Ryan and I loaded up the car Tuesday morning and headed three hours south to Kissimmee Prairie Park and Preserve. After we passed the exit to Disney, the roads became emptier and emptier. Once we took the exit for the prairie, we saw nothing but farms and radio towers. And a few repeated signs that read, “Be a man. Buy land!” which makes sense since women can’t buy property. Also, the more grass you own, the more masculine you are. It’s just science.
We drove down a gravel road that went on way longer than it should have. When we finally got to the park office, the woman at the desk asked, “did you think you’d ever make it?” We laughed because the answer was no. But we should have had faith because we had been met on that very road by this noble aviary spirit.
We quickly set up camp before the rains came and took our books to the park office where they housed a few rocking chairs on a covered porch.
It gave me the feeling that the clouds would pass and we would indeed see stars that night. This would be our second time staying at a Dark Sky certified campsite, and the last one was a rainy bust. Ever-optimistic Kate held onto hope. Realistic Ryan was just stoked to see some lightning.
We walked onto the prairie and observed the lighting panorama. Bolts struck left of us. Bolts struck right of us. We stood like two little lightning rods in the middle of the vast prairie and raised our kites to the sky! (Since our moms are reading this, we should note that we did not have kites, and that the lightning was a safe distance away.)
Once the storm moved and the clouds dissipated, the stars came out in full force. We used Ryan’s app “Sky Guide” to identify the constellations we weren’t sure of. We were able to see Sirius, Orion, Gemini, and Cassiopeia. When we were tired of craning our necks, we decided to head to bed.
As we lay reading, I heard my first coyote howls. It was a bit alarming until we heard all the dogs in the entire camp bark in response. Our domesticated protectors.
In the morning Ryan asked if I had heard the wild pigs. Apparently a few of them came near our site before getting scared off. He considered waking me so I could hear them, but decided against it. I’m glad he didn’t because I would likely not have been able to fall asleep again. Those things are no joke- just think of Robert Baratheon and his untimely (albeit fictional) demise.
We planned to wake up and watch the sunrise, but the rain wouldn’t let up. We packed it all up and drove south to the Everglades. Miami traffic and rain turned a four hour drive into an all day affair, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Tonight and tomorrow night we’re staying at Long Pine Key on the east side of the Everglades. It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow, so we’ll hopefully be able to do a bit of exploring and hiking. Sometimes it pours all day; it just makes you appreciate the sun that much more.