A bridge too far and the directionally challenged


By Vicki Scott

My darling, sweet and encouraging husband, whom I will call Alan, recently asked me one too many times if I felt froggy.

After 33 years of marital bliss, one would think I would know better, but you do not know me. I wish that I could only overlook my hunger for challenges. I might be a little too old or too overweight or too out of shape for these shenanigans, but a challenge is a challenge.

The weather was cloudy and the temperature tolerable for hiking trails at Noccalula Falls, so I was challenged to walk to the suspension bridge in the backside of the campgrounds. When we arrived and looked around, we found less water going over the falls, but every campground space except two was filled with a camper.

The walkway was easy until we had walked a little longer than a half of a mile. This is when we turned left onto a trail that seemed endless. At first, I thought we missed the bridge. So I started getting nervous, knowing how long it had been since I had exercised. I had reservations about my ability to make it to our destination with thoughts of walking the same distance back. My legs were shaking, but I do not think Alan noticed. If he had, he would have been concerned in a humorous fashion, anyway.

We eventually found the bridge – it was like the heavens had opened! With overcast skies and the temperature still tolerable, I felt confident I could make it back. That was until Alan wanted to try another way back, where there were more bridges. We could still see them from the suspension bridge, but eventually we could not. Alan gave me a choice – go on a trail that ended behind some cabins or use another trail that he had not yet been on. He was halfway down the unknown trail before I could holler “calf rope!” In a short while, trees blocked the path and we had to turn around and go back.

Undoubtedly, we did not go back the way we came. To add to the mayhem, the clouds had dissipated, and the sun was out. It was about that time that we both smelled skunk.

I know it was a skunk because the Anniston Museum of Natural History has a flap that can be lifted to smell a skunk if one dared. The note above the flap said that I would never forget the smell, and I thought I did not. I recently smelled a smell that I thought was skunk but was informed that it was not a skunk smell neither a legal smell. I cannot believe people would smoke something that smells like skunk.

This time, however, Alan confirmed that we smelled skunk. It was not a good situation for someone with no sense of direction depending on someone who probably could have walked with Jesus for 40 days. Alan was having a good time, and the rising temperatures did not change his attitude.

However, it looked like we were lost. We walked up on a group of three people who were also lost in the Noccalula jungle. I did not smell skunk anymore, in case these people were skunk suspects. They asked if we knew where the park was, and Alan quickly pointed them in the direction of the park. I followed in their direction, only to seem like we were getting deeper into Lostville. It was then Alan admitted he did not know where we were either, but “if we keep going, we will end up somewhere.”

The group somehow was behind us when we found a fence on the outskirts of the park. At this discovery, all three jumped ahead of us and found an opening where they could enter. Alan did not want to go in, as we would have to pay the entrance fee. We followed the fence on our way back to who-knows-where. Alan said we could go back toward the falls, go under the falls, then toward our car.

With my hot flashes, extra weight and lack of exercise, I expressed concern with the thought of getting lost again. I was so hot that I felt like I could cup batter in my hands and bake a cake (that would be a new level of “hand-made”). I was wheezing and wet all over and my clothes were sticking to me. To top it off, I thought that I smelled skunk again.

We entered the park and found our group trio that once was lost but now was found. We followed them until they left us at the lemur cage. I was done! The only problem was that we were on the other side of the park from our car. Two (or maybe three) rest stops later, I could make out our car. I might have cried a little, but no one noticed from the sweat.

At home, Sandy, our border collie that looks like a yellow lab, must have sensed that we walked without her and made us walk her a couple of rounds. I praised God that two rounds satisfied her.

Later in the evening, Alan asked me how long I thought we had walked. His phone claimed that we walked 3.1 miles, including our walk with Sandy. This might sound dramatic, but it felt like 100 miles uphill. Alan laughed and asked me again, “Do you feel froggy?” I said, “Sure, what’s next?” I ain’t got no sense!

Stay safe, y’all, and don’t get too hot!

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