A Grand Adventure in My Own Backyard
by Kaitlyn Mount, new member of Mobile Baykeeper
I would consider myself a tried and true Mobilian. I am 26 years old and have lived here most of my life. Growing up, summers were spent with family looking for sand crabs on Dauphin Island, attempting to skim board the waves in Gulf Shores, and enjoying boat rides and tubing up and down Dog River. What a tough life.
Although most of my summers were spent on the water, I am still somewhat ashamed to admit that I had never been kayaking. Not even once. I actually begged Mobile Baykeeper employee Hanlon Walsh to take me all summer and he did not. He says that our schedules never worked out. I say that he didn’t want to take a beginner kayaker out because I would only slow him down. You might could say I’m a little bitter about it.
So, when The Big Float with SweetWater Brewing came around, a guided paddling tour in the Delta was an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up. This was a chance for me to cross something off the bucket list and experience the beautiful Delta I knew so little about. My friend Sara and I decided we would give it a try, and we met at the BLUEGILL on Saturday morning.
I woke up that morning very excited. I was finally getting to go kayaking after all of these years. I put on my swimsuit, slipped on my chacos, threw on my beach cover-up, and made sure to have my sunnies and bug spray on hand. Before I knew it, there I was with 100 of my newest friends getting to experience kayaking for the first time. And it didn’t disappoint.
It was an absolutely beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze on the water, and I knew that a cold beer was waiting on me upon my return. While we were paddling, everyone was talking about the vegetation and how it was so pretty and here I am thinking that it looks like I’m experiencing something out of Jurassic Park. I was expecting to see a velociraptor appear above me at any moment, or at least a harmless alligator lurking somewhere in the corner. Though neither of these expectations were met (for better or worse), Sara and I did manage to make friends with a dragonfly we named Fred, so we ended up getting our wildlife fix after all.
I am not afraid to admit it - I am not the best kayaker and it took a while for me and Sara and to find our groove, but once we did we felt like we could have won Olympic gold. One of the coolest moments from the trip was that everyone was so encouraging and telling us that we were doing great even though we were bumping into kayaks left and right. We were surrounded by people from all walks of life - dads taking their kids out on a Saturday morning outing, young couples, older couples, kayaking masters, and kayaking novices. And that’s when it hit me. You don’t have to be a certain way or fit a certain mold to enjoy a grand adventure in your own backyard. We were all out there for the same reason – to enjoy the beautiful waterways we are so lucky to have.
So now I feel the need to be honest with y’all. I wouldn’t consider myself an environmentalist. I am not granola by any means, nor am I a “tree hugger”. However, being on the water and spending time outside are things that I truly enjoy and now (with a big thanks to Mobile Baykeeper), I can add kayaking to my list of outdoor activities.
As I sit and reflect, I can’t help but be thankful that I am able to live in a place as beautiful as Coastal Alabama. There are so many new adventures out there waiting for you and I to enjoy, and it’s crazy to think that I am still discovering some of these at age 26 despite having lived here most of my life. From one aspiring outdoorsman (or woman) to another, I’m telling you now to get outside and get out of your comfort zone. Who knows what fun times you can stumble upon in this wonderful place we proudly call our home.
Do you have ideas for a potential blog post, or do you have your own story you would like to share? Send your ideas to Communications Coordinator Hanlon Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.