Two adults and two children, dressed in snowpants and rainboots, walked towards us as we paid the parking machine and headed towards the path.
"That's right," I said to Axel, Megan, and Little L. "They said to wear boots because it's muddy." Little L was in tennis shoes. I had almost told her to change, but she had put them on all on her own, without my prompting, and without a fuss. I wasn't going to go tempting fate. How bad could it really be, right?
The family neared us. I couldn't help noticing the squishing sound of their muddy boots on the concrete path as we descended into nature. "We aren't really dressed for this, are we?" I said to one of the adults, laughing, as if we were the kind of people who did things unprepared all of the time.
"If you stay up top, it's not as muddy," they offered, as the kids wiped their boots on the grass.
We set off up a small incline. "This is why I told you to pack boots," I informed Megan, who had opted not to waste space in her compact carry-on for rain boots; her next stop after Minnesota was Palm Springs, after all. Yes, those friends might be offering an all-inclusive weekend at a private pool, but we had a bog, darnit!
I had on a pair of running shoes. My black rain boots sat untouched in my closet, much like Little L's pink muddy ones that were in the shoe rack by the back door. Along with the pink rain pants that I recently got her after she started coming home every day in March with her muddy snowpants and mittens in a plastic bag; she just couldn't stay out of the mud.
So here was Little L, carrying a bucket and a shovel - this is how I had coaxed her out the door, you see. Little L wasn't exactly thrilled with the concept of going out for a hike, and in fact she had only put on her tennis shoes to follow me outside when I was getting something from the garage. That's why I hadn't pushed the appropriate gear - she was out of the house! "Here, you can scoop stuff," I'd told her, in the hopes of making it sound fun. Then we somehow piled into the car and took off.
Every once in a while, by which I mean approximately every two feet, Little L stooped down and raked at the mucky goop that our feet were sinking into. "Come on," I urged her, as I saw Megan and Axel turn left and start heading down a narrow pathway.
As we followed them, things started to smell bad. Little L has quite the sensitive nose, but she didn't seem too upset by it. She can tell when I haven't showered or brushed my teeth or Axel has overindulged in raw garlic skordalia, but luckily, she wasn't too offended by the smell of the bog.
We followed Axel and Megan over a gray boardwalk with plants surrounding us on both sides. "Keep Little L on the boardwalk," Axel yelled back to me; apparently the area that looked like plants was actually also filled with water. I guess that's what makes it a bog?
After awhile, Axel and Megan, up ahead of us, decided to turn around. Little L's white sneakers were covered in mud, but she hadn't complained. Not even once.
As we came to the bog exit, I said, "Hey, didn't that family say it wasn't too muddy?" I looked down at my own feet, and then at Little L's, which seemed to hold about half of the bog.
"That was if you stay up top," Axel said, pointing to the path we had veered off of half an hour back.
We snapped a few photos on our way out. "Just in case I need to write a blog post about this," I said, thinking of the day-long rainy hike I took with Megan and her friend in Portland years ago, and the wonderful series of blog posts that I had fashioned from the experience.
"A blog post!" I said, laughing at my own ingenuity. "Or a BOG post!"
Megan and Axel both looked slightly amused. "Didn't you hear us?" Megan asked. "We've been saying that this entire time."
We tried to de-bog our shoes as we departed, leaving as much of the bog behind as possible. We headed to the car, bog still clinging to our sneakers.
"That was great!" Axel exclaimed.
"It was an adventure to remember!" Megan added.
"Mama I liked the bog!" Little L said. High praise from the most critical member of the group.
Little L careened down the hill to the car, sliding in wet mud. "We're gonna have to take your shoes off before we get in the car," Axel warned her.
No one was even upset with our bog-venture. Muddy as it was, and our car would be for days, it was the first time any of us had ever been to - or smelled - a bog. Take that, Palm Springs!
As we neared the car, I pulled out one last trick to seal the deal: Homemade chocolate chip cookies! No, of course I didn't make them myself. They were from my friend Mary.
We peeled Little L's shoes and socks off and she climbed into the car. Once we were all situated, I put my mittens on Little L's cold boggy feet for the drive home.
I glanced back at Little L's mittened feet as I pulled out of the parking lot.
"I can't wait to write that bog post," I said.