Friday, November 14, 2008

The Simple Joys

Back in September, Florida’s weather changed right when the calendar said fall would arrive. Our days became warm and dry instead of hot and humid, and our nights became cool instead of “blah.”

And the weather has remained consistent ever since, which means it is finally that time of year when Floridians can go outside without feeling like they're constantly on the verge of heat stroke. So I took a little time off work last week, and we headed back into this state’s great outdoors by going camping at Hillsborough River State Park.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and set up camp. That night, when Sarah was in bed in the tent and Erika and I were sitting around the campfire, we heard what sounded like large animals moving through the woods. Displaying the instincts of a true adventurer (or fool) I picked up my LED flashlight and headed into the darkness, where I found 3 wiry strands of a barbed wire fence some 30 yards away. I heard more movement, shifted my light in its direction, and found myself staring at a wild boar no more 10 feet away – but, thankfully, on the other side of those wiry strands. He took off running in the other direction, apparently startled by my bright light hitting his eyes, and I swear I could hear a second boar running away as well.

Early the next morning Sarah and I walked through the campground while Erika slept. Sarah said she wanted to “pick a bouquet for Mommy,” and she did just that.

Later in the morning, all three of us walked down to the river where I snapped this cute picture of my girls.

Then I paddled ’em down the river in a canoe, and at one point Sarah gave us a giggle by singing “Row Row Row Your Boat.”

Along the way, we saw wildlife on its banks that was worth mentioning.

Many of our friends arrived that afternoon, pitched their tents near ours, and for the rest of the weekend we were five families relaxing in the woods. Sarah had lots of friends to play with and they lived it up.

While the kids were playing on Saturday, the adults spent a good chunk of the day simply basking in the warmth. As you can see, the wives have perfected this essential task.

The other chunk of Saturday’s daylight was spent walking to the river, crossing it on a suspension bridge, and hiking a 1.1-mile trail through the woods on the other side. That tired the kids out…until they noticed the main playground while we were making our way back. They got their second wind, and we stopped so they could work it off. Sarah engaged in one of her favorite playground antics by pretending to be a sloth with her older friend Allana.

That night we sat around the campfire some more, consumed some beverages, and for the second night in a row watched raccoons rummage around on their search for unguarded food.

For a moment I was reminded of Thursday night, because we again heard something big in the brush. We saw a tangle of vines move violently at the edge of the site where we were sitting, and several of us shined our flashlights at it. Suddenly, out popped somebody in a Sasquatch costume. He roared and ran away while we laughed ourselves silly. We are assuming he was a teenager from the church group whose members occupied most of the other sites.

It was great to be able to get back to the outdoors without having to flee the state. We’ll be doing more of it in the coming months.

1 comment:

Run DMT said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for saying the wives perfected the art of sitting on our a$$es! Now get me a beer, damn it!

I totally forgot about the Yetti! Maybe because I didn't capture it on film????