Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gator Excellence!

Today Chris took me for an air boat ride! It was a Christmas present that we just got around to fulfilling. We met Steve from Canoe Creek Air boats at Cypress Lake around 8:30pm for our two hour alligator filled adventure. I've always been slightly obsessed with gators and gator sightings and back in September of 2006 I went to the everglades with Megan in an attempt to get closer to gators. I decided then that I wanted to try in an air boat.

The drive out was really nice, through cow farm filled back roads with true Florida landscape
that hasn't been mucked up by crazy development. When we arrived the sun was just starting to set on the lake...

At first we just saw baby gator heads as they swam away from us, but as it got darker things got more interesting. For a few minutes it was difficult to focus on what was in the water with such a gorgeous display in the sky, we felt like we'd entered a painting.

Once the sun dipped though, the flood light came out and the fun began. Our first up close encounter with at grown gator was fantastic. He was about 7 ft long and got right up along my side of the boat, he was swimming away from us but then decided to turn around and came right back at us, for a second I thought he was going to try to join us in the boat. I found myself leaning over for a better look, but had to remind my self how close I was and to be careful. It was awesome. From there it just got better, over the course of the two hours we saw about 40 gator heads or eyes but we only got up close with maybe 20 or 25, most of which were 3ft or under.

I didn't really bother taking photos since it was dark and I was just to into it to be bothered with a camera. I did get a few videos that came out pretty darn good. Remember, we're on an airboat, so they're loud, you may want to mute your volume.

This one is of a larger gator, Steve said it was likely close to 11 ft, be patient it takes a few seconds to appear.

This video is of two smaller 2 or 3 ft gators that crossed our path.

On top of gators we saw a dear, cows, lots of birds including sand hill cranes and an owl. We saw fire flies and frogs that could leap on top of the water; we even had a tree frog join us for a bit, you can see video of him here.

The only thing I would have done differently would be to take some safety glasses and a bandanna to protect my nose, moth and eyes from the bugs. We had 3 inch dragon flies hitting our face at 25 mph - let me tell you they hurt! It was crazy how quickly they swarmed once Steve turned on the flood light.

Steve was a great guide and a nice guy. He's a local, born and raised in Florida. Air boats are his hobby, he's a full time Firefighter for Osceola County. He did a great job at spotting the gators and getting us close to them.

It was really amazing to be that close to the nature, an air boat gives you a totally different perspective on things. I have to admit, that seeing the noise disrupt nature was a bit bothersome at times, but for the most part the animals didn't even seem to care that we were there. I would definitely like to get that experience again.

Excellent Christmas present, who says you can't have Christmas in July? :)

1 comment:

The Non-Ant said...

I can't believe how well the videos came out! Looks like an amazing journey...worthy of a repeat with ME! =D