We would be fine, right? Sure, we were heading into the woods but this was the middle of the day and we were young...well, the rest of the group was...and we were vibrant...ok, for the adults, said vibrancy may have been due to the adult beverage sippy cups we were hoisting...so, what's the worst that could happen?
Isn't that what every happy-go-lucky group says before skipping merrily into the dark, enchanted forest?
Once upon a time, a young, merry band of travelers thirsting for adventure set out into the Enchanted Forest, looking to discover its secrets. The youngest among us, Tanner, Caitlyn and Sierra, led us on our path through the woods; watching carefully for the mystical blue signs that would ensure that we were going in the proper direction. Sierra would gather multi-colored stones for protection and Caitlyn and Tanner thought up new identities for each of us in order to confound any malevolent spirits that we might encounter. They assumed the identities of an elderly married couple and found canes to aid their walking....and poke me with, as well. They proceeded to rename each of us. They named Rhonda Glinda, as in the Good Witch and myself as Alvin...like the noble chipmunk. We adults followed behind in merry fashion; heartily laughing and enjoying our magic elixirs. These elixirs surely would aid us in our journey as one was home brewed by our own traveling sorceress Anne and the other was named after the legendary warrior Bloody Mary. As we ventured forth, the Enchanted Forest seemed to mount its defenses against us as the entirety of our surroundings darkened, and the colors seemed to fade into a grayer hue. Rays of sunlight shrank into pinpricks and the trees appeared to thicken. The trees also became more barren and misshapen, as if ravaged by great floods or devastating fires. One particularly sinister tree, its branches bent in nightmarish fashion featured a gaping maw at its center that seemed to invite innocents to enter, only to never be seen again.
Brave and fearless young Caitlyn, with her mother Jill at her side, walked right up to the dark void and utilizing their boundless creativity, deemed the tree a portal to another mystical land. While tempted to enter the tree, we all agreed to continue on, following the blue signs through the Forest. Trudging on, we thought that we had found our destination, but instead were tricked into a dead end....climbing
up a steep ridge, Sierra clung tighter to my side as we saw buzzards circling above and the intimidating birds seemed to sweep closer as we continued our climb. Suddenly, the sunlight brightened and the forest opened up and we ran; assured that we had found the endpoint and would soon rejoin our loved ones. Our hopes were dashed; as we ran to the the end of a knoll, surrounded by a vast lake that went on forever.
Our only choices were to leap into the lake and swim for it or to return into the Forest. We gathered and discussed our choices and in the end, we took the road less traveled...back into the Forest.
We tarried on and soon depleted many of our supplies. The Forest darkened again and the foliage returned to its gnarled state. We grew more apprehensive and our young ones were starting to shrink from this daunting path. Buzzing clouds of insects hovered in our way and long weeds lashed at our legs as we carried on. Young, intrepid Tanner continued to lead us, but even he was beginning to tire as the trail felt endless. Soon, we saw a herd of dear gallop nearby, leaving us all agape in wonder. As if a sign had been sent to us telling us not to give up, we kept going forward. Finally, we saw the familiar road that led us back to our campground and to our loved ones. In the end, the Forest's secret seemed to be the very challenge of traversing its trail without giving up. We all met the challenge, especially the young ones who despite some scares and frustrations, displayed courage, perseverance and valor.
Having proven themselves worthy, they all lived happily ever after.
Ah, happy endings...well. except for those ticks that several of us inherited on our return to the campground...like the ones that tried to get a bit intimate with Keith. Or the bug that Anne swallowed. Or the horsefly that bit me on my back.
Whatever. We took the road less traveled and had a most excellent and memorable time. Way to lead us through, kids!