Everglades National Park: Awakening the Explorer Within

Kingdom of the Everglades

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be kayaking for the first time. It’s the second step in my journey to kayak and camp Everglades back country. I took the first step, in December 2013, when I drove through the gates of Everglades National Park with my sons.

It was just supposed to be a couple days of camping. Everglades National Park was one of many stops on a whirlwind road trip around Florida. Something to show my sons and move on to the next great thing. I can’t believe how wrong I was. The wide open spaces, big sky, intricate balance of life and mesmerizing river of grass invaded my senses and my mind. By the end of the trip, I was desperate to see more than what I could reach by the boardwalks.. I wanted to experience more than what I could by the time I knew I had to leave.

It couldn’t have been more than five or ten minutes after passing through the park gates and setting off down the lonely road that leads to Flamingo Campground. From the drivers seat, I marveled at the beauty unfolding before me. Scrolls of clouds unraveled across big, undisturbed expanses of sky. It’s something I haven’t had the luxury of seeing, coming from Metro Atlanta. It’s rare to see a sky without the interference of poles, wires, towers, buildings, trees, hills, and mountains. But, here… this grassy land stretched out as far as I could see, only occasionally broken by a small island of trees. The Everglades had taken me by surprise and wouldn’t let go. I drove on like that, in utter amazement, for what could have been eternity and still never have lasted long enough. That is… until I stepped out to explore on foot and a whole new world opened up to me. A world that would grow inside my imagination and break me out of any comfort zone.. inspiring me to do whatever it takes to become a part of this place.

This just being my introduction to Everglades National Park, I intend to write more about this kingdom as I progress on my journey to return with the skills I need to explore and camp the back country by kayak. I have affectionately coined the twitter hashtag, “#girl2glades,” to document my progress and my triumphant return scheduled for December 2014.

Stay tuned..

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