Why do I listen to Bill? The other day he asked what I wanted to do - then continued "I thought maybe we'd..." (so why did he ask me????) "try to find that geocache at Estero Bay Preserve." We had gone one other day, but the mud and water (and the fact that Bill had printed out the wrong directions) kept us from finding it.
Our hike started out fine. We had the correct directions and were headed down the right path. We both had sprayed with bug spray and Bill said we would not need it on the trail and to leave it in the car. (See blog title.)
This is not a pond - it's the $%$#&*! trail!! Under that layer of water was black mud - the kind that sucks your shoes off with each step. (See blog title.) And naturally, the bugs were ferocious! The hungry black flies were so thick, Bill had to break off a branch and swat his back as he walked. I hate when they buzz around your ears - but buzz they did - non-stop! Bill said the mud and bugs were "incentive to keep moving" (See blog title.)
The dead trees in the background are Melaleuca - an aggressive invader that spreads rapidly, destroying habitats by converting beautiful sawgrass marshes, wet prairies, and aquatic sloughs into impenetrable paperbark thickets. It was introduced to Southern Florida from Australia in the early 1900's to help dry out the swamps so they could be developed and is now a huge ecological threat - especially in the Everglades.
Here's the really awful part: One Melaleuca tree can store an estimated 20-million seeds. They are released when the trees are stressed, so many of the methods used to try and kill the trees may actually cause them to spread.
There were a couple of Plovers on high ground. At first I thought they were Killdeer - but they were much too small. I sent the picture to my sister as she is much better with the shore bird identification than I am and she says it is a Semipalmated Plover. Thanks Beth!
That's me at ground zero looking for the cache. The boardwalk was around 15 feet from a huge tidal pond - and we were there at high tide - so guess what I was walking in - up to my ankles. Bill finally spotted it through the deck slats. At least the water washed some of the mud off my shoes.
The cache was in an ammo box. We signed the log, replaced the box under the deck and headed back. I had hoped to find ducks on the pond - but not a one. (Maybe the bugs ate them.)
We went back on a different trail. Yes, it was plenty muddy - and slippery - but there was not near as much water so at least I knew what I was stepping on. Have I mentioned the smell? Black mud stinks!
This is a hog trap. The feral hogs are another big problem in the preserves as they dig up huge areas looking for food. I tried to get Bill to pose for a picture inside the trap - but at this point he was afraid I'd leave him there (and I just might have!).
We arrived back at the car hot, thirsty, dirty & smelly - but glad to have finally found the illusive Estero Bay Cache. This cache was special to us because we met a geocacher last year at ground zero. He was looking for the cache around the deck where we were sitting looking at the birds around the pond. At that point we were not into geocaching - and meeting and talking to him was one of the factors that got us started.
Outside the preserve, these beautiful Wood Storks and Great Egrets were waiting for us. A nice way to end our walk.
So to answer my question "Why do I listen to Bill?" - I listen, because I love him and we have amazing adventures every day. I am so-o-o lucky!