We decided to escape our Chicago winter by flying to Miami FL to visit friends and see sites, but how ironic that winter in Chicago turned into spring with temperatures close to 70. Nevertheless, here we were in the land of sun, flowers and yes alligators. We took a gorgeous hike through Fairchild Botanical Gardens where streams gleamed and pink, red and purple flowers adorned the paths. But now Larry was ready for something meatier or should I say downright scary—-a hike in the FL Everglades. As we walked along the boardwalk, we were greeting by large, healthy alligators enjoying a sun bathe in the river below. I had never in my life been that close to them.
Larry soon returned with our hiking information, and a large burly man handed each of us a long thick stick. I wondered why we would need one for the boardwalk hike. But he pointed across the street where our hike was to begin. Just like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, I followed not Naomi but my man remembering the line—-“Wherever you go; I will go.” But wait— it’s not a boardwalk but the beginning of a narrow path on very soggy mud. “Yeaks,” I thought. How am going to keep my tennis shoes clean here? “Where are you taking me?” I shouted as the path got progressively muddier and the stick stuck deeper. Yellow flowers lifted their ominous heads mocking me. “Come on,” said Larry who was quite a bit ahead of me. “Quit your whining.” Now I have followed Larry through caves, up mountains and down steep ski hills. But soon the mud turned into a stream and my imagination went viral while slouching through yet deeper, muddier water. Now those big, huge alligators were napping across the street. What could possibly keep their cousins from habituating here?—-and, how about their relatives the snakes and lizards. A childhood song came to mind. I’ve been eaten by a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor! Oh no, it’s up to my toe; oh geez, it’s up to my knee; oh heck. I wasn’t going to let it get up to my neck. I yelled out. “Larry, I can’t do this. I’m going back.” I headed toward the sound of the traffic but I with my sense of direction I was afraid I’d get lost. I called for Larry again— now pleading. After sometime, he appeared wet up to his thighs. “If I had followed you, I’d be swimming in the muck with baby reptiles and who knows what else,” I said. I happily returned my thick muddy stick to the ranger who was impressed that as first timers in the Glades we had even considered this arduous, insane hike. We gave ourselves and our shoes a hosing off and made our way back to civilized Miami. Now Ruth may have followed her Naomi. But I’ll think twice about following Larry and of course–Never, Never in the Everglades