Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to spend a rainy day in Navarre Beach

March 30-31, Navarre, Florida
With reservations at Gulf Shores State Park from April 1-5, we had two nights left to fill somewhere between Destin and Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I had heard of Santa Rosa Sound as a good fishing area, so we decided to travel less than an hour from Topsail to our next destination in Navarre.  Navarre Beach Campground turned out to be a bit of a let down after the last two places, but still a decent place to hang out for a couple days.  The campground name and photos made it look like it was on the Gulf rather than the Sound, but we were right on the water with a fishing pier and only a few miles from the Gulf beaches.  The daily rate at this Good Sam Park was about $45 with the 10% discount and we had a pull-through with ample room next to a cute cabin (no park models here—a true family campground).

Our first night here we started to hear thunder and awoke to the sound of a pretty steady rain.  Other than a few short rainstorms, this rain lasted longer than anything we had experienced since we were in Maine in October!  Coming from Oregon where they are experiencing one of the rainiest winters on record, this stretch of time with mostly sunny skies has been rather astounding for us.  The rain persisted through the night into the morning and challenged our ideas for how to spend the day.  We had heard about a white sand river near here, the Blackwater, and were considering a day of kayaking but the threatening skies were not a good match for this plan. 
Throughout this trip we have seen incredible places to go kayaking and have seriously considered buying our own as we often see motorhomes pulling an SUV with two kayaks on top. We have also talked to several campers about their kayaks and how they like them, etc.  One couple warned against the double kayak they purchased, referring to it as the divorce boat.  We considered ourselves forewarned and agreed that we would each like to be in control of our own craft.  Staying at Buttonwood Inlet a few weeks ago increased our desire for kayaks as they had their own boat launch area with canal access to the Intracoastal Waterway.  How great would it be to have a launching area right in your own park?  Also, we met a couple there (staying next to us in Holiday Cove) who had a Tiffin motorhome and a Jeep Cherokee Laredo (like us) with two lovely kayaks on top. (not like us).  They were also retired teachers whom we seemed to have much in common with so it was encouraging to hear how much they enjoyed their 12’ sit-on-top kayaks. 

What better way to spend a rainy Saturday than to go looking at kayaks?  We knew we had much to learn but we were pretty sure we also wanted sit-on-top kayaks in the 10-13” range. Vic made it very clear he did not want inflatable ones as he has enough to pack away each time we change locations. With the internet aiding our search, we found three places nearby that carried a large selection.  The first one introduced us to Hobie Kayaks with pedaling systems.  I had not thought of pedaling vs. paddling, but felt attracted to the idea of having the option of both.  Of course, the price on these was much more than we had hoped to spend.  The second location was a West Marine store.  They did not have much of a selection in stock and nothing with pedals. Lucky for us, by the time we took a scenic route to the third store, Key Sailing, located on the Rosa Sound in Pensacola Beach, the sun had come out. 
Gulf Islands National Seashore
 (scenic drive between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach)
Navarre Beach--a few miles from our campground
Even better, this store offered demonstrations as part of their sales program.  Their main line also turned out to be Hobies—so we took the opportunity to try the kayak with pedals.  It was way too cool and I knew we were in trouble.  We experimented with both pedaling and paddling, but it was hard to settle for just one option.  Time to take a break over some beers and discuss the possibilities.  I decided to call my son Brooks for his input as he is adept at all kinds of boating, fishing, etc.  He said you can’t beat a Hobie Kayak and thought we would love the pedaling option. The photo below tells the rest of the story. 
We are incredibly excited with these new purchases.  And, tomorrow is Vic’s birthday—now there’s a good excuse for the splurge.  Of course, like many purchases there is a domino effect; we now are faced with finding the perfect kayak rack and lifejackets for paddlers to ensure safe traveling.

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