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Troy

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Pacific Ocean Kayak Fishing

Travel Log: 

Location: Pacific Grove Marine Garden Park, California
Access Point: 36°38’07.9″N 121°55’39.1″W
Length: 2-3 hours13103269_10208983265606397_1359936283671458913_n

With a move from lower Alabama to Northern California, our adventures have changed drastically. The smooth, shallow, and warm waters of the Gulf and the Florida Panhandle have been traded for the cold, deep, and somewhat dangerous waters of the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay. After spending nearly three years with golden tans, bare feet, and powdery white sand, it is a challenging change to utilize full body wetsuits, rugged water shoes, and battle rocky shores with crashing surf. It is as if we have arrived on a different planet. This seemingly different planet is not only amazing but offers an entirely new perspective on kayaking and kayak fishing.

After a few weeks of studying the local sea life, the weather patterns, surf reports, ocean swell size, and tides we traveled to our new access point We armed ourselves with new fishing gear, wetsuits, tackle and a ton of newly acquired knowledge. Once maneuvering the kayak over the seawall and literally dragging it to the waters edge, my son and I launched into our new adventure.

Lingcod teeth

Our first adventure on the water was incredible. From the whales that passed by to say hello to the sea otter welcoming us to his world, the day could not have been better. The ocean swells – giant hills of water – made for a few nerve-racking minutes. However, once we settled into the flow, found a deep outcropping of rocks, it was “fish on” the rest of the day!

Thanks to all of our new friends here in the Bay and the knowledge they provided to us, we had an excellent first day of kayak fishing Monterey Bay style. We look forward to many more days on the water here in Northern California.

Safe Travels! – Troy

Ground fish

A Relaxing Paddle Down Econfina Creek

Econfina Creek

Travel Log: 

Location:  Econfina Creek, FL
Access Point:   30.438934,-85.5453016
Length:  7 miles, 3 – 4 hours

What is it about crystal clear cold spring water in the heat of summer that heals the soul? I am not sure. However, Econfina Creek, FL is one of those places. One of those places that heals the soul after a busy week of work and relentless summer temperatures. The ice-cold water bubbling up from the depths of earth seemed to wash away the stresses of life and made everything seem just fine! Thanks to the great folks at Econfina Creek Canoe Livery and their shuttle services, the seven miles of “coasting down hill” was just what the doctor ordered!

Econfina Creek

Over the past few months of studying and reading travel blogs, I have to say that I have become a little disappointed. That is to say, after reading the life and times of exotic world travelers and their seemingly never-ending travel funds, I decided that there may not be many people who want to read about a small family and their small time travels. I can’t imagine that those spending thousands on flights and hotels across the world would have any interest in someone who discovers places near home on a budget of a tank of gas and a few breakfast tacos on the way out-of-town. However, after a day on Econfina Creek, I am happy that many people want to explore far away places and leave the nearby places for us more simple folks. That is, for us that need a place to take a break, a place to be close to our families, make a few new friends, and discover how amazing our country truly is.

Econfina Creek

“How do you find such great places?” asked one family. The answer… asks the locals! Econfina Creek is a local gem! Just north of Panama City and south of Dothan, AL. The creek is cold and clear with several beautiful springs that feed the creek. There are plenty of rope swings and diving places if that is your thing, or if you are like us, just floating and listening to the birds with an occasional stop to swim and lunch was perfect.

Econfina Creek

From the access point at Econfina Creek Canoe Livery, to the bridge at the 388, Econfina Creek meanders for seven easy miles of paddling. A few tight turns with eddies, and a few submerged trees kept the trail interesting. There are very few places to pull off the creek that are not posted closed or private property. However, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a few shady areas for a break and for some lunch. Do not miss Pitt Spring! After you leave the access point, you will find Pitt spring on the right. Bring some rope and dock the kayaks and take the walk into this healing pool. A great place to picnic and swim, it is a must visit on this float trip. You will meet all kinds of characters at this location; mostly locals kick’n back and taking a breather, grilling a burger and spending time with those they care for the most, their family and friends.

For those of you out there with a budget like mine that honestly may never get to travel Europe, or visit the exotic beaches of the world, take a look in your own backyard. You may be amazed at what you find!  If you are wanting to visit another spring after this, check out our post on Holmes Creek.

Safe Travels, Troy

Econfina Creek

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park

Travel Log: 

Location: St. Andrews State Park, Florida
Access Point: 30.132863, -85.731338
Length: All Day

 

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, Florida, is amazing! With its crystal clear water and beautiful beaches, this gem is a must for anyone seeking a great kayak adventure. Our plan for the day was to launch from the boat dock at St. Andrews and paddle to Shell Island, less than a mile away. It was planned as an easy day of fishing and playing on the beach. However, the paddle to and from Shell Island was more difficult and dangerous than we anticipated. A strong tide and massive boat wakes made for a challenging day. However, once we reached Shell Island the cool ocean water and soft sandy shores made the effort all worth it.

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL

Kayaking to the island early in the morning was a good choice. We left the boat launch around 9:00am and enjoyed our time on the smooth waters of Grand Lagoon. The water was crystal clear making the spotting of sea creatures easy. A few dolphins followed us for a while and plenty of pelicans and other large shore birds made their presence known. The sun was already intense, but the cool water made the temperature bearable.

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL

Canyon and I had a great time fishing at this spot. The inlet is mostly shallow and with a soft sandy bottom it makes wading out to the deeper water to catch a hungry fish fun and cool. There seems to be two ways to beat the summer heat in Florida… stay in-doors or stay in the water. I would much rather stay in the water which makes St. Andrews Island State Park a must do!

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL

As the day progressed and the water-way become more busy, we decided we had better begin our journey back across the inlet to Grand Lagoon and then back to the boat launch. After one failed attempt of paddling across the inlet because of an enormous ocean vessel cranking out a five foot wake of watery destruction, and dodging kayak eating WaveRunners, we made it across the channel. At this point the tide was pulling very hard and the waves were crashing against the bank. The outgoing boats were cutting the corner very close making for a whirlwind of dangerous waves and currents. Getting out of our kayaks and pulling them along the shore was probably our first mistake. Having the boats parallel the shore was a recipe for disaster. With one mighty wave our 80 lb kayaks plus our gear were heaved like rag-dolls upside down and sent crashing to the sandy shore. With gear floating and some sinking, anything not tied into the kayak was instantly swept away. Pulling our boats to the shore and grabbing whatever gear we could, we counted up the losses. Most importantly we were safe and our boats were fine. Everything we take on trips are strapped down. However, one fishing pole was missing and Annette’s new shirt had disappeared from view. Luckily I spotted the GoPro camera before it made its way to a watery grave.

Much like life, we had to go about things differently to make it back to the dock. Instead of going parallel with the waves, we had to face the waves head-on. This was a great life lesson… sometimes trying new techniques and seemingly doing things opposite is what brings success. That is to say, trying to escape the waves created an upside-down experience. Going directly into the opposing force, although difficult was the way in which we found success!  We highly recommend kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL!

Kayaking St. Andrews State Park, FL

Safe travels – Troy

A Beautiful Day at Dead Horse Point State Park

Travel Log: 

Location: Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
Access Point: 38.5042022,-109.7319077
Length: Day Trip

Dead Horse Point State Park

 

Being the emergency pastoral care provider for the weekend has its drawbacks. However, although I am not able to get outdoors and explore the world this weekend, I can sit and reflect upon the places that we have been and look at the photos that inspire and encourage me. Before my tour to Afghanistan in 2012, my family and I took an epic adventure and explored the amazing southwest. Annette and I are originally from Utah and know some amazing places to visit. One of our favorite places on this epic adventure was our return visit to Dead Horse Point State Park near Moab, Utah. Moab is of course known around the world for its red rock trails both for jeeps and mountain bikes. It is also famous for its many national parks and the gateway to unlimited outdoor adventures. Growing up only hours from Moab and visiting many times as a child, it was great to be home and explore the area with our son.

Dead Horse Point State Park

For me, Dead Horse Point State Park is more about seeing the beauty of our world than it is anything else. Sitting over 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and at an elevation of 5,900 feet, seeing the world from this vantage point is breathtaking and truly inspiring. The colors and beauty create an experience only second to the Grand Canyon.

Dead Horse Point State Park

There are plenty of things to do at the park for those that must burn some energy. For Canyon, Annette, and I, this meant cycling the Intrepid loop trail, the Great Pyramid loop trail, and the Big Chief loop trail. According to the park’s website, there is a new section to these trails that just opened this year (2014). The trails are not extremely technical, but at 6,300 feet above sea level, it is certainly a challenge, but well worth the effort.

Dead Horse Point State Park

I would highly recommend visiting Dead Horse Point State Park to get away from the crowds and enjoy a magnificent park. Take your bikes, take your hiking shoes, take a good cooler with lots of cold drinks, and of course… take some yummy snacks to fuel your journey. Get out there and be inspired!

Dead Horse Point State Park

Safe Travels, Troy

 

Being Dad – Fort Walton Beach, FL

Travel Log: 

Location:  Wyndham Garden Hotel, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Access Point:  30.395542, -86.614990

This weekend found us traveling to the Wyndham Garden Hotel and Conference Center at Fort Walton Beach, FL. I was the guest lecturer at an Army Strong Bond retreat for seventeen amazing Army families stationed at Ft. Rucker, AL. Our adventures are not always roughing it in a tent on a river; sometimes our adventures take us to nice beach front hotels to speak and relax at some of America’s greatest locations. Oftentimes, building sandcastles on the beach until the sun goes down with new friends is just as important as exploring new locations; and perhaps, it is the most important thing we do as a family.

Fort Walton Beach, FL

Access Point Adventures has two main missions, first, to provide some great locations for families to get out there and explore our amazing world; and second, it provides us with a way to speak openly about our passions, and in return we hope it brings value to your life. The stories that we share are a spring board to leap into things that truly matter. The access point is only one part of the adventure. The other part is getting to our location, learning lessons along the way, and creating relationships that last a life time.

Ft. Walton Beach, FL

My lectures this weekend focused on building strong relationships within our families. I shared many of our stories and adventures and the lessons we have learned along the way. Being Father’s day weekend, I was keenly aware of my role as a father and the role my own father plays in my life. As I sat quietly by and watched my son play in the sand and surf with his new friends, I couldn’t help but think about my dad and the adventures he took me on. I spent a lot of time camping, fishing, and hiking with my dad. As a matter of fact, most of my powerful memories are the times we spent exploring this amazing world. From summiting the high peaks of Utah to backpacking Jacob Hamlin’s Arch, I will be ever grateful to my dad for helping me become a man through his example of adventure and exploration. I can only hope that the adventures my son experiences will lead him into manhood making great choices, meeting amazing people, and experiencing this magnificent place we call home.

The heart of a father is a masterpiece of nature.

Abby Prevost

God bless our fathers who teach about life, one adventure at a time!

Safe Travels,

Troy

Chaires Creek at Bald Point State Park, FL

Travel Log: 

Location: Chaires Creek at Bald Point State Park, Florida
Access Point: 29°55’29.1″N 84°21’44.9″W
Length: 5 miles, roundtrip

Chaires Creek Bald Point State ParkChaires Creek to Ochlockonee Bay was an amazing day on the water! We spent six hours paddling and exploring this beautiful creek and marsh that empties into the bay. Although we did not catch any fish, many big fish make this creek their home. Finding this access point is not easy. The maps will tell you to travel into Bald Point State Park, which we did, only to find out that we should have turned miles before the main park entrance off of Alligator drive towards Chaires Creek bridge and Tucker Lake. Once on this road take the gravel road to the right, just before the bridge. There is a small sign indicating a boat ramp. This access point will take you directly into tucker lake and a short paddle around a sandbar into the creek and under the bridge.

Chaires Creek would make for a wonderful overnight kayak trip. A primitive campground can be found approximately one mile from the access point at 29°56’27.2″N 84°21 ‘15.3″W  This campsite is maintained by the State Park.Chaires Creek Bald Point State Park

During our trip to Chaires Creek a stiff headwind was our challenge on the way back. The current and the wind gave us a good work-out on the way back, but slow and steady saw us back to the landing. We did not spend a great deal of time in the bay, just enough time to have some lunch, fish a few oyster beds, and then back up the creek we went. A few more miles to the south, once in the bay, could land you on a great beach at Bald Point State Park.

Chaires Creek Bald Point State Park

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All in all this was a a great place to paddle with many fun places to explore. I would highly recommend this trip!  Chaires Creek at Bald Point State Park is great place to spend a warm sunny Florida day with family and friends!

Safe Travels, TroyChaires Creek Bald Point State Park

Kayaking the Edisto River, Overnight Float Trip

Travel Log:

Location: Edisto River, South Carolina
Access Point: Canady’s Bridge (GPS N33.0644 W 80.6129)
End Point: Givhans Ferry State Park – (GPS N 33.0288 W 80.3917)
Length: 23.6 Miles

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

South Carolina is one of our favorite places to be outside. From the beautiful rivers and lakes to the sweeping beaches, South Carolina is amazing and we can’t wait to go back. We spent six months in South Carolina and wish we could have stayed a life time. Kayaking the Edisto River is one of our most memorable places that we have journeyed.

According to SC Trails.net, the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail is an “easy trip on one of the state’s longest blackwater rivers. For much of its gentle and flat passage, the Edisto ambles along under huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss, stoic bald cypress, and water tupelo towering from the dark water. The river is abundant with red breast sunfish and other fauna including water snakes, alligator, kingfishers, great blue heron and egret.”

For nearly two months we planned our float trip. We had never completed an overnight trip with the kayaks and we wanted to do things right. Annette and I have spent a lot of nights in the wilderness of Utah backpacking in places such as Zion’s National Park and other famous Utah destinations, but we had never spent the night on a river in the South. The thought of visiting alligators and the ever famous cotton mouth chasing us down the river made the planning process a bit more interesting than a quick overnight trip to a Utah forest. Having not grown up in the south, we wanted to make sure we were well prepared.

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

 

For several weeks we studied the map of the river. We memorized snake identities found in the area. We looked at books with poisonous plants found in the south and kept a constant eye on the flow of the river using auquafrolic.com. We decided that a fall trip would be best and began planning the trip for an October float. The rainy season had ended, the first good frost had hopefully wiped out some of the bugs and slowed down a few snakes. The water level was historically lower at this time of year and the leaves were beginning to change color.

The sandbars found along the river provided a perfect place to camp for the night. We got started a little late on Friday night, so we had to hustle to find a place to camp that was down river as far as possible. The first amazing sandbar that we found was already taken by a clan of beer drinking college students that looked like they had been in the sun way to long. With a friendly wave and a bit of jealousy over their amazing spot, we paddled on.

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

We passed many beautiful cabins a long the river and some places that looked like scenes from Deliverance. If you listened hard enough I swear you could here a banjo playing. Most of the lodging along the river was falling down, but again, there was an occasional place that was warm and welcoming.

We did not see many people on the river. As a matter of fact, the college students seemed to be our only company and we had left them three miles up-stream. I use my iPhone in a lifeproof case to track our progress on the river. There are a host of tracking apps to choose from. I use Navionics, it has never let me down.

As the sun dropped out of the sky and the river turned dark, we frantically began looking for a place to stay the night. Just before we lost our light, we found a perfect spot! We were extremely happy over the find and quickly set-up camp. Our camp consists of just the basics: a ground tarp, a light three season three person tent, light sleeping bags and pads, backpacking pillows, a jetboil cooking stove, our yeti cooler full of cool drinks, a light set of backpacking cookware, Backpackers Pantry dinners (Chicken Alfredo is our favorite), head lamps for everyone, and a small LED lantern. All of our gear fits in dry bags in the hull of the boats with the more bulky items strapped to the top of the boat, always remembering to keep the center of gravity as low as possible.

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

After a wonderful evening and a great night’s sleep, we gathered our belongings and headed downstream. Because of our late start on Friday, we knew we had to make some good time to get to Givhan’s Ferry before the end of the day. The river holds within its watery grasp many treasures. These treasures are the shark teeth that can be found on the sandy bottom. This treasure hunt kept our son busy as we paddled the 16 miles to our end point. The river also holds within its grasp a few snags and strainers which take some tricky maneuvering to pass. While maneuvering around one snag, I was held up by a large branch that I did not see. The underwater branch found its way up through the boats scupper hole and caused a great deal of excitement. The excitement was not caused by a dangerous situation as it was a cause from frustration and problem solving as to figure out how to get off the #$%$# branch. To make things more exciting, a large snake from the bank became curious as we splashed and made quite a commotion in the water. After a few minutes of cursing and struggling, the boat finally broke free and we were once again on our way.

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

By the end of the day we were tired. Beyond paddling, we had spent a few hours swimming and cooling off in the water and playing on some beautiful sandbars. The day was wonderful!  As we neared Givhan’s Ferry we began to see more and more people. Some of the people had been overnight at the Tree Houses that can only be reached by water and rented from Carolina Heritage Outfitters. I believe this would make a wonderful trip if you do not have the gear or means to camp. Reaching Givhan’s Ferry was a great relief. Although the trip was amazing, we were tired and ready to get off the water. Within just a few minutes of landing and loading the gear and kayaks, we were on the road back to Canadys to pick up our shuttle car.

Kayaking the Edisto River, South Carolina

The Edisto River is a must for all kayakers! It is a family friendly trip with unlimited possibilities. When we do this trip again, we will make it into a two night, three-day trip and add an extra leg below Givhan’s Ferry. We highly recommend this trip and can’t wait to get back and do it again!  Kayaking the Edisto River is a trip we will never forget!

Safe Travels – Troy

Cypress Springs, the Real Story

As part of my work and passion for people, I study stories and I am mainly interested in the real story of how things happen. Annette’s post on Cypress Springs is a great travel log and it will help you get there and enjoy a beautiful day on the water. However, what she forgot to mention was the narrative that goes along with our journey. That is, she forgot to mention the real story of Holmes Creek and Cypress Springs. Sit back and relax as I replay Cypress Springs, the real story!

The real story begins like this…

As we approached the boat ramp at Culpepper landing, heads began to turn. We drive a white Toyota Tundra, Rock Warrior Edition, with two oversize Big Tuna Kayaks stacked in the back. Compared to the, we will call them, well used, cars in the lot with a handful of rusted canoes on the shore, I am sure we made quit a scene. As I turned the truck around and backed onto the ramp, we instantly drew attention from the church group that was quietly eating their lunch at the picnic pavilion. I eased the truck into park and applied the parking brake and exited the truck. Annette and Canyon, applying the “dreaded sunscreen” were having a great debate about the importance of sunscreen as the church lady approached with Ninja like skills. “Where did you get those… boats?” she asked with excitement. This is my cue to pretend I am busy and Annette’s cue to take center stage and begin the “Awesome Kayak” speech she has given a thousand times.

While Annette was busy with the blue haired church lady, and I was busy with unloading, Canyon attracted the attention of two “boat-dock dogs.” It seems Florida is famous for these dogs and it is as if they are bred to annoy those who are preparing for a day on the water. The dogs usually resemble some sort of mix between a blind pit-bull and an overweight beagle and they always show signs of puppies. You know the style, the under-carriage that barely clears the ground with its cow like utters and brings comments from the children like, “what is wrong with that dog!” Luckily for us, the shirtless owner arrived on a 1976 riding lawn mower and called for the dogs. “Damn dogs,” he says, “they never listen; of course that one there is deaf,” as he points to the scraggly white one. I shake my head and wonder just what have we got ourselves into.

After Annette shook the church lady, and we harassed the three motor boaters that needed a little more exercise and a lot more boat, we finally launched into the creek.

Once on the creek the adventure really got cooking. Instead of giving the story of every person we met, I thought I would give you the top ten people we met. I think it is awesome, and even entertaining. Here is the list:

  1. Gun slinging Jon-boat drivers unloading their weapons on some imaginary beast on the bank.
  2. Oversized people in undersized boats.
  3. Two women in a canoe towing behind them a shirtless, cut-off jean short wearing, beer drinking man yelling… “Don’t let those kayaks pass us!”
  4. Chunky bikini wearing standup paddle boarder.
  5. Shirtless boater advertising his newly acquired tattoo, “Georgia Red Neck” in Gothic font.
  6.  Hoards of people on the beach area proudly and publicly showing their need for P90X.
  7. Teenage kids bravely, or not so bravely, swinging into the beautiful clear water.
  8. Novice boat drivers coming way to close for comfort.
  9. Local kids giving us a hand with our boats and arguing over using their hotdogs for bait or for human consumption.
  10. The church lady (having here second lunch) clearly announcing to the entire spring… “Here comes that nice Christian family!”

All in all this was an awesome trip! I love the people we meet along the way. People are what makes our time on the water fun and adventurous. The places we go are only half the story. The narratives we collect are certainly the second half!

Safe travels! – Troy

PS – If you missed the logistics of the trip see Annette’s Cypress Springs post.

Cypress Spring, Holmes Creek