“I planned a surprise adventure for us,” I announced.
My beautiful wife Becca was excited and for good reason. I had just promised her a surprise adventure. Who wouldn’t be excited to hear that on a slow Saturday night? The next morning we packed for the day as I spilled the beans that we were going to rent a johnboat, boat into the everglades, do some fishing, see some nature and have a great time. Off we went to Sawgrass National Park in South Florida. We arrived at a small building, lines of docked airboats and johnboats and everglades as far as you could see. I could tell she was excited because she walked right by a small zoo to get to the boat rentals. I have never seen Becca walk by anything cute or cuddly without at least a chorus of ooh’s and ahh’s, a handful of barely audible squeaks, followed by the inevitable “I want it.”
Not today. Today she was here to rent a boat and cruise around the everglades with her capable and dependable husband. I promised her action packed fishing, unparalleled nature watching and of course plenty of terrifying bloodthirsty gators. After signing forms, leaving deposits and a brief wrestling match with Florida’s fishing license website, we were off to the docks. We were greeted by two pleasant gents who showed us to our boat and explained its basic operations as well as how to navigate the waters. They even showed us where the good fishing holes were. I got this, no problem.
We signed more forms, hopped in the boat, roared the engine and… slowly sputtered away. We were now faced with 5 or 6 miles of “straight as an arrow” canal, strong headwinds and a serious cross current. We were chugging down the canal at tortoise speeds. All that was ok because we were out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, together, with adventure afoot. We puttered along for awhile before deciding to stop and do some fishing. The wind was so hard and current so strong that despite having dropped anchor, I had to continually drive into the dueling current and wind to keep the boat in one place while Becca tried her hand at fishing. The wind and cattails quickly taught her better. So, we continued on past a bend in the canal. Now that we had changed direction we hoped the current and wind would be more easily managed and tried to fish again. The wind pushed us into the cattails, which did a pretty good job at holding us still. Ok! Now we were fishing. Well, we were casting… and casting, and casting. There were no fish involved. Not a bite! Not one! For those who have read my recent post, My Recent Trip To Fisheating Creek, you’ll know that this is twice in a row I got skunked on a fishing trip. Oh well. At least we had the nature, a pleasant boat ride and each other.
We cast off again, now focused on the scenery and wildlife. We saw some vultures, a small gator, more vultures, a hawk of some sort, more vultures and some more vultures. The lily pad flowers hadn’t opened yet and the cattails had already blown off. It was all very beautiful, but there wasn’t much to look at. No big deal. We still have a pleasant boat ride and each other.
As we went, I pointed out interesting things about the glades as we chitchatted. We were having fun.
Out of the blue, the boat’s motor bucked and died. I checked the prop and pulled the motor started again. She ran for a second or two until another buck and quiet. I tried and tried to start it back up, to no avail. We were dead in the water about an hour away from the docks. My wife is one tough cookie and a hell of a good sport. She kept her cool and called the number that was given to us back at the boat rental, while I fooled with the engine (emphasis on the word fool). After awhile, as I toiled away in vein, Becca suggested it might be out of fuel. This would have been an easy and immediate fix because we had reserve fuel, but I secretly prayed it wasn’t the case. Like a hammer, it hit me, I hadn’t thought to check the gas tank. We had been sitting in the swamp for about a half hour at this point and had already called for help. The gas tank should have been the first thing I checked and I hadn’t thought to check it at all. Oh the shame! How could I face Becca after such an extreme man-fail? How would I explain this to the people that have been driving around looking for us? Fortunately for my ego, there was gas in the tank. Unfortunately for Becca and I, we were still stuck and have just been told by our rescuers that they had gone about a half hour up the wrong canal in the wrong direction looking for us. Not to worry. We still have each other.
Stranded in The Glades, we sat quietly. I enjoyed the serenity. The wind blew through the cattails and the water lapped against the boat. Becca seemed peaceful and I enjoyed having her next to me with no one else around for miles. We broke the silence with the occasional comment or chuckle. It was overcast for the most part and even rained lightly from time to time. But, she seemed happy and so was I. As I lay across the boat with the brim of my hat shading my eyes and the water’s ripples rocking us, I couldn’t have thought of a better outcome to a boat ride with my bride.
Eventually, we were found and dragged out of the swamp. All was well and we were left with another experience and story to tell.
While in the car and on our way out of the parking lot, a flock of green parrots landed in a palm tree right next to us as if to wish us farewell. A great end to a great day.
Thank you to my amazing wife Becca, for always trying new things and for enabling me to keep my promise by helping turn a situation into an adventure.
Thank you to our rescue team for sacrificing your lunch time to drag a couple landlubbers out of the glades like a bunch of tourists.