rest of the way to Orangeland RV park near Disneyland. Hopefully we’ll make good enough time tomorrow to hang out at the pool once we get there!

RV Trip to Disneyland!

It’s spring break time, and the girls decided that we should go to Disneyland in the RV. So, as soon as the kids came home from school today, we jumped into the RV and headed south. Both kids are bringing friends, so there are going to be a whole lot of women on this trip – two pre-teens, two teenagers, and a wife Smile. At least they let me listen to the baseball game on the drive tonight.

The traffic was nasty, and it was pouring down rain. Of course, I can’t go on an RV trip without something breaking, and this was no exception. The driver side windshield wiper started to move lower and wider. When I pulled over at a rest area, the nut holding the wiper on was very loose. After fiddling with it a bit (I had to cut away a rubber boot), I got things tightened up and working again.

We are camping out at a rest area tonight, hoping to get an early start on the day tomorrow so we can make some good progress. I did get a couple of pictures before bed: