Quick recap: Magmic Impact is a company wide volunteering initiative that we just kicked off last week.
To learn more, check out our last blog post here.
I just finished up my 8th day of work at Hugh Taylor State Park here in Fort Lauderdale and I have to say, yesterday was easily my favorite, most eventful day. As I sit here on my balcony, mango smoothie in hand and Macbook on my lap, I know that was the day that will be the one that sticks out for me years from now when I reflect back.
I’ll miss this view when I’m back at home in the snow!
We began the day as we always do. Our 8:00 am meeting began in the garage with about 8 volunteers and the typical handful of park rangers, where we were all assigned our tasks for the day. For the most part, I’ve been tasked to help make new trails, clip palm fronds and pick up any litter around the park.
I’ve spent the majority of my days with Sue and Jerry, my fellow Canadian volunteers who I’ve become close with having bonded over life in Ottawa, cold Canadian winters and not missing the February snow while we’re down in the sun.
This is what a normal day looks like in the park- palm fronds galore!
Yesterday, however, I was asked to tag along with Falon, a park ranger who’s known by everyone here as the “Girl With All The Plants”. Falon lives in an adorable little home right in the park surrounded by exotic plants she’s cultivated in hopes of attracting wild birds, butterflies and other rare creatures.
Naturally, I was pumped.
Being an outdoorsy girl myself (more cottage kid/hiker outdoorsy, but still), I was intrigued to spend the day with another nature lover.
After a quick introduction, we were on our way to tackle our day of park chores together, tearing a golf cart through the trails.
Our main task for the morning? Hop on a canoe and explore the water that runs through the park that’s completely surrounded by mangrove trees. We were on the hunt for any garbage and unruly branches that block the water trails.
As soon as I heard the word “canoe”, I knew I was in my wheelhouse. I mean, what kind of true Canadian would I be if I didn’t know how to expertly maneuver a canoe, eh?
I quickly learned that Falon, too, had lots of experience on the water being an avid kayaker herself so we went into the situation (and water) quite confidently.
This is where our series of unfortunate events began.
We decided that I should sit at the front of the canoe, with Falon getting in after me and pushing the back end in. Easy peasy.
It must have been our egos that messed with us here because before we knew it, the entire boat was on it’s right side and we both got dunked. Thank God new iPhones are made water resistant!
Seconds after our epic bail (notice how Falon’s IN the water)
We went from being totally silent and in utter shock of that just happened to non-stop cackling at our misfortune. If only we had some one close by to snag a picture of us looking like 2 drowned rats in our clothes, climbing out of the muddy water to make a second attempt.
Luckily, the second attempt WAS successful, with us using extra caution after having our confidence pretty aggressively shaken.
As we got into the groove of paddling and cut our way through some gnarly branches, we continued to laugh at our misfortune as puddles of water began to collect under our seats.
Just as we controlled our giggle fit, a beautiful heron flew right above us. “Oh wow, look at the-“ I began, but was rudely interrupted by a… Gift given to us from that bird flying from above.
Yep, we BOTH got pooped on.
It’s supposed to be good luck though, right? I think people just say that to pooped on people to make them feel better but I’m gonna roll with it.
Luckily, we both had the same reaction: Shock… Then more laughter. What else could we do?
We carried on, using the salty water to wash off the gift our friend from above gave us and ended up bottoming out, since the tide was so low. Falon had predicted this happening earlier but we decided to go out anyhow and risk it.
She ended up getting out of the canoe (we were already soaked to the bone anyhow, so why not?) and dragged us off the sand bank, back towards deeper water.
We began to make our way back, happy with the work we had put in and bottomed out 3 or 4 more times. At this point, we were just ready to get out of the water before it was too late.
We found a laundry basket all tangled up in the mangroves that had to be cut out
Maybe it was the pooping heron or the blue crabs eating a dead fish that we stumbled upon that distracted us, but by this point we were completely turned around and 100% lost.
And no, we didn’t have a map of the water trails.
Long story short, after taking many wrong turns and having to do multiple 40-point turns while the water increasingly dipped lower and lower, we finally recognized a pipeline we had passed earlier and were back on track.
After cutting one final fishing line out of a tree at the boat landing, we made our way back to the boat racks with our runners squishing and a successful yet trying morning under our belts.
I’m learning a lot while I’m down here in Florida volunteering. From wildlife education, to which plants to clip and which plants to avoid completely (the other day I almost got a face-full of poison wood!), to how to expertly drive the ancient, on-it’s-last-legs pick up truck. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here and have loved meeting people from all walks of life.
Bring on day 9!