What not to wear: swamp edition



Haha, this one is quite a story. November 2008, I was living in France and had plans to visit my homeland of New Jersey, and I’d arranged to finally meet my dear friend Allen Crawford (aka Lord Whimsy) in real life for the very first time. Allen’s idea of a good time: trekking around in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (a huge pine forest full of bogs and swamps) and showing me lots of rare and interesting plants. It was fantastic! I love the outdoors, however, I had not packed for sloshing through the swamp on this trip. Those are a pair Wellington boots borrowed from Allen’s wife Susan, along with a paisley black velvet jacket from H&M, silver paisley tie from Macy’s, black vest and purple shirt from who knows where, and my default pair of pants for many years: black H&M skinny girls’ pants (I have probably a dozen pairs of them). Sunglasses are Diesel, a gift from my girlfriend from when she was a buyer for Diesel in Paris.

Anyway, Allen is one of the best-dressed people I’ve met in my life; he’s kind of a legend. However, he knows how to dress appropriately for the swamp, and I tried desperately to convince him (and you, dear reader) that I actually do have casual/rugged clothes for camping/hiking/etc and that I’m not so ridiculously prissy that I’d dress like this for the swamp on purpose. Seriously, someday I will work up the courage to do a post here about my workout clothes and my camping/hiking clothes.

So, this particular day started out absolutely lovely and turned crazy fast. Allen drove me from spot to spot in his car, which he referred to several times throughout the day as his donkey. He pointed out beautiful carnivorous pitcher plants and tons of different kinds orchids and moss and other things I immediately forgot the names of. Allen’s enthusiasm was tangible and infectious. I was excited to see the other spots he wanted to show me and was very happy to be hanging out with this fascinating guy.

We returned to the donkey and headed to a second spot Allen knew, an incredibly clear shallow stream running through some woods, with more pitcher plants and other assorted flora. We’d been out in the Pine Barrens for only an hour or so and I was eager to see a lot more.

On our way to the third spot, the donkey died.

We were driving on a gravel road in the woods, and the engine just plain stopped working. Fortunately there was no danger, as we were the only car on the little road and the brakes still worked and everything. Allen tried starting her up a few times to no avail. We waited. We looked under the hood at… things. We tried again. We waited. We admitted to one another we didn’t know much about cars. We pushed the car over to the side of the road and called for help.

Allen’s phone didn’t get any signal out there, and my phone got zero bars but amazingly we were able to make a call anyway. Allen called Susan and arranged a rescue plan. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the bumper of his car on one of the sunniest, warmest November days I’ve ever seen, chatting about anything and everything. Several times thoughout the day, big jeeps full of hunters happened past and most of them stopped and offered to help. We thanked them and told them we already had help on the way. I can only imagine what those guys thought at the sight of two fellows such as Allen and me out there in the middle of this untamed forest, ha. After a couple hours of killing time identifying insects and trees, Susan arrived bearing giant drinks from Wendy’s and a huge ziplock bag full of leftover Halloween candy. We were saved. I still think of this day as one of the funnest adventures of all time.

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