2013 what a fantastic year! KK's first year is officially in the books and I can not put into words the gratitude and joy it has been. Great customers, local support from the community, friends and even former co workers ( whom listened to my paddling stories every Monday and Friday morning) spreading the word and driving hours to paddle with the the manatee, dolphin, birds and alligators. The wildlife encounters continued on throughout the summer and fall and at times took even my breathe away ( Manatee mothers and calves especially) Being part of the Brevard Wildlife Corridor expedition as a kayak outfitter/guide at Turkey Creek Sanctuary and Crane Creek was an honor and delight. I am looking forward to participating again in 2014. Also, getting involved with the Indian River Lagoon Environmental organizations as a sponsor/participant for (MRC) Marine resources council , Expedition 500 ( Justin Riney) and (IRL) The Indian River Lagoon Paddle Adventure...what a great group of passionate folks who love the water and wildlife with a steadfast ( and at times solitary and physically uncomfortable) commitment to conservation. The big thrill was and still is the #1 Tripadvisor ranking for activities in Melbourne from customers! You all rock for taking the time to write awesome reviews! Completing and getting Certified in the UF Master Naturalist Coastal Module this December was a great accomplishment and I look forward to the Uplands and Wetland Habitat classes. Sharing the science-based information and interpretive techniques and knowledge to the tours both excites me and adds to the mission statement for Karen's Kayaks. Equipment maintenance and adding to the fleet was and continues to be a part of the year as is needing some secondary guides. The IRL had a lot of issues especially to the North and south making me feel like I was paddling in a bubble unscathed having such abundant wildlife sightings and encounters. I do hope this continues and in fact the entire IRL recovers and returns to it's more natural state. Thank you all for being a part of KK's 2012/2013 first year! I am looking forward to 2014 filled with health, joy, new paddle adventures, people, return customers, sharing and connecting nature and the amazing wildlife in SE Central Fl.
I’d like to think that the endangered manatees can bounce back, beat the odds and find it back to a more natural peaceful existence. This harmless gentle placid giant has existed in peace for millions of years before the coming of man, it's only enemy. Man can turn from enemy to advocate but only if we care enough. It has been and continues to be my pleasure to encounter manatee on their terms and always in wonder. While the numbers of manatee deaths in 2013 were historic and the Indian River plagued with algae blooms I had an incredible summer paddling and encountering these amazing creatures. They were active as any other summer and I saw a large number of calves. Perhaps the south end of Brevard County is healthier and the manatees are smart enough to know it. Either way I am immensely grateful and full of joy to have these encounters and even recognize them with their different personalities, playfulness and propeller scars. On tour this week a new mother swam with me as I slowly paddled breathless at times in awe of her new calf. To witness someone smile and get excited when a wild manatee approaches them as the observed not the observer is priceless and something to cherish and save for future generations. I am hopeful and believe others are as well.
Where did November go? The temps have been great however the winter north winds have arrived. I love the creek paddles when the winds are strong for reasons beyond easy protected paddling. The animals are everywhere...away from the wind and enjoying the sun without the heat. It's hard to promise encounters with wildlife but it brings me so much joy when they happen and seeing the faces of the paddlers especially on kids will never get old. My friend Jill and her amazing family came down to camp with friends @ Sebastian Inlet State Park and connected with me to paddle and graciously give a little business to her Huckster ( Ultimate Frisbee) sister. Our first of two paddles was beach side on one of those NW 20-25 knot days and the only event was the wind. The second paddle was at one of the creeks off the Indian River. It was an amazing paddle light wind, sunny 70's and wildlife was with us the entire time. We encountered a small pod of Dolphins at the tip of the river just prior to heading into the creek and they were with us for a long time. Paddling with Dolphins happens often but not for more than 5-10 minutes so this was a treat if not epic. I think they were attracted to the kid energy and Jill's girls are super cute, smart& special. So the Dolphins literally swam with us as we paddled.The Manatee's are all over the creek and this is the rare spot they come out of the water a bit with those large bodies to eat. Baby gator & a good 6-7 ft one on the bank sunning then sliding into the water as we paddled close to finish off the amazing sightings. It's days like this i dream of when scouting spots by myself, best part was seeing my friend and just sharing a great day out on the water. kk
Great paddle weather..sunny & crisp and a pod of manatees! Crane Creek is my favorite go to for a paddle even without customers. The wildlife is abundant and this is the only spot that have witnessed manatees coming out of the water to eat. The few alligators here also seem to get along fine with the manatees which is probably a combo of their size (avg is 900 to 1300 lbs) and number. I must have seen over 15 today and guess there was a lot more. An Osprey flew over head with a fish in it's claws adding an extra awe to the moment.To be able to escape into nature without leaving town is such a blessing and I am so eager to share it. Once people get out and see how comfortable, easy and enjoyable this is I know they will want to do it again. I am also very happy with the green color of the kayaks. It is eco friendly and does blend in nice with the trees, mangroves and the sunshine and so far the manatees like them. Might have to rethink the color for SUP order. Looking forward to November...kk
The arrival of the best weather in Florida and the entire country has come. Hurricane Sandy passed bye with high winds and rainy days and she is on her way to my friends and family in New Jersey/the entire Northeast. Just another reminder to us all to respect and pay attention to Mother Nature. It amazes me that the force of nature can shut down entire cities to remind us humans ( especially the city folk) that everything is connected. Without connection to ourselves, each other, animals and nature we experience dis-ease and unbalance. I am sure everyone will weather the storm and perhaps enjoy the hidden gift she brings...unplugging from technology. No electric means no cable, internet, work, travel, school, shopping, social media etc. Living in the now, together making eye contact, talking, playing cards and board games. It's like a 48 hour time out in reverse, a time in.
Lots of paddling and running around town marketing meeting great people. The weather is crisp, the oxygen seems fresher and cleaner and the animals are out in full force. The new Aspire kayak from Wilderness is awesome and with the skeg may be the one I use for my quick creek paddles. All this talk about weather and kayaking has me signing off and ready for another great week outside. kk
I started kayaking in S Florida (Jupiter) 15 years ago and once i paddled the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River my adventures, explorations, friendships and connection to nature and wildlife changed forever. And for that a piece of my heart will always be in Jupiter. Paddling among 500 year old Cypress trees, alligators, otters, hearing birds wings in flight was and still is a step back in time...the real Florida. I learned to feel the energy and flow of the river and her residents every paddle. I felt connected especially on solo paddles and became open and sensitive to the fact nature holds knowledge and history not to be found in any written book. Lots of adventure spirited male friends (husbands of most of my friends) willing to go on weekend trips all over the state started, then the Everglades, Costa Rica, Virgin Islands, and different states. My early trips were such learning experiences mostly shared from co paddlers/friends and mishaps! Long distance and camping trips in kayaks are huge planning, gear, food, water and picking the right people to be in the middle of no where with skill requirements. Some advanced skills classes thru the ACA and the boys @ Adventure Times in N Palm Beach & JOC and I found myself getting PAID to guide trips. I still have my first check stub as a guide :-) My legal background, customer service and passion for kayaking & nature all fit together as guide and eventually staring out the window @ the inter-coastal waterway daydreaming at work (US Bankruptcy Court) yep, I worked for "the Man"..12 years. A lay off and independence day (7-4-08) later would open the door to new beginnings and endings.
Yoga teacher certification (more of an immersion) a creative first attempt yet short lived mobile co in Jupiter, relocation back to Melbourne where my Florida life started 20 years ago beach side with my BFF Debbie Seiler and FIT (Fl Insitute of Technology) friends. The kayaking in S Brevard County (Melbourne, beaches, palm bay) took me by surprise. The wildlife encounters with dolphins, manatee were plentiful and i even found a great alligator spot. The call to share this with folks again came to me paddle after paddle, manatee after manatee, dolphin after dolphin...you get the picture. Finally a push from the universe ( one of many) in disguise and a sub plot of love, trust, friendship and faith not worthy to write on a blog ( possibly a book) birthed this new kayak company endeavor & journey. So, here I am...trailer designed, being built, new Wilderness Pungo's ordered and will be here next week, paddles and gear already arrived and weekend of DS labor creating a logo & web site!
Paddlingly Yours, kk