Saturday, March 07, 2009

At the Starting Line

Thursday Evening March 5: By 6pm Thursday evening SandyBottom and KiwiBird arrived at the starting line --the beach on Mullet Key in Fort DeSoto County Park. They enjoyed visiting with kindred spirits as the WaterTribe gathered from far and wide to make final preparations for the 2009 Everglades Challenge. Pre-race dinner with good friends was a high priority.

Thursday Night: It is not unusual for the EC challengers to start the race sleep deprived despite their best efforts. Driving long distances to reach Fort DeSoto or burning the midnight oil to finish essential tasks can take a toll. Well-organized this year, SandyBottom reported retiring early to sleep in her tent but found it hard to sleep amidst the noise of the campground that continued past midnight. Trader and TroutHeart arrived at the campground at 4:00AM.

Friday Morning March 6: The daybreak revealed that a devious hord of evil raccoons had left tracks all over the minivan, and ripped the rain cover off of KiwiBird's kayak cockpit. At first it seemed they had left SandyBottom's kayak untouched. Well not exactly, SB later discovered that the raccoons had pooped inside her boat. SB also discovered that one of the minivan's tires had gone flat overnight. The raccoons may even have been responsibe for that mischief too. After dealing with these problems, SB and fellow challengers headed out for a hearty breakfast.

"Mmmm. Good raccoon." --photo by KiwiBird

Friday Afternoon: The captains' meeting took place as usual, final errands and shopping occured, and all boats were positioned at the starting line above the high-water mark on the beach ready for the Tampa Bay crossing. Knowing that raccoon resistance is futile, and your "raccoon provisions" will be assimilated, SB held off on storing her food and water in the kayak. SB and KB positioned their boats upside down on the beach. Those furry critters watching from the treeline were not impressed...

Friday Evening: SB and KB enjoyed a final fairwell to sit-down dinners at JoJo's Restaurant with KneadingWater, SavannahDan, PaddleMaker, and other friends. Still making amends for losing SB and KB in the Everglades last year, KneadingWater picked up their tab. The best thing about the WaterTribe is the tribe. Great bunch of folks. One of my favorite quotes from the 2008 EC: says KW to the Captain's daughter, SuperBoo, the night before the start of the race, "Wow Boo, did you know that you are going to be the youngest challenger who has ever died in the EC ?!"

Weather Forecasts: Chief put a nice link to the NOAA weather forecasts in the "Challenge Mapper" section of the

Photos: Some pre-challenge photos have been posted. For example, Amy provided some great ones on CrazyRussian's blog. Oh alright, here is a photo of the raccoon poop.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Thursday I spent some time with our daughter who is a college student and has a new puppy, Quin. Friday I spent some time with my parents for my Dad's birthday. They were delighted to see the photos of their new great-grandson, Quin.


DWSB and Quin

Go SandyBottom ! I asked SB if she was having fun yet. "Oh Yes!" It makes my heart soar like a eagle to see SB in her natural habitat: an REI Store.
It's also nice to see her enjoying the EC challenge again. Go Dawn!



Capt'n O Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

Well Boo (11yrs old)survived EC 2008, thank goodness - she's giving me that pre-teen look,we should be down there dad glare.

Ginger Travis said...

DancesWith and Quin -- pretty sweet!

Great posting. Please keep them coming.

And go, Dawn!

Michael said...

Go indeed!
Once again, no one makes raccoons like they do in south Florida! I won't be surprised to see a few of them paddling a stolen boat to the finish line one of these years!
Good post DWSB!