(FYI, the title borrows from the character Sophia Petrillo in Golden Girls…”Picture this. Sicily. 1912.”)
With no plans to visit our respective families for Christmas that year (no particular reason not to either), we declared that Christmas must be spent in the Everglades National Park. We loaded up the car with cameras and camping equipment and embarked, with unbridled enthusiasm, on Great Aventure #17 (remember, this was early on in our courtship, so the adventures hadn’t stacked up just yet!) to the Everglades. What surprised us most is how close the park is to Miami. One minute you’re at the mall, the next minute you’re surrounded by alligators.
Camping + Nachos + Steve Martin = It Must Be Christmas!
Michael, master camper that he is, set up a fine tent. It was getting late and we were too impatient to cook over a campfire (okay, so I was the one who was too impatient), so we did what any camper would do if they were just a mile from a city—get in the car and drive to a Mexican restaurant, followed by a late showing of the newly-released movie, Father of the Bride. Mexican Food and a chick-flick. How Christmas-y is that?
Gators + Marshmallows + Open Boat = Are You Kidding Me?
One afternoon we booked a tour on an airboat that took us through the glades to spot alligators. At one point the guide spotted a rather large one, slowed the boat down, then tossed out a marshmallow in its direction. The guide then joked (insert Captain-Clint-from-Jaws voice here), “Aye…ya know…he could scamper onto dis boat in no time flat if he really wanted to…arghhh.” The group was so silent, you could have heard a marshmallow drop.
One morning we were walking along the Anhinga Trail…camera in hand, I searched for something to record in the saw grass marsh. I came around a corner and there sat a miniature alligator…not more than a foot long…and a mere five feet away from me. I stopped and snapped a few shots. Then I kneeled down and shot a few more, moving very slowly so as not to frighten him away. Michael was a few feet behind me. I paused, then turned to him and asked, “umm…this is a baby alligator, right?” He nodded yes. “umm…so…where is its mother?” He replied, “in the tall grasses near this boardwalk, probably watching you.” We had seen several “mothers” sunning themselves on the banks when we entered the park. This little guy? I could take him, but I was no match for his mother. “Ummm…10 shots of this little guy is plenty, I do think. Oh, my, I think it’s time for lunch. Let’s go. Now.”
Do You Get The Feeling We’re Being Watched?
I photographed these Black Vultures in a tree overlooking our campsite. In retrospect, I think these vultures must have seen our license plates, figured we were lost Yankees, and were just waiting for us to run out of prepackaged R.E.I. meals and simply perish…our bodies ripe for the picking. Little did they know that in town we had supplemented our MRE’s with refried beans, enchiladas, buttered popcorn and Nonpareils. We lived to tell the tale.
Vulture #2: “So, how long do you give ’em?”
Vulture #1, shrugging shoulders: “I dunno. Whaddya think? Two, three days, tops?”
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