I pride myself on making as few mistakes as possible and when I do err, it is usually due to omission, rather than commission. In easier words, what this means is I fail to do something or have to go back and do something I could have handled when I was there. At least that’s the way I see myself. When I explained to my daughter what I am about to write and told her about my pride when it comes to errors, she blatantly informed me, “you make mistakes all the time, Pops”.
This past Saturday, my Bride and I were going to take our bicycles down to Texas’ premier wildlife park, Brazos Bend SP, but when I inspected her bike, I noted it not only had a flat rear tire, but I had procrastinated on replacing both bald tires. It was an omen I should have heeded and since have corrected.
Not to be swayed, we decided we would walk the trails and yes, geocache. Now Brazos Bend has miles of trails and more wildlife than you will see in a year and because all the geocaches I was wont to get were a minimum of 500 feet off the trail in snake-infested knee to waist deep vegetation, my bride wisely opted to stay on the trail while I ventured in solo – in shorts.
I was wearing my Cambodian-made favorite geocaching cargo shorts and a pair of shin-high “fast” hiking socks that are awesome to put it in plain terms. After venturing in and back out to the trail, I noted both socks and my leg hairs were covered with beggar’s lice. I mean covered. Beggar’s lice is a sticking plant seed that grabs hold of any passing animal to spread itself. This particular variety was round and hard and dang well impossible to get out of my socks.
It was so bad that after each venture off the trail, I would sit down, take off my boots and rake my socks to try and remove as much as I could. It is singly the worst infestation of this plant I’ve ever witnessed and when we did finally get home, I had to throw my “fast” socks in the trash. I just could not get all of the seeds out of them. The sad truth is I made an error. In my Jeep are a fine pair of nylon gaiters and these neat articles of clothing wrap around your legs and boots and would have staved off the onslaught of sticky seeds. I won’t make that mistake again.
After about 5 miles of hiking, searching, and plucking we retreated back to my Jeep and our picnic lunch. We were parked in the far back parking lot and it was very peaceful. Finishing up, I grabbed my full waist pack and using my key to lock up my Jeep, I told my bride to simply clip the carabineer on the back of the pack… giant mistake which I won’t make again!
My pack can carry 5 bottles of water, but since we were taking a 3 mile loop, I only brought two… Stee-rike two. Into the deep woods I went again and again while my bride jogged down the trail and back and each time I would bushwhack through heavy vegetation, going places only geocachers and idiots go. Notice my bride isn’t the idiot that I am.
Walking out on the last trail, a man, his teenage daughter, and 8 year old son walked past us and I greeted them. As they stopped to take a photo, we passed them and when I went back into the woods, they passed us again. By this time we were getting very hot and tired, having been in the park hiking about 6 hours and who knows how many miles? We decided we would go back to the Jeep and drive down to Elm Lake and look at the gators. My bleeding and scratched legs looked like they had been in a sword fight with munchkins and we were both parched dry, having gulped down the two bottles of water earlier.
Stepping up to the Jeep, I pulled the pack off and to my horror; there was no Jeep key on the carabineer. All the other keys were there though. It didn’t take rocket surgery to realize the keys are most likely irrecoverable. I squatted down and pulled out my Smartphone and that is when desperation set in. I had 3% battery left! I rapidly texted my daughter, 60 miles away. She’s a stylist at Green Apple Salon and most likely giving one of her clients a make-over, so as the phone died, I had no idea when and if she would see the text.
I took full responsibility for my stupidity, as I had a flask charger setting on desk at home, capable of charging ten cell phones. Inside the Jeep was life-giving water and other wet cold drinks and we had no way to access it.
The closest ranger station was two miles away, so off we went and I was very hard on myself, guilt-ridden for putting my bride through all of that. Arriving there about a half hour later, I called my daughter and then explained to the ranger about my lost key. Going outside, my bride and I talked about the 2 hour wait until the new key would arrive and decided we would pass the time by walking the 3 miles to the front office.
As we talked I saw the man and his kids arrive that we saw on the trail and he and the boy went inside. We stood up and for no real reason; I told the teenage girl we lost our key. “My dad found a Jeep key on the trail and he took it inside!” she remarked with a smile.
To make a long story short enough to fit on this page, we caught a ride back to the Jeep and it is my honest opinion that our merciful God Almighty intervened for us that day by having an armadillo pick that key up and drop it on the trail in front of those good people. There is no other reasonable explanation.