Gators In Gator Country

Hey y’all!  We were stopped for a few days at the Love’s truck stop at exit 314 off interstate 75 in Florida.  In truth, this truck stop appears to be no different than any other Love’s truck stop, except maybe a classier looking women’s restroom, but otherwise, the same. 

The difference between this Love’s to any of the others we’ve been to isn’t on the inside.  It’s on the outside.  This place is quite literally surrounded, not by swamps, but by swampy areas.  We parked in the very back, farthest corner of the trucking parking lot, and right behind us was swampy turf.  To each side of us was swampy turf.  They were like swampy ditches out skirting the entire parking lot.  Closer to the actual store is a very alga caked pond that may as well be called a swamp.  The surface of it is so green, I don’t know that anything could live in it, though I did see a crane or two, peck from it. 

The entire pond looks like this caked segment.
I think the crane knew it was being photographed.

Right in the middle of the entire Love’s truck stop operation is a large pond, completely fenced in, and every few feet there are signs to warn you of dangerous alligators.  Now, these signs aren’t just there because the employees think their cool.  No.  There are actual alligators in that pond.  I don’t know exactly how many live in it, but I’m pretty sure there are at least two given what I’ve seen. 

Can you spot the alligator in the background?

The first day we were there, we walked all the way around the fenced in pond, commenting on the signs posted literally all the way around the pond, but we didn’t know any better.  However, after making the full circle, nearing the end, near the truck stop mechanic shop, there I spotted what looked like a 4- or 5-foot alligator sunbathing on the bank.  Talk about feeling blown away because I physically spotted it, from several yards away without any direction!  The next day we took another walk around the pond, this time, on the same bank I spotted another alligator, a different one… or maybe it was the same one. I really couldn’t tell.

Even more fascinating is to see them in motion. Thank goodness it’s fenced in.

It’s fascinating to see these alligators not as residents of a zoo, but in real outdoor life.  What’s even more fascinating is all the birds we see walking around inside the fence, with these alligators.  I’ve seen them skirt the alligators, and don’t think they aren’t fearful of those alligators attacking for a quick snack.  No, these cranes may tiptoe around, at least a good foot away, but they rush their steps the rest of the way once they know they’re clear.  These alligators may be following those cranes with their eyes, but not once do they move, not even a twitch.

The Love’s truck stop celebrity.

It’s interesting because we weren’t even going to stop here at this Love’s truck stop.  Since we’ve been traveling, we’ve stopped in at several truck stops.  We’ve also stopped and stayed overnight in the back of Walmart parking lots, we stayed one night at the back of a Big Lot’s parking lot, but it was located in a strip mall, so in reality we stayed overnight in a mall parking lot, but we bought needed things from places in that strip mall.  We were aiming for the truck stops at exit 341 off interstate 75, but no sooner did we get on the road, after stopping at a Publix grocery store for food supplies, I saw the enormous billboard advertising this Love’s truck stop at exit 314.  My husband was still hesitant to stop because he wanted to get further up the road, but after a little research to find out how big it was, we decided on it, and to confirm our decision, just as we were pulling in, it began to rain.  I don’t like my husband driving the motorhome in the rain.  The motorhome is older, and I don’t trust weather-wet roads.  Given how hot and humid the weather is in Florida, the rain was invitingly refreshing.  The wind that day was quite strong, so that also had my nerves on edge, but now that we’ve discovered the alligators living in the Love’s truck stop pond, it was totally worth stopping in for a few days! 

See ya later alligator!

Rainy Weather, Wild Life, and Show and Tell

Hey y’all!

It’s finally Friday, but it’s a wet one.  Our weather is predicting rain and thunderstorms with possible tornadoes, and maybe some flooding in certain areas.  At the current time, their prediction seems pretty accurate.

I’m so glad I took the time earlier this week to work out in the yard, while the weather was warm and brilliant.  I’ve been wanting to move the trampoline for some time but needed to wait for the ground to resolidify from the batch of storms we endured the week before.  With the help of my husband and our daughter, we moved the trampoline to a more centralized location in the yard.

After moving the trampoline, I was cleaning the area where it’s sat since the day my husband put it together and found this little dude… a ‘spring salamander’.  Don’t worry, after moving him carefully using a rake, I scooped him, moved him to the pavement for a better observation, and finally googled until we could positively determine its identity.  I’ve never seen one that looked like this.  Again, no animals were hurt in transit or during observation.

This year, I decided to cut our side yard in half.  Instead of mowing the entirety, I’m creating creative, artistic, yard signs.  For instance, a sign to caution, ‘Tall grass…Velociraptors at play.’  Get it?  Jurassic Park. What can I say, as a writer, reader, and artist, why not bring out the best of our books and movies?  I’ll consider it my own personal Rock City.  By the way, I got a nice surprise while cutting that grass.  A baby black snake.  I mowed a row, was pulling the mower back and a 12-inch black snake quickly, without hesitation, slithers right into the woods.  It didn’t stop for anything.  I wasn’t scared, but I did freeze on the spot with shock and fascination.

Before I go, I couldn’t get a photo because it happened too spontaneously but, a doe wandered into our side yard, using it to get to the woods behind our house.  I was standing by my classroom window which looks out over the entire side yard and something made me look out.  I guess the doe moving, walking, barely caught my attention, but enough to make me take a full look.  I wanted to get a video, but again, she came through too fast.

I love living in the woods!

Thanks for reading!