What a Carry On! Part 7 – Saturday 23rd August 2008
You’ll probably realise by now that Amanda and I don’t lie-in much – we are up and about at 5.00am at home, walking the dog and getting a gym sesh in before school runs and work, and so far this holiday we’ve been rising by 6.00 or 6.30 at the latest.
Well, I set a new record today, when I open my eyes to daylight (hey, sunny
daylight at that!) and, peering at my watch, note that it is 8.30!
There’s no sign of Amanda, and I try to piece together the events of last night. I am quite worried by the fact that I have absolutely no recollection of the last part of the evening and absolutely no idea how we got home! Worse, I am convinced that I left my credit card at Jellyrolls.
I’m not hungover as such – we tend to drink plenty of water during and after a night out – but I am a bit wobbly. I go downstairs to find everyone up and dressed, and make coffee to drink on the lanai with the adults.
We’re too late for the planned waterpark, and to be honest, I need an hour or so to recover. Telling Amanda of my worries about the credit card, she produces it, with the check for $200, and, confusingly, $200 cash that we didn’t have when we went out. We presume that Maggie and Julie have both
(drunkenly) paid us $100 each
for their share!
Everyone seems fairly happy to have a more relaxed start to the day, which I am relieved at, and we discuss options for the rest of it. I suggest doing Boggy Creek Airboats. On a previous trip in 2003 my kids, parents and I visited the site at East Lake, so this time we choose the larger lake at Southport Park.
Showers and breakfast are disposed of, and we set off in lovely, hot sunshine, at 10.50.
Southport Park is at the bottom of Ponciana Boulevard, 19 miles from its junction with the 192 between markers 10 and 11. Traffic is light…..
… and we arrive at 11.40. I park up on the dusty lot to the side of the main buildings, overlooking a huge, blue lake.
As we exit the car, I feel stinging on my sandaled feet and look down in horror to see that I am standing on a nest of fire ants!
The little swines are biting me for Florida, and I brush them all off as quickly as I can – my feet are marked by angry red blisters in a dozen or more places and sting like hell!
It’s beautifully scenic. We walk into the air-conditioned office/shop and wait in line for a few minutes before booking on the 12.25 boat. After restrooming and a quick browse of the tacky gift shop (with a huge stuffed or artificial alligator!)
..we venture outside to sit under the shelter, watching the other visitors and airboat arrivals.
I can’t remember why I was posing like this… answers on a postcard please..
The staff are trying to drum up a bit of extra income by offering to take your photo with a small alligator… I’m not mad about the idea that his/her snout is taped shut (for obvious reasons) but the woman tries to assure us that they suffer no ill effects from this, and they are from a ‘pool’ (literally!) of captive ‘gators that will never be released into the wild (due to familiarity with potential human prey?) and they are rotated to ensure a few weeks rest between photo sessions. Hmm.
To be honest, I prefer my wildlife in its own setting, ideally natural, and surely the best way to serve the alligators’ best interests would be to leave them alone? Just my opinion.
We are called to board at 12.15 and, picking up a set of ear defenders each, take our places on the first couple of rows. The guide is very friendly, and welcomes everyone to the tour. He does warn us that the spray will probably affect us today, particularly in the front row, but it’s hot, so we don’t mind.
Off we go, ear defenders (essential!) in place, out onto the lake. The tour consists of sections of exhilarating speed (where we do indeed get wet!) and slower periods, cruising the margins to see the wildlife.
We visit an alligator’s ‘nest’ with mom and babies (hard to photograph) and several cranes and herons.
A group of wild Osceola Turkeys are grazing at the lakeside (the guide tells us they are in fact in an area normally well out of the water.. the lake has risen 18” in this week’s storms!) …
… and we are treated to the majestic sight of a Bald Eagle flying to a perch in the trees to one side. (Just too blurry to post, I’m afraid.)
The half hour trip takes.. well, 30 minutes, exactly! By 1.00pm we are back at the car (registering 98 F on the thermometer in the full sun, settling down to 93 as we head back) and I set our nose towards Celebration where we plan to have lunch.