blistering summer weather in full force and shiny new COVID-19 variants
emerging like another season of "The Bachelor," many Americans have
taken to the great outdoors despite recently reported attacks
by grizzly bears, alligators, and President Joe Biden's surviving
German shepherd, Major (R.I.P. Champ).
And speaking of cantankerous canines, I normally limit my own experiences
with nature to mowing my yard and taking evening walks with my wife
around our subdivision where we sometimes encounter local
mongrels whom the neighbors have let out to marinate the mailboxes.
These loving pets often use their potty breaks as a chance to threaten
us with a good old-fashioned scalp mauling. In these perilous moments,
I always do the gallant husband-type thing and position myself between
the lunging lawn sausages and my wife while praying that
if I do soil myself, it won't be caught on video and uploaded to
It may surprise you, then, that when I accompanied my wife on a
recent business trip to the beautiful Tanglewood Resort and Conference
Center at Lake
Texoma on the border of Texas and Oklahoma, I willingly risked
life, limb, and my clean, fresh scent to go hiking. Yes, hiking
also known as walking in places you shouldn't.
While my wife was in meetings, I could have participated in striped
bass fishing, pontoon boating, or having my back hairs moisturized
at Tanglewood's Tranquility Spa and Salon. But since most of these
activities required that I get out of bed before noon, I decided,
instead, to sleep late, put on my "Welcome Ticks!" sandwich board
and head out to the hiking trails.
When I asked the front desk clerk for directions to the trails,
she replied, "Well, we're not really recommending the hiking trails
at the moment due to the snakes and the hogs, but you can do what
The Snakes and the Hogs? Weren't those the gangs in "West Side Story"?
Anyway, I wasn't about to let a bunch of woodland hoodlums and their
homies deter me from possibly getting a heat rash and dislocating
my pinky toes.
Once I found the trailhead and noticed that it introduced a steep,
gravelly descent through the woods and toward the lake, I immediately
began to question my choice in footwear a pair of Nike Air
Assault sneakers purchased five years ago in the dad-shoe section
at Academy Sports + Outdoors. Luckily, I only did the slipping-splits
a couple of times, which made my groin feel like I had just lost
to Simone Biles on the balance beam.
I was actually hoping I might spot some forest wildlife, but I guess
the snakes and hogs were napping after preying on the hikers who
got up before lunch. I did, however, notice a few feral beer cans
and one rare North American toilet seat that some nature-lover had
mercifully released into the wild.
When I finally stumbled to the trail's end that revealed a vast
marina on the lake, the air temperature was roughly the same as
the Wal-Mart parking lot in mid-August, which called for extreme
life-saving measures. In other words, I took off my shirt
in public a shocking act of exhibitionism that scandalized
a nearby flock of Canadian geese who promptly regretted their migration
After I had hiked back up the trail and made it to the safety of
air-conditioning, I felt proud and invigorated. In fact, I somehow
convinced my wife to go hiking with me the next day. (We're still
feeling hopeful about the marriage counseling.)
hiking did give me a chance to get in touch with the natural world
for a change. Most of all, it made me thankful that the good Lord
designed His beautiful creation in all its variety for us to enjoy-except
for, maybe, the snakes and the hogs.