Published on paddling.net http://www.paddling.net/articles/story84.html
The unusual things make memories.
Before paddling in the Florida Keys, my memorable stories of past events have been about rogue water features, the confused aquatic life, or a memorable time at the boat launch. Well one night during an attempt to paddle around the Florida Keys several four legged mammals made the evening something to remember.
On the third night, we made camp at a designated kayak camping key. It looked as if we were the first people to have ever camped there. My two friends hung their hammocks and I pitched my tent. It was just a normal evening. Although, as the sun disappeared into the horizon, we began to hear a commotion down by our kayaks. We walked down to the only sandy part of the beach thinking that we could help some fellow paddlers land their kayaks.
There was no sign of life on the small sandy beach. The idea of a raccoon scurrying seemed like a possible idea, but I saw no tracks. We still put rocks on top of the hatches and returned to camp. Just in case we were sharing the small island with some four legged friends we placed our food into a bear-bag and suspended it in a tree.
By this time, the sun was gone but not the sound of activity coming from the trees. Then tiny eyes appeared. Rats were the owners of this island. Well they kept an eye on us, and we gave them little thought as we went to bed. The three of us believed there was nothing in camp that would be of an interest to them.
Well we were wrong. The three of us did have something that rats found interesting. For a while, the symphony of snoring from my paddling friends lulled me to sleep until an excited rat started having fun. The rat ran up the side of my tent and slid down the tarp. All night the rats played on the guidelines over the hammocks and sliding down our tarps. I guess they were board.
They never got into the food. Nor did they do any damage to our gear. And they left us with a cool story to tell.
Written by: Jeffrey Fabiszewski – St Petersburg, FL., 02-03-2010
Illustration by ©2010 Paddling.net Inc.