Surfin’ USA!

Surfing is one of the many great sports you can do along the shores of the USA. I personally preferred the surf in California and the Pacific over the one you find in Florida, along the Atlantic, but the experience is still great when you have found the right spot to do it! This entry is cumulative and from different beach days with my friends from UF navigators and the pharmacy interns.

Finally a chapter addressing my new hobby: Surfing! By using this term I mean the kind of raw surfing, without a kite, a canvas or anything else. Just you, the board, maybe a lycra to keep you protected from the sun and the sea of course, delivering waves for your enjoyment. I got my first instruction by Tom on Eleuthera Island of the Bahamas, about six years ago, when I stayed at Surfer’s Haven. And he must have done a good job because I didn’t have the opportunity to go out there for years and just started again, in Santa Cruz, on my way to visit a friend in San Francisco, California, a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise I remembered lots of his instructions from the days past and I even stood up for some seconds…

I was eager to continue so I was looking for a beach over here in Florida, where an easy going surf is guaranteed. The place to be is Cocoa Beach indeed from all the places I tried so far, including St. Augustine Beach and Daytona Beach! I tried both with friends, but the tide was choppy and it was exhausting to catch a single wave due to the inconsistency of the waves and the board was probably too small – the equipment is important and you will find everything you desire in Ron Jon’s rental in Cocoa Beach. For beginners I recommend a huge foam longboard. It offers the easiest access and the most fun for your first experience. I use a fiberglass board in the meanwhile of a length of about 8’6″ to 9′. This works really good and I consistently catch the waves and stand up.

Conny gives it a try as well :)

Cocoa Beach

I can’t take responsibility for you, learning this awesome sport, where you are totally connected to nature, but I can give you some advice which might help you. For instructions you should still get a teacher to begin with, if he is good he will make sure you stand up the first day you try it!

1. Paddle outta there

Before you can catch a wave, you have to get out into the sea. And to do that can be exhausting, if you are thrown around by the waves. If you have a “neversinker” one of those beginner foamboards, you just have the option, when a big wave comes towards you, to push up on the board or sit up, that it goes under you smoothly towards the beach. If you use a fiberglass board, depending on the size of the wave, you can stretch out and go under the wave, your body under tension. If you have reached a good position, one where the waves just don’t break yet, you sit up on the board, face towards the sea and observe the incoming waves.

2. Find your Balance

This is the most difficult part in the beginning. You have to find the point to sit on the board, which guarantees you most stability. You can “grab” the board with your legs and you will find out pretty fast which is the most stable positions when the waves pass and shake you. If you have spotted a good wave, one that has not yet broken and is consistent, you smoothly glide back on the board, allowing the nose of your board to come out of the water. This way you can turn easily and fast. Remember, the waves cme in pretty fast so you have just little time to make the turn and get into position.

3. Catch the wave

This part of the exercise is probably the best workout. If the wave of your desire comes in you lay down on the board. Make sure, if the board is long enough (which was the case for me all the time), that your feet close with the rear of the board. Keep your tension up and when the wave is behind you – about two board length start paddling, consistently and strong. It’s not necessary to paddle fast, you have to push the water away to make progress and get some speed, you don’t have to mix it up. If you did right you will feel the wave “catching” you or the other way around, you catching the wave. You will then be pushed forward and gain some significant speed.

4. Stand up

For my experience it is not necessary to try to stand up immediately. Give it time! Maybe you glide in, tension up, lying down on your board for the first attempts. You get a good feeling for the stability doing so. If you have the feeling it works to your satisfaction you can start to kneel on the board, face forward to shore. If that works fine as well, without you getting delivered into the sea permanently, you can try to slowly stand up. First of all you will have to find out which of your feet will be in front – this is also important to fixate the line – you do that on your back foot. OK, so far so good! Now you enter a crouch position, with the right foot in front, you have to turn while doing that, from face forward a bit to the side. You will find really good videos on youtube! In this crouch position you will feel it’s less stable than just going in and you might fall into the water. That happens, don’t worry you will get used to the feeling. And if you decide to finally stand up, do it slowly and make sure you stand up over the most stable part of your bard, which I mentioned above. Have fun trying!

As you can see, we all stood up and this entry is TBC, since I miss lots of photos of our second group, the pharmacy interns, when we attended. In the meanwhile enjoy this as a foretaste… 🙂

Go Gators

Miami Beach – The Place 2 Be

Miami Beach is one of the main reasons why you should visit Florida. The city at the turquoise Atlantic ocean with its great nightlife, beautiful people, lots of different cultural influences and an outstanding climate is like a playground for adults!

One of the main reasons why plenty of visitors come to Florida is Miami Beach and the beaches along both coastlines over here. This city is special. You have downtown Miami, which is underwhelming if you have watched CSI Miami and have a certain impression of it and you have Miami Beach, the place to be if you are looking for a leisure experience, great music, fun loving people and warm turquoise water during daytime. It’s a bit like a playground made for adult audiences combined with splendid nature.

Our friend Ruben had to return home to the Netherlands so Tim and me decided to go southwards with him to give him a proper farewell. We all had a great time together!

PIMP MY RIDE 2

PIMP MY RIDE

The evening hours at the beach are most beautiful. The colors of the sky represent the art-deco of the houses very well and the party people, all in great shape over there, fill the streets. You see crazy cars and people wear extraordinary accessories to impress. Buzzing electronic beats encounter your ears from everywhere and in regard to variety it’s tough to decide where to go to party and to have a good drink. It’s quite expensive for guys tho. Admission to one of the roof tops can easily be $30 and you should not take it, since there will always be another place offering free entrance or reduced cover!

We decided to hit Nikki Beach a huge beach bar at daytime, kind of an open air nightclub during the night and until 5 a.m. in the morning. The whole place was loaded with people, most of them being on drugs tho and some of them having an aggressive attitude reduced the fun for me a bit. The night was cold as well for a night in Miami, truly a tough winter over here this year! I am not used to party until 5 a.m. anymore, so I chose to relax on one of the plenty big mattresses which are all over the place and sleep a bit while Tim and Ruben were dancing. At 5 a.m. we left the club exhausted, haven’t booked a hotel and brought Ruben to the airport. Time to say goodbye for now!

Tim and me had to find a place to park the car, our place for the night. We rode up Ocean Drive several blocks until we found a space at the beach where you could park, not easy in Miami, comparable to California and since everyone rides a car alone clusterfuck is your daily friend on the road…

There will be no sunset to observe on the Atlantic coast but therefore you have a great sunrise all for yourself while the party folks are still in bed – and since Tim already slept I made my way to the beach to observe it. Everything was calm and peaceful the total opposite of daytime, when you are surrounded by a crowd.

We had some breakfast in a hotel and went back to the beach, to the southern end. The beach where all the nightlife takes place is also called South Beach Miami – a lazy day after a long night, the right thing to do over there. Ruben was already on his way back and he promised – via WhatsApp out of the plane – he wore his bathrobe still when he checked in and on the whole flight. A great move of a great bro! 🙂

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Everything comes to and end, so did our beach day. We hit the roof top party of the Playboy hotel, more to just have a look and because the sound was great. The party was pretty cool, there was a pool and plenty of ladies were in the water. We were definitively surrounded by thuggish guys and silicon. Stayed there about 20 min. to get an impression then left to the harbor to have our dinner while we watched how the night came over downtown Miami. A bunch dolphins was playing in the bay, just another cool and appreciated extra of that day. A long trip home was in front of us…

FL to Cali via Orlando

The Springbreak Trip starts, in Florida Orlando since I have to catch a flight from MCO to SAN in Cali.

4 a.m. and I finally fall into bed. Tim and me left Gainesville at short to 2 a.m., he was clubbing and I had to pack my belongings. We made it to Orlando, where I crash at Micha’s and Lucia’s place. Micha and Tim are already on their way to the everglades, they want to do a canoe tour at sunrise. Lucia is already sleeping and for me it’s time as well…

After some six hours I wake up. The sun illuminates Micha’s room and it’s just great outside. First a coffee, then Lucia offers to show me Orlando, the part you probably won’t see as a tourist – far away from all the entertainment that is probably the only reason, why Orlando is well reknown – downtown.

It’s neat but really nothing special. Everything seems very artificial! Even Lake Eola is probably just a product of mankind.

We have a burger and head back home, where we enjoy another hour in the strong sun and a dip in the pool. Then it’s already time to leave. Lucia drops me off at the airport, thanks for your company today and for the city tour Lucia!  🙂

For all of you who plan to visit Orlando… It’s not really worth it, there are some nice bars with good sound for the night, but if you are to Florida and don’t intend to visit Disney World, Orlando’s shopping overkill malls, or the Universal Studios (the ladder are awesome!) you have basically no need to go to Orlando, save the day and invest it in a beach stay!

I’ll land pretty soon in San Diego. There is a storm flooding in progress at the moment and we enter bad turbulence right at this moment… I hope the weather will develop, I already skip Yosemite due to plenty new snow. Would be great to have snow boots, board and equipment over here, then I’d definitively do it. So looking forward for the next days… 😀

Getting in touch with underwater life

Time is passing by extraordinarily fast over here. I don’t know why it feels like that but everyday life has less hours to spend than our European! Maybe this is due to the long times you need to get from one place to another without a car. Public transportation in Gainesville is good tho and taking the bike also helps a lot.

In the last time I had to study a lot and the mathematics I have to deal with are quite challenging, especially since you won’t get in touch with those kind of math anymore, when you have graduated and are not dealing with it professionally. This said, there is few time to hang out and see the country, make trips and so on. A prospective colleague of mine wrote a nice article about the life as a Florida Gator just follow the link to read it. I for myself decided to slow down a bit and concentrate on my task for what I came to Florida this time.

But since there are weekends from time to time and Florida has to offer a vast variety of nature, we decided to do a trip yesterday and this time we wanted to snorkel with the manatees. To reach them we decided to rent a kayak.

Manatees are systematically related to elephants and live under water. They come to the shore between late November and mid of March, since the water close to shore is warmer by that time and when the spring breaks they move back to the sea because the sea is warmer by that time. Those lovely creatures are just cute and we were lucky to see some while we were kayaking through the swamps. They chill-out most of the time and are very peaceful – A great experience!

Florida is as whole just a swamp and civilization was built on it. If you pass the country you will see that and I hope I will be able to take some great pictures while just going around. It is beautiful although there is basically nothing and this ease makes it beautiful. If you are cruising along shore you will, in contrast, nearly find no place which is free of buildings. All the beautiful places are plastered with houses and private properties. This really is a pity!

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The great bassin of Crystal River, which is connected to the Gulf of Mexico is also a playground for dolphins which come there to hunt their prey. We saw several of them in the freshwater, hunting and playing along.

Whenever you hit Florida at winter time between December and mid of March, make sure you don’t miss this experience, enjoy a nice day kayaking and go snorkeling with the manatees at Crystal River. It is absolutely worth the experience!