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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

New Challenges!

~Tuesday, February 23, 2021~

Day 254

I’ve been sleeping really hard lately….maybe it’s all the humidity or being in a more relaxed state these days. Anyway, it’s nice to feel so rested. This morning was lovely just listening to the birds waking up and watching the rain come down from our awning covered “porch” (see video), as I sipped my morning ritual. And then it dawned on me… many mornings have I ever just taken the time to ease into my day or be fully present in tiny moments like these?; I think I can count only on one hand, in all our 30 years of living in Napa. Call it raising a family, careers, projects (which there will always be), and just “life”. Dang, it took me this long to get here? If there’s one thing this trip is teaching me (us), it is to savor the simple moments.

And right now, I am enjoying the fact that at this downpour of a moment, we have a rainproof trailer as opposed to our sometimes rainproof tent we used for our many years of “roughin’ it”. What triggered this fond memory was watching the couple across from our site, one minute enjoying their nice peaceful breakfast only to have to make a mad dash to their car or tent. Oh, the soggy aftermath. Good times.

Tried out a new challenge today, which is always a good thing. I’ve told myself, “Never have ‘never’ in your vocabulary. Wait, that’s hypocritical. O.k. Let’s try that again….. “Don’t ever have the word ‘never’ in your vocabulary”. In our younger years, we seem fearless, but as we get older, we’re held back by the “what if this or that happens,” or “I’m not young anymore” mentality. You’re only as young as you feel. Seriously….moving keeps you young. And the fear of trying out new things, well……..fear is like the “devil”. Here’s where my fear and the word “challenge” set in…….In the early afternoon, we took our bikes to a well-known trail in our campground called Long Pine Key Nature Trail, a 12-mile round trip UNPAVED trail through tall Long Pine forests that leads you through a hammock. The definition of a hammock is a higher elevated spot in The Everglades that allows bushes and trees to grow, above the water and we’re talking only a few varying inches. Since “challenge” is the operative word here, I say this because neither Jeff nor I have ever ridden off- road before, let alone a swamp. We didn’t have any hesitation that Jeff’s bike would make it, but mine, being a hybrid, has skinnier tires, more suitable for paved trails. It didn’t take long for me to nearly cave in, turn around, and throw my newfound motto out the window. O.k. here’s the scenario….about a mile in, we started hitting soft mud where I was fishtailing like crazy. Then came the 100 yards of pedal high water that we had to bike through to get to the other side. It appears this water came from our recent rain and is in no way connected to a water source. At any rate, not only do I have to worry about losing control, but now have to worry about encountering water snakes, or possibly a “floating log” with eyes. I really was not enjoying myself and tried to signal Jeff to go ahead and that I would meet him back at camp. Since there was quite a distance between us, he couldn’t really see or hear me, and actually thought I stopped to take pictures. So being the amazing husband he is, he rode back to me. He offered to have us go back to the campsite, but since I am not a quitter, told him I would keep going as long as we could switch bikes. Something told me that it WOULD get better or that we WOULD get used to it. Even though Jeff’s bike has more control through mud, it doesn’t have the pleasant shock absorbers that I’m used to. Wah, Wah…..just roll with it baby!! Jeff said my bike is definitely more squirrely, but actually could maneuver through. So I guess the issue was with the initial driver, not the bike after all. After the first few miles, things did improve, even with a few mucky sections, but by then, we were getting used to the terrain. So with the steaminess of the swamp, and the occasional bug in your face, it was great! Oh, and a hand massage would be lovely, after holding onto the handlebars a little too tight. It was quite the thrill!

Now for a much needed rest back at the “ranch”. But rest didn’t last long since we had a few things to take care of that required cell reception and internet service. So with only a few more days in the Everglades, we went back to the visitor center to try and book our canoe and snorkeling trips. We were able to book our canoe trip at 9-mile Pond in the Everglades, but will have to try back tomorrow morning for the snorkeling reservation in Key Largo (about 1 hour away).

Sadie loved her nice long walk meeting mostly little dogs along the way. I managed to take a few sunset shots (yes that is our trailer in what looks like a jungle setting),

before starting on an earlier dinner (I know...what a shock!). But we figured the earlier the better if we were going to enjoy a nice, rare, campfire. Where is that mosquito repellant? We don’t seem to get relief from the humidity until around 9:00 p.m. and this is only February folks.

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