After arriving in Southport with a feeling of relief over the condition of our boat and a fresh outlook on the place in general, we discovered all kinds of hidden gems that we weren't aware of when we left our boat there three months ago. One of the best surprises is that the marina has it's own small, private beach. You just have to take a short walk through a woodsy tunnel to get there.
Easy enough, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
Don't let the photo above deceive you. I mean, it actually was a beautiful, sunny day. And the tunnel itself did look kind of pretty. From a distance.
Up close, things got ugly.
We were about halfway through, enjoying our day and looking forward to seeing what this private beach was all about, when suddenly, we heard a violent thrashing in the woods, just a few feet away. We both froze in our tracks. We had startled some large animal and it was either coming or going or just plain stuck. I had visions of wild boars and grizzly bears, this was certainly no squirrel. My heart was racing and I didn't know whether to run or play dead. Do I run towards Riley, or stay away in case this crazed creature wants to take him out first? He was just standing there as dumbly as I was, so I knew it was every man for himself. I also knew from the sheer volume of frantic activity, that any contact with this animal (even if it was, most likely, a deer) would come in the form of vicious trampling or mauling.
After nearly forever, the noise stopped just as suddenly as it had started. We gave each other a wary look and then continued down the path with trepidation.
And then, just as my heart rate started to return to it's normal speed, Riley took a gigantic surprised leap backwards. Snake! But not just any snake. A sneaky, slimy Copperhead just lying in wait to sink its fangs into Riley's flesh. As I took a timid peek around Riley to watch the vile thing slither by, I had to wonder if this was really such a good idea after all. I mean, the beach is nice and all, but not if you're DEAD.
However, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel (literally), and I wasn't in any hurry to turn right around and go back through, so with senses on high alert and eyes glued to the ground, we finally made it to the end.
And I suppose it was all worth it, because this was waiting for us on the other side:
A small, empty beach where we could regain composure, relax with a beer on a log, and let Gidget run free. All was right with the world.
Until, of course, it was time to leave. Fortunately, we made it back through the tunnel without anymore threats on our lives. But I'll never look at it the same, that's for sure.
So, the next time you're taking a leisurely stroll through an innocent looking forest tunnel in the middle of the day, beware. Maybe sing a little tune to announce your presence to any lurking creatures. Arm yourself with a big stick. Watch your step. And of course, always let your partner walk a few feet ahead of you, just in case. I mean, somebody's got to make a sacrifice, right?