When I left off on my last post I was talking about the swarm of bees around our screenroom. I know that Troy and Rachael have already given their accounts, but I've got to finish mine...because I'm back home now and if I don't finish it tonight it won't get done. And I've got so much to say!
Back to...the bees. You remember those cartoons you used to watch as a kid? The bees would swarm some cartoon character and form a big arrow as they chased the poor schmuck! That picture flashed across my mind briefly during this ordeal. That and one of those horrible movies that they used to come up with, you know "Attack of the _________" You fill in the blank with anything deadly or creepy and there's a movie out there somewhere with that name. Well, "Attack of the Bees" came to my mind...it was like a horror movie when they were swarming all around us, but there was this sick sense of comedy to the whole thing too. It was almost surrealistic.
Thank GOD for our screen room. I'm going to write to the company and let them know that their First-Up brand screen room saved our life! I had originally purchased one of those cheapie screen rooms from Kroger, but it broke on the first use the weekend prior to this trip. The boys and I had discussed going ahead and spending the money on a good one. One that was easily set up and much sturdier. It didn't come with the screen option. That was an afterthought during our last late-night Wal-Mart run before leaving for Florida. We grabbed it because of the mosquitoes (too bad we couldn't have used it in the boats!), and we've praised God for that $30 investment ever since.
It is so funny know as we look back at the scenario. I SO wish we'd had a way of filming the entire scene! Once someone got the idea (Troy, I believe) to slowly move our screenroom from under the bees' nest we moved all of our gear to the end of the room closest to the boats. Then we each picked up a corner--lifting very little--and walked the whole screen room several feet towards our escape vessels. It took a couple tries, but we finally managed to get over to relative (Ha ha!)safety where we could start to pack up the boats. By this time the bees had either gone away or back into their nest so the boys and I were able to venture out and begin packing our boats.
By the grace of God there were no more bee incidents as we were packing, and we were even able to engage in some interesting conversation with this really nice biologist who was studying marsh snakes. I thought it was funny...He's canoing around, HOPING that a snake WOULD fall out of the trees into his canoe, and all that last night in the dark as we kept dragging into the overhanging mangrove trees I was HOPING that a snake WOULD NOT fall into our raft. Again, by the grace of God, none did. The biologist, Kerry, had planned to stay where we were just leaving, so we warned him about the bees. He taught the kids a little about the different crabs and birds around us [and the history of the area where we were standing] while we got the rest of our gear loaded, and we were able to leave without further incident.
The Tide was with us on the way back towards Mud Bay. And a short way down the river we were able to catch a tow from some guys on a fishing boat. That rocked!!! Saved us probably 1 to 1 1/2 hours of return time! They towed us as far as mud Bay, which was too shallow for their size vessel to navigate, and we had a peaceful trip across the now beautiful area. We could even see the white PVC pipes we'd been searching for...imagine what a little daylight will do for you! :P Once we exited the Bay and entered Blackwater Creek again it was a little tougher going, for the boys that is, because they were pddling against the current again.
Oh, I forgot to mention the sun...how could I forget! We had all applied liberal amounts of SPF 30 sunscreen, but the sun was literally baking us. We had packed quickly, so hadn't thought to leave any cover out [and at 90+ degrees who wants to sit under covers?]. Rachael finally dug out a towel and threw it across us. We were pinned in one position for the several hours that it took us, so we couldn't move around to change which parts of our legs were exposed. The sunblock failed and we've got some nasty 2nd degree burns to show for it. In the SPF 30 vs FLA Sun, the sun was the definite winner. Mary Ruth has drawn a number of pictures since then where, as she explained, "this is us MELTING in the sun." KFC's extra crispy doesn't have anything up on us!
Only one more incident before getting back to the boat ramp...the horsefly that flew under Jed's $250 Ray Ban sunglasses...which now reside somewhere at the bottom of Blackwater Creek. If you've ever been bitten by a horsefly, you'll understandwhy he swatted at it. And, yes, he...all of us who wear glasses...should have had a strap on them. Another lesson learned the hard way. Jed tried diving for the glasses, but couldn't even get to the bottom. At least he didn't run into a gator while he was in that nasty brackish water. There's a reason for the name Blackwater Creek.
Back at the boat ramp we got our stuff loaded (as we fought with mosquitoes again!). Rachael was dehydrated. I hadn't realized that she wasn't drinking anything that day. We had plenty of water, but she was afraid she'd have to use the restroom along the way, and that was...uhm...somewhat difficult to do in a mangrove swamp. We insisted that she drink and sit while the kids played on the playground. After a lot of liquid she felt much better. We all made use of the campground shower facilities and then quickly left "The Real Florida" (see Troy's Post and picture from Thursday, June 21st).
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