Gator hunting

Today has been one of those obscure days you didn’t think would come together quite like it did.

It started off really early at around 6 am. We slowly made our way towards the boat tour place where we planned on doing an air boat ride for the first time.

We were obviously there early and they had a bit of a viewing area which we checked out while we waited for the first tour to kick off.

With only one other couple in our boat, perfectly warm weather and a great guide we had a fantastic time -we ended up spotting over 25 gators and tons of birds.

If you ever want to go on one of these tours we learned some valuable things which we can pass along. Get there early for 3 reasons:

1. Less people – we got almost private tour, by the time we were done there were line-ups and full boats going out at other places we saw full tour busses had arrived!

2. The gators are plenty – at the first sight of sun in the morning all the gators like to be hanging out on the grass.

3. The birds are (still) there – as you’re motoring up to the areas they are hanging out in they start to fly off which is a beautiful sight. Our guide said they don’t usually return for later tours once they’ve been disturbed. The same can be true for some of the gators.

We also found that Winter was the best season to visit the everglades for 2 reasons:
1. low water tables = more gators hanging out in plain view. In summer our guide says they’re almost always in the water because theres less land.
2. the water is cold = because they’re cold blooded, the gators are out of it and in the sun whenever possible (especially  in the morning)

One last tip – bring your own ear plugs if you want to avoid stuffing cotton balls in them..

Being nice doesn’t hurt either. Since we were sure to leave all the valuables safely on dry land, we went back to tip our guide, an act which prompted him to let us hold a little a baby gator. How awesome is that? (don’t mind our goofy expressions – we’re pretty happy)

He also suggested a quick walk across the road and over a bridge where we found a great little spot to chill for a bit.

After our walk, we continued to drive the alligator alley and were now pros at spotting them. Because our guide was so great at informing us about thier behaviours, we got to know exactly where they would likely be as we were driving.

As we drove though, we kept seeing these panther crossing signs which we thought was a joke, but apparently there are legitimate Florida panthers in the Everglades. The only one we spotted though was this large one out front of this obscure campground called Skunkape.

While there, we met another traveling couple who we chatted with for a while, swapping tips and suggesting places to check out.  It was great to meet like minded individuals,  I’m sure we’d cross paths again at some point.

Continuing on, we visited the USA’s smallest post office.

We actually had been in need of a post office for a while and continually caught them within 1/2 an hour of closing every time, so we finally purchased our stamp and officially sent it off. I can’t believe America’s postal system runs on a Saturday – I’m sure its convenient, but I feel for those who actually have to work on a weekend.

The obvious thing to do after mailing a letter in the Everglades is to eat gator of course. We apparently lucked out because this was not the deep fried tasteless stuff – this was the real deal: alligator fried in a pan. We’ll try anything once…

It is quite a tough meat but it was rather flavourful and tasty once you wrap your head around it. Popcorn chicken anyone?

After we’ve had our fill of gator, literally & figuratively – we continued on through to meet a friend and maybe spend the night. Within minutes of being back in the city, we were amused at the randomness of things we noticed from dancing shampoo to adult daycare.

This is just so Florida..