I expected to take her on my own with the possibility that my 17-year old niece Ashley might want to come. That isn't how it happened.
Everyone decides to go. I am relegated to the "way-back" of the minivan that I rented while my dad drives. This is where Ashley and I spent a good portion of this vacation. At one point while trying to climb out of the back I told my dad, "I am too old and too tall to be riding in the back of this van." Next time we go somewhere...I am right back in the way-back. When your parents are around, sometimes it's hard to be an adult.
I am used to traveling alone so traveling with other people requires some adjustment on my part. And some patience. In this case, my mom has decided she really needs to hear "Knee Deep" by the Zac Brown Band. The problem is that we are in rural Alabama and she is trying to stream this over her phone. Also, the radio is balanced to the back speakers which are ear-level for Ashley and I so we are being blown away back here. I put my purse over the speaker as a muffler it is so loud.
From mom's phone we get...Wishing I was (buffering, buffering, buffering)...knee deep (buffering, buffering, buffering, buffering, buffering)...in the water (buffering)...
Mom is undeterred. She keeps trying. So Ashley and I help out by singing, at least the parts we know which are not many in Ashley's case.
Mom also makes several comments about how far it is, how long it is taking and the fact that she isn't too thrilled about viewing Alligators. I am starting to get the feeling she doesn't want to go to Alligator Alley.
Notices like this trespassers may be eaten sign probably won't help her feel any better.
My aunt has different issues up there in the middle seats.
Kendall is making her cat-sit the creepy stuffed cats that I bought the day before. The mommy cat, which Aunt Belva is attending here, and the twin baby cats in their basket go everywhere we go now.
We finally reach our destination about an hour after leaving the condo. It has been raining on and off all morning and more rain threatens. Inside, I pay and buy a cup of alligator food for Kendall. The lady at the register says the "feeding" show has already begun so we might want to hurry.
It is really wet and muddy as the paved areas are gravel. As Kendall and I walk in front of the bleachers - trying to be quick as the show is going on - I slide in the mud. Fortunately I don't fall but for a moment, I was the main attraction. A few people even congratulated me on my stunning recovery. Some people were disappointed I didn't fall.
In this area, you sit on wooden bleachers and watch this man (whose name I don't know because we were late) feed feral pig parts to a large group of alligators.
He calls the alligators by name but the only one I remember was "Hillary Clinton". He claims he "can't turn his back on Hillary".
There is a man just out of this photo sitting in a golf cart inside the fence. I assume this in case the alligators decide to act like the wild animals they are and attack the feeding guy. Which might actually make this somewhat interesting.
When the "show" is over, we head down a long gravel road to the swamp area. You can view more gators and even throw food out to them. It is actively raining now and I have left the others in my party behind. I am not trying to be rude, I am trying to get done so we can go. I suspect the others really don't want to be here.
Kendall doesn't seem to mind the oppressive heat or the rain. She is very excited as we go down the path and find two baby alligators that they will let us see up close.
In fact, she quickly sits down so she can hold this one. The man attending doesn't seem happy about this - maybe because Kendall is pretty young or maybe he doesn't like that people get to do this at all. I can't imagine the alligator likes being handled. Or having his mouth taped shut with electrical tape.
We finally get down to the swamp area and Kendall begins throwing her food, which looks a little like charcoal, out to the waiting gators. She gets excited every time she sees another one.
"Look grandma! That one is trying to hide from me."
I assume this is plan B, just in case they run short on feral pigs or charcoal briquettes.
There will be no swimming here or anywhere else by me after my jellyfish encounter. Although I suspect a tussle with an alligator might be slightly worse than a jellyfish sting.
Kendall and I are just finishing up when my dad and Ashley catch up to us. They briefly check out the swamp while we head back to check out the gift shop (where my mom and aunt are). My husband is a huge fan of backscratchers so when my mom points out one to me made of a baby alligator claw (fake? I am not sure but I hope so...) I have to buy it for him.
While we are on this mini road trip, I want to go to Lambert's restaurant in a nearby town for lunch. I think mom is ready to veto this idea based solely on the fact that I am making the recommendation. But dad complies and points the minivan down the road.
I wonder if they will have fried alligator there. Or maybe ham.