My First Floridian Alligator

Fall Semester starts this coming Monday, and last week we saw the immediate change in atmosphere around town. There was a buzz. A buzz of new intakes. A buzz of fraternity boys and sorority girls doing fraternity/sorority-type hazings (we watched 30 young girls cycle along the main 6-lane road in nothing but their bras and panties last night, it was eye-opening). Permanent UF staff were looking more harassed than ever, and traffic in general was more congested.

Our first college semester experience is about to begin!

I’m secretly excited about game days, because I’ve never experienced an American football game before, and especially not one that’s played in a college town. It will be fun because all we have going for us is Blue Mountain State:

So you know, we have expectations.

———————————

Yesterday I decided to take the long way to James’ work place, and rode around Lake Alice. It was just past high noon, so I wasn’t expecting the lake to be teeming with wildlife (aside from the turtles, who hang around waiting for humans ALL the time). I parked my bike up, took out my camera, and put on my Tourist Face.

Lake Alice

Lake Alice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lake Alice and a sneaky soft shell turtle

The turtles were friendlier than ever, but surprisingly territorial towards each other! The bigger ones always chased the littler ones away. Some of the more algae-covered turtles were constantly accosted by little fish pecking at their shells.

The lake perfectly reflected its surroundings, so I had lots of fun taking photos of turtles swimming in the clouds:

Turtle swimming in the clouds

Friendly turtle with his funny snout

Turtle closeup, and some fish!

Turtle closeup, and some fish! This turtle’s expression perfectly sums up how I feel about the 27 degree weather.

After about half an hour of crouching down and taking photos of turtles, I stood up, and saw something coming straight at me from the middle of the lake:

My first Floridian alligator (yep, I was shitting my pants)

My first encounter with a Floridian alligator (yeah I was shitting my pants)

In my head, I was going “ADSDFFHGSADFSGAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!”

So this is what it was like for wildebeests in the wild at the watering holes. Mixed feelings of anxiety, fear, doom. I was a wildebeest. An Asian wildebeest with a camera. I instinctively looked around to see if there was anybody close by that could possibly act as a witness for the police, when they eventually discover my half eaten body.

Alligator swimming in the clouds, with a hitch hiker dragonfly

Alligator swimming in the clouds, with a hitch hiker dragonfly

To be completely honest, I think it was more wary of me than I was of it.

But in my head I was still going, “ADSDFFHGSADFSGAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!”

Especially when, at one point, it did that thing that alligators and crocodiles do, you know, the diving-under-the-water-and-slowly-creeping-up-closer thing that everyone has seen on TV, right before it leaps up to choke out the Asian with the camera wildebeest.

Gator by the bank, it had a wound under its left eye

Gator by the bank, probably wondering if I was tasty

By now, I had retreated back onto higher ground, giving the alligator a wide berth. When it swam up closer to the bank, I saw that it had a big wound under its left eye; a turtle dinner gone wrong maybe? or a scrap with another gator? It was a young gator, its head about the length of my forearm.

Anyway, it must’ve decided that I wasn’t worth the risk, because shortly after this photo was taken, it turned around, whipped its tail a couple of times, and headed back out to the lake.

And that was my first encounter with a Floridian Alligator.

Mirror reflection, Lake Alice

Mirror reflection, Lake Alice

Thank you, Lake Alice. I had fun shitting my pants.

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