(Can you tell by all these Summertime Adventures that I’m trying to think of warmer times when it wasn’t below zero and snowing?) 🙂
Way down in the Deep South, outside Charleston South Carolina, under Spanish Moss draped trees and deep inside a swamp, is an Alligator Park. It sounded like a harmless tourist activity…
We decided to do the tourist thing that day of our visit with Scott. Our first stop was the Magnolia Mansion Tour. We walked around the grounds, visited the bird habitat, and were lulled and exhausted into a false sense of security by the peaceful beauty and the sweltering heat. We asked about any further tourist type attractions and were told we shouldn’t miss the Gator Park. So, off we went.
Now when you think Gator Park, you think the gators would be in a contained space, right? Or that you are shielded in some way so that you can watch them safely from a distance, right? Not in this swampy backwoods place on the planet!
“Ignorance is bliss”, they say! We buy our tickets and unknowingly proceed pass the only place we’d know to be protection. The walkways were sheets of plywood laid about 8 – 12 inches up off the black murky swamp water, until your standing on them causing them to bow down. They had rope “hand rails” running along each side…like that’ll help! Each step causing the plywood to bounce, we sure felt safe…yea right!. The truth of our situation was now becoming all-to-clear to each of us. We were literally walking right into the gators habitat. No barriers, no safety glass, no fences…
Gators lying around sunning themselves, little swirls in the water just out from the walk way, and Aunt Janice telling us all what she just learned about Alligators on National Geographic…”They stalk you from under the water” she says…”then they jump up at you from out of no where!” she goes on. At this point we are all wide-eyed and on alert. Has to be the most stressful “Park” I’ve ever been too!
The walk is about 1.5 miles long (or it seemed so)…completely and totally within the Gator’s own territory. The plywood planks gave way to an actual dirt path through the woods…you could see the foot/tail marks in the dirt of the trail. I considered the possibility that this park just might be feeding these gators the tourists who are dumb enough to buy a ticket….like us!
At this point, we are on the other side of the lake with no way to get help. Scott was crunching crackers out of nervous energy and about to choke on them because his mouth was so dry. “Look out” I yell, putting my hands on his back (thinking I’d lighten the mood with some joking around)…Scott completely launches himself off the ground, up into the air, and tries to land on top of his mother’s head! (Scott, weighing in close to or over 200lbs – his mother, weighing in at barely 100lbs soaking wet! I didn’t do that again, but we all did get a good laugh.) 🙂
Ah, yea, right! If a gator happens to gnaw on little Johnny just let the park people know…and then what? The gator goes to bed without dinner?
We come to the final stretch of the path, more flimsy plywood planks over dark water. Over to the left, a couple gators looking our way drop quietly down into the black water and disappear. At this point we break into a straight run for the exit.
Vacations are supposed to be stress-relieving…I could have just stayed at the office and walked around with the two-legged “alligator” types.