the Traveling Writing Room

Beware: Alligators eat people

            Lessons learned this trip? My backing skills have improved. Draining the black and gray tanks doesn’t gross me out anymore. I’ve learned it’s best not to cover up your heater/air conditioner vents with stuff if you want them to actually to do their job. I learned how much I missed my home state of Florida and how happy seeing Spanish moss dangling from massive oak trees made me. I learned that every beach had its own unique beauty. I learned the practically invisible gnats that love to swarm around one’s head and bite anything not covered were called Noseums (say that real fast and you’ll get it). Finally, those who bring a boom box (do they still call them that?) to the beach and play rap music loud enough to hear from the space station should be made to do penitence at a nursing home while someone’s great-grandmother plays She’ll be coming ‘round the Mountain on a Casio organ over and over again.

Another eye-opener this trip is that I should not be thinking of Atticus, the pup, as a guard dog. His bark is deep and loud, for sure. If I were a person up to no-good I would think twice about approaching a camper with a dog inside whose bark could curl your hair. However, if I were an alligator looking for a tasty meal, the fluffy white dog with spindly legs and a fresh haircut would be no deterrent, in fact, would be laughed at. How do I know this? Well, one day while in Florida, the pup and I were walking around the pond at the campground. Running along-side the pond was a swampy area. I noticed a sign that warned: Beware- red ants, poisonous snakes, alligators. I was not worried because I had Atticus My Protector. Half way around the pond a very loud splash occurred to our left as birds and squirrels scurried for safety, as did Atticus. He jumped to my right and crouched behind me. Atticus is a labradoodle. I discovered the ‘doodle’ part of him is not so brave and does not adhere to the gentleman code of ‘women and children first.’ I don’t know if the loud, crashing splash was indeed an alligator but I high-tailed it around the pond like my life depended on it, dragging my catatonic guard dog behind me.

            This trip also reinforced that there are good, interesting people everywhere and if one just takes the time to engage one would be blessed. I met a woman from Canada, who like me, travels by herself. She was a retired teacher and a widow who decided she wasn’t done yet and her adult kids just needed to quit trying to keep her at home sitting on the porch. I met a couple from Connecticut who were on their inaugural road trip post retirement and had been on the road for three months. The three of us sat around that alligator-infested pond and visited like we were cousins.

            But most of all, I learned that meeting up with old friends along the way made the trip precious and priceless (you know who you are) and that I would do it again in a minute. Embrace the adventure my friends.



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