I was pulled from the side of the road by a couple, Betsy and Ann. They were headed to California, but in no big hurry. They lived in their vehicle but needed to have a residence established as a means to secure SSI disability payments. I was not certain of their disability, but they claimed to not be able to work. Their residence of choice was in Berkley, By their story, they had little over a month to return there for a disability review. As we got underway we noticed a parade of police cars headed back towards Marathon. They bore markings from the FHP (Florida Highway Patrol), FMP (Florida Marine Patrol), and Monroe County Sheriff. I suspected they were headed for a showdown at Grassy Key. As I related the story about the recent demise of Paradise, we offered prayers and good wishes for the folks whom may be in confrontation. Each of us had experience traveling slowly on the East Coast of Florida, so we decided to leave via the West Coast.
We made many stops crossing the Everglades. I even cajoled them into pulling into Everglades National Park which I had visited on my way down. I related the tale of having snuck onto a military base but we were able to restrain ourselves from breaking that barrier. By the time we hit the west coast it was getting dark. We headed to the beach in search of a place to camp. On a long stretch of unnamed shore north of Naples we pulled in for the night. There was just enough light to see the pieces of wood I was gathering for a fire, but not enough light to see what bit my hand when I reached for a piece. Whatever it was delivered a painful sting to my right palm. In minutes my palm swelled up. I was determined to not go to a hospital. I had no insurance or funds to cover emergency costs. My camp mates ministered and nursed me through the night. The swelling continued up my arm to the elbow. The pain slowly turned to numbness. I worried slightly about what would be the consequence should the numbness go past my shoulder. Somehow, I went to sleep and by morning pain dissipated, swelling went down and numbness was replaced by a slight itchy tingle. My diagnosis was that I suffered a scorpion sting. By coincidence or not, both of my traveling companions were Scorpios. Despite an invitation to accompany them to California, I left them in Gainesville. I hoped not to have anymore painful stings.