Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vacationing in the Swamp

I went to Satellite Beach, Florida with my family and we had a blast. I went to the museum and the zoo. My mom and I went kayaking with a nature tour guide to watch manatees. A storm came up suddenly while we were in the river. There was no shore upon which to safely escape. We were instructed to get out of the kayak and stand in the water while it poured rain on top of our heads. The guides said that we were less likely to be struck by lightning while in the water that if we were on top of the water. Regardless, my mom was petrified of the lightning, but I thought it was pretty cool to watch nature perform like that! The storm passed after about half an hour, and we got back in the kayak. Several manatees came right up to us and let us get a closer look. I loved being that close to such a loving, friendly water mammal.

There’s one water animal I’m not too fond of and that is alligators. Mom wanted to take an airboat ride in the swamp to see the wildlife. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but they pulled the van into the parking lot of a dirty old fishing camp and everyone got out. There were some shady looking characters hanging around the premises, and I wasn’t about to stay on shore with them. The next thing I knew, I was seated in a plastic boat chair that was bolted to a metal platform with terraces that stepped up like a sports stadium. The guide seated us according to height and weight so I ended up with a front row seat. A very loud airplane motor that looked like a huge fan was attached to the rear of the boat. By the time we were all loaded a huge, dark cloud was looming overhead. I was surprised that mom wanted to be on the water with a storm coming, but I guess she figured if she survived one storm, she was good for a second round. The storm wasn’t what was bothering me. The fact that I was on the lowest level of the makeshift craft, nearest the swamp critters had me concerned. We took off with a roar, and hadn’t gone 500 yards before it started raining. The boat was moving at high speed and the rain was smacking my face and stinging my body. I was shivering from the cool rain and wind. Around us on all sides were gators as thick as ants on a piece of candy. Some of them would swim away from the boat, others laid there as we rode right over the top of them. The guide slowed down to let us get a look at the birds on the shore. That’s when I noticed that one of those huge ugly swamp monsters was five feet from the boat facing me with his mouth open! I about messed my pants! I screamed and jumped up so fast that I lost my balance, and landed in my nephews lap. He pushed me off of him and I nearly fell into the water. I jumped over the seat and into the second row of seats praying that I wasn’t about to tip the boat. My heart was pounding, but my family was laughing hysterically at me. The guide thought that was extremely funny, and from then on he looked for opportunities to slow the boat anytime he saw a big gator. It was the longest 45 minutes of the entire vacation.

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