Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Everglades Incident of 2006

A while back I mentioned [cue ominous music] 'The Everglades Incident of 2006' and since I didn't really have anything else to say today, I thought I would tell you about it.

Vol Fan and I were in West Palm Beach working for the winter. (Yes, our life is hard. But someone has to do it!) This was my first trip to south Florida so I was overcome with the need to visit the National Parks in that area. For those who don't know, I have a tiny obsession with getting National Park passport stamps.

So I suggested (meaning bitch, whine, moan, nag, etc) that we take our bikes and ride the 15-mile Shark Valley Loop in The Everglades. Vol Fan asks how far away it is. I tell him 'Oh, maybe an hour'. So, reluctantly, he agrees and off we go.

[Now, the actual beginning of this story goes all the way back to 2004. While we were hiking (I love to hike. Vol Fan - not so much.) in Big Bend National Park, Vol Fan's knees were hurting so he says to me "If we had bikes, I would ride with you all the time." Little did he know the ugly chain of events that comment would cause!!]

We arrive about 2 hours later (which, in my defense, did include a quick stop at McDonald's for lunch) so things are starting off with a bang. Vol Fan was not happy, at all, about how long the drive took! After a quick stop at the visitor center, we unload the bicycles and start our ride. We realized after about 5 minutes that it is much hotter than we had realized. Vol Fan was not happy, at all, about the heat. I am secretly pleased with myself for packing several bottles of water.

After about 5 more minutes, Vol Fan states that something is wrong with his bicycle. I look at his bike with my experienced eye and I see nothing. So Vol Fan continues to ride, saying that he thinks his brake is rubbing. And Vol Fan is not happy, at all, about his brake rubbing. The more he complains, the more I'm thinking "You big baby! You are the one that said you would ride all the time if we had bikes!!"
So we continue on. Vol Fan riding but not happy about it. Me riding but not happy about him not being happy. Good lord, what more could you want. We are riding on the flattest road in the world (elevation change: 2 inches) surrounded by the beauty of the Everglades and there are alligators!

So we reach the halfway point and climb the observation tower. Lying just beneath the ramp is a huge alligator and as we are climbing, it roars/barks/growls (whatever it is that gators do!), which was really cool! It was nice to take a break in the shade and drink some water. So after cooling off and regaining some of our strength, we take off on the second half of the loop.

We had ridden about 1/2 mile when it started to rain. It was a nice gentle rain so we were actually glad about it. It cooled us off a little (including the building anger) but it ended all to quickly. So now, not only it is hot, it is even more humid than it had been before!! And Vol Fan is bothered more and more by his bike.

Before long, Vo Fan has finally had enough with his bike. He gets off to see if he can fix the problem. I'm still thinking - "Suck it up, you big whining baby!" So I am not much help! But upon his examination, he determines that in fact his brake is rubbing. We can't figure out how to make it stop so we just unhook it. So he'll just ride without a front brake - no big deal! So off we go.

After riding about 100 yards, Vol Fan stops again. I'm still thinking my wonderfully helpful and encouraging thoughts! So after I turn around and get back to where he is stopped, I am confronted with the fact that I have been a total bitch. Vol Fan really was having problems with his bike! His front wheel is a mangled mess - it is bent with multiple broken spokes! So I say, "We'll just walk and push the bikes. No big deal!"

But it is a big deal. Since Vol Fan's wheel is bent, there is no pushing for him. He has to hold the front wheel off of the ground and roll on the back tire only. So now, Vol Fan is thoroughly and openly pissed and I am apologizing, profusely!!

So as we start on my walk of shame, I thinking that things are just about as bad as they can be. Only they aren't. Just as that thought crossed my mind, we see another storm rolling our way and yes - this one has lightning! If you have ever been to The Everglades, you know that there aren't many tall things there. So we are pretty much the tallest things around and you know what that means as far as lightning is concerned. So we pick up our pace but we still have several miles to go. So things aren't looking good!

Can you see the anger radiating off of him!?!

Soon enough, the rain starts again. This time it is not a gentle rain. It is raining buckets. Vol Fan realizes that I have the camcorder in my backpack. So he "encourages" me to ride ahead to the car so we won't ruin the camera. I reluctantly did so.

I have never ridden so fast in my life. The whole time, I was thinking "That was the last time I'm ever going to see Vol Fan". No, I wasn't planning on ditching him in The Everglades. I was thinking that he was pissed and he was not going to be paying any attention to his surroundings and a big gator was going to have him for an afternoon snack. (Hey, no on ever accused me of being logical!)

So I pedalled as fast as I could, dropped the camera off, and pedalled back. I don't think I have ever been so glad to see someone as I was Vol Fan that day. So I got off of my bike to walk with him and soon the rain ended. And yes, we made it back home. But, let's just say, it was a VERY quiet, tense ride home.

I look back and laugh at this day. Vol Fan - not so much!


Big Hair Envy said...

Too funny! I'm impressed that you two are still married. I think The Surveyor may have seen that ordeal as grounds for divorce!!!

Lori said...

Big Hair - There would have been grounds if I had voiced my 'Big Baby' opinions!

Desert Survivor said...

Enjoyed your story! I've bicycled that loop and the second half sure seems longer than the first--must have been multiplied by a ton with the bike problems.

Lori said...

Desert - Yeah - it felt like 1500 miles instead of 15!!!

Corinne said...

HA! Hilarious! It sounds like something that would happen to Brian and me. But it would be me radiating anger. LOL. Things like that always happens to me for some reason.

Lori said...

Corinne - Somehow everytime I convince Russell to go along on one of my adventures, it gets ugly. But, thankfully, he still loves me!!