December 26

Christmas is over and it’s time to get back to work. 4:45 came early. I grabbed one final shower and my parents and I hopped in the car and headed over the mountains to Asheville to catch my flight. After our goodbyes it was time to run the gantlet of getting through security. I know to allow extra time because they always pull my bags aside. I don’t know if it’s profiling because of the beard or all the batteries that I am carrying. After TSA pulled all my stuff out and did several explosives tests, I was free to go. Except for my jar of peanut butter. Guess they were hungry. I left the cold and landed in Punta Gorda, FL and the adventure started. I turned on my Uber app and there wasn’t a single driver registered. There were several the night before when I checked so it had me worried. I debated getting a taxi but I knew it would be 3x as expensive. When I finally decided a taxi was better than nothing, they were all gone. I tried the Uber app again and had a ride in 5 minutes. When we got to Boca Grande my boat was waiting for me, well taken care of. I loaded up and said thanks to the few who watched her and pushed off. It felt good to be back on the water. My boat seemed light and fast. I had gotten rid of some extra gear I hadn’t used in a while before I left. I paddled out of the channel and into the bay. It was a light chop but I was excited for the challenge. There were tons of pleasure boaters out as I figured there would be all week being sandwiched between the holidays. I had a few conversations before I found a camp spot. It wasn’t the best but I got my tent up before getting eaten by bugs. When I climbed in my tent I wanted to reorganize my gear but instead passed out right away. When I woke up it was pitch dark. I only paddled 7.5 miles but with the early morning and travel I was exhausted. It felt normal to be back in my tent under the stars, but more importantly out of the cold weather up north.