The team of explorers took the coast route while the adults chose the path through the woods to a rendezvous point at the water’s edge. I was the youngest taking up the rear position in our line, checking out the trail as we “bushwhacked” along the beach. Our footsteps caused hidden mollusks to squirt in fright, as they burrowed deeper into the ooze. Startled ravens swooped from their perches in the ancient firs, their wings flapped ominously over our heads. We were not deterred. We moved forward.

Reaching the coast was the culmination of a grueling trek across America. They had suffered untold hardships and deprivations – sitting in a wagon for hours on end, sweating bucketloads in the western heat, setting up camp in dreadful conditions and forced to use putrid outhouses. And No TV. It was a route full of sacrifices. We had survived.

Our expedition seemed to be replicating the task of Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald as we attempted to cross mountains ranges with our boat. Every pass was a struggle, steam pumping out of the car radiator, yet the boat was not to be abandoned. Dad had made that boat and it was going to the Pacific no matter what! Werner Herzog would have appreciated the monumental undertaking. And I would come to appreciate the insane endeavors to film Fitzcarraldo.

There were times on the trip when other travelers must have viewed us as a traveling road show. What with the packed boat on a trailer, three out-of-control kids, the two parakeets, two turtles and Suzette, the neurotic wonder dog. When we pulled up to a camp site, the locals thought the circus had arrived. Unfortunately the birds couldn’t talk, the turtles lacked the Unique Features of the Mock Turtle from Alice in Wonderland, and the dog was not endowed with the wisdom of Lassie. So the crowds soon dwindled.

I was nobody’s fool. If the tide was rising, why stay a minute longer at the water’s edge. Time to find the Tsunami evacuation route and head for the hills!

Creatures from the Ocean Depths were certain to find me a tasty morsel. I could be Sweet Meat. I would not be subject to the whims of fate. Natural Selection would not happen if I had anything to say about it!

Survival of the Fittest meant only one thing to this intrepid explorer — RUN!

Forget fight.. this was all flight. I was going to rely on my homing instinct and track our footprints back to the car and where we last saw the adults.

I heard the crunching gravel as the creatures pursued me on turgid tails and slimy arms. Their putrid, hot breath exhaled with malice aforethought made me choke as I gasped for salty air. At this terrific pace, I did not know how long my adrenaline rush would last. My muscles burned.

I called upon the spirt of Davy Crockett to give me strength so I could outrun my pursuers. After all, I was in my element. They were not in theirs.

They say there is no looking back. But after my mad dash, and inspired by Davy to vanquish the creatures, I turned.

Nothing. They had vanished. Perhaps my deadly stare turned them to stone. Or Bear’s GROWL had sent them scurrying back into the Ocean.

On my safe return to the family, the group was very relieved. In appreciation, Dad gave me one slap on the butt for all my pathfinding. I was so confused. I thought I had done the right thing in heading from the point of no return to our last known place of contact. But I guess I was guilty of abandoning the team when it faced the insurmountable odds of survival. Next time I would speak out and rally the troops. All for One and One for All.