Went down to Bradenton for a late Christmas. It was pretty cool. I got a GPS system, which anyone who has ever driven with me or asked me for directions will be eternally grateful for.
We were only there for a few days, but I found I slipped quite easily into the world of retirement. Waking up early, perhaps taking a nap at 2 or 3. And yeah, might as well pull the car up at 7 PM. I ain't going anywhere at night anyway. Whoa, is it 10:00 already? No wonder I'm so sleepy. What am I, Hugh Hefner staying up til the crack of dawn?
When I wasn't busy sleeping or being brought along on Bataan Death Marches through the gazillion antique/fabric/thrift stores the area has to offer, I found this cool little nature trail/park.
The trail was in an area that I explored quite a bit when I lived in Bradenton. See, there was this crazy guy who lived out in the woods there named Crazy Nathan. There was a game in high school to see how far you could drive down his scary driveway in the deep, dark woods before he ran out of his house shooting at you.
Nathan was a source of endless fascination to a group of my friends. Why did he live out there? What did he do? Was his house all Texas Chain Saw Massacre looking on the inside?
We were fairly obsessed with the guy. We made up Team Nate stickers that we'd paste all over town, which were mistaken for a satanic cult. We spent time in the woods trying to find a back way to his house so we could...well, I don't really know. Spy on him, I guess. The woods had a sprawling network of trails, so you could spend a whole day out there walking around freaking yourself out, wondering what would happen if Nate or his murderous family caught you out there.
So when I found out that the scary-ass Nate Woods had been turned into a nature trail, I was all over that stuff.
The trail is actually to the south of Nate Woods, an area which wasn't as scary, but it was still pretty strange to be walking these once-impenetrable trails that are now paved and full of families and old people walking dogs.
This is sort of what the old trails looked like
Hernando DeSoto landed somewhere around here, looking for gold and Indians to torture.
This is a horseshoe crab, the most useless and ugly animal ever created.
Mangroves are awesome. Whenever I get a whiff of brackish salt water and see mangroves, two memories come rushing up.
A) I'm going fishing or
B) I'll bet somebody stashed some old Penthouse magazines around here somewhere.
Banyan trees are awesome, too. You know they're saying, "We are going to eat you."
So yeah, the trail was pretty awesome. I got there late so I didn't get to explore the whole thing, and it didn't really replicate the fear and terror I once felt in those woods since I wasn't constantly looking over my shoulder to see if a rampaging lunatic was after me, but maybe that's OK.