Today when I need a break, I will let my brain go back to our recent motorcycle trek through the Everglades.
From the very first day we got the bike, I knew I wanted to experience Everglades National Park on the back of the motorcycle. It's wonderful in a car, so I thought it would be even better on a bike.
I was right.
Before we went inside, we stopped at the visitor center, which is free to visit. I love the mosaic that's part of the floor; it depicts the state of Florida, with different colored tiles representing different types of land and water: marsh, wetland, ocean, and so on.
We ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a bench outside of the visitor's center. It's not the picturesque picnic that others might have enjoyed on a Mother's Day week-end, but I thought it was perfect.
I watched the other visitors in the parking lot. Some were clearly on a mission; they did not linger to take in the sights. One man with a stuffed station wagon sat on a beach chair reading a newspaper under a tree with his dog on a leash. One younger woman screeched as a black bird got too close to her. One older woman had an enormous camera.
It was a good day to be in the park. There weren't many bugs, and the weather was sunny and dry. The sky was that deep blue, with white clouds scudding across the panorama.
We didn't see many animals. I'm not surprised. I thought the roar of the pipes would repel them.
We also didn't see many cars. How I love the small moments of non-tourist time that we get down here.
As we rode, I stretched my arms wide above my head. At a retreat once, someone told me I should pray that way. Inside, I scoffed. But then I tried it and was surprised. I felt my heart open in a different way.
On Saturday, I said a prayer of awe and thanks for such an amazing creation. I prayed for everyone in need of improved health, and as always, I was a bit saddened at how long that list becomes.
We couldn't stay long, alas. I always thought of motorcycles as getting hundreds of miles to a gallon of gas. That is not true. We headed back when we needed to fuel up.
Later, I told my spouse that my experience was like an IMAX movie, only with better special effects. I don't have that feeling in a car, although I do like the vastness of land and sky that one experiences in that national park.
How I would love to plan a trip going from national park to national park--but only during the off times, when I wouldn't have to share the park with hoards of people.
In the meantime, I'll start planning the next trip to the park that's in my back yard.