Our Elderhostel program ended today and as we were making our way east to Jacksonville for the Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail, I got to thinking about some of the more unusual occurrences of the past week.
The most interesting event happened when I went to the ladies room just before taking our hike to the Big Shoals. It was uneventful in every way until I was ready to flush. That's when I noticed the four foot wooden stick in the corner. My mind started racing,(as it is known to do when there is an unsolved mystery) and I was trying to determine what the purpose of its placement right there inside the stall was. I bent a little and noticed that there was another one in the stall next to me...I presumed there was one in the third stall as well. But why?
The place was spotlessly clean, so it was not for beating off spiders or anything like that.
Hummnn...maybe to fend off gators? Every tourist in Florida has wild imaginings about them and I guess I am no different. But even I realize that a skinny four foot stick is not going to be much help against a gator; no matter what size appears. Snakes...? Nah.
So, what is that stick doing there?
I thought I would ask the ranger, surely she would know. As I approached our picnic area I saw who I thought was our leader I(turned out to be another Elderhosteler) and began questioning her. Now, I realized right away this person was NOT the leader, but I was to embarrassed to stop the question midstream, so just went right ahead and asked anyway. She had no idea either and was at this point thinking about going behind a tree, rather than using the rest room. Now I am really feeling badly, I am starting some kind of fear thing. I just wanted an answer to why that stupid stick was in the stall area. I tried to lighten up the discussion and work my way over to the ranger without too much ado.
I sort of made her know I was asking a touchy question and was trying to be discreet; did she know what those sticks were in the ladies room stalls? I told her each stall had one and I was really getting curious. She had that fearful look and said she never noticed one in any rest room before and was absolutely sure they had nothing to do with gators.
I felt much better. But, still wanted a plausible answer.
We did our hike and got back to the Park center without an answer. As long as we were not at the hiking area anymore there was nothing to be afraid of. The next morning the ranger called over discreetly and said she had the answer to the sticks. I was relieved! And still curious.
She spoke with the park maintenance people and they told her the sticks were there to use in case of freezing weather. When the forecast is for freezing temps, they place the sticks in the toilet bowls and if the water starts to freeze the sticks prevent the commode from breaking.
Thank the Lord! No fear of gators swimming up though the plumbing anymore.
Two days later we had dinner at the local Baptist church and as we were geting ready for an oral presentation in the sanctuary, a fellow Elderhosteler told me to check out the ladies room.
I did...it was much less exciting than the earlier escapade and welcomed. All flowery and smellin' good.