Never Too Old To Learn


Never Too Old To Learn

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Saturday I asked Larry to go with me to the Myakka State Forest so he could show me where I might have gone wrong in my inability to retrace my steps back to the picnic tables that I figured had mysteriously "disappeared" in the few hours I had wandered around taking pictures.  For my second foray into the wilderness, I now had my pockets stuffed with brightly colored red/yellow trail markers with which I intended to practice.  Well, we parked the car, walked past the 4 picnic tables, out to the main path, turned left, walked a bit and then I remembered I was to tag one of the bushes.  Larry patiently waited until the task was completed.  Off we started walking.  Surprisingly we soon came to the gathering place for meetings and I couldn't figure out how that happened so quickly.  "It wasn't near those picnic tables!" I protested to Larry.

"Don't worry about it.  Just show me where you went," said Larry.  Then back and forth I led him on the various paths I took, but this time I must not have made the same first turn because the animal track was not visible right away.   I showed him both muddy trails which caused me to turn back.  Larry decided to venture forward on the longest of the paths to see where it would go.  He had to turn back too because it led to one of the highways that borders the forest.  Of course I NEVER would have continued walking in mud that got that DENSE...NO WAY!!! 

Because we were still looking for all the trails that I followed, at every turn Larry would ask, "What did you do here?"  I would take off and he would patiently follow and of course I snapped a few more pictures along the way.  "Hey is that one of those crop circles?" I asked.  

After we walked the trails in a more precise manner than I would have walked them, eventually I finally found the tracks that I should have found right away.  Larry asked me if anything looked familiar about the place and of course, I said, "YES!  There are lots of tracks here!" 

Being the analytical type, Larry put his Buck knife down so we could have a comparison on the size of the track.  The length of the knife was 5 inches....  Because our neighbor thought my other picture resembled the track of a coyote, Larry and I discussed whether a coyote would have a track of this size.   We both thought it resembled a coyote's track in pictures we had seen but are they this big??  We didn't know.

Once more Larry returned to his earlier question.  "Nanc, look around.  Does anything look familiar?"  he asked.  

"I already told you," I answered.  "What more can I add?  Animal tracks...Tracks of animals!"

Then Larry pointed on the other side of the track.  "Look there!" he said.  "What do you SEE?"  Larry asked.  

Wondering what on earth he was talking about, I looked in the general direction he was pointing.  I looked again....  

"A PICNIC TABLE!  THERE'S A 5TH PICNIC TABLE!!!"  I exclaimed.  "Who would have thought??!"  I said.  "You can even see it from the trail!  AND IT'S RIGHT NEXT TO THAT GATHERING PLACE!!  I had the way out if I only would have noticed....

I guess there's more to hiking than just following a trail.