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White Water Rafting and You

Of all the water sports out there today, whitewater rafting is one of the most popular. It can be done by yourself, with a friend, or with a whole group. One of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can use for this adventure is an inflatable raft.

Unlike kayaks, which tend to only hold one person, rafts have the benefit of holding a wide range of people. Inflatable rafts are quite sturdy; being made of a tough fabric coated with PVC, neoprene, or urethane for added durability. That being said, inflatable rafts are excellent for river rafting because of their structural flexibility. After all, when facing whitewater, you want to be able to maneuver with the current as opposed to fighting it. This is not to be said, however, that one cannot make it a rigid vessel in which you can stand and move. There are floorboards for rafts that will turn your little raft from a rapid-riding beast to a relaxing fishing boat.

Inflatable rafts can vary in price, so be wary of where you go to buy one and how much you pay. It is very possible to get a great raft for under $1000 at a good outdoor or sports store. Beware, however, if you attempt to take the cheap route and buy one at a big box store such as Wal Mart or KMart. Yes, you can get one quite cheap there, but they puncture easily and do not hold up to the stress of whitewater rapids. It would be truly unfortunate to attempt river rafting with a cheapie and have to end up trekking back without a raft because it could not hold up to the waves. Inflatable rafts are a case in which you definitely want to invest in a higher quality raft to avoid having to buy a second raft after the cheapie gets ruined, and risking a serious injury.

In case of a raft flipping over, it is relatively easy to right, since it is so light. However, it is rather hard to tip because it is so buoyant and will absorb the impact of any collisions and will rather bounce off. And it is commonly known that it is very VERY hard to sink an inflatable raft due to the fact that they are made with several inflation chambers. Therefore air loss and sinking is not an issue.

But let us say they you are a novice rafter and do not want to make a huge monetary commitment just yet. That is another perk, as mentioned above to inflatable rafts. They are affordable. They are also good for the beginner rafter because their light weight makes them portable and easy to take from place to place. This can be a huge plus for those who think that the preparation for river rafting is just too tedious and time consuming to undertake. Inflatable rafts help to curb that hindrance and get you out into the water.

Be you a newbie rafter or a well seasoned master of the white waters, inflatable rafts have something to offer for everyone wanting a great way to make it down the wonderful rivers of the world in one piece.


It's All About the Water at Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Just before you get to Pensacola traveling west in the Florida Panhandle you come to a great little town called Fort Walton Beach. If you're from the nearby states of Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi you may have spent a spring break or two in the area. Fort Walton Beach is famous for its white sand beaches, both commercial and recreational fishing fleets, and anything you can think of to do on the water. As with many Panhandle destinations, the busiest time of the year is no doubt spring break, however the fishing is great year 'round and the beautiful beach resorts are always welcoming, they also have weekly or monthly rentals for bigger groups and longer stays. There are many golf courses, tennis courts, miniature golf courses and beachside parks for families to enjoy.

One such place is the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, it overlooks a beautiful white sand beach with crystal clear water; they have a covered picnic area right there where you can enjoy the view of the beach while you enjoy your lunch. There are also several great little restaurants there like the Crab Trap that has a great deck where you can get a tropical drink and a delicious fish sandwich and watch all the action on the beach. While you're watching the beach it's not unusual to see a kite surfer or even a dolphin go by.

Kite surfing is a very popular sport on Florida, some say one day soon it'll even be more popular than surfing but I doubt it. Kite surfing is exactly what you're thinking it is. A kite surfing board is a board that you stand on, like a snowboard, but with a huge slingshot like kite attached to it. It takes a few hours to learn but a lifetime to master. An experienced kite boarder can go flying through the water, catch massive air, do a flip or two and then land in the waves and keep going. It's a thrill to watch and I'd love to try it.

The boardwalk is centrally located, close to many hotels and resorts on the island, which means it's within walking distance in many cases. The beach itself is a great place to lay around soaking up the sun, build a sandcastle or play volleyball; they even provide the nets for you. Something I really liked was the fact that after you've gotten all hot, sweaty and hungry playing volleyball, they have showers there so you can clean up a little bit and get the sand off before you head up to the boardwalk for some lunch or shopping.

Okaloosa Island also has a great fishing pier, which is another popular pastime in Fort Walton Beach, as it is all over Florida. It's a huge pier, when it was first built in 1972 it was 962 ft long; then in 1998, it was lengthened to nearly a 1/4 mile at 1262 feet. The Okaloosa Island Pier is all about catching the 'big' one, and some huge fish have been caught off the pier, a Tarpon that weighed over 100 pounds and a 42 pound King Mackerel are just two on record, you can also catch Cobia, Redfish, Pompano, Ladyfish and Bluefish. The end of the pier is shaped like an octagon which allows for the maximum fish fighting room. There is a bait and tackle shop on the pier and they even make their own rigs for kids that have no hooks in them, safety first. If you get hungry while trying to land the big one you can buy snacks, sodas and other beverages, and if you don't have a rod of your own, you can rent one there. When you're ready for a little nibble yourself and you want something a little more substantial you too can get a bite at Anglers, which is conveniently at the beach end of the pier. I also found out that they do beach weddings at the Angler which I thought was very romantic. They serve a lot of fresh seafood, as you'd imagine, but have a few steak and chicken dishes too.

Fort Walton Beach has been around for years and is rich with history, I was surprised to learn that they've found archaeological evidence, like pottery, of Indians living here between 600-1650 A.D..Then from around 1500-1800 came the pirates, the most infamous being Billy Bowlegs. If you don't recognize that name here's one I'll bet you'll know, especially if you're a football fan, Danny Wuerffel. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1996 when he was the quarterback of the University of Florida Gators; he attended Fort Walton Beach High School, they're real proud of that.

Fort Walton Beach is a great little panhandle town that is a wonderful place to spend a few days no matter what time of year you choose to come so we'll see you soon.


Nikon Waterproof Digital Camera

The Nikon COOLPIX AW100 may be the point-and-shoot camera you are seeking if you must operate in more extreme conditions than you might feel comfortable bringing your camera to or you may just not have the proper housing to set your digital Single Lens Reflex (dSLR) up for underwater shots or wet weather work.

The AW100 is made by Nikon for that type of work. It is certified waterproof to 33 feet; shockproof in a five-foot drop, and operational down to 14-degrees (understand that at this temperature, though, your camera's battery life is severely compromised; it is the nature of battery technology).

Where the AW100 shines is not only in the wide breadth of its operation (cold to heat) but also in the range at which it shoots. Using a Nikkor-developed and built glass lens, the AW100 offers a standard 5X zoom feature which means that you can take some fairly detailed long-range images with absolutely no shake as the auto stabilization kicks in at longer focal lengths and cuts out any camera shake or blur.

The AW100 also offers GPS so that you know where the photo was taken as well as the time it was taken. Oversized rear controls mean you can easily adjust the camera settings during cold weather so that you can easily take photos and change setting as your lighting or special effects needs change. For example, let's say you one wanted to highlight a subject's face, then you can easily do that with the oversized rear-mounted controls. A bright three-inch display lets you view the image you are setting up and with the right application of zoom you can easily change the framing of the image quickly.

The AW100 offers truly quick reactions to lighting changes and, in automatic mode, if you are shooting a video, you have plenty of memory capacity available as it will handle a standard SDCH 16 GB storage card. This should give you, at normal 30 fps, about two to three hours of video.

Capable of operating at native High Definition mode, you can easily see the results of your shoot with the proper adapter cable and high-definition monitor. The AW100 is a lower cost way of shooting action photos as it is only 6 x 7 x 4 inches and weighs only 1.9 pounds.

By the way, it also records the location information should you need it. The AW100 is a fine way of handling things if you are looking for quick and reliable video whether stills or videography. You won't go wrong if you add this to your gadget bag.


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