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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

A Spring Break in Florida

Posted April 9, 2008 10:48 a.m. EDT

Have you ever seen an alligator up close?  If you'd like to engage in some good ole gator gossip today is your chance.  Please share your stories.  For starters you might want to check out my latest slideshow "Gator Gazing."
 
Last week I vacationed in Florida.  I wanted a fairly quiet and relaxed setting.  I'm writing a book and I figured a change of pace and place would inspire me.  And it worked.
 
My wife Cindy and I had some airline miles to burn so we picked Fort Lauderdale.  Southwest Airlines got us there 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  I was impressed.  We stayed at a beautiful beachfront location called the Pelican Grand.  It was wonderful.  But after a few lazy days on the beach we were ready for an adventure.
 
Snorkeling in the Keys was our first choice but windy weather got in the way so we opted for a trip to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.  We didn't see any sharks but we got our fill of alligators.  Shark Valley includes a 15 mile paved bicycle trail in the sawgrass marsh and the alligators are everywhere.
 
It is not a good place to teach a child to ride a bike.  Recently a rookie bicycler lost control and crashed in a canal hitting an alligator provoking an attack.  Trouble is, the alligators here have lost fear of humans.  Sometimes they fall asleep on the bicycle trail.  Snakes have also grown accustomed to the presence of humans here.
 
Bird watchers love Shark Valley.  Great blue herons, egrets, anhingas and many other feathered friends flock here to the fish filled waters of south Florida.
 
Just be sure to pack the insect repellent.  There's a bumper sticker here featuring a large mosquito and an American Red Cross symbol.  The sticker reads: "I Gave Blood in the Everglades."

View the audio slideshow of our adventure.