Friday, June 22, 2007

Part 2, LOST (actually stranded) the Everglades

It’s the middle of the night now as we start to pull out of the mud. Troy and Jed finally realize that they’re really not sure where they’re going. So they kind of leave us sitting there and scout out ahead. Then they come back and we keep going, only to come to another spot that the tide had not filled with water yet. Troy stuck a Tiki torch in the sand here and anchored our raft to it and he and Jed waded around in the water trying to find the right way. Now, I had not peed since well before we set out on this journey, and I had to go REALLY bad. And so did everybody else. So we all got out and stood by the Tiki torch and peed. In the sand. With the mosquitoes biting our butts. But it still felt SOOOOO good to pee.

So then finally we knew where we were going, and off we went again. We just paddled and paddled until it became daylight. Oh, blessed daylight!!! The mosquitoes all got scared away by the daylight and we did not have to cover ourselves with the tarps anymore. And the kids were so very overjoyed by that, especially Layla. So now, with all of us except the kids getting hardly any sleep at all, we still had rowing to do to get to our lovely wonderful campsite. It was really quite uneventful as we searched for the site. I had taken my glasses off a while ago by now because they got so foggy and dirty and I couldn’t see through them anyway—remember that. So now we were looking for the sign for our campsite, called Grocery Place. Troy, Jed, and Sandi are all looking around for some sort of sign or something, and they are all completely missing the sign for the campsite.

[Admin note: Sandi thought the Ranger had said that the sign and campsite were on the left hand shore. Thus the people trying to find this sign/landing area were searching the left bank. The one person who wasn't paying attention to anything save sight-seeing happened to glance over to the right-bank, and lo, what light through yon window breaks? Blessed Grocery Place. Rather, Cursed Grocery Place!]

I saw it, but I couldn’t read it because I did not have my glasses on, so at first I didn’t say anything because I thought, ‘Surely they have seen the sign, and it was just not the right one.’ But I decided to say something. So I said, “Guys, a sign!” They all looked and were happy because, that was it! And I was like, “Well, the girl without the glasses on found the sign.” Yeah, it was funny at the time, it really was, I promise. Anyway, we paddled over to our campsite. As we neared the site, we started getting bitten again by mosquitoes AND gnats, or “no-see-ums.” The two combined were like hell, an itchy hell of which there was no reprieve. I would rather have been on fire because then at least I would know that I was going to die soon instead of have to wait for hours and HOURS in absolute agony for the mosquitoes and gnats to drink my blood and chew my flesh off.

So anyway, all three kids are sleeping so we leave them in the raft and everybody goes ashore to lovely ol’ Grocery Place.
The bugs are so bad that I am walking around whining and slapping my arms and face and flailing my arms every which way in an empty attempt to thwart these hellbugs from making me their dinner. It is not working AT ALL. So I duck inside the screenroom which thankfully has been put up by now. I feel like I’m about to cry and after I had just gone through I just wanted to break down. But all I did was look at Troy with a sad face and quietly say, “I want to go home.” But there was nothing he could do about it.

But we did all decide that we didn’t want to stay there that night, but Troy and Jed were completely exhausted from canoeing and staying up all night in the mud flat. So everyone except Sandi took naps in the screen room. She stayed awake to watch the kids. I was sleeping when I was awakened by Sandi telling me not to put my arms behind my chair because there was some sort of nasty flying creature right above me on the wall of the screen room. She killed it and all was well. I went back to sleep. Then was rudely awakened once again by everyone talking about the honey bees that were swarming around the screen room. There was a very loud hum of all the bees buzzing everywhere. Then I learned the sickening fact that their nest was right above the screen room. We watched in horror as clumps of them were just falling out of the nest onto the ceiling, and my stomach was in a knot knowing that if we didn’t have the screen room, we could all be dead because the bees would have stung us so bad and there would have been nowhere to go. Finally they all flew away for a little while, but then they came back about ten minutes later.

It was that we decided the next time they went away that we would need to get the heck out of there. So we packed everything up that we had taken into the screen room and moved it to the front of it. Then we picked up the four poles of it and moved it up so the back touched the stuff we had put in the front. We did that a couple times until the screen room was at the edge of the campsite at the water. Then we proceeded to pack everything back up into the boats. Then a guy named Kerry came along and talked to us for a bit while we packed up. He was trying to research water snakes for college. He let the girls look through his binoculars at stuff. He was pretty cool. So then we piled into our boats, and the raft was REALLY hot because it had been sitting in the sun. But I dealt with it, and then finally we were out of there, to row back to the van and get out of hell… To be continued…

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