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!

‘Spring’ing Forward

Hey y’all.  Spring is in the air for sure here in Central Georgia.  Our Dogwood trees are blossoming, the others are forming their buds, the weather is growing warmer by a couple degrees every day; the weather was so nice last weekend I spent the day outdoors, raking our front and side yard. I should have taken some photos to share, but I didn’t.  I felt it the next day though.  My entire back was stiff, right up the spine. 

There were people in our park last week, power washing the mobile homes.  I didn’t think ours was that dirty until the guy power washed it.  That may or may not have been my reason for wanting to get outside and rake the yard.  Just saying.  That mixed with the long, rather isolated winter we all experienced thanks to Covid quarantining.  Please, keep wearing your masks y’all.  We’re close to the end of this, but not quite.

With spring in the air, I’ve also been moving progressively forward.  One project I have moved forward with is my book.  A couple weeks ago, I received, reviewed, and approved my cover design from my cover design artist.  They did a spectacular job!  Now I’m patiently waiting for my box of 10 copies to come.  Once that happens, again, I receive, review, approve, and then I can finally begin sharing my first published book with y’all.  I can’t wait to be able to share the link with y’all!

I sprung forward with another project as well.  I’ve been creatively working on another personalized piece of artwork, but this piece I created for Bindi Irwin and her husband Chandler, for their baby wildlife warrior coming.  I think I’ve spent over a month sketching it, then another couple weeks, night and day, adding the color, and finally a few weeks ago, I mailed it out priority mail to Australia.  When I learned they were expecting, my creative visioning kicked into high gear.  I hope they like it.  It turned out adorably.

Now I’m moving forward, towards advancing our future.  We want to travel and see the world and share every experience with y’all, whether by blog, vlog, or book.  It could be sooner than hubby and I think, but we don’t know.  We are simply springing forward. 

As always, thanks for reading y’all. Have a great day!

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!