instagram photo before all hell broke lose and two city kids encountered the worst fear of our sheltered lives.
My life list is all about reconnecting with my inner adventurer. I used to travel and try new things as much as possible, but I felt stagnant this year and had to rectify that with a trip to Ginnie Springs. A shining Floridian sapphire gem a mere 2 hours south from my home, it's praised worldwide for its natural beauty. John Cousteau himself proclaimed the spring's waters the clearest in the world!
We rented large inter-tubes and embarked on a relaxing drift down the connecting Santa Fe River, passing beneath canopied trees, a clear blue sky and soft cumulonimbus above us. I was reminded of my desire to start a video series of my general and thrifting travels and genuinely wished I had a camera so I could vicariously bring you on this relaxing trip down the river with us, it was such a Huck Finn southern fried classic scene!
We were only drifting about 15 minutes when signs informed us the intertube exit was approaching. This is where wiser floaters took their exit but we carried on, thinking more exits would be up ahead. We'd drifted down this river before as kids and it was definitely longer than 15 minutes! The further we drifted, the more we realized we were drifting far from civilization. There were no signs of camp grounds on the banks like before, but swimming back upstream against the current was impossible. The river banks rose as we drifted on, there was no way to easily climb out of the waters and in swimsuits and no shoes we weren't suited for a long walk back in the sharp, prickly, untamed wilderness. We tried not to show our mild panic. THEN we saw it, the massive Florida Alligator.
This is not the gator we saw but it looked exactly like this guy. A big, bad, scary mofo!
I'm a huge animal lover and greatly appreciate all members of the reptile kingdom. I find the crocodilian family to be stunningly beautiful and have read about them extensively. I cursed that knowledge when feet away from a gator in the wild. Not so fun to know that I can never out-swim it in its element. Scary to recall the crushing power of its jaws, with a bite force stronger than any living creature. Once your flailing leg is caught in the prehistoric maw of this massive creature, it twists its body hard to tear your limb off! Just a bite from its heavily bacteria laced jaws can kill you. Luckily this gator was sun bathing on the shore but being a mere few feet away and defenseless in the water was up there on the scariest things that ever happened to us. Seeing one gator on the shore definitely meant there were more, you feel very vulnerable practically naked in icy cold water with nothing between you and the powerful chomp of a gator.
The gator was bad enough, once out of its sights we also appeared to be approaching some rough water rapids-- with rocks. Yep, remove the hyperbole and we almost lived through this scene:
(If you're reading this via e-mail click through to watch the hilarious video.)
Far up ahead we saw our only hope, a small white fishing boat. We pattled fiercely against the current like pathetic salmon and shouted for help and were luckily taken back to a safe shore. (I secretly hoped our "saviors" wouldn't turn out to be horror movie extras, waiting to take "dumb city kids" that don't follow the signs to their torture cabin. It would complete the day's series of unfortunate events.)
We later learned if we wouldn't have been lucky enough to encounter that boat we would have drifted down for at least two more hours before encountering a boat ramp to get us out of the water, then it would have been another 2 hour walk back to civilization. In the dark gator-filled wilderness.
So that's my story. Always follow the damn signs and don't wish too hard for adventure. In the meantime, I feel highly chastised by some higher power for ever complaining about my easy, safe, non-gator-filled day job and life again!
Ever had any trips go horribly wrong? Got any funny vacation stories to share? Do tell. I can't be alone here!
EDIT: Adding a note; the beautiful Florida Gator, which has a bad rap not unlike sharks, rarely attacks unless provoked. Everything in this post is true and we were a bit freaked, but I don't want to perpetuate bad mojo on the alligator's behalf. They're awesome. I prefer them not near me in the wild, though. :)