Late afernoon on Friday, I dropped the boys all off at our telephone and Internet free fish camp, then drove another 30+ miles into the Everglades to Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery. Clyde was there to autograph his books and calendars this weekend. I had offered to go there to pick up a couple of autographed Florida landscape books for Baseball Boy’s teacher as part of the class gift. I arrived with 28 minutes to shop. While I was there, I decided to get an autogrphed book for Mojo’s teacher also. Apparently I was a bit tired and dim witted. I had Clyde autograph a book to a person with the first name of Mojo’s teacher this year and the last name of Mojo’s teacher last year. At least I got the name right for Baseball Boy’s teacher and we can use a new coffee table book for the fish camp.
On the way back from the Big Cypress Gallery, I decided to stop at the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters. Friends of mine from college and their 4 children are intrigued by the elusive beast and I wanted to pick up a present for them seeing I was out there anyway. It was a very productive stop. They had an unusually large inventory of Skunk Ape items. I was able to buy the whole family matching Skunk Ape long sleeve t-shirts. The clerk was so excited that I was buying unprecedented amounts of merchandise that he offered all items at a discount. It was a very smart marketing technique. I added 10 drink Koozies (half off! – 6 for them and 4 for us) and Skunk Ape fishing hats for the boys in their family. I even bought a fancy red Skunk Ape hat for myself, which Baseball Boy has since converted for his own use. The clerk then threw in bumper stickers and a Skunk Ape Field Guide free of charge!
As the clerk was adding up the huge pile of items, I wandered back and found the Skunk Ape DVD and CD combination. He told me that his brother sang on track 7 and . . . believe it or not . . . his brother was in the camp ground behind the store. He gave me the code to get through the gate and assured me that I would find his brother if I drove ’round back. Against my better judgement, I took the code and drove toward the dark, scary one-way gate. It was open when I got there so I slowly drove through all the while calculating my exit strategy. It felt a bit like an everglades style deliverance. I inched my way down the dirt driveway and was greeted by the brother and his dog on small old cart of some sort. He stopped me wanting to know where I was going and whether I was planning to camp for the evening. Thinking that was an odd question to ask a lone woman in a newer model Cadillac with no camping equipment, I just smiled and said, “Are you David?” He said, “Yeeesss, Maam!” I told him I was there only to get his autograph on the DVD I had just purchased. He acted like this happens all the time and graciously personalized the autograph to my friends’ family. I thanked him and he invited me back the next night for a live concert at the camp. I was then temporarily trapped by a large fifth wheel camper that blocked me in while they got their lot number for the night.
In the vast darkness, deep in the wilderness, I half expected the Skunk Ape himself (or herself?) to walk by and tip his “Ask me about the Skunk Ape” hat at me. It didn’t happen. I guess that was just a bit too much to ask.
If you are an internet shopper, you can save the gas by going to Clyde Butcher’s website and the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters’ website (complete with a picture of David and the Skunk Ape), but you will give up the “gotta see it for yourself” experience.