Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Encounter with a Gator, the CLOSE Kind!

Sparky said she was going to tell you all about kayaking on the Braden River, so here goes....She's ready to go kayaking...

And because she's saving for a new kayak, she has to rent one. No better place to rent one than down at Jiggs Landing, which is a hop, skip, and a jump behind her subdivision. Jiggs Landing is a marvelous place, a former fishing camp that recently underwent renovations and got a family to run concessions. There are "throw back to the forties" fishing cabins, which are now getting AC to make them more comfortable. There's a new parking lot, a boat ramp, a nifty floatable kayak launch, a nice playground, and a beautiful boardwalk to view the wildlife from the reservoir, which leads out to the Braden River. Kayaks can be rented for 20.00 for four hours, a reasonable rate! They are short, though, only 10 footers, but that's a great size for just lazy day paddling along the river....The staff at Jiggs are very friendly, and keep a close eye on things.  One day Sparky went out with her brother when he came for a visit. We were going to paddle all the way to Linger Lodge, a cool old Florida tavern in an old RV campground with lots of taxidermy stuff, a big screened in porch and live entertainment. It's about a two and a half hour paddle. We stopped there, Charlie had a beer and Sparky had a root beer. As it was getting late in the day, Sparky's better half called Jiggs Landing rental shop and just said we might be a little delayed, since closing time was getting close. They are thinking, ok, drinking at Linger Lodge Tavern, we'd better check on them. We were almost all the way back, when here comes a pontoon boat coming up the river with a park staff member, looking for us. Guess they had some previous experience with drinkers along the river, but it wasn't us! We were fine..."You sure?" as he checked us out very carefully... "Yep! We're fine!"

Back to the paddle today....You never know what you are going to see....Sparky started out slowly up the river, (it's not much of a current), and she soon saw a flash of colors on a duck, it was a WOOD duck, one of the most beautiful ducks in duck world, in her opinion! Woo hoo! She loves these ducks! He was all by himself as far as she could tell.
On she went....There are beautiful plants along the river, sometimes Sparky will only see just one bloom of a certain kind....Sparky doesn't know the names of this one, it could just be a weed, but this one caught her eye....it was gorgeous!

A beautiful red cardinal.....
She saw a banana tree in someone's yard that lives along the river...Wonder if they taste good?
Some more beautiful river plants....
The reflections on the river were so pretty....

And get a load of this! Sparky was floating along and came up along side a tri-colored heron...she snapped the shot with her camera phone, and not till AFTER she got home and posted it did she notice the bird's foot clamped down on top of a turtle! Don't know if the bird was just resting, claiming the turtle for a later lunch, or if the turtle got away....Cool beans! (Doesn't Judy say that, of Travels with Emma fame?)
What else happened on this eventful kayak trip? (Uh, yeah, Sparky...remember your title? reminds E.)

Yep...Getting there....Sparky sees a gator...no big deal...Sparky sees at least one gator every time she goes on the Braden River. This one was about 100 yards in front of her boat. Sparky kept paddling. No worries, the gator will see her coming and slowly submerge to get out of the way before she gets close enough to take a good photo. He doesn't move... Sparky keeps paddling....He doesn't move...He is now directly in front of her kayak bow. Sparky gets out her phone and takes a quick photo. She is not sure what he might do, so she needed both hands on her paddle to be ready....But she's not worried. (Sparky is stubborn and is a little bit of a risk taker, explains Eldo.) Notice he said LITTLE bit of a risk taker. Sparky has seen and photographed LOTS of gators. They are NOT interested in a bright green hard shell kayak, 99.9% of the time. Sparky was NOT worried....He was not a huge gator. So she kept moving forward expecting him to submerge or swim away from her at any moment. He never did. Sparky went RIGHT OVER THE GATOR'S BACK and could feel the bumpy ridges under her seat as she went over him, (at least she would swear she could)..."OMG, I JUST RAN OVER AN ALLIGATOR!!!!!" That was a little bit unnerving to say the least! 

Nothing else can top THAT experience of the day! Only as she was floating by the shoreline (following it fairly closely after that unusual experience), she just casually glanced off to the right and saw another BIG gator sunning himself on a log, that one was less than ten yards from her.

It was a fabulous day on the Braden River today.....and exciting, too! The next time you see Sparky, she will be in Houston visiting her little grandson! Soon to follow that will be Sparky and Eldo heading to Alaska!   See you later!


  1. That would have scared me to death! Have fun in Houston, and oh boy, Alaska!!

  2. Since I have had several too close encounters with Gators I do not travel in low freeboard boats where they live:)

  3. Gorgeous picture of the wood duck. My all time favorite too. Really nice paddle but I always back paddle if a gator is in my way although I don't know what I'd do if he didn't move and the river was too narrow to go around him. Pretty exciting. Talk about exciting, ALASKA??? really? Cool!

  4. your round spiked ball flower is of a Buttonbush

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