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A Day in the Everglades
Me relaxing during my weekend in the Everglades
One of the locals. See ya later, Alligator
A place to rent an airboat in the Everglades
Sitting in the Florida sun
My nephew & I boating through the Everglades
An Alligator and his human assistant perform
What big teeth you've got
My nephew and I say hello to the Alligator's sidekick
Me, my nephew and some Alligators
It's always nice to scratch one more thing off your Bucket-List. I did just that on my trip to Florida; Specifically, to the Everglades. I've always wanted to visit the Everglades and I've long had a desire to see a live alligator in its natural habitat. So one day, I got to do both.
I went down to Florida to spend the weekend (my birthday weekend) in a Buddhist retreat. I spent a nice peaceful, relaxing weekend meditating, chanting and gettting in touch with myself. There was a nice lake near the retreat and I was informed that there were actual alligators within. This was very exciting to me because, as I said, I have always wanted to see one that wasn't in captivity. I hung around near the lake as often as I could during the weekend and I never once saw hide or scale of a gator.
When Monday came, it was time to leave but I wasn't quite ready to go back to New York just yet. I spent the day with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my little nephew. It was good to see family again. We had lunch and I played games with my nephew and I had a nice day. But there was one thing I still had to do. I hadn't seen a gator yet and I was bound and determined to see one before I left. Florida is supposed to be full of gators. So where were they? I asked my brother, seeing as he is a native Floridian. I figured he'd know. He told me that if I wanted to see Alligators, we should take a boat tour of the Everglades. Seeing as I've wanted to visit the Everglades for years, I was quick to latch onto this suggestion.
So we drove to the Everglades and chartered an airboat for a tour of the watery wilds where the gators dwell. I don't know who was more excited: my 3-year old nephew or me. I was just like a kid waiting to go to the amusment park.
Off we went, speeding through the swampy waters and tall reeds, in a search for any local alligators who were obliging enough to remain on the shore or surface for me to see. We'd barely started when I saw my first real, live, free gator. It was a little one (4 feet the tour guide said) but I was thrilled. I'd seen a wild alligator!
Soon we came across a king-sized gator laying on the banks,and the boat slowed to give us a closer look at the scaled specimen. It basically ignored us. I'm sure by now it was used to these annoying humans and their noisy boats tresspassing into their private aquatic homestead. We hung around for a while as the tourguide filled us in on some gator facts (I had no idea they could run 30 miles-per-hour on land) until my little nephew got impatient. He was bored with this gator and wanted to see others. The tour guide obliged and we sped off to find more.
Overall, I saw a half-dozen gators during the one-hour tour. The biggest one was 9-feet, and I was informed by the tour guide that the locals called the big fellow "Bob", which was amusing to me, because Bob is my nickname.
After the tour ended, we stopped for a brief gator show, where a young fellow handled some gators and showed us how easy you can hold a gator's mouth closed. The hard part is getting it open once it's latched onto you. My brave little nephew wanted to go down into the gator pit and play with the big beasts. He was so disappointed when we told him he couldn't.
The gator show ended and it was time to head to the airport for my flight back to NY. I returned to NY in a much better mood than I left it in. Between my calming weekend in the Buddhist retreat and my long-awaited experience with alligators in the Everglades, I was feeling better than I'd felt for months.
So that was the story of my birthday weekend and my day in the Everglades.