Tourists in a strange land …

My wife promised me adventures the day we got married … and today she delivered. With the weather cloudy and the air warm but not muggy, we took several hours getting up and moving. Finally deciding on taking another trip to Myakka to go roller blading – which overruled (Cam’s idea) a trip back down to Venice – had us packing our bag with water, shoes, roller blades, and jackets (in case the weather went sour). And we were off …
First, we should mention again that the rain has been steady down here up until this week. In fact, a dam in Bradenton was on the verge of breaking and several homes here in Sarasota were flooded due to the high water. We ourselves have some minor water damage due to a leak in the roof. So when we came upon the “Local area traffic only” sign we(I) decided that it was likely placed during the high points of the water and not yet picked up. Continuing on we soon saw that the waters were indeed high (only a about a foot or two below the bridges). It was not long though until we found ourselves at the entrance to the park. One problem … the gate was shut and a sign read “Road Closed due to high water”.
“Well, we weren’t going to take the car in anyway” – said Melissa.
So, putting on the blades we payed the park fee ($2) through a collection box and headed into the park through the pedestrian walk-through (unchained). It was around the first bend that we saw why the road was closed … the water still covered the road, though half only had a trickle flowing across.
“Guess we turn around here then ?” said Melissa. Slightly disappointed as she had really been looking forward to this roller-blading trip.
“Nope, we can make it through on this side” commented Cam as he glided into the very shallow stream.
Problem was that was not the only water section we had to cross … and we soon saw ourselves passing through several more. The forest floor had turned into a swamp, and Melissa kept stating “Keep your eyes open”. And almost like an omen, right beside us just off the side of the road we met an old friend …
gator learking
His tail splashed hard sending our stomaches into our throat.
“Ahh … hon!” Melissa stated in a shaky voice.
“YEA, I KNOW! What do you want ME to do about it!” yelled Cam.
We came to a stop on the next available dry patch of road. Knees knocking knowing exactly what we saw. Our eyes were now darting the flooded under-bush looking for what else leaked in the shallow waters.
“Where to now ?” ask Cam wondering if Melissa actually wanted to continue. Thing was … there was a choice to be made. Press on through the next 5 1/2 miles of park road, which could possibly contain more of these prehistoric “friends”. Or head back … the way we just came. Though the car is only a few hundred feet away … we still KNEW what was between us and that protection. Feeling like we were caught in a real-life moment of Jurassic Park, we took a deep breath and headed back.
“So, Melissa, do you want to go first … or second”
With Melissa taking the lead, we sped past the guarded patch of water.
“Melissa, be careful”, thinking that she might wipe out if she pushed it too hard, water and roller blades don’t usually mix.
“Just keep up”, she would shout back.
Then the last patch of water (you remember how innocent it was when we passed through just moments before) seemed to jump as there was another large splash – this time from the other side of the road. Well, at that point we broke for it … sprinting back to the car. Still shaking, I could barely open the door.
Scrambling to remove the roller blades and put on our shoes to leave, a Ford Explorer with “Fire Unit” marked on the side, looked as if they were about to stop in on us. Though they turned around when they noticed we were heading out. Think they thought we just saw the road closed sign. Turns out they were patrolling the road as we saw them doubled back again as we were driving home. As we crossed over one of the bridges we managed to see yet one more of our gator friends swimming merrily in the river, boy they are big.
And to think … just a few weeks ago we were wondering where Florida was hiding these creatures.
Well … final thoughts … “It was worth the $2 … but probably not such a smart idea” – though it was an adventure !

4 thoughts on “Tourists in a strange land …

  1. Well, I’m glad to see that you’re sense of adventure hasn’t diminished. Now if only you’re sense of survival can keep up with it.

  2. haha. Good entry Cam… makes me feel like I should be taking more adventures here. But for now I’m stuck working on a homework assignment. Ugh.

  3. Well … it was that … an adventure. What I am really hoping to do is going on a ‘toured’ hike/canoe trip with one of the park rangers. That way we can get introduced properly to the creatures of the area.

  4. Umm I hate to tell you this but there are worse things than gators in flooded swamps…hasn’t anybody schooled you on the idea of the water moccasin.
    Gators for the most part you can see…snakes are a little tougher. Hence I like to stick to saltwater. Only sharks and riptide and jetskis to worry about :).