THIS AIN'T A ZOO--
and I learned hearing aids won't float
I was third in a flotilla of 3 kayaks rounding a sharp left turn in the river when I noticed this very, very near-by resident sunning on the bank of the south branch of the St. Lucie in southern Florida.
My heart skipped a couple of beats as I gently broke eye-contact and continued to paddle quietly down stream hoping I wouldn't hear the splish-splash of him sliding into the river close behind me.
I could envision me accelerating my little boat to water-skiing speed knowing full well who was likely to win that contest.
I was rewarded with silence in my feared pursuit then, at a safe distance, did a slow turn around and positioned myself for the above photo substantially further away from where this episode began moments before.
I was thankful for both a powerful lens on my DSLR camera and a critter that merely yawned at my slender anatomy.
Turns out we saw lots more of his/her pals on our 8 mile geocaching journey including several loitering in sight of cautious residents living along the short, inhabited stretch of our route.
One fellow leaning on the railing of his dock told us he had to throw stones at the gators to discourage their approach to this human occupied territory.
It was a toss-up as to whether we saw more gators or turtles as our little boats slid silently through their
Once clear of a short stretch of human habitation the highway sounds diminished and then there was only the blissful melody of things natural.
The river narrowed and meandered and the foliage canopy would open then close as things tend to do. In eight miles we saw one other group of 3 kayakers and a hiker here or there.
My 1,999th geocache was found on an island where we had to float past the cache location until we found a place to beach our boats. Then we had about 500 feet of bushwhacking to penetrate the intervening flora. Long pants were a wise choice for that challenging interlude.
That's Greg's view of Betty and I tussling through the vines and barbs of
countless local wild plant varieties that seemed to prefer we find our amusements elsewhere.
With that cache dutifully logged we beat our way back, relaunched our boats and went looking for the milestone of my 2,000th geocache find, this before the end of my second year in this marvelous hobby.
We found it a bit further upstream; a shiny, little waterproof tube hanging on a tree leaning into the edge of the river and reachable right from my boat's seat. It's visible under my left paddle in the photo below. Shortly after logging that cache I was fiddling in my water-tight container for the cell phone and its handy-dandy camera to record this memorable event--and promptly caused one of my hearing aids to sail over the side and plop into the river.
When I told Greg I could see my appliance in the shallow water he eased his boat alongside and deftly hoisted that little critter above the surface where I clutched it into a plastic baggie Betty provided and secured it carefully--doubting it ever would function again.
Our delightful outing consumed the better part of the day and did manage to cover the 8 miles mentioned above, the last couple of which reminded me there is a good reason most folks my age seek less strenuous activity.
Nah! While the upper body pain feels like the onset of rigor mortise I am confident it will pass long before the next temptation for such an adventure arises.
Amazingly too, the hearing aid, after spending a night incubating in a little container designed to eliminate moisture, returned to life and continues to function. Amazing!
* * *
Greg is Greg Cornett who winters in Vero Beach with his delightful wife Leslie. They are from the Columbus, OH area. Betty is Betty Maus from a small town in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate NY. She also winters in Vero B. Leslie was out of town tending to family business while I enjoyed this outing in her kayak. Thanks Leslie!
Betty fills in for my lady Sue who likes neither water sports nor the creepy-crawly-critters (her definition) who often live in such environments.