See You Later Alligator!

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, but my children don't seem to fear much.  I try not to be too skidish with insects and other creatures, but I can't even stand the thought of a snake (my hair just stood up on end right now) and all three of my kids will try to catch them and snuggle with them!  This holds true for any living creature, actually I should say that it holds true for any creature - the kids are ok if they are dead as well!  It seems that the creepier the creature, the more hugs my kids want to give it! (I haven't figured out if this is because they want to turn my hair grey or because that is just how they are!)

While we were in Naples, Florida we were able to get up close and personal with an animal that I would not consider snuggly or cute, but if you ask Lola she will tell you that it is super cute!  Tyce wanted to bring one home as a pet with him!  I am talking about alligators.

A snake
Our first encounter was off a road in the Everglades where there was a bridge and a kind of a look out.  We saw two alligators milling about at a respectable distance.  We also saw snakes, frogs, turtles, fish, and birds, but the alligators were the most popular of the bunch!  That same day we took an airboat tour of the Everglades.  I would highly recommend this adventure!  We went skidding through the marsh past the mangroves and stopped to get up close to the "cute" seven foot alligators basking in the sun!  Our guide at Wooten's Everglade Tours was Dwayne Daniels who grew up in the area and was very familiar with alligators.  In fact, two weeks earlier he had been deemed a local hero for saving a 90 year old woman during an alligator attack!  He was also able to share many facts about the animals and the area with us.  I can't remember how many alligators we saw, but that is a good indication that there were a lot of them!  Dwayne even offered to help Ryan by getting rid of me in the Everglades so he could collect the insurance money! ha ha ha!  Fortunately for him, he made up for by having me be the co-pilot! :) 

We all loved the airboat adventure and the kids didn't want to stop talking about the alligators and when we could see more!  So, a few days later we went to Tin City.  Tin City is in Naples and contains around 30 boutiques, some restuarants, and boating adventures.  We went in a few of the shops (which were super cute by the way and I wished we had more times and less little hands) and ate at Pincher's Crab Shack which has fantastic food!  Jackson had an entire plate of crab legs and we all tried "gator bites".  Yes, we are very well rounded!  We love on the alligators and then eat them.  Tyce said they tasted like chicken nuggets!
Gator Nuggets!  Not sure if someone took Tyce's!

Yes, he ate it all!

We thought this was the closest we would get to a gator...
Anyways, in Tin City we met Gatorman Mike who sells alligator hugs!  He had two baby gators with him who were about 2 feet and 4 feet long.  He held one on his lap while the kids pet the gator, Baby Bobby, and educated us on alligators.  He also was very informative and the children were in awe.  I wish I could tell you all that he told us about the alligator, but my attention was on the gator that was behind a desk, sitting on a pillow, free to roam around the room!  (and no longer muzzled) Gatorman Mike may feel comfortable having gators as pets, but after seeing all of those teeth I was a bit hesitant!  We all gave the smallest of the two gators hugs and Tyce didn't want to give him up!  He actually rubbed his cheek on the reptile like it was a puppy!  He wanted to bring that gator home with a passion!  I'm glad that bringing an alligator across state lines is illegal!  Even I took a turn holding the gator.  As I did I felt the hair on my neck stand up!  His skin was a little too close to snake skin for my liking and he was a little too close to me period!  He was a nice gator though I do have to say that!  No one lost a finger and Grandma even gave him a kiss!  I think it was a high light of the trip for the kids!  I know I have never done anything like that before so if you get a chance, check it out!


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