January 08, 2005


Reading through my blogroll yesterday, I read over at Mostly Cajun's about how his Uncle Pete had his version of walking on water, and knew I was going to have to post a couple of stories. I wasn't the only one. Wasn't long, and I noticed that Dash and Christina had posted stories also. The topic? Encounters with snakes.

As you may be able to tell, I hate snakes. I do not like them with all the "do not likedness" one is allowed to possess. They aren't right. Nothing that lacks legs should be able to move as fast as they do. If I'm aware of their presence, I'm not so spineless. Put some glass between me and a serpent, and I can watch them for hours. Because of the "moving without legs thing." But take away that glass, and any sudden moves could trigger a bowel movement. I'm drifting.

The stories of the swamp reminded me of my own murky water encounter. I had just gotten to my permanent duty station at Lejeune, and we had a nice little hump out into the middle of nowhere. (Somewhere not too far from Combat Town for those that know the area.) We were to stay out for a couple of nights, recon patrols and practicing different things.

One of the corporals told me, as we walked into our camp, to keep an eye out for snakes. And then he told me about a few brushes with snakes by others, and his own personal unintentional rendezvous with a cottonmouth. Right in this very area. Great. I didn't know if he was just jacking me or what, but you warn me about snakes, I'm payin' attention!

Inevitably, I got my shot to go out on patrol. I had watched the previous patrols all taking the high ground as they left. I'm sure they all hit the swamp eventually, but still, I had my hopes. They were crushed immediately as we left camp and dropped down into the marsh.

It wasn't that bad, until we started across some standing water. The water was deep enough to come to the tops of my knees (almost 2ft.), with a couple of spots about 3/4 of the way up my thigh.

We were a little over halfway across, when we got the signal to "Freeze." We slowly squatted down until our asses were just barely out of the water, as we watched an "enemy patrol" working their way along the swamp. 50 yards away, and they never saw us! They were just about out of sight when I felt a tap on my leg. On the inside of my thigh! As I stood there wondering "WTF?!," the tap was followed by a solid bump, bump on the same leg, and one on the other! I slowly turned to verify that there was indeed a goodly interval between me and the Marine following me, then looked down, and saw a swirl in the water! I immediately thought, "Cottonmouth!"

I would like to think that it was discipline and not fear that kept me motionless. I'll probably never truly know. I do know that as soon as the signal was given to move, I somehow was up a skinny little tree. I think I levitated, because I sure as hell don't remember climbing!

I'm not sure to this day if that was a snake in that water, or what. I figure it was Divine payback for something I had done while still in Pendleton.

We were doing a land navigation course as part of our infantry training. As my partner and I finished up, we ran into some Marines that had been in boot camp with us. We're all making our way back along a thin trail, when we were frozen in our tracks by a buzzsaw rattle. We couldn't figure out where it was coming from, or if there was more than one snake in the brush.

The area we were in is thick with rattlesnakes. I swear that they dump all rattlers found in the west onto Juliet area! To top things off, some loon had been catching them and taking their rattles off earlier in the day. We were petrified!

We finally located the bastard under some brush near the trail. Seriously, I would lay money that his head was almost two and a half inches across. This was a big snake! We decided to go elsewhere, when we heard another rattle. Now we had a choice; go through the brush and face who knows how many snakes, or work our way past the big boy. At the time, "leave the area the way we came" never even came to mind.

After much nervous laughter, I decided I would go first. I started walking and when about even with the snake, I "jumped to safety." Nervous reaction. But my partner did the same thing. The other two decided that they were going to go together. (They were cousins from Minnesota.) They counted down, and took off running, then launched themselves into the air. I couldn't resist. I did my impersonation of a rattlesnake at that moment.

I can't say I wouldn't have reacted the same way they did. And I realize that it's not funny. But it was hysterical! The look on their faces was classic as they both tried to stop in midair. One of them almost made a 180o turn by the time he landed. It was a contorted mass of bug eyes, swirling arms, and kicking feet! And yes, I got the crap pounded out of me for that. I couldn't fight back because I was laughing so hard!

After my little encounter in the swamp, I've never messed with anyone when it comes to snakes. I've learned my lesson. Other fears, however, I still have to work on!!!

Posted by That 1 Guy at January 8, 2005 10:39 AM | TrackBack