I jumped back from the edge of the campfire ring, startled. In the dim light and in my mind’s eye, the crackled, gnarled wood of a well-season timber had the same etching pattern as the scutes of a small alligator, and instinct took over. Never mind we were 3900′ atop a mountain in Georgia!
When your mind has time to wander, it does. With Florida as our frame of reference, the mind tries to bend reality into what it knows best. I saw cypress knees on hillsides. John pointed to a saw palmetto branch behind us. We both saw odd faces peering out from ancient trees, Ent-like.
The frame of reference extends to town stops, too. It’s tricky to flip-flop your reality for 36 hours. I awoke in a comfy bed in the dark of night, wondering where the tent roof was. I swigged filtered spring water from a Platypus bottle even though the tap water was a few feet away. I’m using that same bottle, filled with ice water, as a cold pack for my sore knee, alternating with microwaving wet towels to make a hot pack.
When you’re living out of a backpack, you learn a new frame of reference: how to make do. As John says “if it weren’t for these silly habits we’ve picked up, like sleeping inside under a roof and eating three meals a day, we wouldn’t be bothered with having to work so hard!”