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[ft-l] The earth shook -- a fanciful trip report



DATELINE: Oviedo, FL  December 17, 1999

As scientists here in Central Florida put their heads together in puzzlement 
at last evening's magnitude 2.7 earthquake centered in nearby Little Big Econ 
State Forest, your intrepid reporter (hereinafter abbreviated YR) rushed to 
the scene of "ground zero" of this seismic event and was greeted by a most 
unusual scene.

I arrived a scant 12 hours after the trembler which occurred at 7:29PM EDT 
and witnessed the serene campsite on the bank of the Econlockhatchee River 
nestled among several majestic live oaks festooned with spanish moss, 
resurrection ferns, red blanket lichen and other of nature's gifts that made 
the backpacker's choice of this campsite understandable.  My reporter's eye 
quickly spotted a clue into the mystery that has the experts questioning the 
stability of the tectonic plates beneath this region, previously thought to 
be quite stable.

There, tied up between two pine trees,  was the remains of a lightweight 
nylon hammock which had given up the fight to restrain its occupant from the 
eternal enemy, gravity.  Having surmised that there may be a link between my 
observation and the earthquake of last night, I searched for the occupant of 
this campsite.  As I scanned to my right, I saw a figure seated on the 
horizontal branch of one of the live oaks, eating his breakfast of cheese 
grits which was cooked on his Esbit stove.

Dear readers, YR has covered many stories and personalities over the years, 
and have always been well served by the simple quest to find the who, what, 
where, how and why of each story.  Strangely, in this instance, due to the 
bizarre and -- shall we say -- rather obtuse nature of the individual I 
encountered, I am unable to summarize my findings into a coherent story.  
Fortunately, I had my tape recorder with me, and will instead provide a 
transcript of my meeting with this colorful backwoodsman (hereinafter 
abbreviated BW):

YR:  Good morning, sir, I am YR from Internet News Network.

BW:  Howdy.  Want some grits?

YR:  No thank you.  I'm here investigating an earthquake, sir.  Could you 
tell me your name?

BW:  I'm Solar Bear.  Earthquake, huh?

YR:  Solar Bear?  Do you have a real name Mr. Bear?

BW:  Here in the woods I am Solar Bear, only Solar Bear.

YR:  Have you been camped here long?

BW:  I strolled in with my pack yesterday afternoon.  What's this about an 
earthquake?

YR:  Didn't you feel it?  Scientists say it was centered right here and 
occurred last night about seven-thirty.

BW:  Jiminy Christmas!  That warn't an earthquake!  How fer apiece could it 
be felt?

YR:  In order to triangulate this position, readings were sampled from three 
seismic monitoring stations as far as a hundred miles from here, Mr. Bear.

BW:  Well, tarnations!  That was just me falling out of me disintegrating 
hammock.  You gonna share this with the world?  I was kinda hoping to keep 
this little incident to meself.

YR:  With all due respect, sir.  The shock was felt by thousands.  People 
need to know what happened here.

BW:  Well, okay, I guess.  But only if'n I can splain it like it happened.

YR:  I have a tape recorder here, Mr. Bear.  I'll see that the story gets 
told exactly as you tell it to me.

BW (suspiciously):  You ain't carrying a cell phone, are ya?

YR:  No sir, in my haste to get here, I forgot it.

BW:  A good thing, since I skin cell phone users alive and make Christmas 
ornaments out of the pelts.  Ya wanna drop by the house to see me tree?

YR (gulp):  No thanks.  Go ahead and tell me your story.

BW:  Well, on these short days of late fall, I carry a hammock to while away 
the extra time I'm not hiking.  Yesterday, I found this here campsite which I 
reckoned to be quite agreeable, seeing as how those two pines over yonder are 
spaced jes right fer me hammock and provide a most agreeable view of the 
river, though I was a might concerned about injuns and gators -- though them 
gators been purty quiet nows I reckon it, since them injuns from up in 
Tallahassee put a whoppin' on 'em gators.  So I decided to camp right here, 
but with a wary eye.  After my evenin' vittles of ramen noodles and instant 
taters, it was already dark at 6:30.  Coulda used some company last night, 
too.  You like ramen and taters, there, fella?

YR (feeling put on the spot):  Yessir, sounds very tasty.  Please continue 
with your story.

BW:  So I decides to set a spell in me hammock.  The skies were cloudy, but 
the peaceful river calmed me spirit and I dozed most contentedly.  At about 
seven-twenty-five, I awoke to an urgent need of the bladder which was soon 
remedied.  After which I stood gazing at the river, noticing too that the sky 
had cleared somewhat and a half-moon brightened the campsite.  The 
temperature, having fallen a bit, sent me in search of my fleece jacket.  
After which I reckoned a further spell on the hammock would be mighty nice.  
So I laid me down on it and as I was adjusting meself, I heard what sounded 
like a rifle shot, and all of a sudden  like, I find meself plunging 
weightless to the ground fer about a third of a second, but which, my friend, 
seemed longer than those damned long-winded stories yer so famous fer.

YR:  What went through your mind as you plummeted weightless to the ground?

BW:  Well, sir, it's a funny thing you should ask, becuz what went through my 
mind then was a playback of all those special, tender moments I've 
experienced in my life concerning womenfolk.  Seeing as this only took up 
about a third of the fall, I replayed 'em twice more, until my arse and head 
made a most profound impact with the ground!  I reckon it was about seven 
thirty, jes as you said.  Having a thick skull, it didn't cause much pain in 
my head -- though take a look at that crater.  But oh, my arse.  Wouldja like 
to see the bruise?

YR (terrified):  No, indeed!  So tell me, Mr. Bear, what did you do the 
remainder of the evening?

BW:  You mean besides rubbin' me arse?  Well, sir, things were purty quiet 
'ceptin' the noisy squirrels overhead, and perhaps it was the bump on me 
noggin' that set me to thinkin' fer the remainder of the night jes what kind 
of shenannigans I could share with my online buddies when the trip is 
over........

(end of transcript)

YR:  Well, there you have it, my esteemed readers, an exact transcript from 
one of the strangest people this reporter has ever met.

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