HK and I went to Naples, Fl. to visit my parents for xmas. Something about 85-degree weather and palm trees just doesn’t support the holiday feeling, but being with family is important, so we made the 10-hour drive, pups in tow, for our “merry ho-ho”.

So while we were there, we figured we’d check-out the Everglades,around the Ten-Thousand Islands area. Not one for guided tours, we rented a tandem kayak (arthritis in my shoulders has been a huge issue this year).  We packed our little cooler and caught the shuttle for the put-in. Within 5 minutes, we spotted our first alligator. Laying on the banks about 15 feet from our ‘yak, it looked huge.  The next one was even bigger. They seemed to grow larger the further we paddled. I realized that I am not nearly as brave as I think I am. Every time HK would paddle closer, I wielded my weapon (paddle ) in the air, ready to ward off the prehistoric monsters.

We paddled through long “mangrove tunnels”, so narrow that it wasn’t possible to properly stroke, and we disconnnected our paddles into singles, like a regular canoe paddle. Then we ended up sort of pulling ourselves along by grabbing the roots of the trees overhead and pushing off. At one point, I was trying to push our ‘yak off of a tree, and the tip of my paddle got stuck between the roots, and the handle slipped out of my grip and landed squarely across HK’s face. I could tell by the sharp “slap” that it had made direct contact with bare flesh.

mangrove tunnel

mangrove tunnel

“What the Fu*k??????? ” I think that he initially thought that a giant python had come out of a tree for a strike. Realizing it was “only” my paddle, the sting was a little lessened, and we continued on through the swamps.  : 0

For a while, we just let the wind and current determine our course. We sat back, enjoyed a couple of cold ones, and watched life happen all around us.  As we drifted, we made a note of the many bird species we glimpsed, including  Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys and Anhingas.  It was invigorating and tranquil all at once.  After a couple of hours, it hit me.  I had to pee.  Bad.  Looking around, all I could imagine was losing my left ass-cheek to a hungry gator, or worse, so I held tight.   Hmmmm… maybe those “cold ones” weren’t the brightest idea.

As we paddled back upstream, the gators seemed a littl less threatening, the birds a little less threatened, and we agreed that this day in the Everglades was exactly what was needed to recoup and regroup after a hectic month of festivities.