Testing the waters
After a full morning of fun, we opted for a more relaxed afternoon on the beach. Thirty minutes away from Treehoppers, in western Pasco County, is SunWest Park, the county’s newest beach park. Only there’s a twist, it’s not on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s in an old Florida limestone mine now transformed into a swim park with all the amenities that are found at the beach, maybe even more.
As we arrived, sounds of Caribbean music floated through the air. We followed a walkway to the lake with a wide white sandy beach. We found a perfect spot amongst the brightly colored umbrellas and claimed it. Nearby, volleyball players were enjoying a lively match as seagulls soared overhead. Under palm trees, a line formed at a sno-cone truck. Yes. We were definitely at the beach.
We dipped our feet in the water and then enjoyed our picnic lunch while watching kids and families play on a huge inflatable island anchored a few yards away from shore. This Aqua Park of inflatable rafts tethered together was much like an obstacle course with slides, climbing towers and diving platforms. We later learned that it’s the biggest Aqua Park in the US.
We also watched people wakeboarding. This is a popular water sport, much like waterskiing, that involves standing on a wakeboard while being towed, usually behind a boat, but not here. That’s what makes Sun West Park different; here there is a cable system that pulls boarders with a towrope attached to a giant overhead mechanized pulley system.
A boy goes wakeboarding at SunWest Park in Pasco County, Florida
Mike and I looked at each other and said “Why not?” After all, we were feeling pretty confident after successfully completing the morning zipline adventure.
After receiving safety instructions, we strapped in for the ride. Mike went first, stumbling a bit at first before sliding swiftly on the water while holding tightly to the towrope, looking like a pro along the course. For a finale he performed a beautiful 360-degree turn. He returned with a huge grin that broadened when I showed him the video I took of his perfect maneuvering.
I was next. I started from a crouch with the board in the water. As the rope pulled me, I stretched out my arms, leaned back and began rising to a stand. It was exciting riding on the water enjoying the gentle breeze on my face. I fell only once. But the towrope met me where I landed, and I was able to make the turn for the ride back to the beach. What a rush! The first thing we did once I got back to our beach towels was fist bump each other, filled with the sheer coolness of this experience.
What a day, full of outdoor fun and adventure. It made for an epic anniversary celebration and one we will remember forever.
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