Turns out Kayak isn't just a place to buy cheap plane tickets it's also some inefficient water craft. Back in a shared a house with Johnny Docs, he'd bust out the Kayak a few times a year and he always came back smashed, aka hopped up on hops, so I was looking forward to this adventure. Well, it turns out there isn't a beer tap in those darn things, but I did find a few bottle caps from some type of "Rogue Dead Man's Ale" inside a storage compartment in the Kayak I borrowed from Johnny. That explains a lot.
Ok, bottle caps aside my BLF and I launched the sea craft around 9:30 AM at the Park by the River. We paddled north against the current for an hour (we must have gotten up near Flatwoods, I'm sure I remember passing the bat tower) then after she Literally paddled a circle around me (see Star Biking isn't the only thing I'm not afraid to suck at!) we turned around to drift back to the park. Except, as often happens, when we turned around the wind did to. There would be no drifting today! We had to paddle-paddle back passed Trout Creek, back passed the Bat Tower, back passed Sulfer-Springs, back passed Lowry Park, back passed my house (hey, Andy, how you doing?) back under the Hillsborough Bridge. Well, as often happens when I get close to the end of a workout, I start smelling the barn, and it can't be argued that I stepped up the pace and skillfully navigated my craft to the docking area before my BLF could make it shoreside (Yes, it was all skill, it had nothing to do with me latching onto the side of her Kayak and yanking turning her boat around, and then placing my barge between her and the shore. Nope, it was all skill. I'm an advanced male, I don't have to "Win." Of Course it was nice that I did :)
So, after a short nap, I was ready for the second part of the day. I called several of my FU Runner buddies and was unable to sign any one up for a trip to Croom, so at 3:45 I headed up there for a 15 - 25 mile solo run. I pulled in to the Tucker Hill parking lot at 3:40 and almost locked my keys in the car, and then almost took off without a flash light, but when I went back for the flashlight I discovered that I hadn't locked the car, good thing as I was looking at the keys sitting on the front seat. So, I grabbed the keys, snagged a flashlight and I was off like a prom dress.
I was having a conversation with myself. "So Ando, how far you want to run champ? Gee I don't know Ace, you want to do Silver Lake, that way you could make one loop out of it and refill those bottles at the campground. Nice idea Android, let's do that!"
So, with the route decided I was free to enjoy the day. Just past the hard right an movement catches my eye, was it another of the abundant armadillos I'd seen today? No, turns out at 40 + years old I spotted my first Florida Panther. The thing was cool! He just loped along like he didn't have a care in the world, and who knows maybe he didn't! I hear there are only about 100 left and I was thrilled to finally see ours that has been hanging around Croom for a little over a year. I made it to the Silver Lake Campground in under 2 hours so I decided I'd continue on the Silver Lake Loop and run 25 miles. I'd never done that portion of the trail and wanted to check it out as a possible route for this December's Croom 100 I am considering staging. The trail is beautiful, but after a mile or so gets a little hard to follow, so, after about a mile and a half on the trail I headed back and almost ran slap into two graceful deer. I was happy to see that they escaped deer season. They are such graceful creatures.
As I sped passed the campground I decided to forgo refilling the bottles, since the sun was going down and the temperature was dropping I knew I'd be fine with 1 1/2 bottles.
As I ran along the Withlacoochie River I noticed several people canoeing (seems like a much efficient craft then the kayak) and many more fishing on the banks. I love seeing people out and enjoying nature! When I left the campground behind I hit a tree filled section on the river and as I scanned the ground looking for leaves to bring my BLF, God reminded me I was looking in the wrong place for leaves. As I was running it started raining leaves! How cool is that? I stretched out my arms and let the leaves fall all over me, it was the neatest thing, I had to stop and offer up a little prayer of thanks. A Florida Panther and Leaf Shower in the same run!
As I cruised through Silver Lake and back to our big loop I considered going back on the road as total darkness would soon arrive. But I had my trusty flashlight so I figured, what the heck let's just take the loop all the way back and make it an even 25. This was not to be, 20 minutes into the run I decided it was flashlight time, and when I reached into my pack most of my flashlight came out, well all that was left of it came out. Turns out that clicking sound I'd been hearing for an hour was the batteries moving up and down. Somewhere along the way the top had worked it's way off of the light and plopped out on the ground. Oh, sure I had many more flashlights back in the car but did I bring an extra on a solo run that took me through the woods at night? Er, that would be a no! Fortunately, I knew I was close to a fire road and if I could make it that before dark turned pitch black I could negotiate the rest of the way in the dark. I took the shorter blue trail in at a quickened pace and made it to Fire Road (or is it Forest Road, I never know) 7. I made it back to Croom road as it turned very dark. And safely made it back to the car.
Two hours Kayaking, Running 22 miles. Good day. Armadillos, Florida Panther, Couple of Deer, and Leaf Shower. Ok, that's a full day.