Tuesday 31 July 2012

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Sawgrass Recreation Park - Airboating in the Everglades

For some reason, risking our lives to see an alligator at the Blue Hole in the Florida Keys wasn't enough for Lori. She wanted to get out on an airboat in the Everglades and look for more gators. I'm not sure why as my wife is far, far too young to remember Miami Vice, but mine is not to question why (at least not out loud), so off we went to Sawgrass Recreation Park.

Sawgrass runs a whole variety of boat tours into the Everglades, but the most common one is a half hour tour through a little bit of swamp to whatever area the alligators have been spotted in that day. It's only $20 per adult and $10 per child (and there's a coupon available on their website), so we bought our tickets and jumped on the next boat.

There was a really quick safety briefing ("The emergency exit is the way the alligators ain't!") and we were off. It was a super smooth ride, and nowhere near as loud as I thought (They provide earplugs, but I found them unnecessary. Taylor Swift was far louder.) Sure enough, it only took about five minutes and our Captain was powering down the engines so we could all get a good look.

Now I'll admit that it was kind of cool to see two alligators out in their natural habitat, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Gators don't do much. Really they just kind of sit there and look at you, giving off a rather annoyed vibe. Kind of like my kids. Maybe that was the problem...we just happened to stumble upon teenage alligators. Whatever the reason, after a few minutes of circling and letting everybody take as many pictures as they wanted, we left the teenage gators to do whatever it is that they do (I think I heard complaining and sarcastic comments as we left) and headed back.

There was a brief stop on the way back for a quick lesson on the Everglades and to feed the birds that frequent the area...

The natural food of the Everglades...Cheez-Its.
Then we headed back to land. Now if our day had ended there, I probably would have felt like we got decent value for the money, but Sawgrass Recreation Park also has an exotic wildlife attraction attached to it. Admission is included with your boat ride and there's a fairly decent array of animals to see. During our visit we saw panthers, wolves, bobcats, snakes, and of course, more alligators.

Sure, I'll pet the alligator

But I'm not going anywhere near that thing!
The ever-popular Everglades Bobcat...
The even more popular Everglades Bunny!
Sawgrass Recreation Park was a great visit for us, and more importantly, my wife has now had her fix of searching for alligators. Combine that with the "far, far too young" comment from the first paragraph and hopefully I'm back in the good books. At least until the next time that I refuse to take an alligator she's holding. Those things are slimy!

Written by Steve Pratt