Monday, August 4, 2008

Last week Sarah and I traveled to the southernmost part of our region to explore a cracker house and a possible shell mound, and also so that I could meet our counterparts from the East Central region, Rachel and Tim. And although those sites turned out not to be the most exhilarating that we’ve ever seen, we had our share of adventure.

We love getting out and exploring the archaeological sites in our region, so the four of us took the opportunity to check out Hontoon Island, a state park in Deland featuring, among other attractions, a prehistoric Indian mound.

Our visit started with a brief boat ride from the parking area to the island itself, during which time we were directed to the museum and the trail that leads to some cabins and, eventually, the mound.

The museum displayed some fascinating artifacts, as well as a reconstructed profile of the layers in the shell mound. We also saw some pictures and discussion of a huge wooden owl totem, which for some reason had been moved to the Fort Caroline National Memorial several years ago.

After the museum, we spent several minutes doing extensive archaeological (ahem) study of a manatee swimming near the docks.

Just before leaving, Sarah, Tim, and I headed down the path to the mound, even though we didn’t have time to go all the way to it. Rachel wisely stayed behind. We got as far as the cabins and started back, when we stumbled upon our greatest adventure of the day: we were attacked by a giant rattlesnake!

Okay. When I say attacked, I mean we almost walked over it, and by huge, I mean about a foot-and-a-half long. All the same, we spent about ten minutes trying to figure out how to navigate our peril. None of us were sure how to get around it without immediate need of medical help, and we felt too silly to call the park rangers over a foot-long snake. Sarah tried the “throw something at it” method using the stem of a palm frond, but missed the snake by enough that he didn’t seem to notice anything new. I had just about decided to take up residence in cabin one when Tim discovered some luck at just cutting the rattler a wide berth. He started past the snake and it turned away, slithering off the path, but not before Sarah snapped some more photos.

So, now that I’ve been through it, I’ve learned a little something. If you find yourself in the path of a rattler and aren’t sure what to do, call Tim or Sarah. I’ll be in cabin one.

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