Sunday, March 28, 2010

Into the Wild Bog Yonder . . .

Currently Reading: Green by Ted Dekker
Current Playlist: "Demon Days" by the Gorillaz

The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a Wilderness.
--Havelock Ellis

Chris has a way of making birthdays memorable.
Not long after my 19th, he asked me out . . . then wished me a "Happy Birthday!" a month late because he sincerely had the wrong b-day information. Poor fellow . . . he was so proud of remembering, too.
For my 20th, we went to the beach, and his sisters threw me a little surprise party.
For my 21st, I was in London . . . but he sent me Skype wishes, a dragonfly necklace (my favorite insect) and my favorite movie that year, Across the Universe. Mom also came halfway across the world. Yay Mom!
For my 22nd, he surprised me with a sunset picnic at the beach, a shuttle launch, and, oh yeah, a proposal. No big deal, right? -.^

There's not much that can top a proposal, and I wasn't expecting anything huge. I'm a simple person, and I hate making demands. No, all I wanted for my 23rd birthday was an "adventure."
I'd been couped up inside the apartment or behind a circ desk at work for too long, watching the winter "chill" melt to beautiful, and I was over it. Out. I needed out. I love the woods, I love walking, so . . . hiking, I said. I had seen pictures on a friend's facebook of the manatees in Blue Springs. Ah, perhaps canoeing then? Something out of doors. Anything. So I told him, and I prayed the sudden, daily torrential downpours would vanish for my birthday. It did. :)
Chris opted for the hiking--Blue Springs, as fun as that might be, didn't host a great hiking trail. Just boardwalks, he told me, and there was a chance that there would be no manatees. Ah, bummer. Yes, a real trail was what we needed.

There was a problem, though. A problem neither of us really understood at that moment. You see, in my mind, a trail is a pleasant, cleared path, taking only an hour or two to stroll through. Maybe a few logs and rocks to hop over, but that only makes it more fun. I like climbing on things. Something dry. Something pleasant. Something not at all risky. For Chris, it meant blazing a your own trail. Path not necessary. Boardwalks laughable. Adventure at its pique. You see where I'm going with this?

I agreed to do a five mile trail . . . you know, the path kind that's easy to follow. Five miles, I thought, I could do five miles easy. I'm sure I walked at least that far for fun back at my parents. Five miles, no big.

No big. Uh-huh. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

We arrive, and the first thing we notice, besides the gopher tortises lounging about, is the bathroom's are locked. Actually the entire reserve facility is locked. Luckily, that wasn't an issue that afternoon . . . but it might have been. There was no way in heaven or earth I was unloading ANYTHING into BUSHES. I'm no priss, but indoor plumbing is one of the few modern conviences I require.

Chris started down a trail, and it wasn't long before I was beating palm branches out of my face and dodging gobs of muck. Remember the torrential downpours? Yeah, they'd left their mark, and it wasn't pretty. At all. Especially when you're wearing the only pair of jeans that didn't meet an untimely dryer death. If I had looked up to see any scenery, it would have been pretty. Instead all I saw was muck, branches, and the frequent sign preaching the evils of the wicked, non-native air potato. So, I asked Chris to find a clearer path . . . or an actual path . . . any path. Ok, more liked begged. You can only dodge so many muck pits before you lose all will to continue.
Being the brilliant navigator and wilderness man that he is, Chris easily found a new path, this one clear and along a beautiful river. I love water. Having rivers, lakes, or the ocean nearby make long walks all the more awesome.

That path eventually led to a road, which led us to a boardwalk through a bog (YAY BOARDWALK!!!) and, eventually, to the beautiful Lake Jessup. I cannot begin to describe how pretty it was. A Great Blue Heron flew lazily overhead; egrets wading in the shallows. A family of ospreys wheeled over the treetops . . . dodging the flock of buzzards passing through. The sky was clear, the water was blue.

There are little places like that where you realize how pretty Florida really is . . . and then your husband breaks the mood by mentioning how this little spot of paradise is infested with gators.

I HATE gators--the kind of hate that springs from terror. I don't mind snakes, lizards, toads, or little gators. Heck, I love creepy crawlers. I'm just bothered by the big things that hide underwater, sneak up on you, and pounce, visciously, without warning, gobbling you to your doom. They make gators villians in movies for a reason. They're scary. "They're more scared of you than you are of them," people say. Pffft. Yeah right.

We start back, and things became . . . interesting. Chris found a short cut. There's something about men and short cuts that always turns out badly for the women in their lives. It starts off by the trail literally disappearing into a marsh. "Chris, this isn't a trail."

"Sure it is. Look, they laid logs down for us to cross on." He pointed to a tree trunk, collasped hapazardly over the marsh.
Uh-huh . . yeah, that looks like it was totally on purpose . . . or not . . .

He was right, in the end. It WAS a trail . . . a trail that had been turned into a flooded bog. The river had risen with the rains, and this path was all but swallowed. At first that was almost ok. I don't mind mud, in fact, I like getting messy . . . just not in my only pair of jeans. I might have gotten past that, though, if Chris hadn't found the sign. It was a sign like all the others on nature trails: information on local wildlife. This was information on very prominent Florida wildlife. The wildlife with scales, teeth, and a nasty disposition. "Hey look! Haha! A sign for gators! And on the path you can't run on! Haha!" Chris said.

Wait? What?!

Initiate Female Freak Session. Now.
I wailed. I snapped. I got mad. I was beyond terrified. Poor Chris. He was being the perfect gentleman, too. Went first on the path to find the dryest way, held out his hand to help me balance my footing, reassured me that everything was just fine, he wouldn't let anything happen to me. Nothing stopped my pleas to turn back. All I could think of were these key points leading to our certain doom:
  • Gators
  • No one knows we're here--they can't look for us if we're lost . . . if they ever realize we're lost . . .
  • Gators
  • Gators
Poor, poor, Chris, perfectly chivalrous and trustworthy, and I couldn't appreciate that with my life in danger. He thought I was just whining about the mud more than usual; he had absolutely NO idea I was scared. It never occured to me to actually say, "Hey, Hun, I'm terrified. Can we please turn around?" I thought my body language and tone were communicating that more than effectively. Just differences between guys and girls, I guess.

Since I'm writing this, now, you know that I didn't become gator bait. Chris was right: it was a path, it just became more flooded than dry as it went on. We were fine. He wasn't going to take me anywhere he thought could be truly dangerous. I just had to trust him . . . and I didn't I've learned my lesson, though . . . and I think he's finally figured out how much I hate gators. -.^

He took me out to a nice dinner that night, so, really, I got the best of both worlds. A memorable, and honestly, really fun hiking trip with my husband that I can't wait to repeat (honest! I can't wait to go back now that we know what we're doing) and a lovely evening out where I didn't have to cook or clean. Chris told me all about his childhood summers in Sanibel, hunting, and deep sea fishing--a place I've never been and things I've never done but would love to try . . . at least the fishing part. I don't know if I could kill Bambi. Really awesome evening, and a really wonderful day all in all.

Thanks for the adventure, love. It really was fantastic. And oh the memories!

Wilderness Man Victorious!

1 comment:

  1. I believe this is just going to be 1 of many more adventures you two will have. I sure had a good laugh reading though. Thanks for sharing it.


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