Florida Keys

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Florida Keys September 2014

Friday, June 28, 2013

A trip to Maine and a Whitney Family Reunion


Location: Parsonsfield, Maine

GPS Coordinates: 43.764000, -70.861800

Date: 6/28/2013 – 7/8/20/13

I was born and raised in Massachusetts and still have family up in the northeast part of the country. Myself and one of my brothers live in Florida and two other brothers and their families still live up north.  Luckily for Julie and myself, my Florida brother and one of my northern brothers, along with their wives, bought a cabin on a lake in southern Maine. So, this makes a great place for all the families to get together and spend some time hanging out. This cabin is on Long Pond near East Parsonsfield, Maine. I don’t know the difference between a pond and a lake, but it’s a very nice body of water. A beautiful location to spend some time!

This year, over the fourth of July holiday, we were able to get all four Whitney brothers and their families together for a reunion at the Maine cabin. I think we counted up about 26 family members and all staying at the same family cabin. Sure glad my brother added a second bathroom this past year!!

Early on in the week, before the big crowd showed up, many of us went to dinner one night in Krista’s Restaurant in downtime Cornish, Maine. It was an amazingly good dinner and we all enjoyed our time together. It’s hard to imagine having such a good meal at a place that’s kind of in the boondocks, but if you are ever in this area, it comes highly recommended!!

The first few days that we spent in Maine was kind of cool and rainy, but even with the not so perfect weather the views of the lake were sure nice.



Another outing we did was to visit the Allagash Brewing Company in Portland Maine. We’ve done many brewery tours in our travels, but this one was one of the best that we’ve seen. A very interesting and informative tour done by an entertaining tour guide. This is just another recommended thing to do if in this area.

Not sure what Julie is doing here, but the rest of us were enjoying our samples at the conclusion of the brewery tour.



Finally all the rest of the family joined us at the cabin and the party was on!  We had four generations of Whitney’s present. Here’s my dad with his great grandson Jet.



Here’s a picture of the Maine cabin. It’s a large place with plenty of room for these large gatherings.



Here is a picture looking across the lake on a clear morning.


Here’s what we spent a lot of our time doing, floating and swimming in the lake. This picture is of all the “Cousins” having a good time. It’s sure is fun watching them all get together and enjoying each others company.


For some reason my younger daughter (Allison) loves to fish. The first night she spent hours on the dock casting, but never had a bite. But finally we found a good spot to fish and she caught a nice sized bass. We don’t keep any of the fish and they all get returned to the lake.


My nephew Matt with his catch of the day,


With so many people staying at the cabin, we had to open a tent city to catch the over flow. Julie and I stayed in the far tent and slept awesome in the great outdoors. But one thing we found is that it sure does get light early in Maine in July. I think the sky started getting light at about 4:30am. So, no sleeping in for us!


We had a few puppies hanging with us. I think we tired him out!



Julie and I did some easy kayak trips. About a half mile down the shore is a loons nest. They sure do have an interesting call and would hear them many mornings as they headed to other parts of the lake,






Here’s my brothers dog Brady. He loves to stand on a rock under the dock. He just hangs out there and watches the water for fish to swim by.


The last day before we all had to head home we decided to have the first annual “Curtis Cup” corn hole tournament. My dad (Curtis) donated some money to be given to the winner. This lasted all afternoon and into the evening. It was a lot of fun and will probably be repeated during our next family gathering.

This last evening at the lake turned into kind of a wild time and will probably go down in Whitney family history. I think it was one too many round of Thunderstruck, a college drinking game, which  probably should not be played by anyone over the age of 25. But we did and we survived. There won’t be any pictures of what happened on this blog, but I hear there’s a few Facebook videos floating around out there. Just glad we all survived and didn’t have any complaints for the lake neighbors.



One last nice sunset over the lake.


Here’s a Youtube Video montage of pictures taken throughout the week, The music to this video is by a Portland band called Tricky Bitches. We saw them play a small concert while we were in Maine and they are now one of Julie’s favorite bands. You can see some of there videos on our Youtube home page.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kayaking the Santa Fe River to River Rise State Park


Location: High Springs, Fl

GPS Coordinates: 29.852598, -82.612237

Date: 6/9/2013


We had not been out kayaking for a few months. Partly because our weekends have been very busy and also because our kayaks are stored on our garage wall and we were acting as a storage company for our kids stuff which prevented us getting easy access to the kayaks. Fortunately, both kids recently moved into new places and took most of their belongings. So, finally we can now get the boats down!!

When we want to do a quick paddle and without too much hassle, we often do the Santa Fe river just north of High Spring, Fl. We put in at the boat ramp just before the highway 41 bridge and paddle upstream to the Santa Fe River rise.

The Santa Fe river originates at Lake Santa Fe east of Gainesville. Once leaving the lake on the north side, the river meanders for about 30 miles until it reaches O’leno State Park . Once in the park the river goes down into a sink and travels for about three miles underground and then reappears at the River Rise State Preserve

So, our paddle today was the 2.6 miles from the Highway 41 boat ramp to the location where the river rises again. Paddling upstream against the current is a good workout, but not too difficult. We’ve had some good rains lately and the current was between 1.6 and 2 mph. So, a very manageable current to paddle against. Plus the float back down is always welcome after making our way to the river rise.

This is the boat ramp where we put in. If you head down river from here, there’s no easy way to paddle back as the current is very strong downstream from here. So, we always head upstream.



Julie and I have done this trip probably 5 – 6 other times and we’ve never seen an alligator on this section of the river. Today we saw many gators with a few swimming across the river in front of us. I guess with it being spring and the increased rainfall has them a little more active. Here’s one on the bank next to a cypress tree.




One thing we like about this paddle is how quiet this section of the Santa Fe river is as compared to other sections of this river. In the first half miles you pass about three or four houses and then you enter the River Rise Preserve. This is a totally undeveloped area with very little boat traffic. We usually don’t see any other boaters on the river, although today we did see a few kayakers, one couple in a canoe and a father and son fishing from a john boat.



Here’s some close up of some cypress knees.


Here is the river rise where the Santa Fe reappears after traveling three miles under ground.


Julie relaxing on the float back down stream.


Now for the required turtle picture. You always see many turtles when kayaking rivers in Florida.


As I mentioned previously, we saw many gators on this river today. Here’s one who may think he’s a turtle. He had the spot of honor at the high point of this fallen tree.



One the way home we stopped at the Great Outdoor restaurant in High Springs for a few snacks and a couple of beers.  We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the outdoors.

2013-06-09 16.02.38 (2)

And finally, here is the GPS track of the trip we took today.

Santa Fe River to River Rise State Park at EveryTrail