Fishing report

Woke up before sunrise again this morning and stepped out back to do a little fishing. Did the same thing yesterday morning and caught a nice little spotted sea trout. Figured, why not give it a try again today?

The sky was blue, the sun was trying to climb its way up, and the fish were active, making swirls all over the calm inlet. But they weren’t hungry this time. (At least, not for the spoon I used yesterday.)

A couple of boats slowly motored down the inlet, heading out for a day of fun. We waved at each other as they passed.

And now, just a few minutes later, a fog is rolling in from the east. I can barely see the trees about a half mile up the inlet as the fog takes over. The beautiful warm sunshine is gone, and the sky is a cold gray. That was fast. It’s turned into a nice day to stay inside.

Christmas 2011 268

Dolphins at play

Last Saturday morning I woke up early and headed out on my little boat to take some sunrise pictures on the Little Manatee River.

As I headed out of the Ruskin Inlet towards the river, still in a “no wake” zone, I came upon a few small dolphin. I idled the motor and while I watched, the dolphins came over to check me out. They hung around for a couple of minutes then headed out the inlet into the river.

Once in the river, instead of taking sunrise pictures, I changed my plan – to see if the dolphins would play in my boat’s wake. My boat is just a little skiff, and doesn’t make very much wake at all, but between 6 – 10 mph it does create some off the stern. So I headed downriver and spotted them over to one side. I kept my speed steady and saw them start swimming perpendicular to me – towards me.

And suddenly, there they were! I was able to catch the events on video. . .

Dolphins on the Little Manatee River




Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Saturdays are laid back and relaxing. Others are full speed ahead. This was the latter.

On land

As we’re slowly getting moved into our new, smaller, already furnished home, we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all the furniture from our old home. I love the beachy feel of the furniture the former owner left behind. It looks like it belongs on the water.

All of it.

Including the shabby/beachy kitchen table and chairs. . .


Pam loves most of the furniture too, but the kitchen furniture? “Shabby/shabby.”


But I digress.

On Wednesday night, Pam put a bunch of the furniture from our old house on Craigslist. She also put our horse trailer and round pen up for sale. And her e-mail box lit up. The response was amazing.

Pam set up a number of appointments for Saturday morning, so it was off to the old house bright and early. And the people showed up. Trailer: gone. Round pen: gone. Beds from both kids rooms: gone. Desk: gone. This was so much better than a garage sale. The stuff we don’t sell? We’re going to donate it to a charity.

We celebrated by going to Bob Evans for lunch. Kind of a shabby/rural kind of restaurant.

We’re into shabby these days.

Finally made it home around 4:00. Still plenty of light for a boating adventure.

On sea

I grabbed my boat bag (GPS, boat keys, flashlight, charts, fish ID book, etc), fishing pole, kissed Pam bye and headed out.

First order of business: gas.

My skiff is a shabby little 17’ center console. The gas tank sits inside the console, and I don’t have a funnel that will reach the opening, so I couldn’t use any of the gas from the jerry cans I have.

Good enough. I’ll go fill up at Shell Point Marina down at the mouth of the river.

Got to the marina, putted around looking for the fuel dock but couldn’t see one. I asked a guy who was unloading his boat. . . he said the nearest fuel was in Apollo Beach. About 10 miles north by water.

So I check my chart and off I go.

Shell Point marina to Apollo Beach. . .     


The bay was relatively calm, and I cruised my way northeast in warm sunshine and light breezes. About halfway there I checked my watch: already 5:00 — and realized that there was a good chance there wouldn’t be anyone there to run the fuel pump. I had plenty of gas to get back home, so no worries, I’d just continue my boating adventure another day.

But as I pulled around the corner to the fuel dock, I saw I was lucky: there was a monster of a boat fueling up. I pulled in right beside him and got my 10 gallons of unleaded. My tank holds 18. The other guy’s? I asked him. His tank holds 1,000 gallons of diesel. Three fill ups and could pay for my boat, brand new. It burns 60 gallons per hour at cruising speed.

Now that’s some serious money.

I check my watch, look at the sun, and figure I have about 3 hours of light (including twilight) left. Time to head across the bay to Healy’s. Not going to call him. Just going to show up. If he’s home I’ll say Hi. If he’s not home, no worries. Still an adventure.

So I check my charts again, and set my GPS toward his place.

Apollo Beach to Riviera Bay. . .


It’s a bit of a hike to Joes’ place, but the wind was very light, and I had a full tank of gas. Off I go.

As I make my way around the south end of Apollo Beach, I see a cruise ship off to my north, heading south down the ship canal, with Tampa in the background. Awesome! If I hurry I’ll be able to take some cool pics.

Cruise ship to the north. . .


I race across the bay to a spot just to the west of the ship canal, near where it’s going to turn the head due south again.

She looks kinda small compared to my awesome skiff, doesn’t it?   


Turns out she was the Radiance of the Seas, heading out on a 15-day Panama Canal cruise, winding up in San Diego in 2 weeks. . .

a6   a8  a7

Bon voyage!!!

Anyway, back to my (much more modest) cruising adventure.

I turn back to the west towards Riviera Bay and floor it. The bay has glassed out by now, and I’m able to go full throttle. Which is a good thing, because it’s going to be a horse race getting back home before dark.

The passage into Healy’s neck of the woods is a bit twisty-turny. Luckily I’ve made the trip a few times, and have the GPS tracks from previous runs up the inlet. At one point there’s a sharp right-hand turn (almost a U-turn), and then it gets really narrow and shallow. I’m making my way through OK, then


The boat bogs down.

What the?

I’m on course, in the marked channel. What’s up with that?

But the tide is ebbing, and the shallows had shifted. So I raise the engine to almost complete out of the water and try to find some deeper water. Found it way off to the right. And start putting along cautiously. . . and thinking about the time, because this was supposed to be a fast stretch, and there was a long stretch of idle-speed-only still to go.

Ah well, going to cut it even closer getting home before it’s completely dark, but my running lights work and I know the way home thanks to the GPS.

And the sinking sun doesn’t stop me from snapping a picture. Still another hour and a half till sunset.

Pelican grooming itself off Wheedon Island. . .     


As I’m slowly approaching Healy’s place I decide to give him a call. Of course, he’s not home, so I snap a photo as evidence that I’d made it across the bay.

Dock’s looking good, Joe!


And then I turn to make the long run home. . .     


Of course, I can’t just race my way along and ignore the pretty scenery.

St. Pete skyline . . .      

a12 a13 a14 a15

And then the sun was gone. And I was still at the mouth of the Little Manatee River with about a mile of upriver travel remaining.

Typically I make my way along this path below. I’ve never really looked at the charts, just followed some other boats and paid a little attention to the markers. But at the stretch indicated by the arrow, it’s a bit shallow. And by now I was at low tide. This is a 25-knot section of the river, and I was cruising along about at 20.


And the water was gone.

WHUMP! (That’s two for the day.)

Another What the. . .???

I’ve been through this area a couple of times before, at pretty low tide. But . . . I’m grounded. And it’s really shallow.

Luckily the bottom is very soft – no rocks or oyster shells – so no damage to the engine.

So I hop out of the boat, start pulling and tugging, trying to figure out which way to deeper water. I manage to find it after a few minutes, but by now I’m spooked. Have I been flying over very shallow water each time I’ve come down river?

Putt, putt, putt, I go.

And I bottom out a few more times. (Total? about 6 for the day. I started to lose count.)

By now the twilight is gone. It’s dark. But I see another boat heading upriver, and I drop in behind it. And I limp my way back home. Tired, ego a bit bruised, but safe and sound.

Looking at the chart this morning, it looks like the safer and deeper (but slower because it’s so narrow), route is to the north around a little island.


Lesson learned.

I’ll probably check it out later today. But first, we’re off to buy a lounge chair (or two) for the pool.

To be continued. . .

My 6 months with P90x

I started P90X at the end of July last year. I did the pre- fit test and passed (barely) and dutifully worked through 6 weeks of the routines, even giving the extra cardio workouts a try during one of the weeks. (That proved to be too much, so I stopped the extras after two times. Sheesh!)

But, during the middle of week 7, right after one of my workouts, my back seized a bit while I was simply in the act of sitting down. I immediately dropped to the floor and did some stretching. That afternoon I had to fly to a conference, spent the next couple of days in pain, but stretching as much as I could. By the time I got home, my back was feeling much better, and a couple of days later I resumed my workouts.


My back was tweaked a bit more than I thought, and in the middle of one of the routines it locked up big-time. I hit the ground, and from child’s pose, pleaded for the back gods to grant me a pardon. It wasn’t to be. I spent a number of hours over the next couple of weeks up close and personal with my chiropractor.

She said my hip flexors were super tight, and they were putting a strain on my spine, which caused my lower back muscles to seize to “protect” the spine. Her guidance: stretch, stretch, stretch the hip flexors, and modify the Ab Ripper belly workout. She told me not to do anything with full leg extensions (scissors, in-and-outs, bicycles, etc.); keep it to crunches only, and I should be fine until my back muscles and core get stronger.

I took a 4-week break — no exercising at all.

Then I started all over again with Week 1, Day 1, modifying the ab workout. And it worked. I haven’t had any back problems since.

This time through I added the cardio doubles routine for a couple of weeks, but stopped doing them because I couldn’t eat enough to keep my weight up. Losing weight was one of my goals, but I didn’t want it to drop like a rock. Rome wasn’t build in a day, and weight loss doesn’t have to happen all in one week either.

So after the aborted first attempt, the month off for back issues, restarting from scratch, a few days missed here and there because of travel and holidays, yesterday I finished Week 13, Day 7. Almost six months after starting.

During that time it was fun to see my body reshape itself. (No, I’m not going to post any before or after photos.) When I started I looked kind of like a shoe box set on end, perched atop toothpicks. For the most part my chest, waist, and hips were all about the same size, and my legs would have embarrassed a plucked chicken. Now? I still look like a shoe box set on end, but a bit concave in the middle (although my legs are still a bit scrawny — and probably always will).

Here are the numbers from my “before” and “after” body measurements:

  • Weight: Dropped from 189 to 178. (This was my weight taken first thing in the morning, not immediately after working out and sweating off a pound or two. Lowest weight during the 6 months after one of the workouts: 174.8 (yikes! too low). And remember, this was through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays for everyone in the family including me, all usually associated with lots of overeating and weight gain.)
  • Chest: 42 –> 40.5”
  • Waist: 39.5 –> 35” (yes!!!)
  • Hips: 41 –> 40”
  • Right & left thigh: 21.5 –> 22”
  • Right arm (bicep): 13.5 –> 13.75” (that extra quarter inch is really impressive. : )
  • Left arm (bicep): 14 –> 14”

And the numbers from my before and after “fit test”:

  • Resting heart rate: 70 –> 65
  • Pull-ups: 3.5 (what???) –> 14
  • Vertical leap: 14 –> 17.5” (white men can’t jump)
  • Push-ups: 32 –> 47
  • Toe touch: +2 –>  +8.5”  (as in, before I could reach 2” beyond my toes; after 8.5” beyond my toes) (Seated on floor, legs straight out, no bent knees, bend over at waist with arms reaching towards toes)
  • Wall squat: 1:15 –> 3:00 (this one really (pleasantly) surprised me. I’ve never had strong legs. Even a plucked chicken would be embarrassed by them)
  • Bicep curls: 15 reps @ 15 pounds  -> 35 reps @ 20 pounds (about a half-hour later I did 17 reps @ 30 pounds, just because)
  • In & outs: 45 –> 80 (I was hesitant about doing this during the “after” test, not sure what it might do to my lower back muscles given the nature of the move and my previous back issues. My back survived just fine.)

I won’t bore you with my “heart rate maximizer” numbers.

The most exciting moment: the morning I woke up and weighed less than 180 pounds.

So was it worth it?

Oh, yes.

I’ve never felt more fit in my life. Before starting, those 3.5 pull-ups in the fit test were horrid. I counted “got my eyes within an inch of the bar” as a good pull-up; and I took a break between each. After: all 14 were full quality: good form, the top of my shoulders even with my hands; no breaks, no squirming. I can do all the cardio routines without killing myself. I used to hate lunges and squats (thus the chicken-legs), but I don’t mind them at all anymore.

One thing that didn’t happen but I wanted to: I never did get those ripped, death-defying 6-pack abs. It might be the result of not doing the full-blown ab routines every time. Also, if I’d been willing to lose a few more pounds they might have shown themselves. But, I lost over 4” from my waste. I’ll take it.

So where to from here?

I’m going to take it easy, just doing the X-Stretch routine and the Cardio-X routine on alternating days for a few days. Then I’ll get back to it. (I’ve gotta find that 6-pack. I know it’s in there somewhere. : )

All in good time . . .

Kayaking on the Little Manatee River

Yesterday we took a short drive over to the Little Manatee River in Ruskin, Florida. Pam called the owner of Osprey Bay Kayaks, who was very helpful. He told us of several launch sites and what to expect at each one. We could launch near the mouth of the river and travel upstream, start from  a nice public boat ramp just off Highway 41, or head farther up river to launch.

Osprey Bay Kayaks

We chose to start in the middle, and work our way downstream for a while.

It was a good choice.

The river to the west of Hwy 41 is affected quite a bit by the tides, and as we started the tide was still going out. With the east wind behind us we were able to make a leisurely ride downstream a couple of miles.

The views were fabulous. We started in an offshoot of the river, with nice homes, (with nicer boats and docks) lining the waterway. Then we were suddenly out of civilization and were surrounded by mangroves and lots of options on which way to go.

We pulled to shore for a break at one point, and Pam ventured just a step too far into the water. There was a steep drop off, and she was suddenly up to her waist in the chilly river water. Luckily she didn’t fall on in all the way, and since she was only a couple of feet away from me I was able to help her back up to the shallow part. We had a good laugh over that.

We went just a bit farther downstream then decided to head back. By now the current for the most part had died down and we had an easy ride back up to our launch point.

it was a good day. We didn’t see any manatee or dolphin out, but word is that they come up river often. We’re looking forward to spending more time on the Little Manatee.


A little water above and below

We went kayaking again yesterday at Ft DeSoto Park, our favorite kayak hang-out. This time we had a welcoming committee though: a huge swarm of mosquitoes waiting at our launch site. They were thick as could be, forcing us to quickly unload the kayaks and jump into the water, just to keep them off our legs. Looked like I’d been playing paintball I had so many blood-red splats on my legs from squishing them. Once we got into the middle of the canal, the mosquitoes, happily sated, left us alone.

fd1  fd2  fd3

We started with mosquitoes, ran through a bit of cooling rain, then the clouds parted and gave us some wonderful sunshine.

fd4  fd5  fd6

Ft. DeSoto is a kayaking paradise. There are abundant mangroves, manatee swim close by to investigate what you’re doing, an occasional dolphin or two will cruise by. It’s a beautiful place.

Even though we were out on Labor Day Saturday, we didn’t have to fight traffic on the roads or in the water. It was as peaceful as could be.

Pam’s friend, Holly, went with us this time. I left her and Pam to chat with each other, while I hung out alone and did a little fishing. I had a number strikes, but never could time setting the hook, so no fish dinner Saturday night. It was so peaceful, so relaxing. I let the light breeze drift me along the water. Occasionally I’d spook a school of Reds, all of them scattering in a cloud of dust in all directions. My fishing technique leaves a lot to be desired, but catching something wasn’t a high priority anyway. Getting out and listening to the peace and quiet was.

Good times.

French fries

Pam and I decided to drive up to Weeki Wachee today, home of the live mermaids, and the Hernando Beach area. We cruised on up in Pam’s Miata, top down and radio blaring, enjoying the bit of cloud cover that helped keep the temperature down to a reasonable level. Once we got out of Tampa traffic and hit the Suncoast Parkway, life was very good.

ww1  ww2

Driving around Weeki Wachee is like driving back in time to a slower and simpler Florida. The moss covered trees hanging over Weeki Wachee Springs and River, the kayaks and canoes on the water, the kids swimming in the 72 degree water. . . It seemed like we had stepped back to Florida of the mid-1960s.

ww3  ww4

About mid afternoon we found a cool bar right on the river. I grabbed my baseball cap and we went inside. Good beer, decent hamburgers, great music, and perfect French fries. As we were eating I could start to feel my forehead. As in that toasty, sunburned kind of feeling. Dang. It’s still summertime, and even with the cloud cover, the rays were still beating down. Without any sunscreen, my forehead, cheeks and nose turned into French fries. I left my hat on when we got back to the car, but the damage had been done.


Ah well, live and never learn.

The drive back this evening was spectacular, thanks to a huge thunderstorm off in the distance. Lightning lit up the sky with brilliant streaks, and the thunder rolled. Awesome.

When we got back home we were completely pooped. I grabbed a nice cool shower then put some sunscreen on my face (like that’s going to do anything at this point). Right now? Just chillin and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.


I took a lunch break this afternoon after finishing a 2-hour webcast for a customer.

Zach and I took a look at the pictures I’d snapped during the Jack Johnson concert last night. Got some pretty good ones, especially when he did a surprise jam session before the concert at the little open air stage beside the amphitheater itself. We happened to get real close to the front for that.

jj1  jj2  jj3

After we looked at the pictures I made myself a sandwich, then started looking at the P90X book for week #5, which starts tomorrow. Zach started surfing the web at the kitchen computer as I debated whether I wanted to do the “classic” week 5, or go to the “doubles” week 5. Doubles adds an hour of cardio each morning four days of the week, in addition to all the other strength conditioning that’s part of “classic.”

I was reading him some of the extra exercises when he stopped me, saying, “I’m trying to read something here.”

I went on, looking at the book for another minute or so, then walked over to the computer.

He was looking at an article on about a Marine who had been killed a few days ago in Afghanistan. The guy looked like a kid. Looked about Zach’s age. He died while in combat operations.

Turns out that Zach knew him.

While we’re here, enjoying concerts, talking about which exercise routines to do next, going about our normal lives, soldiers are still dying. Even those who are my son’s age.

Pretty sobering.

End of P90x week 2

Whew. What a couple of weeks!

(Actually, it’s been about 3 calendar weeks in total, but I’ve had to do a lot of traveling, which made for some delays in training. I’d do some of the exercises in my hotel rooms, but it didn’t feel right to consider it a full X-day. So when I would get back from a trip I’d pick up with the next day in the sequence.)

So what’s happened during that time?

Lots of push ups, tons of sit ups, core work, ab work, chin ups, stretching, cardio, yoga (who knew yoga was so intense?), jumping, wall sits, lunges, and on and on. Each time the same routine has come around in the cycle I’ve been able to do more. I was floored the other day when I completed 40 Mason Twists at the end of Ab Ripper X.

I’ve lost 10 pounds – most of them during the first 1.5 weeks. From there I’ve held steady weight-wise, but have continued to shape up and slim down.

This evening I walked in from the pool and ran into Alix, my daughter.

Alix: Hey, you have pecs now. They used to just kinda hang there.

Me: (thinking) Coolness. It’s working!

Tomorrow starts week #3. Can’t wait to see what kind of changes will happen over the next 2 weeks.

Bring it!

— bliz