Thursday, June 21, 2007

LOST (actually stranded) the Everglades, Part 1 of Rachael's Viewpoint

Well, I last left you with my experience being stuck in the sand waiting for Troy and Jed to find rescue. Not long after I wrote the blog, they came with four “rednecky” type people in a big old pick-up truck and they pulled us out. When they first got to us, they drove their truck in a marsh and spun out their tires, and I was like, “Oh my God, this can not be happening! Our help can not have gotten themselves stuck!!” But they quickly got their truck unstuck and pulled us out. And guess what? We were not hardly far away at all from the big road on the tiny little road we were on. Isn’t that nice? So anyway, we got out, and we swam in a water hole that Troy and Jed and Sandi swam in a long time ago, so it was kind of nostalgic for them.

And the girls had played in the sand while we were waiting, and it looked like they had basically rolled in it, so we stripped them down naked and threw them in the hole. They at first were not too happy about that, but then Mary Ruth loved it, and Emma and Layla were okay until Layla fell down and submerged her head, which freaked her out, and then Emma did the same thing like two minutes later, and Layla fell asleep on me, naked (Layla, not me), in the swimming hole, and Emma clung to Gramma almost the whole time. But all in all, the swim felt SOOO good after waiting so long in the hot van.

So anyway, after we left the swimming hole, we went on our search for a campground. We were supposed to stay at the campground near where we got our van stuck, but it was closed, and after that experience, we really didn’t want to stay there anymore anyway! So off we went down the road, searching for campgrounds. We visited about three of them, and after Sandi decided they all cost too much money, we kept on looking. We finally found one for a reasonable price, and that’s where we stayed. It was nice, not really any bugs, and it was just pretty nice. Troy and Sandi made a Wal-Mart run for some food. I put the kids to bed, and then I chilled in the enclosed canopy thingie with a notebook and wrote some stuff while Jed played on the computer. And then after a little while Jed and I just sat and talked, waiting and waiting for Troy and Sandi to come back. Then we made sandwiches and went to bed. Little did we know that was probably going to be the most uneventful night we’d have…..

So in the morning we packed up to get the heck out of there and drive to Naples to go to Collier Seminole State Park. Well, on the way there, it was decided that we were going to eat some pizza. We spent like almost an hour searching for a pizza place, ending up in Marcos Island, some VERY rich Florida city, and they had one pizza place and it was closed because it was Sunday. We went back and forth several times through the same cities, before finally finding a Pizza Hut. Now, time was very important today, so please note the time we got to Pizza Hut at 4:00 (roundabout). We were supposed to rent a canoe, because the plan was to have two canoes and canoe down a river to a secluded campsite. So sitting in Pizza Hut we made call after call to try to find somewhere that would rent us a canoe over night. No one did.

So we had seen a Bass Pro Shops 30 freaking miles back, and decided we were going to go there and buy a raft instead of a canoe, because if we didn’t do something, our plans were shot. So they closed at 7:00 and we left at 5:30 from Pizza Hut to get there to buy a raft. So we go, we buy the raft, and then we drive to the State Park to canoe out to our campsite. By now it’s about 7:00 or something, and the sun is obviously wanting to start setting. So, time was very important to us. So we get there with our canoe and our raft and start packing up. And a thunderstorm comes. So here we are trying to get all our stuff packed in these two watercraft and there’s lightning all around and wind blowing. And I’m thinking, “Is this really safe?”

Everybody assures me that it’s completely fine. Well, we take an awful long time to get all our stuff packed, and it is almost dark by the time we set out. The campsite is about five or so miles away. So guess what we are doing? That’s right—we are canoeing in the dark through waters we’ve never been in to a campsite we have no idea where it is!! Sound fun? Okay, well add the fact that Troy and Jed had to tow our raft behind in them, because I couldn’t help paddle because the kids were all stuffed in the raft with me and Sandi. And then add the tide going out (this river feeds right in the sea). And then add the mosquitoes. Ohhhhhhhhh, the mosquitoes. So anyway, here we are paddling down this river in the middle of the night, dodging the branches hanging out over the shoreline, trying to keep the raft straight so it doesn’t pull too hard on the canoe. And trying every so desperately to keep the kids happy. HA!

Eventually the mosquitoes got so bad that Sandi gave me a tarp to cover up me and the girls with. Well, the girls did not like being covered up by the tarp because it made them sweaty, but they also whined and complained about the mosquitoes.
And Layla—ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Layla. She was tired, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, did NOT like the tarp being over her, so I had to endure the mosquitoes without the tarp until she fell asleep so I could put it back over us, and then when she woke up from SOMEthing, God knows what, she would writhe around and scream and scream and SCREEEEEEEEEAAAAAMMMMM!!!!!!!!! Until she got so exhausted from that that she would just stop in some random position and sleep. It was NOT fun. For me or for her.

And poor Emma suffered in silence. Every time I looked at her, she had a bad face on and tears were rolling down her cheeks, but she was trying to so hard to keep quiet. And Sandi had the huge job of keeping the raft straight, and the girls talking and crying and moving around so much were really getting on our nerves, and we both lost our tempers quite a few times, including me screaming at Layla and threatening to throw her overboard, to which she responded to me with more screaming, to which I responded to her with a huge hug and tears because I had gotten that mad.

Then finally, there was a lull. All three kids were asleep and we were covered with the tarp so the mosquitoes wouldn’t get us. I tried to get a few winks of sleep, but it was nearly impossible in the uncomfortable, twisted up position I was in with three kids laying all over me. But I did, just a little. And then I realized we had stopped. And Troy and Sandi were talking about a sand bar. I woke up and realized that we were actually stuck in the middle of a large part of the river in the sand. We had left too late and the tide was now going out. We had run aground. Which meant only one thing—we were going to have sit there in the mud and wait until the tide came back. I couldn’t believe it.

So I watched as the water continued to leave the river, feeling this sick hopelessness deep inside me. Then, the mosquitoes came. Oh, we thought they were bad before… HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!. There were literally MILLIONS of them and each one that came up to us MUST have been going home and telling all their friends and family about the marvelous cook-out they were having in the middle of the river. The mosquitoes were literally eating us alive. Sure, you’ve heard that expression before, but this was the real thing. We were doing our best to keep us and the kids underneath the tarp, but they still didn’t like it and Layla threw a fit every time she realized it was over her. But we couldn’t let them stay out of the tarp because as soon as you lifted it off, you were covered in at least 20 mosquitoes in a second, and more several seconds later.

So here we are in the middle of this river in our canoe and our raft, trying to stay covered with tarps so the mosquitoes didn’t eat us alive, our three Tiki torches stuck in the mud to try to ward off the mosquitoes, Jed completely covered in his sleeping bag and curled up in a ball in the end of the canoe, and Troy, who did not have a tarp to keep safe from the mosquitoes, covered himself with the mud from the exposed mudflat. He didn’t know what else to do, so that’s what he did. He also wore mosquito netting over his head, too. So, needless to say, he looked pretty scary! And we had to wait until 4:00 in the morning for the water to start coming back before we could go anywhere. It was the longest wait of my entire life. We waited for about five and a half hours, just sitting there like that, with the mosquitoes getting angrier and angrier as they realized they could not get us because we were covering ourselves. They were!!! Their buzzing was so obviously an irritated and annoying and angry buzz. They were dive-bombing our tarps, trying to get in!!! So then finally the tide started to come back in, and we were able to pull out. Only to discover that we did not really know where we were going…

To be continued…

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