July 17, 2017

What an emotional day this was! I had to remind myself, more than once, that at the end of this all, this goal was mine and no one else’s! When I started this challenge to myself, my goal was to go to all 161 State Parks in one year’s time. On this day, I went to 3 state parks but only stepped foot in one!

I am not really an outdoors type of girl! I made this goal because I wanted to challenge myself and I can say this for sure –Mission Accomplished! Once I started realizing some of these parks were accessed by boat only, I started calling around to see which ones I could pay someone to take me to.  I found out there was a ferry service offered to go to these last parks on my list in this area, or so I thought. When I arrived to purchase my tour I was told they do not offer that tour in the summer. What in the world was I going to do?

I had purchased a raft months before which was actually in my back seat for another park I was going to raft over to but chickened out. So I drove over to a place where the water was shallow and no one was around and I threw my raft in the water and off I went… in circles! Hahaha. First of all, I gained some pounds since purchasing that raft so the damn thing was pouring in water and second of all, I had no clue how to even row a raft or use an oar! What was I thinking?

I was putting that stupid raft back in my car when Quin, my boyfriend called. There was no way I was going to tell him the experience I just had. I did tell him that the tours were canceled and he suggested that I just rent a kayak and go for it! Easy for him to say, he loves being on the water! I have only been in a kayak twice before. Once with him and he did all of the paddling and once with George where I paddled a little at the end but I had never been in a kayak alone.

Back to Robbie’s I went. I talked to the guy renting kayaks and he seemed pretty confident I could get over to Indian Key which was a little over a mile away. I guess that’s all I needed to hear because the next thing I knew I was paying for a half day rental, in the kayak and getting so basic instructions. There I went to Indian Key, battling some pretty strong winds the whole way there. In no time at all I had arrived, I did it! I parked the kayak and spent a lot of time exploring and walking around the whole thing. It was so beautiful. I would like to come back and spend some more time there for sure.

I got back in the kayak and followed the GPS about 2 miles to the left in search of San Pedro. This park was underwater so needless to say, I did not go in. I didn’t see a sign so I really don’t even know if I was in the right place. I know I did the best I could to find it so for the purpose of my goal, I am counting this as a park I went to but didn’t go in! I might have to find a guide to take me there or do more research to find out if there is a tour to get there. I just got scared because boats were showing up an creating some pretty big waves!

I made my way back to where I started and beyond. I was told that Lignumvitae Key Botanical was closed but I figured I would give it a try and paddle on over there. I followed the GPS again to where I thought was the park. I could not find an entrance or a sign but I know I was at the park. I was so tired and it was so freaking hot. Even though I did not find the entrance I decided to count that one too! Next time I will rent a jet ski and go at the proper time of year so I can actually explore these parks. I will say this, I now consider myself a kayaker! I’m pretty sure I went at least 7 miles round trip. That may not seem like a lot to you but I can tell you for a fact it is!

I left feeling disappointed about the last two parks but feeling very proud of what I’ve done so far, how much I have changed and the things I’ve done that I would have never dreamed I would even want to do. I will be back but at that time I needed to go, take the long drive back to reality and get back to work!