September 5th: Pre-Launch

September 5th: Andy and I made the long drive up from Tampa to Big Lagoon State Park. I was so nervous that I was sick to my stomach. A few tears were shed as I contemplated the enormity of what lay ahead of me. 1500 miles of paddling and three months away from my friends and family. Once we reached the park, my fear was replaced by excitement. Andy and I climbed the observation tower where I got my first glimpse of the waters I’d be paddling. The coast looked wild and beautiful. On our way to the campground, we encountered a poisonous cotton mouth snake cruising the road.  Of course, I had to get a picture with it :)

That night, we went to the famous Florabama restaurant.  It was a crowded beach bar the looked like a strange cross between Skipper’s in Tampa and the Lani Kai in Fort Myers. The bar scene doesn’t do much for me so I wandered out onto the moonlit beach and watched the waves coming in.  Andy and I then had some pizza and headed back to camp.

Cotton Mouth at Big Lagoon
Cotton Mouth at Big Lagoon


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