Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road Trip: Camping in the Everglades

Yes, camping round two, in the Everglades. Hmm, ‘is camping in the Everglades during summer a good idea?’ you ask. No. No it isn’t.

When the park ranger said, “We have a slight mosquito problem,” that should have been red flag number one. Actually, when the woman at the Everglades welcome center responded quite haughtily to our inquiry about the campsite with a definitive, “I don’t camp,” that should have been red flag number one. So red flag number two then. Of course you would expect there to be some mosquitoes as you are in the Everglades after all, but if the ranger specifically mentions that there is a problem, there must be a problem.

Evidently, red flags do not faze us because we were fully prepared to make this a true camping experience, complete with a campfire and marshmallows. We went on what felt like a scavenger hunt for firewood. I guess no one really needs firewood in a humid, marshy area. The store employees gave us quite a few you-must-be-from-out-of-town looks as they repeatedly told us they didn’t have any. Scrap wood from Home Depot would have to do. We had a fantastic dip in the warm, clean waters of the beach on Marco Island, stopped for some yummy chicken from Publix, and headed back. It had been a great day.

And then it was time to camp. This time, in what must have been an effort to redeem himself for the last tent assembly, my companion had the tent up in 3 minutes and 10 seconds. We started the fire and sat out on nice chairs and waited to roast our marshmallows. And then the mosquitoes came. And they came out in full force. We ducked and slapped them off for about ten minutes before deciding to wait in the tent for the fire to get bigger. And then the rain came. And the mosquitoes came to the tent. We swatted and annihilated them with a pair of jeans since we had nothing else and then decided we could do without marshmallows. We were not leaving the tent again. Well, at least I wasn’t.

It was probably about 80 degrees inside the tent. We were equipped with a mesh tent to allow for breathing, but since the rain had arrived, we had to cover it with the waterproof shield. So it was hot. Strange bubbling sounds started coming from the swampy pond behind the tent and I was sure it was the sound of alligators crawling out of the water and straight for us. I had the car keys in hand and an escape route planned if I needed to flee. I was scared.

But it was the buzzing that killed me. I have officially decided that the maddening and incessant buzzing of flying creatures is one of the most terrible sounds in existence. The mosquitos/bugs/dragonflies or whatever was lurking around in the muggy night refused to stop buzzing! I kept fanning them from my ears as I was somewhere between sleep and wake, only to realize once the buzzing had completely woken me up, that it was coming from outside the tent. There was nothing I could do. In a quick effort to prevent me from going insane, my camping companion suggested I listen to my ipod. Good idea. The soothing sounds of steel drums replaced the ridiculous buzzing and I didn’t go completely out of my mind. Although, I am sure I will have nightmares about the buzzing.

For once, I wanted morning to come quickly, but it decided to take its sweet time. When it finally arrived at 6:30 am, I was ready. Ready to be done with this “adventure.” I took out my cutest undergarments and my cutest outfit and headed to the showers (which were surprisingly the best part of the whole camping experience–minus the lizard that was keeping me company). I wanted to feel as far away from the hot, fatigued, mosquito-bitten, and overall disgusting feeling that I awoke with. So, if cute clothes would help me get there, it was worth a try. I took a long, lovely, hot shower, got dressed and was feeling great. As I headed to the mirror to fix up my hair, I was horrified to discover seven huge red splotches from mosquito bites on my face! I looked ridiculous! Now, instead of looking nice and feeling good, I looked like some kind of glamorized freak with a disease on her face! Sigh. What’s a girl to do? At least we were finally leaving; no more Everglades for me. But it really was not a cute look for heading to Miami...


Eurotrip Tips said...

Ohhhh poor thing! I'm so sorry about your face. At least you have pretty clothes. Worst case scenario, show off some inappropriate skin and no one will notice the redness on your face. ;) But then again, what is inappropriate skin in Miami?

Again, great article. I love reading you!

T said...

On the bright side, your next camping trip will be wonderful by comparison. Forget the bugs, any inkling of alligators would have been a big no no. Congrats, you guys braved it!

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