Inspired by the Romanceur - the truth behind my kayak trip 

 - The truth behind my Kayak trip from Pensacola to the keys told through many sarcastic tips and tricks organized in the order I thought of them on my buddies couch. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it.   

Dedicated to the many friends I made this past year... 

People are always asking me, "Cole poppa, how do you do it? What do you eat? How do you squeeze all that pile of junk in your yak????" 

 Well I'll tell ya, but the truth is I hate gear. It's a bitter sweet love-hate relationship it is, the one between my gear and I. We fight and argue, sometimes things get physical but we always come back to each other. Sometimes I pick up new gear and leave the old stuff behind, or trash it, or heck my best friend starts using it and then I get jealous and take it back. Sometimes waking up in the morning with it is just the worse and I can't stand the sight of it all. In the end though all this gear makes life outside on the boat worth it. 

Read on for Cole Poppa's tips and tricks of living Radass. 

1) Have some kind of plan to set up all that junk. Your gear can't take care of itself. That hasn't been invented yet but when it does don't sign me up. Planning and set up requires a little bit of messy-minded organization buddied up with some top-notch quantum paracord physics. Don't have that degree? Get it. 

 2) Remember, eBay is your best friend. It can be smart to live by "good gear isn't cheap, and cheap gear isn't good". However In the case of eBay that rule only applies -74% of the time, because that 1980's packable windbreaker you sniped for $8.45 plus $9.99 shipping might be the best $18.44 you ever spent. Trust me, my wardrobe is all some old guy's clothes from Connecticut. 

 - Dad you're the eBay master 

C) If you can't buy it (or more likely can't afford it) just build it. I know a guy who hiked the AT, the PCT, the CT, the DT, the YBR (yellow brick rode) and the M to S T and did it all with gear he made himself. It just takes a little ingenuity and SDL (sheer dumb luck) . Funny enough his trail name was Oz. (Ounces?)

4) Need something? Just ask. The worst someone can do is say no. You'd be surprised how many people want to help your crazy wide-eyed sweat freaked self out. If they don't they might point you in the right direction, which helps too. 

   - On a serious note about half this trip is funded by my sponsors who I can't thank enough. Travel country outfitters, SunBum, and Wagan tech you guys are incredible. It goes a long way to say "well yes, I could've done it without you, but my credit score would be taking a huge hit." 

5) Food is trash and trash is food. This ones for the slight risk takers but you'd be surprised what you can find in the dumpsters. If you know me and my friends we probably have fed you dumpster food AND YOU LOVED IT. 

   - Gotta give credit here to my dear friends Miles and Natalie  - "the dumpster provides" 

6) Limit purchases at large department stores to under 20$. It should be less than $10 but I'm giving you some wiggle room. If you're keen remember this: How much of this can I carry and not drop running at full speed? 

     - inspired by Sam Bianculli, hope Austin treats you well. 

7)  Go with your gut feeling. The proof is in the pudding here, if it feels right then that's probably what you should be doing. Left or right? I don't know right seems right. If you should've gone left you'll figure it out eventually. You're wasting time pulling out that guide book man. Just read it when you're lost. 

  - Thanks to my buddy Keyon

7a) Mistakes are just something to laugh about after you didn't die or get seriously hurt. Even if that right turn sent you down a tidal creek which turned into a ditch where you had to spend 2 nights with an old man in his sailboat then what the are you complaining about that sounds like a grand ole time. True Story.  

 - George you're the best   

8) You need a spoon. Don't ask just bring a big metal old one. Give your BPA free swedish titanium fused spork to the guy in the flannel you met at REI. 

   - Harry you can have all my Swedish forks, I know how much you love the swedes. Thanks for all your help and support, you're a great friend and a big kook. Thanks for paddling. 

9.) Bring a second pair of shoes.

10.)Coffee makers are overrated.

11.) Ramen is underrated. There's one-thousand-one ways to cook ramen - George Johnson

12.) Put books in paper bags because plastic doesn't dry fast enough. What? 

13.) Don't be scared to exaggerate a little bit, whoever you're talking to  probably stopped listening after you said "down jacket" for the 3rd time. 

14) Research your local lingo - Thanks to my friends Caleb and Isaac from Austrailia, you guys taught me so much. 

15) For John Ling - I'll Paraphrase Smashmouth. Spare change is a good conversation starter.   

16) Make friends with everyone. Except Brad, I hate Brad. 

17) If you meet a bachelorette party on the beach, pretend to be 4 years older than you actually are and get them to buy you drinks and food. Heck order dessert too. The bread pudding at the Red Bar is "to die for" according to the old guy from the shuttle at Top Sail state park. 

To the bachelorette party - Sorry I'm actually 19 not 23. 

18.) Lost something? Give up. You probably won't find it. Accept that it's gone and odds are it'll turn up eventually. If not the guy who found it probably needs it more. Unless it's your kayak, you may need that. ( I did wake up one morning and not have my kayak, obviously I eventually found it.) 

19.) bugs? Cover yourself in citronella wax and light yourself on fire. Just that simple. Option b) wear long clothing lightly sprayed in deet. Option c) Give up, you're not sleeping. No joke one night I thought there were planes flying over me but turned out it was the constant drone of hundreds of mosquitos. 

To the Everglades - your bugs nearly broke me 

19.) To my Grandpa- Something not working right? Try to fix it, if that doesn't work then try again. And again. If it still doesn't work dude then just leave the damn thing alone and get a new one. Then try again. 


20.) Listen to your elders. All the old folks you meet probably know way more than your local yocal fishing guide. They've been around much longer and there's a reason they are still alive. They normally make better friends than most the people your age too. 

21.) stick your tongue out, it helps you concentrate! 

- to anybody I didn't mention, thanks for all your help and support! I thank every person I met for talking with me and keeping me going, you may not have known it but you probably made my day. 

- Last but not least, just do it. Ask yourself how much is YOUR time worth to you and then make it pay. You'll never regret just trying and who knows where you'll end up!  Thanks to myself, for finally getting up and pushing me a little bit further and pursuing one of the best trips of my life to make a difference by doing something I love. 


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