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Chocolate Elvis….

Posted by Greg on July 18, 2009


Today I biked 32 miles, getting up early to beat the afternoon heat and the intense thunderstorms that define the sub-tropics of central Florida. My favorite trail winds around low rolling hills and orange groves and past huge oaks draped with beards of Spanish moss that sway in the hot breeze. Hidden among the hills are an amazing number of lakes.  Today’s ride was unremarkable, although I did have to swerve to miss a six-foot corn snake that was fully stretched across the path to absorb the intense heat.

Each year I have to become re acclimated to the heat of Florida.  It was really bad in past years when I returned from my circumnavigations of Iceland and Newfoundland, being adapted to much cooler weather,  to face the August Florida heat. In mid-summer it stays hot even at night, although the mornings and frequent rain showers provide some relief. The heat wraps around you and saturates you. It almost suffocates you.  When I finish a good paddle or ride, I can literally ring the sweat out of my clothes.

Lost in Iceland

Posted by Greg on October 13, 2008

My life has been a flurry of actively since the completion of my solo Newfoundland expedition, including teaching at the Qajaq TC Michigan Training Camp, Maine Island Kayak Company’s  New England Intermediate Rough Water Symposium and even returning to Newfoundland to visit again. This week I teach at the Delmarva Retreat (America’s largest Greenland-style event) and following I will be teaching in Sweden at the Escape Kajakcenter from October 23 – November 2.

I still haven’t even settled into home since my Newfoundland trip ended and am still dealing with all the re-acclimation issues that follow a long trip. It seemed to hit me harder this time — but that’s a story for another day…

The October 2008 Issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine contains my article, “Lost in Iceland” — about my record-setting circumnavigation of Iceland in 2007 with German kayaker Freya Hoffmeister.

I find most trip articles (travelogues) difficult to read, so this article was meant to be something very different. It is a very personal account of my struggle to bust out of my safe but confining “cubicle” in the corporate world, to seek a life that I am more passionate about. I found it a very difficult article to write.

Florida’s Mermaids…

Posted by Greg on April 9, 2008

Florida Manatee. Photo by Greg Stamer

Photo Copyright Greg Stamer (Olympus SW 720. Click on image to view enlargement)

Yes, it’s hard to believe that Columbus and crew mistook the Manatee for a mermaid, but, well, it was a very long voyage…. 😕 Manatees are beautiful creatures in their own right, of course. One of the joys of living in Florida is discovering that beyond the theme parks and condos is a very rich world of wildlife. Eagles, alligators, manatees and countless dolphins are among my normal paddling companions. Although I greatly enjoyed my time in Europe last year, I saw more marine wildlife in several days in Mosquito lagoon (a large estuary East of Orlando), than in all my months overseas.

After the Sweetwater Symposium in February, I kayaked the outflow of Weeki Watchee springs with Russell Farrow, Nigel and Kristin Foster and some other good friends. The warm water is home to a number of manatees in the winter months. Donning a mask and capsizing in my kayak, the young, “sad-eyed” manatee shown in the image above eagerly approached me to investigate (yet another great reason to learn to roll — to explore the depths below with a dive mask). Perhaps, capsized in my kayak, I looked like kin. Its mother visited too, but wasn’t as interested in this strange half-man/half kayak. Up close a manatee looks much like an elephant (one of their closest relatives) with their stiff hair and thick skin. Manatees are vegetarians. They are friendly and inquisitive and can move quite fast when they want to.