Forget the sharks, the 70-mile stretch of coast without so much as a dusty convenience store, and his lack of experience paddling in an ocean.
When Aaron Gonzalez straps his tent and some food to his stand-up paddleboard in October, he says he’s most worried about letting people down if he doesn’t finish his planned 367-mile journey up the Texas coast.
“It’s the more practical things, like mosquitoes, getting injured to the point of not completing the trip, and rip tides washing me out to sea,” he says. “I want to complete this so bad for the cause … and to show everyone that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible.”
The 32-year-old Austin man, who traveled to South Padre Island to log some training miles this week, plans to paddle his 14-foot board just outside the breakwater as he makes his way from Port Isabel to Port Arthur, with a goal of logging 30 miles a day.
“It’s long days, but the route I’m taking will take me with the ocean current. That’s going to help me a little bit,” he says.
He’ll camp along the way, but also stop at restaurants and stores to refuel and resupply as he makes his way up the Gulf Coast. And yes, he knows he’ll hit a dearth of pit stops when he paddles 70 miles along Padre Island National Seashore.
“To be honest, I’ve never done any real paddleboarding,” Gonzalez, who owns a professional detail business and makes promotional videos, told me in July. (He’s ramped up the training since then.) “That’s where most people are going to think I’m really crazy. It’s all part of the adventure, the experience of life. I would consider myself a professional adventurist. I skydive, scuba dive, overland camp, snorkel, and once did a motorcycle trip from Austin to Maine over 26 days. On my way home from that, I put together the brushstrokes of this trip.”
He expects the trip to take from 13 to 15 days. He’ll begin on Oct. 7. Along the way, he hopes to raise $15,000 for a non-profit organization in Rockwall called Patriot Paws, which helps train service dogs for military veterans. To donate go here.
“I have an amazing 6-year-old Doberman named Skyy. I truly believe she improves my quality of life. It’s the same thing for vets,” he says.