In the olden days
In days of yore the stalwart pioneers forged their way into the wilderness. Those brave men and women trekked for miles, enduring harsh conditions, as the sun beat down on their sweaty brows all day. In these trying times it was the father who became the bold hero of the day. He somehow knew where to go, with his innate sense of direction. Sure, he got lost at times, but he always pulled the little family through.
Remember this was long before they started bottling water, so a drink could be sometimes be hard to find. They survived only on what they brought with them. Every vegetable they had was salted and pickled to within an inch of its life. Meat was dried into jerky and bagged so it could be easily reached. This way the poor family could snack or even grab a lunch of bread and sliced, salted meat, as father continued moving without taking breaks, until at last, tired from the trail they reached their destination; A nice camp ground with plug-ins for electric and sewer, a pool, and a clean shower.
There was vacation
At this the pioneer father, or my father as it turned out to be set up the trailer for our five day stay. Us kids ran into the woods, rolled down a ravine to find slimy salamanders, scratch ourselves silly on thorns to gather berries which my mother would invariably throw out, and rush down the creek to catch crayfish. We were told if we caught enough my uncle Greg would fry them up as a snack. We never did, but we always came back with bloody pincher marks on our hands which would invariably get infected because of the murky water.
This, plus the occasional broken bone, was what my parents called vacation, and we did it every year. It is because of these experiences that I earned my beliefs on nature. I hate it! It’s great to look at while sitting inside and drinking tea, but to live out in the wood’s sucks, Big Time! The national park people know this, but never tell anyone. They put lodges with clean homey rooms in all the big parks. Heck, Yellowstone National Park’s actually has a five-star gourmet restaurant. Yup, you can take your Chanel rucksack and girlfriend, Muffy, for a hike on a paved trail for two hours in the afternoon and still make it back for tea time and crumpets. This is the way I think nature should be experienced. I almost went out in nature a few times being nostalgic for the vacations of my past. Then I took a freezing cold shower and wiped my but with a Poison-Ivy leaf and remembered. This treatment kept me on the straight and narrow for a very long time.
I tried to forget but…
Actually, it worked great until my friend Sandra Johnston of Into The Light Adventures and Outdoor Adventures finished a nine month road trip across America. You should check her stuff out. It’s really great. She sent so many inspiringly beautiful photographs and videos that I just had to go out and see a bit of nature myself.
My niece, a biology major in college, is now a naturalist for the local park service. So I asked her to take me on a short hike. She agreed a little too quickly and that should have been my cue to run for the hills, but I missed it. We set a date and she picked me up at the proposed time. Before I go on, let me say something about the word short. My definition was an hour or so. Hers meant we would be back in less than a week. We got to the trailhead and she pulled out two twenty-pound packs. I asked what those were for and was told it was lunch and various supplies.
She threw a pack on me and herself and we were off on a trial that I could barely see. I was informed it was a game trail made by local deer. Traveling this we would be more likely to see any coyote or bear if they were around. I asked what if they tried to hunt us. She just laughed and plodded ahead. For the second time I should have run, but I am more know for my great looks, rather than my brains.
I was drawn back to the woods
About an hour into the hike, she was talking about trees and we were looking at birds when she suddenly stopped and shushed me. I froze and shushed, thinking I was going to be eaten if I didn’t. She lifted her walking stick, and in a quick kung-fu like move, slammed it down in the mud. Then she reached down and picked up a very dead black snake with a crushed head. Next she started making jokes about if it bit me, she might leave me there. Not cool. Especially with what happened next.
About a half hour later I slipped and stuck my foot in a hole and twisted my ankle something fierce. Boy did it swell up. I actually smiled and said, “Well we have to go back now.” Nope! She would not let me move. She actually called the rangers office to have them come and haul us out. It would take them an hour to get to us. I tried to get comfortable for the wait, but she was afraid my back might be hurt as well. So there I lay, stiff and sore, in the mud.
I found nature reigned supreme
Hey men, have you ever sat in warm mud for an hour? If you haven’t, I can tell you, it makes you have to go, and go bad. I didn’t see a problem. I could just limp over to a tree and let go. Sadly, my niece knows just how bad that is for the environment and stopped me. By the time the rangers got there I was seeing yellow. The bumpy cart ride back didn’t help any either. Between my ankle and bladder, I was in serious pain. When we got to our destination all they had was an outhouse. I didn’t care. It was either that, or a serious mess.
I went in and well, went. It was then I noticed the nest of Wolf Spiders. I am mildly allergic to spider bites. They however did their best to make the most of my allergy. Seven bites! Seven large welts on my right arm, leg, and side. When the ranger helped me out of there, he noticed the bites and said, “Yup we’re gonna have to spray in there agin.” No shit, Sherlock He took me into an office, wrapped up my ankle, and put some medicine on the spider bites. My niece showed him the snake she killed and he marveled, looked to me and told me it was a lucky thing that sucker didn’t bite me. The antivenom injection hurts a lot. Somehow, I didn’t feel so lucky.
And there’s nothing you can do about it
After an hour of being observed and two Benadryl tablets I was feeling better and my niece brought me home.
You may think I’m crazy, but this trip has really taught me to love, and respect nature. From inside the house!
Thank you for laughing and Please read a little longer
Thank you all for laughing with me, but I need to be serious. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a genetic disease which rots the liver and lungs. There is no cure. The only help for people is to have a weekly infusion of proteins to stop the spread. For the next few months I will be taking all my proceeds and donating them to the Alpha-1 Foundation who are searching for a cure to this horrible malady. You can give here or for more information go to Alpha-1.org Thanks for supporting world laughter, and finding a cure. Laugh On