When we pulled into the Ft. Pickens Campground on Monday, June 8, I was crippled. Because my daughter Michelle has a breathing disorder (COPD), she sat up front while I sat in back between two very healthy 13-year-old teen girls, my granddaughter Montana and her friend Heather. That means I rode for several hours on the hump in the middle. That’s because I’m short and my posterior takes up less room.
But Heather, bless her heart, was in even worse distress than me. If you ever need to do penance for some grievous wrong, ride for a few long hours in the back seat of an extended cab truck. (The Pope should make a note of this). Anyway, poor Heather, even though only 13, is one inch shy of being six feet tall. Her knees stuck into the back of the front seat. The only thing that saved us from permanent damage was two rest stops and a Denny’s.
When we got out to stretch our legs, Montana looked around and announced, “Grandma! I’m a people person. This is the geezer loop.” I thought about taking the young squirt out back for a little POW! wow, but the osprey family was watching from their penthouse perch, so I refrained.
We immediately spotted a lady sitting outside with two gorgeous dogs. I think they might have been Welsh Terriers or something similar. She told me, but I have the retentive power of a bucket with a hole in it. The two beautiful canines, or at least one of them, belonged to the lady, whose name was Lynn.
Michelle, who never meets a stranger, asked about kids around the age of Montana and Heather. Lynn told them about a trail that led to another campground down the beach where there were some young people. Michelle and girls decided to go check it out. It was late afternoon, but plenty of daylight left.
Problem was, they took the wrong trail — the one less traveled by. A narrow, scruffy path crowded by scrub trees and prickly bushes and baked by hot sun and white sand where nothing human had been for years from the looks of it..
The first clue to their navigation problem was when they stumbled upon an abandoned campsite with a weathered picnic table taking pride of place among the scrub. It gave them pause as they timidly made their way forward.
But even in such a desolate place, traffic was terrible. They yielded right of way to a really big snake in their path. Immediately in full rout, Michelle beat the 13-year-olds back to camp, and that’s in spite of being over forty, over weight, and with lungs so over taxed she has to have oxygen. Nothing wrong with Michelle’s will to live.
Back at the camp, Mike nor I heard the screams, but, from the tale they told it wasn’t for lack of lung power or trying. There was a heavy wind and we were busy, so somehow we missed the sounds of mortal terror.
Michelle and I went over to question Lynn, and that’s when we discovered she did not mean the overgrown narrow path, but the good, wider path just beyond it. The one whose sign read “nature trail”. Michelle told her the only campground the first one led to was right off the set of Friday the 13th. Camp Crystal Lake. The exploration of the real nature trail had to wait until Granddaddy and I were there to serve and protect. (Note: When growing up in Georgia, Michelle’s favorite swimming place was Crystal Lake in Irwin County). Spooookeee.