When the morning comes they are stepping-stones to the sun.
And the mighty blue ocean keeps rolling on every shore,
like the spirit that binds us together,
we are so much more than islands, islands.
“Islands,” John Denver
Today was ISLAND DAY in the Out Island Adventure program. It’s a day for exploring. I started out by exploring the CTS, the only privy I’ve ever seen with something like a verandah on it. Very distinctive. Each side had a brain teaser in it to help pass the time, as well as a Public Service Announcement (see below).
Aim is important
After my first cup of java and the morning magic (see above), it was time to get the crew up. They proceeded to make a very tasty breakfast. Sarah kept telling me and Julie that we were working too hard. The youth also shooed me out of the kitchen. So other than making coffee, I did basically no cooking the entire week (who’d’a thunk it). We were not given menus, just a standard pantry of provisions; what we made of them was entirely up to us. If we wanted to face the Chuckwagon Challenge, we could set ourselves to eat everything in the box; however, nobody ever really manages to do that. We certainly didn’t go hungry.
Following breakfast, we stepped next door to the kayak racks and launched ourselves into the mangroves. The middle of Munson Island and its northwest coast is all red mangroves. Little channels connect small lagoons. We and another crew or so spent the morning exploring the maze. The kayaks were very uncomfortable for both me and Zach. Our backs were not supported, and our legs were too long to tuck up comfortably. Paddling them was excruciating.
That being so, we welcomed a chance to get out and play in the water. We reached the channel between Little Munson and Big Munson Islands. Little Munson is now normally called Little Palm, leaving Big Munson to be just “Munson”; on Little Palm is a fancy-schmancy resort. The tourists there occasionally ask if anybody lives on Munson. They are told by the hotel staff that Munson is uninhabited. They really wish we weren’t there, I guess.
Anyway, we got out and played King of the Kayak in the channel between the islands. And then it was back to camp. We were pooped. After a brief rest, we explored the western half of the island. After lunch, we did the eastern half. We saw the cormorants roosting on the war canoes.
Into the Mangrove Maze
The seats were really hard on my back
Rich People's Playground
Cormorants love to roost on the canoes
They give a new meaning to the term, "poopdeck"
We were also shown the various flora, especially Poisonwood. They really want you to know what Poisonwood looks like, so you can avoid it. Poisonwood is a fairly large tree whose trunk and leaves drip Urushiol oil. Urushiol is the active ingredient in poison ivy. This is poison ivy on crack. You can get poisoned just by walking under one of these things in the rain, and the rash that comes out 12 days or so later is like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
We also noted the Sea Grape trees, of which there were many in our own campground. There were various Palms, some of which were especially planted there as background for the filming of PT 109, which was shot on location here. Three kinds of mangrove grow on Munson, the most salt-tolerant of which is Red Mangrove. It plants itself in the shallows and collects detritus around it, eventually making new land. 85% of the island was covered in Bahama Nightshade; its red berries are called Trip-and-Die Berries. Not good to eat!
A low challenge course of sorts exists on the island. We played on it for a bit.
Common tree on the island
Modeling a Vase Sponge
Would you like to swing on a star
. . . or would you rather be a pig?
Back in camp, we made supper. There were cookies for dessert. Steve came up and started begging from T.C. We actually had to chase him away.
As evening drew on, the full Moon spread itself over the waters. I shared a rare word with the Crew. Moonglade is the path of light the Moon makes over the waters. Back in college, we had a poetry-writing contest in a workshop I took. Whoever used the word Moonglade the best in a poem won a prize. Two of us tried, and each of us got a prize. That’s undoubtedly why I remembered the word.
Go away, Steve!
Abby had been getting over something when we left. We thought she was getting better, but she still had a touch of something. Plus, her own lack of comfort with a strange situation was getting to her. Anyway, she apparently hadn’t urinated in a couple days. She said it hurt, and she was refusing water so she wouldn’t have to pass it. This was a dangerous situation, and we all told her she had to make herself go.
As we prepared to go shark fishing at night on the floating dock, she and Julie started out with us, but then they turned back. I figured things were reaching a head, but I was stuck with one group on the dock. All I could do was pray, give Abby and Julie into God’s hands, and trust the staff. The weight of responsibility is something an adult leader is always conscious of, but it gets really heavy at times. And sometimes, you just feel helpless. After a long day, I was utterly exhausted and stressed out.
We fished for sharks with rods and yo-yo reels. The Moon was gorgeous. You could have read a newspaper by its light. It was casting shadows everywhere. When we got back to camp, all was quiet. I assumed Julie and Abby were in their tent, and I decided not to disturb them. I went to my own tent and was asleep almost at once.
Here, shark! Here, shark!
Night fishing on the floating dock