When my daughters and I went to Florida last month, we were perfectly happy to sit around the condo and the pool, reading and shopping and indulging in the States nearly unexhaustable supply of junk food. But eventually, that gets a little boring, even if you can buy a new kind of potato chip every single day.
Because our policy on vacation is "you don't do, eat or see anything you could at home", we wanted to do something very Floridian, and for that, we had to get the alligators involved. We don't have alligators in southwestern Ontario....we have raccoons and skunks and the occasional directionally-challenged bear, but no alligators.
My parents knew of a place a few hours south of them, on the northern edge of the Everglades, that had tours on those boats with the big fans on the back, which we don't have in southwestern Ontario either, although they might be very good in the snow. \
It was fabulous. Not for the squeamish, though, you get scary close to those alligators.
This is the boat, but that's not us on it. No one in my family would ever wear magenta capri pants. You did get to wear some nifty red earmuffs, because the fan is really loud.But you can see how low in the water it is, and that there are no railings or anything else much to stop you from toppling out into the alligator-infested water. (The water's only about a foot deep, though, so you might be able to outrun an alligator, what with the adrenaline and all.)
We spent an hour tooling around the lake, seeing dozens of alligators sunning themselves and swimming around. Sometimes the boat got really, really close to an alligator. Like this:
That grey line on the left hand side of the picture is the running board of the boat. Thing 1 took that picture without a zoom lens. The tour guide said that was probably as close as we'd ever get to an alligator, we literally could reach down and touch him. I said that was as close as I ever wanted to get to an alligator. Doesn't he look mean?
We came upon a nest of baby alligators. This one was about a foot long.
Usually, babies of any species ellicit ooohs and aaaawes of delight and appreciation. Not so with baby alligators, which, unlike kittens or koala bears, look menacing and intense. I'm pretty sure this one was eyeing up the soft, tender flesh of my knee while I was taking this picture.
The boat was very stable and you didn't feel tippy or anything in it, but you really do get close to those alligators. One woman asked if they would lunge at the boat, and the tour guide replied "I'm supposed to say 'no' ". Comforting.
The pool and a bag of chips was about as adventurous as we got after that.