‘You live your passions’: Omaha man travels 7,000 miles on jet ski

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By Julie Cornell

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OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — Some people are gently entering their 50th birthday with the caution of a middle-aged adult dipping a toe in the waters of retirement. Mike Straub is not one of those people.

“You live your passions,” said Straub, who has the “Y WAIT” license plate on his Corvette.

The Omaha man is on an adventure he’s been planning for years. He travels 7,000 miles on a gas-powered Sea-Doo jet ski, navigating a route known as The Great Loop. It’s a round trip over water from her home in Omaha, through rivers and inland waterways, the Gulf of Mexico and finally the Atlantic coast and back up through the Great Lakes and then to the House. He dropped the craft into the Missouri River at Bellevue in June to begin his journey.

Straub, a software development consultant at Team Software in Omaha, said his sense of adventure was inspired by a desire to change and live his life.

He started taking adventurous road trips years ago, including a cross-country trip in a Corvette with his teenage son who has autism.

A few years before he had had a revival.

“I had sold my sports car, we had kids, we were in a rut and my family died of cancer and I was like, ‘What are you waiting for?'”

Straub took more than a year to plan his Great Loop trip, often living in luxury yachts over the course of a year. Instead, he stays in hotels and is often invited to stay in homestays and experience hospitality along the way for four months.

Straub makes frequent stops to rest and refuel. He makes reservations at the platforms along the route and plans his overnight stays. “I’ve stayed with five different people so far,” said Straub, who is followed by thousands along the way on social media. He said the kindness of the people is overwhelming. You can follow Straub on his Facebook page, Mike’s Facebook page where he posts links to YouTube videos.

Most of the time, he’s on the water for 6-10 hours, battling everything from Gulf Coast waves to glass-smooth rivers. He’s only seen a few sharks, but it’s the dolphins that intrigue him the most.

“When you are in the middle of the water, the dolphins become your friends. If I go a little slow they will swim with me,” Straub said.

As you can imagine, it’s a trip filled with visits to local restaurants and fresh seafood.

“The shrimp peeled and eaten here is fantastic,” he said of the Florida and Georgia coast.

Sometimes his jet ski is just a speck in the ocean.

“The route from Naples to Key West, I was pretty far offshore,” Straub said. He said that not being able to see the land didn’t go to his head. He said it was his longest day on the water, 225 miles.

It is guided by a host of tech gadgets including GPS, maps, an Android tablet and a depth sounder. He takes several long vacations, including a week in Florida where his wife and two sons joined him to celebrate his 50th birthday and 25th wedding anniversary.

He is now in Fernandina Beach, Florida, en route to the outer shores of North Carolina where his brothers will join him on vacation. He uses his vacation time to get the jet ski serviced and ready for the waters ahead. Straub plans to return home to Omaha in September with stories to tell.

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