Sand crunched beneath my feet—my very hot, sweaty feet. In fact, considering I wore Keds-like sneaker, part of that heat was the burning of that sand through to said feet. Just sayin’.
While normal kids did Saturday morning things like watching cartoons, I trudged through the Superstitions (mountains in Arizona) with my dad. Snakes, scorpions, and horned toads—not to mention spiders and… lizards.
The desert’s “gators.”
Okay, so they’re nothing like alligators, but when you’re seven, hot, sweaty, and miserable, anything looks evil and vicious.
Look, I loved those times trekking through the desert with my dad. In fact, I’ve got stories coming to tell you that’ll make you laugh at me—and him. But, there was a downside to it.
I’m no nature girl.
Okay, I love nature. Trees, green, mountains, rivers, creeks—especially creeks—and the ocean.
Double especially the ocean.
Desert… trekking around in the sand? The lovely sting of cholla as it pierces my thigh from several feet (okay, an inch or so) away? Blech. Seriously. There’s a reason it’s called “jumping cactus.” You really do feel like it “jumps” over and attaches itself to you.
Look. Aside from stunning sunsets and the blissful petrichor after a thunderstorm, “nature,” in the form of the desert, just isn’t my jam.
Still, I love to read about it—experience it from the pages of a book or even a TV screen.
Safe, cool, clean.
Like this book I got. A free review copy of Gators, Guts, & Glory arrived a while back, and I finally read it.
Note: links may be affiliate links that provide me a small commission at no extra expense to you.
Why it Takes True Grit to Read This Book
Okay, so it doesn’t. It takes true grit to live it. Yep, this trail blazer’s (okay, hiker’s) memoir makes me feel lazy. Still, there was that moment, brief though it was, that I thought, “I should at least hike some small trail someday. I like hiking.”
Yeah. I’d always loved it—when I was young, had energy, and was half the person I am now. Literally. Oh, and in places like Wheeler Springs, California where lovely creeks kept me cool and refreshed and where I could ride down the mountain anytime I liked.
“Blissful” isn’t the wimp I am.
Written in an engaging, encouraging style, Gators, Guts, & Glory shares the good, the bad, and the amazing in her memoir/adventure guide of her trek up the Florida Trail—all 1,000 miles of it (or so Wikipedia claims).
I’m still reeling from that.
I think Gators, Guts, & Glory said something about 1,100 miles. Surely, that was a typo. I mean, I thought maybe the 1,000 was a typo—a stuttering zero at the end or something.
Lauralee Bliss tells tales of meeting gators—both stone and real. Poisonous trees—trees! Blisters… I mean, duh! And so much more. A book that hadn’t interested me much to begin with turned out to be a delight. I kept getting interrupted while I read it, so before I pass it on to #1grandson and then to a friend’s hiker husband, I’m going to read it one more time.
Seriously, one of the best things about the book is that you feel like you’re talking with someone you just met at a restaurant.
“Hi! How are you? What brought you here?”
“Oh, just hiking 1,000 miles through swamps and mud bogs for the fun of it…”
So she did!
And I for one am glad. Seriously, I loved the book and, to my own shock, I’m off to buy the other one she has on hiking the Appalachian Trail. I mean, come on! I go there, to the Appalachias EVERY YEAR! That means I needed to read this book of all the things I could do if I wasn’t so lazy, was half the woman I am, and didn’t live an opposite schedule from the more sane elements of humanity!
Recommended for anyone who enjoys engaging true stories, hiking, or just seeing someone face difficult odds with a smile on her face. Oh… and clean. I love that it’s squeaky clean so I can hand it over to my grandson! I’m grateful for the free review copy, and I’m thrilled to say I loved it.
Gators, Guts, and Glory is on tour with Celebrate Lit.
About the Book
Book: Gators, Guts, & Glory
Author: Lauralee “Blissful” Bliss
Genre: Non-Fiction, Hiking, Adventure
Release date: July 15, 2019
Wander on the wild and humorous side of adventure with long-distance hiker Lauralee Bliss (trail name Blissful), hiking the 1,100-mile Florida Trail from Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore.
From alligators and cottonmouths to tenting among the palmettos and walking on water, from forests of cypress knees and lofty pine to the help of trail angels along the way, “Blissful” uncovers the hidden gems of glory in this National Scenic Trail with a unique journey unlike any other.
About the Author
Lauralee Bliss is an avid adventurer, one of only a few women to hike the entire Appalachian Trail both north and south.
She is also the published author of over 25 romance novels and novellas. Lauralee’s desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart. She makes her home in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
More from Lauralee
Why hike the Florida Trail of all things?
L – I’ve had several adventures under my belt, like completing the Appalachian Trail twice (see book one in the Hiking Adventure Series – Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail)! We used to vacation in Florida as many do come winter, and once we came upon the Florida Trail sign. I couldn’t imagine hiking among the palm trees. After talking to other hikers who had done it, I knew it would be a unique experience unlike any other. After all, why should life be boring?
It all sounds kind of dangerous – the alligators, the swamps. Were you scared?
L – I’ll admit there are facets of hiking that can cause scary situations. Once I got stuck in mud-like quicksand. In Florida, it’s known as sucking mud, and I thought I’d never get out of it. Can you imagine? I also had some rough weather, dangerous water crossings, and an encounter with a cottonmouth. But through it I learned about God’s peace and His saving hand in situations where you really have no control.
What did you do to prepare?
L – I hiked as much as I could. I talked with other hikers and asked questions. Then I joined online trail forums to find out about the Florida Trail. I bought the guidebook for it. I believe one should always try to prepare and not venture into something blind. But of course, there’s always the unexpected, which adds to the adventure aspect.
What lessons did you learn?
L – What one can accomplish in life if you keep going and not give up, despite the challenging situations thrust your way. I like to go on these journeys to witness God’s care in my life firsthand and seeing the kindness of others to help a hiker in need. I’ve had people try to give me money. Folks that invited me into their homes or given me rides. The human spirit is amazing and one of the most valuable things I experienced.
What else can you tell us about yourself?
L – I am an avid adventurer covering thousands of trail miles in the US from east to west including two completions of the Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail of Vermont, the Allegheny Trail of West Virginia, and the Foothills Trail of South Carolina. I have also authored of over 25 romance novels and novellas and when not writing or hiking, I love to talk to others about hiking. My motto is – make your dream come true! (and it has, in more ways than one)
Lighthouse Academy, July 30
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 31
Mary Hake, August 1
Inklings and notions, August 1
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 2
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 3
For Him and My Family, August 4
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 6
Girls in White Dresses, August 7
Texas Book-aholic, August 8
Just the Write Escape, August 9
janicesbookreviews, August 10
A Reader’s Brain, August 11
Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 12
To celebrate her tour, Lauralee is giving away a grand prize of a $25 REI gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e547/gators-guts