Travel ranked high on my list of things to do when I retired, and I realized that along with many foreign lands much of America remained unexplored by me. That and concerns about international conflicts took me to Florida in late August to visit the Everglades.
After flying into Tampa and renting a car I drove to a cousin’s house in Punta Gorda on the Gulf Coast. The next day he and I set off for an air boat ride in a swamp near Everglade City, and what a rush that turned out to be. I declared it to be the most fun I’d ever had with my clothes on when I tipped the air boat captain.
After roaring and spinning through the murky water and marsh for a half-hour, we came to a stop in the swamp. The captain blew a whistle and an 11-foot alligator swam up to the side of the boat close to where I sat. His 9-foot girlfriend soon joined him, and they both opened their mouths for the captain to toss them marshmallows. Giant teeth lined their mammoth jaws, and they greedily swallowed the treats. I imagined how quickly one of my feet or hands could disappear into their bellies.
When we arrived back at the air boat dock my cousin and I took turns holding a three-foot long alligator. The softness of his skin and his docility surprised me, but I guessed show-and-tell demonstrations and marshmallows had tamed him.