Posted by at 5:49 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242010

Yesterday we drove 75 miles south to Pinellas Park, located just north of Saint Petersburg, to look at different racks for our hard shell kayaks. I love my Sea Eagle PaddleSki 435 inflatable kayak and won’t give it up, but Miss Terry is happy with her hard shell Manta Ray. We wanted to check out the Thule Hullavator rooftop kayak racks. We knew that they are expensive, but they are supposed to make loading heavy kayaks much easier.

The Tackle Shack in Pinellas Park is a Thule dealer, and we had a very strange experience there. Owner Andy Levine told us that he would be very happy to take our money, but that he didn’t think the Hullavators would serve us well, and that he could show us a way to load the two Manta Ray kayaks on the roof of our Ford Explorer that even we could do, with our short little legs and my bad back.

Putting a cover over the back of the Explorer to protect the paint, Andy showed us how to lay the kayak on the ground behind the SUV, push it up onto its nose, and over onto the rack on the roof of the Explorer. It looked like an intimidating task, and we weren’t too sure we could do it, but once Andy demonstrated the process, Terry and I tried it, and it worked!

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Then Andy installed a set of the Hullavator racks on the Explorer, and demonstrated to us that due to the height of the Explorer, we would have to lift a kayak well above waist high to get it onto the rack, and then, due to our short legs, it was still a bit of a chore to get the boat up onto the top of the car. Getting it back down again would also require us to stand on a stool to reach the rack easily. We decided that we’d go with the method Andy showed us, and save a lot of money.

How many small business owners do you know that will talk you out of a $1200 sale, and instead spend almost three hours on a hot parking lot showing you how you can do the job without spending all that money? You can bet that if I need anything related to kayaking, or any other water sports, I’ll be picking up the phone to call Andy at the Tackle Shack!

Terry said yesterday that she’s beginning to think that a Sea Eagle Fast Track inflatable kayak from Inflatable Boats 4 Less might be the answer for her down the road too.  That would sure make life easier!

I was born late in my parents’ lives, and all of my siblings passed away quite a while ago. Over time, I lost contact with most of my family, and it had been over 25 years since I had seen any of my older brother Jack’s children. Earlier this year, while doing genealogy research on, I was able to make contact with them, and we have exchanged e-mails and touched base on Facebook. When I told them we’d be in Florida this winter, they all invited us to come by for a visit.

My nephew Steve lives in Pinellas Park, just a couple of miles from the Tackle Shack, so once we were done there, we stopped by to get reacquainted. Steve called his brother Harold and sister Cheryl, and they came over and we had a very nice little reunion.

We spent about three hours catching up on our lives in the past quarter century (boy, does that sound like a long time!), and had a wonderful time. All too soon it was time to hit the road, because we had a long drive back to the Escapees campground in Bushnell. But after our trip down to Key West in a couple of weeks, we’re going to get together again with Steve, Harold, and Cheryl, and two more of their brothers, as well as some other family members, for a real family reunion. I’m looking forward to it!

Thought For The Day – It took me so long to find what I was looking for that I forgot why I wanted it in the first place!

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  7 Responses to “Reconnecting”

  1. Nlck,
    I am so happy for you to catch up with family. I am the only child of the youngest in my mothers family. My folks were married 12 years when I came along so I am also really much younger than my cousins. I did find some family on my fathers side in about the ’02/’03 period of time. Had not seen them since 1953. Great time and now that cousin has passed.
    Whether we are a Leave It to Beaver family or the most disfunctional family out there that is our family and they are really special to compete the cicuit of our lives.
    We also put a ‘gillion miles on a ’99 Explorer. Really enjoyed it. Bought it with about 55,000 and drove it to near 190,000. What we liked best was the heated seats. We called them BenGay seats. Great for long drives or anytime we had been using or abusing our backs. Also made getting out after along drive something we could do and not show up on youtube as we straightened up. Kept us ‘fluid’.

  2. Nick: remember when I introduced you to the Peter Toth Indian statues, that are in every state? You are going to pass right by the one in Ft Lauderdale, and can look upon it yourself. It is right on A1A. Look on my website

    It sounds like you have good weather there.

  3. It is so reassuring to learn that there are still some honest salespersons still around. They are a rare breed. Too many its seems that they seem to be only after the almighty dollar and rotten service on top. I am happy now that you have a way to get those kayaks up on the roof safely. Have a great Thanksgiving and when you head to the Keys please be safe

  4. It looks like you crossed “frankenstein” not once but twice in the same day. How in the heck did you manage that? Or did you paddle it in your new inflatable? Just curious.

  5. Art, what is frankenstein?

  6. It’s a nickname given to the Howard Frankland Bridge from Tampa to St. Petersburg.
    Interstate 275

  7. Art, that bridge wasn’t high or narrow, I didn’t mind it at all.

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