CAVORTING WITH CRITTERS AND CHUMMING WITH CHUMS

See Ya’ Later Alligator

There are an estimated 1.25 million alligators in Florida and I met three of them on our walk through the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. They were long, lazy and luckily lackadaisical. These remarkable reptiles were more than content to ignore us while they bathed in the warmth of the sun. The marsh trail was overflowing with feathered friends. Egret, heron, stork, ibis, snail kite and cormorant were abundant. There were lizard and snakes and all kinds of creepy-crawly things hiding in the sawgrass and Cyprus. Gypsy was with us, and I was overly concerned that she might look tasty to some of these creatures, but apparently Labrador is not high on the list of Everglade edibles.

Does anyone else find it amusing that Nudity is prohibited at Ten Thousand Islands? I mean, this had to have been a problem if it was necessary to post this restriction, right? I am easily amused, and keep thinking, what would inspire someone to run through a mosquito filled marsh, with their “dangly bits” swinging around like bait???  It does take all kinds to make a world, I suppose. As for me, I will do my marsh meandering clothed.

If you manage to evade the reptiles, there are also mammals that could pose a potential threat. Our recent campsites have all posted information about the elevated activity of black bear. Although Big Bertha has given us multiple headaches, I am thankful for the protective armor of an RV. I don’t think I could comfortably sleep in a tent with bear, gators, rattlers, and panthers roaming about.

We are blessed to have friends that reside in Bonita Springs. They were kind (and brave) enough to take us offshore, into the Gulf of Mexico, for a fishing excursion. Although I had done some fishing with my dad in my early years, this was NOTHING like fishing on the muddy banks of the Conestoga Creek. This fishing was done on open water that sparkled like sea glass. Our friends are experienced at deep sea fishing and they gave clear and concise instruction. In no time, we were participating, and actually reeling-in fish. There is a WHOLE LOT I do not know about fish, like which are edible, and which are not; which have toxins in their pectoral spines, and which do not. Left to our own devices, my husband and I would be eating bait and pulling venomous dorsal barbs out of our hands. We did catch some “keepers”, a few blue fish, a snapper and a permit. Our knowledgeable and patient host taught me how to filet the fish. The fresh catch was then prepared by our gracious friends. We enjoyed an outstanding dinner of blackened fish and a delicious, lemony fish piccata.  What a thoroughly enjoyable day.

A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty ~ Unknown

I am loving the warm air and all the outdoor activities. It’s January. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s winter. Although I love my shorts and tank tops, there are Maryland moments that I am missing. I would love to build a snowman with my grandchildren. I would love to make them hot chocolate and snuggle with them in front of the fireplace.

At least, for the time being, I can call them regularly, and hear tales of their icy adventures.

Ahhh….. <sigh>

But back to sun and fun…

Stay tuned….

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