Whether you are an avid sportsman or an armchair quarterback or the boy scout from within is calling to you, one thing is certain; everyone loves recreation! Recreation is every person's chance to evade the stressors of daily life while discovering the simple joy that comes with the ability to "let go". One man's idea of recreation may be a five mile canoe trip while his neighbor's ideal recreational activity may be fishing for lint in his navel. The point is recreation comes in all forms, and everyone can partake in it. And, if there was ever a place where one could partake in a myriad of recreational activities, the Everglades National Park would without question be that place. The Everglades National Park serves as one of America's largest escapes from the real world (without having to travel an immeasurable distance).
Although most would not classify the "slough slog" as recreational, it is highly recommended for anyone who savors agony and relishes in suffering. The "slough slog" not only tortures your every muscle, tendon, and fiber; it also crushes every last bit of your frail psyche. The "slough slog" is a peculiar activity from its inception to its very end.
The recreational possibilities available at the Everglades National Park range in nature from the simple to the bizarre and, even, the masochistic. One can effortlessly partake in a simple, calm breezy boat ride out on Florida Bay or take a nice, easy bike ride down the park's main road to take in all the beauty of nature and simplicity. Likewise, one can spend a whole day at the Shark Valley Visitor Center just admiring the North American alligator as it frolics along man-made walkways and paths. Finally, if one has a deep yearning for pain and anguish, the recreational activity for that person is the "slough slog".
The "slough slog" begins in an unusual way. It begins when you arrive at the Everglades National Park. As you drive just past the Cowe Visitor Center at the park's main entrance, you begin to hear voices. "What kind of voices?" you ask. It is the voice of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. It is the exact same voice she heard when she first encountered the Florida Everglades. It is the sawgrass. It is as if the sawgrass knows that you are there, and it knows what you are there to do. The sawgrass taunts you and teases you. The sawgrass calls to you, "Come on, I dare ya! Don't worry I know you'll never make it. Why bother? You won't make it. Poor baby!" And, as you begin to wonder where that annoying gibberish is coming from, you hear it fade in a cacophonous chuckle so as to say "I'll be waiting for you, baby!" Now, you are absolutely furious so you start turning, searching for the source, when you spot it. The sawgrass is mocking you. It is seemingly waving at you while it sits in its muck. All that is enough to make this experience bizarre, but that is not the worst of it by far.
As soon as you have been briefed on the "slough slog" agenda and what dangers may be waiting for you out there, the physical woes begin. You drive out to a secluded dirt road at the very heart of the Everglades National Park, and the sawgrass knows that you are back! So as your party begins to make its way into the wonder that is the Taylor Slough, the mental anguish continues. About ten feet into your journey, you notice that the trek is going to be difficult. You see, the sawgrass knows it has you beaten because there is no sure footing. Without sure footing you will slip and slide and sink; and, as you sink, you will grasp anything within plain view. The problem is that the sawgrass is the only thing in plain view. The sawgrass is begging you to wrap your smooth, pale fingers around its triangular body. "Why?" you ask. Because it loves the taste of blood. It is carnivorous! It is carnivorous and insatiable! The sawgrass has only one thing on its mind: oodles and oodles of blood.
The sawgrass has an uncontrollable wanton lust for blood. This blood is something it cannot do without. You see, eventually you approach a tree island and take refuge from this treacherous carnivore. You stop, have lunch, and let your body release some of the aches and pains. This is all fine and dandy; but, there is still one major problem: "How are you supposed to get back?" At this point, the sawgrass is bent over in endless laughter. It knows that it sucked almost two to three pints of blood out of you, and, now, it wants the rest! All the sawgrass wants is every last drop of the eight pints of blood in your body. Finally, you embark upon your inevitable return. And, as the sawgrass digs its little spikes into you flesh time after time, you realize that you just want to die. Luckily, however, as you get dizzy and feel like passing out, two people come to your side and vow not to leave you for dead. And, soon, the numbers expand exponentially, and, before you know it, you are back at the edge of that gorgeous dirt road. Then, as you work your way up on the shoulder of the road, a voluptuous Florida Diamondback rears it ugly (triangular) head and buries it fangs into your bruised and battered flesh. (Well, maybe that last part is a bit embellished, but it could happen!) But, the sawgrass knows that without teamwork you would be dinner! And so, it bellows with the most haughty laugh you have ever heard. It does not bother you one bit because you have been out there and come back; you have lived to "slog" another day.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Marjory Stoneman Douglas was right when she said, "Everything that is the glades is the sawgrass." That sawgrass is indomitable. There is no beating the sawgrass. With the sawgrass there is only one optimistic option: a slim chance of survival. When the sawgrass wants you, it will take you! The sawgrass is everything that is the Florida Everglades.
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