Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GATORS {a scary story} with Sarah

Hey guys! I’m Sarah, and I scribble over at Any Way the Wind Blows. I’m thrilled to be visiting over here on “Life of an ‘Ordinary’ Wife.” Danielle is awesome, and I hope she’s having a fabulous time on her vacation!

For days, I wasn’t sure what to write—I’m not Martha Stuart or Heidi Klum,  I do not live a life worthy of magazine covers, but I kind of like my life. Heck, I might even love it.  In the words of Kathleen Kelly, “I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small.” I love finding stories in the little things. So, here’s a story, one when I actually had a bit of an adventure . . . at least, I think so . . . it’s up for you to decide, in the end . . .

When Chris and I were 5 months and 12 days into our marriage (but, seriously, who’s counting?), we went on an adventure.

It’s funny, but we tell the story a little differently. That’s the thing about men and women, right?

You see, I remember it as this tragedy of muck, sweat, and alligators. Or the possibility of alligators . . . but, really the thought of anticipation of running into a vicious modern dinosaur is as bad as really seeing one, right? Right??
He sees it as my transformation as an explorer, and the subsequent failure of my metamorphosis.
Men, right?

You see, here’s how it really happened: for my birthday, I wanted an adventure, mostly, I was thinking of going on a hiking or canoe trip about Blue Springs where the manatees spend their winter months.  Gentle, harmless, surrounding by nature and no worries.  I could even take pictures, if I were so seized by such a fancy. 

Ta-da! Pictures!

 Chris, upon researching hiking trails in the area, came back with this news: “You know, Blue Springs, the trail’s like a boardwalk over the lake, really boring, and it’s only about a mile long. You don’t want to do that, do you?”
“Huh. . . . yeah, that does sound kinda disappointing.  Ok, sure, let’s do something else.”
Because, really, ONE is such a tiny number . . . 
“Well, Lake Jesup has like a five mile hike, ends at the lake.”
Exactly! Why do one when you can do five! Bigger number, better number, right?
“That sounds fun! Ok, let me get my shoes!”

If I had realized what Lake Jesup was, I would have said no . . . and probably thrown my shoes at him for the suggestion.  

You see, Florida has gators . . . every where. If there’s a puddle big enough, they will slink into that sucker before you can say “boo.” In a way, you get used to them . . . in the same way that crickets get used to a tarantula.  We say, “Oh, they’re more scared of you than you are of them,” but, I’m sorry, that’s a big fat load of bologna. To the gator, you’re as intimidating as a large, juicy French fry. Are you afraid of French fries? I certainly hope not.

If you happen to find one of these critters in your yard, you call animal control, and they come by and shoot it. I wish. If it’s way too big, say a six footer, they might put it down, BUT if it’s “small,” they “relocate” the little bugger so he can live to be big and strong. Where do they take them? Lake Jesup.  Every time you drive over the bridge, you try to count all the gator heads you see floating on top of the water. They look big even from a distance. Monsters, peeps, MONSTERS. I get the heebie jeebies just driving by, now that I know what it is.  Back then, on day 162 of wedded bliss, I had no idea.  It was a lake. Yay! Lakes!

But this is no ordinary lake. No one likes Lake Jesup. NO ONE. 

Lake Jesup also host the endangered Gopher Tortoise -- isn't it cute?!
So, we hop in the car, all excited, and make the drive to Gator Central. Again, because it’s Florida, there have been thunderstorms every day until our hiking trip. This means that all the dirt has turned to muck, not mud, MUCK.  Mud dries out. Muck stays wet, it soaks up all the dampness and just clings to it.  This is slit, sticky, and just all out gross. Oh, and it stains. Huzzah.
So, here I am, in one of my two pairs of jeans and my only pair of non-flip-flops, trying to both not fall on my butt and avoid getting whacked in the face with palmetto branches. 
Yeah, no, I wasn’t very bright and, yes, I was a total rookie.  You see, to me, a “hike” went a pleasant walk down a nature trail.  For Chris, this meant going into the woods and hoping you found a way out.  See where this might be taking us?

“Chris, I don’t think this is a path,” I say.
“No, this is definitely a trail.”
“Well, um, can we find one that looks a little more like a trail?”
“But this is a trail.”
Would you believe that this conversation kind of happened a lot that day? Like over and over again? 

The first half of the hike goes all right. We find a nice trail, it takes us by a river, over a railroad bridge (yeah, that puzzled me, too), and ended at this beautiful lake.  We just stood there, drinking in nature.
I still had no idea where we were or that, hiding in the reeds, were likely half a dozen beasts of fury.
In fact, I didn’t understand until Chris found a “shortcut.” 

Behold! The Kingdom of Gators! I actually think there's one hiding under a tree there . . . yikes . . .

You know in horror films how everything goes horribly wrong when the heroes (victims?) decide to take a short cut? That’s not a Hollywood ploy. It’s the ding-dang truth. Chris’s “shortcut” consisted of a flooded riverbank, muck up to our ankles, and fallen trees.  I have no coordination—climbing over branches, dodging muck, and hopping over new streams is just begging for a disaster.  Oh, yes, and the path?? What path? Couldn’t see any sign of anything.
Except one.
Just one.
Chris points to a little sign, this nature post, and laughs, “Hey! Look! It’s telling us about alligators. And, wouldn’t you know, we couldn’t outrun one in this set-up.”

I lost it.  
I do not loose it easily. I mean, yes, I’m dramatic, but most of that’s for show. This, oh no, THIS was scared-for-my-life, madder-than-a-hornet lost it. I was a hot mess, lost,  and NOW there are gators.

I am SCREAMING.  All I could think was, “My God, no one knows we’re here, so they don’t know to look for us. This isn’t a path, and there are gators. GATORS. Good GOD that next log could be a gator just waiting to pounce! Oh, God, oh, God, OH GOD!!!”
And, just for the record, it was my birthday.

Not happy.

Poor Chris was being so chivalrous. I mean, really don’t get the wrong idea—he was stubborn and adventurous, but he did everything he could to keep my feet from getting dirty.  He tested each step, each branch, held my hand, and I couldn’t stop yelling at him.  You want to know what the killer is? He had no idea I was scared.
Chris thought  the day going swimmingly until I start shrieking for no reason whatsoever. I had asked for an adventure, and, boy was he giving me one. For the entire hike back to our car, I did not stop talking except for phrases like, “MY GOD, CHRIS!!! WE ARE GOING TO DIE!!!”
Yeah, totally not melodramatic.
Might I add that, with my rising panic of death-by-swamp, I was growing angry. Why one EARTH was this man not listening??? Didn’t he get it?? Was he just ENJOYING the fact that I was about to have a heart attack.
Spoiler: no, he just didn’t understand.  He was afraid, and he had never seen me really afraid . . . he didn’t know.

I had never been so happy to see Chris’s beat-up twelve-year-old mustang in all my life.  
I’m so glad to tell you that our drive home didn’t end in divorce papers. 
Ladies, if you ever find yourself in just a horrible-no-good-very-bad-day, where the hubs just doesn’t listen or get it, when everything goes wrong, and curse it all, if your only pair of shoes is ruined, talk about it. Step away if you must, get a breather, and then spell it out, little bit by little bit. Be painfully obvious. You’ll be surprised what you unearth.

Chris was SHOCKED when I confessed my terror. 
I was SHOCKED that he really didn’t understand that I was expressing fear, not a bad case of diva-isms.

Now, we joke about it.
He still thinks it was a grand adventure.
I still think it was one of my worst birthdays ever.
And then we laugh.

Don't forget to swap it up!

The Life of an “Ordinary” Housewife


  1. Yikes Sarah! I felt like I was panicking and running with you. What an adventure, so when you going hiking again?! Just kidding! :)

  2. sorry but I am LOLing at you! hehe. Mostly cause your telling of the story is pretty amusing, for another reason because I live in Sanford and drive over that bridge on the 417 over Lake Jessup and count the gators all the time lol... especially after rain when they are way more active. ehehe, thanks for the story and I am glad you ... and your husband (since you didn't clock him one! lol) survived!


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