Recently, I travelled to Gainesville Florida and decided to visit Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy. I entered the park at the south entrance and in talking with a park volunteer, I learned that the north entrance would afford me the opportunity to see bison, wild horses and alligators roaming freely in their natural habitat.
I took his advice and went to the northern entrance. After parking my car, I began heading into the park and came upon three very distinct warning signs.
For a moment, I thought about retreating but I put my fears aside and continued. First, I came upon a boardwalk. From the boardwalk, alligators were visible in the marshes. I saw no bison but did see some wild horses in the far distance. The boardwalk ended onto a walking trail on which I proceeded. I walked about fifty to seventy-five feet on the trail making sure that nothing was blocking my path when I realized that all along the trail so far no more than about ten feet off the pathway, I had been passing alligators laying in the sun on the water’s edge.
I met a few other brave souls on the path photographing the alligators. One person from a northern state was wondering aloud just how close he would be able to get to the alligators in order to get a better photograph.
A little further, I came upon two young men frozen in their steps along the pathway staring at an alligator. They expressed their fear about walking by this reptile. As they prepared to run by the alligator I reminded them that the in doing so they might frighten the alligator. With that said, they carefully walked by the alligator to freedom.
They had walked down a path that apparently led to a dead end or so they thought and decided to turn back. They either walked by alligator on their way down the path without noticing it (as I started out doing), or the alligator entered the pathway after they passed. Thankfully, this ended without incident.