Once again, I find myself in route to Florida to flee the last cold weeks of winter, and to get a head start on Spring and rejuvenation. I haven’t been living in my van since I bought my ranch in August, but have been quite stationary staying put in Sundance rennovating the home. I am very happy to be back out on the road and headed to the tropics for another open-ended south Florida adventure.
To start my adventure I have a two week reservation at a somewhat podunk but tranquil campground in the swamps about thirty minutes inland from Marco Island. I have deep love for the Everglades and the Big Cypress National Forest and spend more of my time inland in swamp country than I do soaking up sun and waves and checking out pretty tourist girls at the beach. I go on all day long exploratory hikes through the backcountry photographing wildlife and just appreciating the diverse fauna and flora of the glades. The Everglades are absolutely teeming with life and one is never alone in these forests and marshes. Anywhere you glance your eye will find a creature watching you, whether it’s a lizard sharing the bench, a bird on a branch, gator eyes protruding from dark depths, or a silent panther stalking from behind. To me it is an Eden, and time spent in these forests is like sitting at a guru’s feet. Nature is alive here, and she has lessons and insights to teach to those willing to wander and wonder this vast and mysterious jungle.
My intention for this trip is really to just get out of my head, relax, and spend nearly all my time in nature fishing, exploring, making music, meditating, etc. Although I don’t intend to behave like a puritan down here, I do want to prioritize exercise, eating well, and clean living within reason. I want to take advantage of the strong sunshine, the vitalizing sea air, and the shimmering strength of Life in the swamps, to purify and prepare myself for the summer ahead. I feel driven and purposeful lately. I want to avoid getting caught in ruts and find a real, positive, stride.
So that’s basically where my head is at as I start this adventure. If it’s any sign, my first evening on the road last night was quite special. I visited some friends on a farm outside of Asheville, a little fortress in the mountains, abundant with all sorts of animals and hippies. Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply I love bonding with animals and observing wildlife. Well, upon entering the house I was greeted by my friend’s real wolf. I’ve known this majestic and daunting creature for probably five years now, and the dog has never let me get near him. He has bright, powerful eyes and a deep and intimidating growl. Compared to ordinary domestic dogs, his sense of strength and sovereignty just shines. He has a magical, intimidating presence. For the first time ever, last night he walked right up to me and leaned into me, nuzzling me with his head, and warmly welcoming and enjoying my pets. Then, when we all sat at the table for drinks, joints, and chats, my friend’s parrot jumped up on my shoulder and started nuzzling its head into my beard while making sweet little noises. He stayed there for more than half an hour and we sweetly bonded. To top it all off, the real icing on the cake, when I retired to my van to sleep, I invited to the two giant, white, Great Pyrenees, farm dogs into my van. These enormous dogs live outside all the time and have been trained to guard all the other farm animals from foxes, coyotes, cougars and such. They cautiously came into the van to scope it out. Then they hopped up on the bed and discovered it was really warm and comfortable. Then they didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want them to either. We all fell asleep together on the narrow bed and slept blissfully in a dogpile well into the morning. They were very sweet and affectionate, and loved to cuddle. It was a perfect start to my adventure.
Tomorrow I have about six hours to drive left before arriving at my campground in Big Cypress. My 48th birthday is Friday. Stay tuned!