Throwback Thursday – Gator

 I’ve been blogging so long that I like going back in the archives and dig up some fun posts.  This one was originally posted on 4/17/07.  It doesn’t technically fall in my Vacation Horror files since it was a one day trip but it is pretty much my MO. 

Watching the Monday episode of Drive where they are headed to Rome, GA reminded me of another animal encounter. Every Spring Hubby and I get in this kick where we want to do more hiking. It usually lasts one hiking adventure and then we are over it until the next spring. Well, about four years ago we got a book on day hikes within driving distance of Atlanta. We picked one outside of Rome. While we headed up there I continued to read the article on this particular hike. It was an old fish farm that still had all the fishponds that several beavers had set up a home in and a trail around the ponds and some nearby woods. In the very last sentence of the article it stated, “also, home to an alligator that has taken up residence in one of the ponds.” What! We were almost there! I think they should have put that sentence somewhere in the beginning. I tried to convince Hubby that we should pick another trail but he was determined we would use this one. It was pretty remote and there were no other cars in the parking area. No doubt there was no one else stupid enough to hike near an alligator. Again, I pointed out that maybe there was a reason why no one else was there but Hubby said there were no signs saying we shouldn’t do it. I’m pretty sure this is the same logic that made people put “for external use only” on preparation H. I probably don’t need elaborate on the fact that at this point I am totally freaked out. The weeds/grass is tall, there is barely a path and I have an entire memory of Animal Planet crocodile attacks replaying over and over in my head. I am very accident-prone and if anything is going to happen – it will happen to me. I attract stupid events. I am jumpy the entire time. Every noise freaks me out. I can’t figure out if Hubby should walk in front of me so he gets eaten first or if he should be behind me in case the gator goes for a sneak attack. We decided to walk thru the woods first and then come back by the ponds. As we headed towards the first pond we got the whiff of something awful smelling. It was horrible. Then Hubby said, “Honey, I found your alligator.” I should have been half way back to the truck but I froze in terror. I could see where the grass had been trampled down from the path to the pond. There in that path half in and half out of the water was the gator. He was dead as a doornail and stunk like nothing I had ever smelled. It appeared that he had been shot several weeks earlier and was lying rotting. I was sad and relieved all at the same time. It was unfortunate that he couldn’t have been captured and taken down south to where he belonged. I can only think that he got to these ponds because someone got him as a pet and then released him here when they tired of him. It was obviously a safety hazard but certainly not the gators fault. Nonetheless it was the end of our hiking adventures for that year.

Vacation Horror Chronicles

Mama's Losin' It
For writing prompt from Momma Kat I chose a little bit of a cheat.  When I started my blog three years ago and only had two readers I wrote a series called Vacation Horror Chronicles.  Since my readers today haven’t read any of them I chose to bring one back for the writing prompt – tell us about your trip. 

reposted from 3/28/07
I enjoyed writing about my stingray so I thought I would do more vacation stories. The truth is that hubby and I usually have many bad things happen on our vacations. We’re just lucky that way. So I am going to chronologically go thru our vacations and the horrors. One of our first vacations was in the early 90’s while we were in college. We went to a place outside of Branson, Missouri to go canoeing. We drove over in my truck and had a short scare outside of Independence, KS. The truck started to act funny like it might die. We stopped for a minute and then took off again and it seemed fine. The first two nights we had a cabin (trailer) in the woods. Not too bad but probably one of those things where if I went back today I would be like – I can’t believe I slept there! The canoeing wasn’t bad. We managed to make it quite a ways down river before we overturned. Depending on who you ask – it was the other ones fault. There was supposed to be a waterfall at the end of one run and I was freaked the entire time but it turned out to be a very short three-foot drop. That was the easy part of the trip. At the end of the second day canoeing we had borrowed a tent from the campus athletic department and were going to pitch the tent before we moved over to spend a day at Silver Dollar City. Well, it was missing a pole. We had to sleep in the back of my truck. For those that remember the old S-10 I had a topper on it so at least we were protected from rain but it was a little hard on the back. When we got up in the morning and headed to Branson my rearview mirror fell off. Most people would have started to give up at this point but not us. We made our way thru Branson to the Silver Dollar City Campground. (Side note: I LOVE Ray Stevens and at the time he had a theatre in Branson. We went there and stood in line for tickets. They told us they were full but at the last minute found us seats in the front row! It was so fun! Afterwards, we stood in line so I could get an autograph and my picture with Ray. I am such a geek!) That night we were back in the truck. I had broken my glasses and only had contacts. I had taken my contacts out but woke up in the middle of the night and really had to go the bathroom. If I went straight across this open field the bathroom wasn’t far or I could go around via the road. I really had to go so I opted for the field. It was about midnight however the moon was bright. Unfortunately, I was blind as a bat with my contacts out. About half way across the field I noticed a small dark blob in front of me, I stopped and leaned down for a closer look. The blob kind of made this poof sound and got bigger. I stood there and my mind was trying to figure out what it could be. A skunk would have only had one side go up. A possum would have just stood still. A snake would be thinner. A cat would have made a hissing sound. What gets bigger? Then it dawned on me and I stood up and said out loud, “Oh S***! It’s a porcupine!” I turned and hightailed it back to the truck. I leaped in the back and was trying to pull the tailgate up. Hubby woke up and said, “What is going on?” “A porcupine is after me! Help me get this tail gate up.” He started laughing, of course, because that would be the wise thing to do at this point when I am obviously so calm about the whole thing. “A porcupine is not going to jump in the truck.” “I don’t care help me get this up!” I finally calmed down but still really had to go the bathroom. I made hubby get out first in case the porcupine was waiting for me and then he had to walk me around to the bathrooms. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We have an old fashion photo of us and a picture of me with Ray Stevens as mementos. Next up will be The Colorado trip from Hell. PS I was going to add the picture of me and Ray but I can’t find it right now.

Vacation Horror Chronicles part 2

We had such good luck camping in Missouri that we decided to try it in Colorado. Kevin and I were still broke college students but this time we had bought a tent so we knew it had all the posts. We headed west straight out of Wichita. In western Kansas we stopped at the world’s largest hand dug well in Greensburg. This stop will forever haunt me. Kevin still laughs and shakes his head – I am a constant source of amusement for him. You go down in this massive well. It is really quite impressive and I told Kevin how I couldn’t believe people actually dug this with their hands. It must have taken forever and been murder on their nails. I can still see the look he gave him. “Honey, they used shovels.” Well, how the heck was I supposed to know that – it is called the world’s largest “hand dug” well not world’s largest “shovel dug” well. Just a little FYI they, also, have a meteor in their little museum. Next, we stopped at this tiny WW II air museum in eastern Colorado. (Kevin says this was a B-29 museum in Western Kansas but I think it was the B-24 museum in Pueblo. When I get around to scrapbooking and find the stub I will be vindicated or the evidence will be destroyed.) We were the only two people there except for the delightful two old men running the place. They had several old planes outside which Kevin enjoyed. Inside they had lots of information especially about the paratroopers. My grandma lost two brothers as paratroopers over Normandy so I found this very interesting. I found that WW II vets are always surprised when young people show an actual interest in history. The thing I remember most about that day is the gentleman told me that in his time when they were trying to come up with all this technology and the bomb. They honestly thought it was the best thing for mankind but he wasn’t sure if all the technology might have caused too much damage to society. He said, “I want to apologize to you but we thought what we were doing was to help.” That always stayed with me. I can see how going from little technology to so much in the short time that our world has how it can be a blessing and a curse. We spent the night in our tent at a reservoir with no problems. Then we decided to hit the Royal Gorge before we finally made it to our destination, a campground in the Rockies west of Colorado Springs called the Kregs. The first thing I remember about the Gorge is that it was a royal rip-off. It cost us like $18 just to get in the area. I remember because we were short on money and an argument ensued about just turning around and not going to save money. I’ve never been a fan of heights so this wasn’t my dream destination. We walked across the bridge over the gorge but then took the overhead “bucket” back to the other side. It was an enclosed bucket but I spent the entire time with my face buried in Kevin’s chest so I might not be completely accurate on all the details. This whole stop put us behind time so we started looking at the map to see if there was a faster way to the Kregs without backtracking all the way to Pueblo going up to Colorado Springs and then back west. I found a road that looked like it might be a good alternative and it started out paved. If this was a movie this is when it starts to get dark and storm clouds start to roll in. Which is exactly what happened by the time the road had turned to dirt and we came upon this “bridge”. Bridge is a loose term for a few boards propped against an embankment that sort of span a gap in the earth. It was so old that it had two boards that ran the length of the bridge that were meant for the wheels of your horse carriage to stay on so you don’t fall to a nasty death. “Oh, hell no!” was my thoughts. I suggested that I get out and walk across and he could drive across. When the dust settled from that heated discussion, I found myself with my head buried in my pillow while Kevin crossed the bridge. At this point it is getting very dark, foggy and starting to rain. The road had several spots barely big enough for one car. We were going about 20 miles per hour and praying when we came upon our second bridge. I thought the first bridge was bad. Of course, it could have been the glimpses I got of the bridge in the fog when it was lit up by the lightening that made it look even eerier. There was no argument because at this point I was between two bridges circa 1812 in the middle of the Rocky Mountains at night in a storm. I didn’t have much hope for survival. Luckily not far after the second bridge we hit pavement again and made it to our campground. Setting up a tent at night is so much more excited then when you can see what your doing.
The next day we headed out on a wonderful hike. It was beautiful and you could see for quite a distance. Every day it rains at 3pm in the Rockies. This may not be a fact but it is pretty darn close. By the time we got back to the tent we were wet. I can’t stand being wet – never have. My mom says I potty trained myself because I could not wear anything wet. I changed and lay in the tent to read but I wasn’t feeling very well. Then the tent started to leak. New Tent! At this point I became a whiny baby. I was wet and getting sicker. After a fun and exciting discussion we finally packed up to head to a hotel. As we started down the mountain I told Kevin I didn’t feel very well and I needed him to pull over. He said I would be fine and kept going. I tried to convince him again and when that didn’t work I just opened the car door and blew chunks. He then pulled over. I was really sick. I moaned and groaned all the way to Colorado Springs. As it turns out it was the weekend of the National Rodeo and there was not a single room available. We ended up driving all the way to Denver to find a hotel room. I crawled into bed and prayed for death to sweep over me quickly. The rest of the trip included a visit to my Aunt and a pretty uneventful trip back to Wichita. As it turns out after 20 years of spending time in the Rockies, I had developed altitude sickness. To this day I get sick every time we reach a certain altitude. It is quite a bother and caused disappointment a couple years ago when we were hiking in the Smoky Mtns. The only animal encounter on this trip was with some chipmunks that I shared my granola bar with on our hike. So the trip was successful in the fact that no animal tried to kill me.