Red Flags

We survived spring break!

We didn’t do much, more of a stay-cation really – but it was nice to have no where we HAD to be. The kids, of course, not wanting to miss a minute of the nothingness, continued their pattern of “up at o’dark thirty”. That was until this morning when it was time for back to school! Go figure.

When they returned from school this afternoon, I was greeted by a Texas-sized huge spider right by my front door. Luckily my daughter shares none of my arachnophobia, and she proceeded to exterminate the vermin. (YAY!)

Later we ventured out to a nearby trail with the intention of heading to the beach down below. It’s a little inlet by a nature preserve, so I thought great! We’ll get outside, get some exercise and the kids can play in the sand without having to drive 40 minutes to the beach we normally frequent.

This was what we call in our family “mando-fun”. It’s mandatory. We are getting out of the house and doing something active!

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Along the trail entrance, there were these lovely purple and blue flowers. It definitely feels like spring here!


The minions however were not exactly excited. (Well, one wasn’t!) To quote my dear son, “This was not the kind of ‘adventure’ I was expecting.”

Yes, even the picture shows a nasty spider. UGH.

This little sign should have been a red flag. We walk along the trail. I have run this trail dozens of times, but they must have just put up these signs, because I have never seen them, nor the images they depict. I should take red flags more seriously. Like when we walked a few feet beyond this sign and a fellow trail blazer mentioned that we should be alert, you know, because he had just seen a rattlesnake up around the bend. Hmmm. Okay. I’m sure with all the sunshine and foot traffic, there’s no way it’ll still be there by the time we get up that way.

I make a mental note to stick to the middle of the trail and suspiciously eye rogue branches that seem to move just out of my field of vision. Paranoid from the foreboding warning as well as my earlier arachnid invasion, I press on anyway lest the minions fully realize the extent to which their mother is a pansy. 

Another sojourner on the trail passes by with a smile and a wave. “Oh, by the way, we just saw a HUGE rattler just up this trail…” Gulp.

“Thanks for the warning! We’re going this way anyway…” And we head off in the opposite direction. You know, because the cactus and sage brush and weeds on this side of the trail are somehow snake- and other scary critter-proof.

We proceed to the ‘beach’ where it’s marshy, mucky and salty goo. Not the puffy sand that my now sad daughter was requesting. We attempt, and fail miserably, at jumping over really deep spots, but all three of us end up with mud up to our ankles. The water’s edge is covered in green slime. There is broken glass shards all over the place, so no taking off shoes. (Not that we wanted to at that point.)

“This is NOT the beach we had in mind!”

After about 10 minutes, we declare our mando-fun a big fat fail and decide to head back. We discuss options for a beach make up day tomorrow after school. Going back up the way we came to the main trail, I see about 3 feet from my right foot the largest snake I’ve ever seen outside of a zoo.

Oh holy hell, do not panic. DO NOT PANIC!


I back up and tell the kids to follow me now. I’m sure they realize from my guttural tone of voice that mommy means business and they both quickly follow me back down out of the trail, spotting exactly why I was freaking out.

We all nervously breath a sigh of relief as we look back to see the monster slither back into the weeds. I smile at the kids and assure them that backing up and not crossing paths with a rattlesnake is totally what you are supposed to do and that we would find another trail back to our car. Like I know what the heck to do with a rattlesnake!

Needless to say, the minute we return home, we hose off the now-caked and dried salt-mud off our feet and call it game over. Tomorrow is a new day. We will go to our regular beach complete with puffy sand, lots of clean ocean waves and NO RATTLESNAKES!

Perhaps I should leave the orchestration of mandatory family fun to my husband!


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