Kayaking with dolphins and touring the warbirds

Cal Kayaking.

The early-morning Winter Sun made a sparkling path from our put-in point out to a mangrove island a hundred metres out. A pelican circled low over the water, its wings outlined in gold, and further above a couple of osprey hovered, watching. Suddenly the water in front of us erupted, and a fish was thrown high into the air, its trajectory mirrored by the smooth back of the dolphin that had launched it.

We kayaked alongside the dolphin as it repeatedly circled, herding the fish into tight groups and then attacking from below. The activity was shadowed by us, pelicans and osprey the whole way. [Some video here.]

Eventually the dolphin far outstripped our capacity to keep up and we peeled off into mangrove tunnels. Literally these are tunnels though the thick mangroves, barely wide and high enough to allow passage. Most of the time we had to pull ourselves along using branches and vines for traction and bent over low in the kayak. Thankfully, our guide went first to collect the spiders and cobwebs on the way.

In spite of our efforts the one thing we did not see this morning was manatees. They proved elusive, partly because it’s not the best time of year, partly because that’s just the way it played out. Can’t complain through because the dolphin show was just fabulous and in any case some fresh air and exercise was very welcome.

Cal at the B52 bomber controls.

We returned to our hotel and dealt with some practical stuff like doing the washing; and then headed out North-West to Titusville. The road out was lined by hoardings advertising pawn shops and bail bondsmen interspaced with churches with convoluted names and trailer parks. We were heading to the Valiant  Air Command Warbird Museum.

The Museum is run by a bunch of veterans who track down and restore old military aircraft. I must admit we’d chose it pretty much because we couldn’t see much else to do this afternoon, but it proved to be fascinating. We got up close and personal with a whole range of aircraft from WW1 through to the modern day. We got to sit in the pilot seat of a B52 bomber, understand a great deal about different plane designs, and get guided round a huey helicopter by a man who’d flown one in Vietnam. That, together with an extensive collection of flying memorabilia, made for a remarkably interesting afternoon.

One thing that really hit us looking at the planes is how quickly flight developed from jury-rigged devices through to incredibly complicated and powerful jets (and the rockets we’ve been looking at elsewhere). We saw a helicopter from the Korean War in 1950 (straight out of M.A.S.H.) and it’s interesting to contemplate that it was built closer to the first ever powered flight in 1908 than to today.

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