Florida is winding down. My 12th (i think, i may have been down in 1996 but i don’t think so) year coming south to train is almost done. I’m a confirmed snow bird now. As much as i say i love winter back home, i haven’t been around for most of February or any of March for almost half my life. My Family tells me i only love it because i miss the worst of it. That may be true, i was trying to think of a “but” here but no dice, it probably is the truth, i do miss the worst of it. However, i also do miss most of what i love about winter, things like cross-country skiing, winter camping or sitting by a fire at home reading. I even used to snowboard, and quite a bit as well. That was one sacrifice that i plan to reverse when I’m done paddling. Now I’m usually home for September, October some of November and then its down here to Florida for anywhere from two weeks to a month, and then back home in mid December and January until February when its back down south until late april. It’s not that bad but it is hard to get into any sort of routine. I guess the routine for most of us on the National Canoe Kayak team is being slightly nomadic. Few of my friends on the team spend 6 months at home, and we’re almost never home for more than a month to a month and a half straight. But I’m not complaining! I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything at this point. Florida really is a second home to me now. I used to be really apprehensive about coming down here when i was younger. I’m not one to get home sick, but i did find it hard and i did not and do not thrive at camps like this. I’m happy here now i enjoy the people, the food (Hoagies, Dakines and NYPD pizza to name a few) and of course the training.
I’ve said often that this is one of the best places in the world to train. The water is 200 meters from my door and we can ALWAYS paddle. This has been an exceptionally windy year which can get mentally fatiguing. In the two to three months we’re down here we may only miss one paddle. This year, with less than a week left, i haven’t missed one despite the strong wind. A place were you can always paddle is a rarity. Even on the giant frying pan that is Montreal’s Olympic Basin in summer, there are days where you literally cannot paddle due to wind and waves.
What else is there to do here apart from paddling? The beach is 2kms away, there are some good places to eat mentioned above and basically thats it. I read, eat, paddle, sleep watch, TV (I’ve discovered the travel channel) and do homework.
School is done and now i’m back in Montreal. When i drove across the border in Kingston yesterday morning and stopped to pee right before hoping on the 401 the smell of spring in Canada put a huge smile on my face. I had flashbacks of getting my bike out of storage, and tromping through the woods near my house coming home filthy, playing in the dirt and all the rest that i haven’t done since i was 23… that was a bad joke. But i did have those memories and even though i was about 300km from my house, it felt like coming home.