Friday, August 24, 2007

My First Gator

Okay, this did not happen on our first trip to Florida. We'd already been there several times. First we did the Disney World/Epcot experience, then we did Speed Week. Heck, we'd even ventured down to the Keys a few weeks after a hurricane devasted the surrounding area. But this was the first time we ever ventured into the Everglades.

It was a wild and blustery winter day in south Florida (but still a LOT warmer than here in winter!) when we pulled into the ranger's station intent on taking one of those swamp buggy tours into the Everglades. Unfortunately, the weather made it unsafe for swamp buggies or anything else out in the 'Glades, the ranger politely explained. Road closed. End of line. But seeing how crest-fallen we were, she directed us to a nearby spot where we would probably see some alligators in the wild.

We followed her directions and within minutes found ourselves driving slowly along an elevated gravel road with water on both sides. The vegetation was lush and there were birds galore. Suddenly, DH threw the car into reverse and backed up about 100 yards, then inched forward a bit, saying, "I think I see a gator!"

He rolled down the window and pointed. I couldn't see anything, so he shut off the car and we both got out and walked to the back bumper. The DH pointed again and I squinted a little more, until I noticed the partially submerged black log he indicated actually had AN EYEBALL! Oh WOW! An honest to goodness gator! I'd seen them in the zoo, of course, but never in the wild so this was exciting.

We stood for several minutes just looking, and the gator just stayed there too, never moving. Then DH got the bright idea to "feed" it to see if it would move. He opened the trunk and pulled out a fat-free muffin left over from breakfast (they hadn't been very tasty, but we didn't throw them out in case we were desperate for a snack), and lobbed it in the gator's direction.

In about one-tenth of a nanosecond, the thing whipped around and these massive jaws went SNAP! As my eyes bugged out and my throat made this funny little EEP sound, my brain shouted, "That thing is FAST! And it's A LOT BIGGER than it looked!" Well over six feet! But mostly I'm thinking, "RUN YOU IDIOT! DON'T JUST STAND HERE!"

Apparently DH read my thoughts, or he was thinking the same thing. But he managed to tell me, "Do not run! Slowly get in the car." Yeah, right! We both shuffled carefully and quietly around and got into the car. Gravel flew as we high-tailed it outta there!

We've been back to Florida many times, and have been into the Everglades more than once. AWESOME PLACE! We've even been on a couple of swamp buggy tours. But we have NEVER again been stupid enough to try and feed the gators!

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