I am no longer haunted by my memories of Cumberland Island, but I feel a need to document the experience before life in the real world and September's Agrarian Urbanite monopolize my brain...
Recap: bitter disillusioned Ranger gives the fear speech leaving us afraid and weary of everything and we discover that armadillos aren't so scary...
By the next day, the armadillos became the obvious local residents of Sea Camp. They owned the place, but because of the thick underbrush, we never saw them coming until they were under foot. The sequence went like this: walk, walk, walk along the trail; hear movement in the bush; stop and look around for, for, for a raccoon? a snake? anything? then POP! an armadillo would waddle out snooping it's long nose along the ground...it's gray plated armor protecting it from EVERYTHING with it's long sharp claws which are something that nightmares are made of. The POP! was usually followed by an, "Ahh!" Brief sigh, then, "Oh, yet another, armadillo. Surprise."
But they didn't get boring and we didn't take them for granted. They actually became cute and more interesting as we were able to watch them feed and snoop. We even saw one jump.
They really are in their own little world and, I think, completely oblivious to us humans. One popped out at us and when we all jumped and screamed a little bit, I think the little sucker took notice and said to himself, "Oh shit! That thing is BIG!" and it jumped.
During twilight, life comes into itself. The animals really start moving about in search of supper. Because it's not quite dark, you don't need a flashlight, but the light plays tricks on the eyes which in turn plays tricks on the brain. At twilight, one needs to be super alert because things are waking up and stirring.
Aggravated, Officer Fear Ranger told us about a woman who was walking around at twilight and stepped on a RATTLESNAKE (it was probably a normal snake, but because it wasn't caught, we will never know), and the snake bit her which is a perfectly logical defensive move on the snake's part. The true point of the story was that it took several hours to get her off the island with by the time they were able to notify the Ranger and the call was put in to the mainland putting the emergency team into danger because they had to bring a boat across the waterways at dark and...etc etc...etc...told you he was a bucket of laughs.
One twilight, I was not being super cautious. As I returned from washing some dishes and fetching water, my head flopped side to side and I was probably singing a little ditty in my head when CRASH! The palmettos parted in front of me. I screamed and loudly. When I got my wits, I looked around and, you guessed it, an armadillo ran out onto the path...then stopped right in the middle of the path. I really didn't want to get to close to the thing. It was kind of big for an armadillo, but I couldn't get around it because it was hogging up the entire path which was only about three feet wide lined by a thicket of saw palmettos. I was laughing because I had screamed out so loudly, and I didn't know what to do. So I did the first logical thing and that was to tell it to, "Shoo."
Did I feel ridiculous? Yes. Telling a wild animal who is oblivious to humans to "shoo" was about as effective as trying to dig a grave with a toothpick. I clapped my hands a few times, and the creature kind of looked at me but didn't move out from the center of the path. I didn't want to jump over it because I didn't want it to jump up into me. So I waited. Finally the little critter moseyed back into the saw palmettos, and I quickened my pace back to camp keeping a little more aware.
To be continued...
Tomorrow Part III of Cumberland Island's Disney World: "Are You Sure This Ain't Disney World?"