TAMPA BAY - Out near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge you can't miss 'em. Colorful cavorting kites ripping riders over the waters of Tampa Bay...
The technical name of this awash-with-adreneline-activity is Kite Surfing, but for Steve Sipes -- who runs " Kiss The Sky " kiteboarding, it was sorta like answering the siren of the sea.
"You have to be out on the water," he explained.
"I saw these people riding one day and just cruising across the water holding some sort of parachute thing in the air," he continued. "All of the sudden they're in the air and then they're landing and immediately I knew this is that I've been looking for my entire life."
After just one lesson, he was hooked, and as his skills increased, he wanted to pay it forward:
"I love to teach it," he said. "I love to see people getting up and succeeding and learning how to enjoy the sport and enjoy this beautiful Tampa Bay area that we have here."
And so he taught your trio of try-as-we-might morning newsies... starting first with the best way to STOP.
"It's called "let go" and it's this..." he instructed as he let go the kite-controlling handle-bar.
"I think we're good like that..." came the chorus from Ashley, John and me. "We're good like that."
With the emergency outs ingrained, it was time to head out into the water for the painstaking task of learning to fly these huge kites...
"You know, its a tough sport and if you've never done any kite flying before, there is a learning curve, just trhying to figure out how to control this thing," said Steve. "But if you can figure that out -- you can get that -- then anything's possible."
But with the wind dying, and a bigger back-up chute deployed, we were struggling.
Ok, some of us were struggling more than others...
Truthfully, it took almost two hours of getting used to the kite, before we each took a stab at the surf. And, it wasn't exactly execution as planned as each of us managed to stay up and at it for anywhere between four seconds, and maybe a second.
Which tested Steve's ability to put a positive spin on the efforts as he graded us.
"I think you're gonna do fine," he told John (who managed the most "up time on the board). "What we need is a little more wind and a little more time and I think you're gonna be good."
"Once you decided that you wanted to do it," he said, moving to Ashley, "things improved dramatically, so for you it's just grabbing the reins and going."
Lastly, he opined on my efforts (executed with a bloody knuckle from a "filet-o-finger" accident the night before our outing). "You have a great support team here...(referring to John and Ashley -- little does HE know). "So same thing, a little more time, everybody needs to practice flying the kite."
"I need more wind," I complained. "Can I blame the meteorologist?" "
"You can blame the meteorologist all you want."
But you can't blame us for wanting to try this out -- or for wanting to go back and give this another shot. After all, Steve did!
"I didn't get it my first day," he confided. "You're all way above me already."
"Really?" came the incredulous reply.
"First day... You're being kind."
... considering how easy he makes this look, very kind indeed!
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A chance for patchy fog early, lots of sunshine and warmer than normal temperatures continue.