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Kevin's arrived at another major milestone: Key Largo. Once he rounds the tip of Florida, it's northward home! For about 1100 more miles. He spent the toughest week of the trip paddling through the Everglades. “The real deal,” he said, “Real wilderness.” His only contact with humans was an occasional guide zooming past in a flats boat on the way backcountry. He was totally isolated surviving on two weeks of water and food he had loaded into his yak. Conditions were terrible and wonderful at once. He described indescribable beauty of the mangroves, crystal clear water, endless blue sky, white, sandy beaches and the intolerable misery of millions and billions of mosquitos. “It took everything I’ve learned paddling to get through it,” he told me. Every morning would start with a panic as he rushed to pack up his gear and get on the water while covered in bloodthirsty insects. “I’d inhale three or four with every breath.” He preferred paddling through a 30-knot gale, “At least the wind keeps the bugs off,” he said. Eventually, he broke down and bought a mosquito suit that covers him in mesh from head to toe, “The best 60 bucks I ever spent!” On the fishing front, Kevin landed his first tarpon of the trip. After breaking off several big fish, he finally got a 36 incher to the boat. He was almost killed by manatees last week when two of the “gentle” giants decided to play hackysack with Kevin’s boat. “I’m glad no one was around to see me almost die by manatee,” he joked. He’ll spend two days in Key Largo recovering and refueling, before moving on to his next major milestone: Miami. A week of big-city funk and confusion as he paddles through the heart of the Heat! One stroke at a time.
 
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