Monthly Archives: January 2019

It’s go time

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We are in Everglades City (think population about 300) at the Everglades National Park Visitor Center and it’s completely empty. Nothing is open and there are no rangers. We expected that, given the government shutdown, but it still feels surreal and vaguely apocalyptic. Its just us and the mosquitoes. We are sleeping in the truck tonight and will set out tomorrow morning from a small launch that is functional, but nondescript. Our canoe will be loaded with 55 gallons of water, food for 12 days, camping gear, fishing supplies, first aid kit, and an emergency flare. When we leave, we first need to paddle across a dauntingly large lake (it’s much bigger than it looked on the map) to find a small canal that will lead us to the Gulf of Mexico. In the cold light of day, we are feeling somewhat nervous and wish there was someone around who could answer few questions

It was a good drive down, with the exception of driving through whiteout conditions in Pennsylvania, and a little accident in Tampa in a MacDonald’s parking lot. Gord was backing up at the same time as a little red sports was was below his line of visibility. I didn’t even feel the hit (neither did Gord’s truck) but the little car got its door bashed in. The people were not happy. Fortunately, no one was hurt and by the time the accident report was filled out, they were friendly enough.

As I write, Gord is reading the local rag; a paper called ‘The Mullet Rapper’ about the coming full moon and local black widow spiders. Oh, goodie. The man from the accident also told us that all the super ginormous alligators found in Florida are trucked to the Everglades (he wasn’t kidding). I’m sure that all will be well… truly. But if we’re not out in a month – send help.

Night melded into morning and this a.m. a couple of kayakers were loading into the water at the launch site but they weren’t especially helpful. I took a picture of the launch site but didn’t want to leave our canoe loaded and unattended while we went into town to post this. See you on the flip side. 👍

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Adventuring – In at the deep end

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Time for an adventure and Cuba doesn’t count. Cuba was a holiday – there’s a difference. On a holiday you know where you are sleeping at night and it generally involves a bed. My adventure this year is shorter and closer to home (because I am opening my blueberry u-pick this summer, there is too much to do to be away for long). I don’t know if my 2 ½ week foray into the wild will be relaxing or harrowing. Quite possibly both. I have started dating a friend named Gord Tennant, with whom I went to high school, and we are going to paddle a canoe through the Florida Everglades.

The Everglades Wilderness Waterway is a 99-mile-long trail that is a series of bays, channels and rivers that takes you through hundreds of mangrove islands, and along the route that early Native Americans travelled, while living off the bounty of the sea. I like the thought of living off of what we catch, but In case the sea doesn’t bequest it’s bounty to us, we are bringing enough food (and water) to carry us through the 12 days we will be unplugged and removed from civilization.

Yes, there are crocodiles, alligators, poisonous snakes and other creatures, but apparently the two biggest threats are, #1- navigating through the brackish, salty backwaters of the intersected canals (we have good navigational maps, a guide book, and a tide chart); and #2 – raccoons. Yep – regular old raccoons. They are so bold and clever that they will actually unzip the tent to get at any goodies inside. And they will decimate your food and water supply if proper precautions are not taken (Gord has an animal proof food barrel that we are bringing).

I am looking forward to this trip. With the exception of a two-day kayaking excursion that I took with my brother, I haven’t done any paddling in many years, so it’s a completely new adventure for me. Gord is an experienced paddler but hasn’t done the wilderness wandering that I have. So we are bringing different things to the table – literally – I think he’s bringing steak for us.

We have totally opposite travel styles. He has always pre-booked, reserved, and planned every minute of a trip, right down to where each meal will be eaten. I wander at will, make decisions as I go, see what comes, and eat whatever is available when I get there. The thought of travelling his way gives me hives, for real. And travelling my way is hell and gone outside of his comfort zone. It will be an interesting adventure on many levels. We aren’t making any reservations or hard fast plans but he is quietly plotting out our route and campsites. However, with the U.S. government shutdown, it means that there are no park rangers to register any backwater campsites with. But no matter, we’ll take it as it comes. We are both excited and eager. And curious.

We leave for Florida tomorrow evening (Jan 10th) in Gord’s truck with his canoe perched on top. Our plan is to drive straight through. When we arrive, we will take a day to rest and stock up before setting out from Everglades City in south Florida. From there, we will paddle down the Gulf of Mexico for a few days before cutting inland.

I won’t be able to keep you updated en route as there is no cell service. But I will try to write a short post along with a picture of the loaded canoe before we start. I have visions of it being weighed down so heavy that the top lip will be level with the alligator’s eyes. I hope the waves aren’t too high. I hope the wind is at our back. I hope we get along well. When we emerge back into the land of services and wifi, I will post pictures, and my journal entries. Let the adventure begin.