Florida trip teaches lessons
Our ultimate destination was Ponce Inlet, Fla. – south of Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the state. My wife Sandy and I were visiting her son Keith and his family in Jacksonville – wife Brandy, sons Mark (9) and Chris (7); daughters Giselle (5) and Alaina (1 1/2) and we found a short-term rental of an excellent beach house within our means. From Saturday to Wednesday we would be enjoying the Sunshine State as best we could. We also learned some valuable lessons.
Florida in June is normally not a good time frame from the standpoint of scorching sun and unbearable humidity. However, two other factors needed to be considered. One was some hefty breezes off the ocean helping to keep things tolerable. Having an in-ground pool and an ocean nearby to cool us off whenever we wanted helped, too. Combine that with the fact that the temperatures were actually hotter in Western New York than in Florida and you can imagine why we were feeling fortunate.
We planned well as far as food and drink was concerned. We ate like kings and queens, with a couple variations of fresh shrimp on the grill; ribeye steaks that reminded me of The Flintstones; a pile of Chiaveta’s chicken (a marinade brought down from WNY); and even some beef on weck that we cooked and sliced before we left – another delicacy from back home. A future blog will be on cooking and grilling – with good reason.
Having four kids filled with energy kept us on our toes. The two boys were in constant competition, be it swimming, Frisbee, soccer, beach surfing … it didn’t matter. One of our adventure days was going to be fishing off a rented pontoon boat on the Halifax River. Having never fished there, I headed to the nearest tackle shop to gain some knowledge. They were very helpful and pointed us in the right direction as far where to go and what to use. We went with shrimp as bait.
Our crew made arrangements for a 9 a.m. departure and decided to bring along the entire family – young Alaina and all. Of course, getting everyone organized and ready to go wasn’t easy. In our haste to grab snacks, drinks, baby things, sun block, extra clothes and camera, we forgot one important item – the fishing rods for the kids. We had already arrived when we realized the blunder. I had a spare spinning rod in the car, but it didn’t even have fishing line on the spool yet. So we were doubly unprepared.
Out we headed, with our destination being Disappearing Island, a sandbar near the mouth of Ponce Inlet. Another mistake on our part was not checking out the tide schedule. Waters were headed out, meaning that the sand bars would become more exposed. If that was the case, we couldn’t just pull up to any old place and hop out. If we became stranded on an island or a beach, we would have to wait for the tide to come back in – and we were on a timed rental situation. And before we reached Disappearing Island, strong winds out of the east were creating waves that were frightening the ladies a bit – so we had to reverse our direction and head back up another channel. That took an extra hour.
By the time we arrived at our intended destination, we saw two other vessels struggle to become free of the sand. With only two adult males on board, we decided not to take the chance. And having two competitive boys on board, with two impatient younger sisters, one fishing rod wasn’t going to make a difference to save the day. Instead we opted to head back to the launch ramp, get gas and call it a day – a few hard lessons that we will remember for a future outing.
All in all, the trip down the river was fun. It opened up a new area to our list of experiences and we will return next time … a bit more prepared. Bottom line: I want a pontoon boat. It was very roomy, easy to handle and offered plenty of room for the kids to burn some energy. It would also make a great platform for fishing!