Camping with “Crocodile” Greg K.

 

F

lamingo camping area of Everglades National Park is not without its mosquitoes during the first weekend of January.  This is the first camping trip when an entire carload of would-be campers stayed ten minutes and left, informing us that they were “running for their lives.”  The mosquitoes weren’t that bad.  The rainfall was so heavy it knocked them out of the air.

 

Most of us arrived on Friday.  The night was beautifully clear, and a zillion stars peeked from the sky.  Saturday dawned clear and cool, but warmed up quickly.  The group divided up for hiking, kayaking and lounging. 

 

Greg kayaked as far as the end of the canal, when approaching boaters advised us to “watch out for the crocodiles.”  As a result, Greg decided that “back to the dock” was his preferred direction.  He left the rest of the group.  Toward dinnertime, Greg had not reappeared.  With every charitable intention, we began “calling dibs” on his tent, car, apartment, etc.  John and Peter drove back to the ranger station to inquire about empty kayaks floating back in to shore.

 

As if by magic, Greg appeared.  He had hooked up with another unofficial group of GO members, down to Flamingo for a day trip and had canoed all afternoon.  We gave him back all of his stuff.

 

Dinner was a potluck, prepared as the black clouds began to swirl like the spirit of evil over Mount Doom. Two rangers stopped by to warn us of approaching violent storms.  We dished up the first course as the first drops began to fall.

 

After we finished, the floodgates opened, and the group crowded under the tarp.  Then we began...to sing.  All of the rain songs we knew.  All of the show tunes, patriotic songs, television theme songs and 60’s folk songs we could think of.  This is getting to be the most disgustingly happy camping group in South Florida.

 

Since the mosquitoes were definitely knocked out of the air by the rain, a few of us decided that a night hike in the rain on the Coastal Prairie Trail was in order.  Some of the participants even wore ponchos.

 

Sunday dawned clear and bright.  Edwin led a small group  for a day hike in the northern part of the park, which is drier and more bug-free.