Train Wreck

Dad promised that there would be something amazing as we branched of the highway into the dirt road, but he wouldn’t tell us what it was. We winded ourselves through trees until we arrived at a large grassland area, surrounded by forest and a sign that read “Snake Dens”. Narcisse Snake Dens holds the record for the highest concentration of gardener snakes in the world. The park was a 3k nature walk meandering it’s way past huge snake dens (which resemble caves). We saw a coyote bounding through the grass field when we started, and about a hundred feet in snakes were already slithering in the brush beside the trail.
The male to female ratio of gardener snakes is about 10,000:1, which means one female creates a gag-worthy ball of males all competing for her. During the walk I observed a clump up close by the binoculars, and a gut wrenching image of slithering bodies burned itself into my mind. After that I walked as far from the edges of the trail as possible. Despite constantly looked around my feet from paranoia I nearly stepped on the tails of two.
By then my sister decided to walk back to the car. Alone.
Mom was not shaken by the snakes but rather went insane over the unnerving population of flies, bees, caterpillars, and butterflies swarming us (not made better by her preexisting phobia of flying things, and Josh’s fear of bees). Josh went ballistic screaming and crying over the overwhelming bee population. Mom was already anxious to go back, and was about to blow a fuse over Dad’s “Let’s explore a bit” attitude.
The trail finally came to an end and sighs of relief were made, until we realized that Grace was not in the car and nowhere to be found. We yelled and yelled. I was less worried about the snakes but more about the previously sighted Coyote. Eventually we all separated and scanned different sections of the trail. I found a stranded hair tie lying eerily in the middle of the road which did not help calm the sense of escalating suspense.
Earlier when Grace headed off on her own, we presumed she had gone back for good; but actually she was just retrieving her camera, and assumed we were waiting for her. Grace was soon found by Dad.
The drive back was very silent (Josh already in trouble for sneaking, and setting off cap gun caps). All of us were traumatized in our own ways and left with snake-related PTSD.
Except Dad. He thought it was pretty cool.