Over the holidays, HK and I decided to break up our week-long isit w/ my parents by going on an overnight kayak adventure in the everglades

HK 'yakkin in the 'Glades

“Oh, my god, are you nuts??  Don’t you know there are gators and pythons out there?  You’ll get eaten alive!!”   Mom shook her head in that old familliar way she does when HK and I spring plans for our next big trip on her.  “Couldn’t you just  go to the beach like everybody else?”  Of course, she knows the answer to that question, and the next morning we were on our way.

Our adventure  started in Everglades City where we met our guide Cynthia, and our 2 traveling companions, Peg and her daughter Becca.  We were all experienced paddlers, so were able to forgo the initiation lecture. What we were warned about, however, was the slight chance of  encounters with no-see-ums, those pesky tiny black bugs that attack during sunset and sunrise.  “They’re typically not a problem,” Cynthia assured us. “They don’t even bother some people. Bug spray doesn’t help–they’re immune”.  OK, since mosquitos don’t typically choose me as their main course, I figured what the hell.

We packed our yaks with all our gear–quite a feat to cram a tent, sleeping bags, 2 days worth of food/supplies and clothing into the 6″x6″ hatch of the kayak. Since I had the fatty-kayak, I got to carry the motherload of stuff, giving me lots of extra weight/drag.  Needless to say, I struggled to keep up with the sleeker, newer kayaks.

Along the way we paddled with dolphins-up close and personal, along with a plethora of shorebirds and other wildlife. (the ospreys were a real treat). (We did not encounter any pythons or ‘gators–they do not frequent this area.)

Anyway, mid-afternoon we arrived at our destination, Picnic Key, and set up camp.  Now, I’m gonna admit, it has been a loooonnnnggg time since I’ve camped in the sand.  Let me tell you, it can get a little messy. A lot messy, in fact, and before we were even done putting out our sleeping bags, there was sand in everything.  After a bit of island exploration and a snack, we went out for a sunset paddle.  After about 30 minutes, my shoulder gave out, so I headed back in.

BAD MOVE!!! As soon as I got on land (having relinquished my kayak to Peg), the no see ums attacked. Swatting my face I ran for the tent and jumped in, but not before the 376 of them that were attatched to me snuck through the screen. I pulled on everything I had that would cover bare skin, but I had nothing for my face, which they were feasting on big time by now. SHIT! I looked around for ANYTHING-and, spotting our mesh toiletry bag, dumped everything out and threw it over my head, tying it around my neck with a sock.  And there I sat, for the next hour, trying to watch a stunningly beautiful sunset from the protective netting of a toilet bag.

HK and the others, of course, laughed their asses off at me when they returned–after the bugs had retreated for the night–(it’s ok, though, i refused HK any of the wine we had brought along for dinner.)

Next morning, we all stayed in the saftey of our tents until well after sunrise in order to save blood.  Upon returning to the pull-out point, 4 hours of hard paddling against the current and the wind, I promptly stepped into a huge but hidden nest of fire ants, which finished off any remaining blood that I had. After realizing why my feet and ankles were burning so profusely, I tried in vain to brush them off. I ran back into the water, but the little fukkers were relentless.  They weren’t letting go.  Here is a shot of the evidence-3 days later.

OK, so it wasn’t the ideal trip. It was, however, another adventure, the first of which I hope to indulge myself in in 2010!