Rolling Into Spring

I left Caddo Lake bright and early last Saturday morning with “Hawkeye” (my GPS) set for an RV park New Orleans. First stop was not too far down the road. “Mimi and Papa” (parents of my good friends Steve and Lisa Jane) live in Shreveport. This delightful couple are the kind of folks who make you feel like family very quickly, and I feel all the more so having shared some wonderful holiday meals with them in Steve and Lisa Jane’s home. Regrettably it was a short visit over coffee, but it was great to get caught up with them just the same! Thanks you two, for coming out so early to meet up with me!

Once back on the highway I bucked heavy winds all the way to New Orleans, only to discover that the RV park I chose was located in a pretty rough part of town. I was immediately warned by a local friend AND the proprietor of the place not to go walking outside the park. Luckily he kept his park locked down like Fort Knox, AND I made friends with two “big brothers”  right across the drive from me, so I never felt unsafe. I took advantage of the “lock down” to get some work done. The next day my old friend Ricky Sonjy and his wife Staci picked me up on the way to the French Quarter to meet up with another old friend, John-Michael Hannon. (These guys are both photographers and I’ve known them since shortly after moving to Texas 15 years ago.)

I’ve been to New Orleans several times and have always enjoyed the uniqueness of the French Quarter. It’s filled with character, as well as an abundance of “characters” if you know what I mean. I had not been here since Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc on this city, and I was curious to see if and how the area was effected. What I was NOT expecting was the crowds! I had no idea I’d arrived just in time for the French Quarter Festival! No shortage of characters in the crowd, but I was completely skunked on the photo ops I’d been looking forward to. Instead of feeding my insatiable appetite for capturing life with my camera, I satisfied myself with some yummy New Orleans style food and time with friends I haven’t seen in years. I was glad to see little change in this part of the city.

John-Michael and Ricky clowning around at The French Quarter Festival

I had hoped to take a quick drive back to the French Quarter the following morning, but with rain setting in and a four hour drive ahead (and no idea what kind of mess might be left from the crowds the day before) I hooked Zippy to the Beast and hit the highway. Four hours and four states later I was happy to find myself at the Navarre Beach Campground, a clean and peaceful place right on the Santa Rosa Sound.

Evening shot of the sound from my campsite. Life is good. 🙂

Now seems like a good time to rewind to shortly after the first of the year when I mentioned my resolve to find my way back to feeling as fit as I’m used to being. I’ve managed to maintain a pretty good routine for staying fit and healthy over the years, but the key to that was the routine.  As a business owner and mother I discovered years ago that trying to attend a regularly scheduled workout class was not in the cards for me. I needed complete flexibility in my routine, and I found that in a gym membership (which changed over the years based on proximity to my daughter’s school… too easy to give myself an excuse not to go!). 30-40 minutes of weight lifting every other day and a two mile run along with some crunches and push-ups on the off days. That and keeping my diet fairly light and lean was enough for me to maintain a body I felt comfortable in. I rarely got on the scale. I knew if my jeans started feeling snug it was time to kick up the workout or cut back on the food. Pretty simple.

Then I hit the road and my routine flew out the window only miles down the highway. It didn’t take long before my jeans, which normally fit so well fresh out of the dryer, were far more comfortable after a few hours of wear. And soon… I was more comfortable in my stretchy yoga pants. I hadn’t actually gained much weight, but my body was changing without my old routine, and I was determined to find a new one… one that I knew I would embrace and implement. (In my opinion this is where all those well intended resolutions fail!)

I’ve always loved being on the water, especially behind a ski boat, but that was a routine I had to leave behind with my divorce. I had to find something I could do on my own from most anywhere along the way. A kayak seemed like a great choice. Something I enjoy… that I could bring along… and do on my own… all over the country… and it’s good exercise! Thus began the research. I could write a whole blog post about what I discovered but I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that the perfect fit for me is the Hobie Revolution II. It is propelled by flippers on the bottom which you peddle like an incumbent bike. You can also paddle it like a traditional kayak. Lower and upper body workout in one… plus it’s very stable so I knew I’d make great use of it photographically, giving me a different perspective and opening up a whole new world I would not see from shore! (Maiden voyage here!) The biggest trick is getting the cumbersome 47 pounds on top of the car on my own. It would be easier to heave a 50 pound bag of dog food up there! But… being the determined gal that I am, I knew I’d find a way to make that work as well. It’s a dance I’m still perfecting, but it gets a bit easier each time I do it.

Needless to say I am loving it! Here’s a little video clip of sunrise on Santa Rosa Sound (mistakingly referred to as Santa Rosa Bay in the video). Click on the blue link here and on the next page as well. IMG_1210

And some pics from my morning ride…

Next door to the campground, a home badly damaged by the last hurricane that passed through.

Navarre Beach Campground from the water… That’s the Beast (and Zippy) sitting right up front!

Later in the day, as I was about to head out for food supplies I noticed a Heron standing on the rail of the pier. I saw few of them where I expected to find them on Caddo Lake, and those I did spot usually took flight long before I was in range to photograph them. After a moment of hesitation (thinking it would be a futile effort) I turned back for my camera. This guy was clearly accustomed to being around people. I had a hard time getting him to fly!

A guy I met on the pier reeled in a little fish too small to keep, but perfect size for this guy. Probably the reason he hangs around.

Although not allowed on the beach, the girls were happy to be back on the coast again. We’ll be on the look out for a friendly “dog beach” soon!

11 thoughts on “Rolling Into Spring

  1. Navarre Beach! I love that place. My son was stationed at Hurlburt for a while and I visited him on a number of occasions. Good stuff! Ummm, harassing wildlife? Shame, shame :o)

    • Who me? If you mean the Heron on the pier, not harassing. Just getting up close and personal. I did enjoy the area. Far less touristy than Destin has become.

  2. “A dance I’m still perfecting”…..ahhhh, Fran only you. I can only imagine you hoisting that beautiful kayak on top of your car. I so want to be paddling along side you. A goal to attain, right? Keep having fun. xxxooo

  3. Well it is a bit of a dance. Still trying to determine who’s leading I guess. 🙂

    Yes Kathleen, I’d love it if you’d make a goal of getting out here with me. I’m so near your roots now! Come on!

  4. Aloha Frannie!
    I shoot from the twin seat Hobie Mirage! It is the only way to come within arms reach of a 60 ton humpback whale with a dry camera. I have a bunch of whale images posted on my Google+ account at
    The tiny drawback is that I have had Tiger sharks follow the kayak three times this season, I think because they see the fins underwater and assume it may be a seal, or turtle… ;-).
    I carry a knife with me now. Love shooting from my Hobie. I am so happy you bought one!
    Talk soon.

    • Aloha!! I remember the tales you’ve told me of sharks following you Randy. I think I’d be carrying more than a knife. I’d love to be out photographing whales from mine though. I hope you’re doing well my friend!

      Just looked at your whale shots Randy. Especially love the first image in the second row of the Humpback breaching. Awesome!

  5. Hello Fran,

    Thank you for sharing your business card with me while at Navarre Beach Campground. While we were talking out on the pier I mentioned I wanted to go full-time and my husband changed his mind. I am so glad you are following your dream. I will now follow it with you. The picture of the campground was great along with the Heron on the pier. I enjoyed watching you taking your pictures of him and they are great, even if he wouldn’t fly. .

    God Bless your journeys and take care….Diane

    • Thank you for your kind comments Diane. It was a pleasure meeting you at Navarre Beach. Who knows where we might run into each other again out there! In the mean time I’m glad to know you’re going to tag along on my journey. I promise to bring you to some beautiful places along the way! Enjoy!

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