Paddling the Everglades (conclusion)

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Day 8 – Grounded

A fierce electrical storm did indeed blow in. Thunder, lightening, and rain all around us. Even when the rain stopped mid-morning, the high winds continued to churn up the water. I was grounded by my ankle anyways and Gord busied himself drying out our wet sleeping bags, clothes, and gear. It was a good day off.

Day 9 – To pee or not to pee…

When we can’t hold it anymore, we paddle to a mangrove root and hold on. For Gord it’s simple. He unzips and goes. It’s not so easy for me. I wiggle my pants down while still sitting. Without putting any weight on my foot, I spin around to lever my butt over the edge of the canoe (still without putting weight on my bum foot) at exactly the same time as Gord (with eyes closed) leans backs out the opposite side (so the canoe stays balanced). “Don’t come back in without telling me or I’m going over,” he warns me. I assure him that I wont, as I try not to pee in the canoe. No dignity, no grace, just relief (who says I have no game). And to think I used to be embarrassed if a boy could hear me pee.

I must be getting better at navigation as we made it to ‘The Watson Place’ ground site without any detours. But we did have a wild run on one river though. Between a strong wind at our back and being in the right tidal flow, we literally rode the waves in. I just sat there enjoying the ride as Gord used his paddle as a tiller.

“Bloody Ed” Watson was a homesteader who is said to have murdered his labourers rather than pay them. He is also rumoured to have killed the Oklahoma outlaw Belle Starr. He grew vegetables and farmed sugar cane in the 1800’s. Nature has completely reclaimed the site but remnants of his machinery, including a large syrup kettle are still there. The spot is reputed to be haunted, but if ghosts roam the island, they had no problem with us because we slept like the dead.

Day 10 – Swamp people

We were savouring our last night in the tent at Lopez’ ground site when we heard voices hailing us. Gord went out to see three men getting out of a leaky, rickety motor boat. “Mand if we stay heer”, they drawled. They were oily polite and odd looking and set off our spidey senses big time. The Everglades attracts bird watchers, outdoor people, fishermen, and adventure types. These guys weren’t any of the those. It was full on dark at this point. We don’t know what their deal was – they said something about heading inland to wait out another coming storm but it didn’t add up. The glades also attract people who want to dump bodies, and people who want to hide. I was hoping they just wanted to hide.

Day 11 – Out and away

It was a restless night. Gord kept his knife unsheathed and I didn’t sleep at all. We packed up quick and were glad to be away. If the same guys had turned up at ‘Watson’s Place’ it would have been seriously spooky. As it was, it was just a little unsettling. We blasted the last 14 kilometres back to civilization. At the very end, in Chokoloskee bay, the wind gave us one last run for our money before spitting us out the other side.

It’s been a great trip. We paddled over 200 kilometres through a bit of everything. Being in the wild makes me happy and experiencing it in a canoe was a real treat. Seeing incredible birds and marine wildlife was a daily occurrence. Hurting my ankle was a drag but fortunately Gord was able to lever me into the canoe for the last few days (and it’s slowly improving). As always, I have loved sharing the adventure with you. Thank you so much for reading and coming along. Take good care and I’ll see you on the flip side.

12 responses »

  1. Arlene you never cease to entertain. What an amazing trip to read about …I would never take a trip like that but did enjoy every word you wrote. Sure beats massaging !!…Evelyn Rivers

  2. You made it, albeit with one bowbow which will heal! Beats my Algonquin trip to hell! Congratulations to you both. Safe journey home.

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