Encroachment #4 ~ Step on it! Step on them! “Them”? uh-oh

Word play on old Civil War Song
Cheer up, comrades, they will come

As the years went by, and our four children joined our family, we went on many vacations. Because of finances we tented.

After I began teaching, although we had more money, we continued to use our tent. During Easter Break we headed for Florida and camped on both coasts according to our mood.

Florida insect and arachnid populations are enormous. Eventually I became acclimated to the population sizes and the variety. The Sunshine State is also well known for its Water Bug migrations at certain times of the year.

After the children were grown and independent, we continued going to Florida once or twice a year for a long time. During one summer vacation, soon after the Florida Turnpike was completed, we were heading for the Everglades when the tires started making strange hollow grinding sounds which got worse as we proceeded southward.

Rather concerned, we pulled into a rest stop to check it out. As we opened the doors, we could distant screams emanating from the area of the bathrooms as well as various areas of the parking lots. People were darting about in an insane fashion, and workers armed with brooms were darting about just as insanely, raising clouds of dust as they frantically swung the broomsticks with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Something crawled over my sandaled foot. Ugh. It was scratchy. Then another. And another. Then dozens.

The ground was carpeted with Water Bugs from one end to the other. They were moving, migrating, flying, crawling by the hundreds of thousands.

A worker with a broom rushed over. “Need the bathrooms? These suckers are carpeting dozens of miles of this part of Florida. They’re even covering the ground of the turnpike.”

We explained our concerns about the tires. “Nah. Don’t worry. You’re killing water bugs by the hundreds. They scrunch you know, when you crush them. No tire problem. Do you need to go to the bathrooms?”

Both of us nodded assent. “Follooooooow me.” Then, swinging his broom, he proceeded to clear a path on the ground and in the air until we arrived at our destination. Other workers with brooms were guarding the entrances so people could enter safely.

I’m sure I crushed several hundred on the way. It was disgusting at first, but then I became inured and just crunched away. The bathrooms were clear of the Water Bugs.

Eventually, we were escorted back to our car, which by now was covered with the Water Bugs. A worker came over, cleared off the car, then the ground. Quickly, we leaped in and shut the door. There was a Water Bug on my head, and several more on my shoulder and head. I picked them off and crushed them in my bare fingers.

“What? Liz! You did WHAT?”

I picked them off and crushed them in my bare fingers.


Well, life with roaches wasn’t so bad after all.

Water Bugs. Wow.

Remember: inure not like.


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