Friday, March 12, 2010

Getting Our Gator On

Ever since we saw General Larry Platt do his original version of "Pants On The Ground" as an American Idol audition, we've been following "suit" and launching into the catchy tune every time we see some teeny or tweeny walking around with low riders extreme. Somehow that evolved into a Florida version on one of our many Everglades outings. Passing one of the yellow light flashing "Panther Crossing" area warning signs one day, it struck me a bit humorous so I began singing "Panther On The Ground, panther on the ground, looking like a fool with your panther on the ground." I wish I could stop, but it's one of those things you have a hard time getting out of your head. I was making good progress putting it behind me when i saw this:

at the Skunk Ape Headquarters. For those of you who are saying WHAT?- a skunk ape is the Everglades version of the Sasquatch or maybe even the Loch Ness Monster.... just not as well known, and perhaps for good reason. Just saying!

At the time of the panther sighting and the skunk ape sighting, we were enroute to meet Stonewall Gene and Jules to take in the Miccosukee Village, the gator wrestling show, and the native American Museum of the tribe located on site. And the sightings not withstanding that is what we continued on to see. We stopped and took some plant and wildlife shots on the way, and then a lot more on our way back to Everglades City afterwords. Lots of birds. Turtles. Plants. And about a million, gazillion alligators. No lie! It was one of the first warm days this entire winter and the gators were out and about trying desperately to get their cold blooded bodies back up to temp. You could see them getting more active throughout the day, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity so I took as many shots as I though I could deal with and I got as close as I though I could get away with. At 30 miles an hour they can outrun me over a short distance. Marilyn of course reminded me that at my age they could probably outrun me at any speed and over any distance. Smart Alec. At least we didn't have to test her theory, even though that alligator wrestling stuff didn't scare me one little bit! (liar, liar, pants on the ground on fire)

Another stop I will mention, we stopped off at the Big Cypress Gallery to see some work of iconic American photographer Clyde Butcher ("where-ever you go, there you are" - his line, my motto). We met some of the other photographers who show at the gallery and had a wonderful conversation, centered around the displayed photographs of the mysterious ghost orchid. While I am always on the look for them, I have never seen one in the wild. A leafless orchid that seldom blooms and then only briefly is still out of my league I suppose, but I keep my eyes open, and after seeing all the photographs of them in the gallery my odds seem a bit improved.

Any post cards from the gallery can be mailed at the Ochopee Post Office- the verified smallest post office in the United States (even though its one and only postal carrier has a route of 135 miles covering the glades between Naples and Miami).

The slide shows today are broken into two parts. First a look at the Indian village, the gator "wrestling" show and the contained wildlife in their park. There are also some shots (like the one of the snake) that we scored on the little nature board walk that goes out from the back of the village into the glades. It was a nice time. A bit predictable, but fun, and as it wasn't busy there was plenty of time for questions and answers and we felt like we learned a lot- which is pretty much why you would want to go in the first place.

Then second is a collection of the shots I took going and coming. Nothing but wild. Nothing staged. Shots taken where you had to be constantly aware of where your hands and feet were at all times, and had to have at least a good idea that the water before you was free and clear of any lurking (and hungry or annoyed) critters.

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