April in Florida - Part I - Myaka State Park

Along with my parents, Tim and I and our youngest six children spent a week in early April at our extended-family condo in Venice, Florida. We had such a wonderfully fun and relaxing time playing at the beach, swimming in the pool, hunting for shark's teeth, bicycling around the little town of Venice, and visiting Mickey Mouse for a couple of days.

One of our favorite places to visit in central Florida is Myaka River State Park. Running through this park is the Myaka River, which widens out to a shallow lake in the park. This park which includes wetlands (think swamps!), prairie, and woods, is just loaded with gators. Not to mention the abundance of cranes, herons, and other interesting birds.

 An 85' long suspension bridge hangs over part of the swamp, and has a 74' tower located at one end.
Here's Tim walking across the bridge, a couple of stories off the ground.

Amanda and Peter enjoyed the view from the top.

Though we'd been keeping our eyes peeled for gators since we entered the park, we had yet to see one, which was unusual. We decided to picnic in secluded area off a side road. Our table was next to a bend in the creek, making a lovely place to stop and eat. As we enjoyed our lunch, Amanda casually said, "There's one." We all looked where she was pointing and saw the alligator above slowly meandering her way straight towards us. Though there was a pretty steep bank which would have presented a bit of an obstacle for Ms. Gator,  I have to admit that a few of us (yours truly included) did climb right on top of that picnic table. The gator swam right to the bend next our table, keeping a close watch on us the entire time, then slowly sank into the water, just leaving her eyes and nostrils above water. We weren't sure whether it came there regularly hoping for handouts from picnickers, or if she was more interested in a bit of human flesh that might happen to land in her creek.


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