The drive to the Everglades seemed to be never ending. The spine of Florida is long and covered with citrus groves, ranches, and small to medium sized towns filled with the standard fast food joints.
Finally, the road led her and her travel mate to the entrance of the Everglades National Park. The air seemed to change the moment she passed through the gates. Trees, open spaces, grass covered lands surrounded her. A wave of calm settled in.
The eco-tents at Flamingo Campgrounds are 34 miles from the gate. After a leisurely drive, they checked in and were assigned Tent 14. She made her way down the raised boardwalk with her traveling partner. The tent faced directly south overlooking Florida Bay. A field of grasses and other low growth bordered the little tent city.
To the east and the west, campers and backpackers were also set up. It wasn’t overly crowded even though it was prime spring break season.
They settled into the tent for the evening. As night fell, the temperature dropped to a mere 58 degrees, cold to a Florida girl. She found her fleece jacket and bundled up, adding a blanket to the bed as they headed to bed.
The winds picked up and the tent’s rain fly shuddered and slapped against the metal structure. Certainly, there were clouds in the sky and a storm on the way. Lightning flashed through the open screens facing the water.
At four in the morning, she awoke, startled. Mother Nature was calling, but she contemplated holding off. It was no use. She found her sandals and slipped out into the night.
She looked around as she stepped out of the tent to discover not a cloud in the sky. Surprisingly, the moon had set and thousands of stars shown overhead. She looked up in awe as she walked the winding boardwalk to the restroom.
On her way back, the cold air still struck her, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the sky. She hadn’t seen the stars like this in ages. She let out a gentle sigh, grateful for this chance to get away, then made her way back to bed, serene and peaceful.