How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Travel Activities?
#Orlando Florida #2
Think you need to plan activities months in advance of your next trip?
My neighbors Carmen and Taliah (mother-daughter) from California and grandmother, Janice, from Tennessee, and I started planning our trip to Orlando, Florida months ago. We bought tickets to Disney World and Universal Studios for several days (a mistake for us!)
Though I’m glad we went, the enormous crowds and hype at Disney World overwhelmed even Taliah, (12) the youngest of our all-girl travel party.
Finding the Perfect Activity
Taliah lights up when she talks about anything with big nasty-looking teeth or venom, so Carmen found a couple of activities that looked promising.
First, she booked the Boggy Creek tour at 2001 E Southport Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746, a mere twenty-four miles away from our resort. We packed sunscreen, and snacks, and headed out from Orlando to Boggy Creek.
Thanks to my expert driving and Carmen telling me to quit gawking and speed it up a bit, we arrived right on time to walk on to the boat. Instead of standing in 120-minute lines for a three-minute ride, we enjoyed a relaxing half hour or more trip into alligator territory. I lost track of time, and we never felt rushed.
The day was a perfect 82-degree March day in Orlando, ideal for spotting alligators.
Once on the boat, we all donned our protective ear muffs. Across the channel, you can see the big fan thingy behind the driver that makes all the noise.
We couldn’t see through all the plants, but our guide recognized animals bopping up their noses in the bog from miles away. We zoomed towards them in our noisy airboat.
Helpful Florida Swimming Tip: Learn to Recognize Alligators From a Distance
“How did you see alligators from so far away?” we asked.
“You learn to recognize them from a distance when you swim with them every day. I grew up around here,” he said.
Yikes, swimming with alligators. There’s an adventure you probably haven’t considered. Unfortunately, this park doesn’t offer a guided tour of swimming with alligators. Sorry!
Soaring Over Boggy Creek
Have you ever taken the Disneyland ride, “Soaring over California?”
Soaring over Boggy Creek felt about the same. You thought you would stay in the watery pathway, then suddenly the driver plowed the boat through various plants growing wild in Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga. Unlike “Soaring over California,” we actually felt the spray as we soared – best ride ever!
This shallow freshwater lake, covering 22,700 acres reminded me of what early settlers must have experienced on Tulare Lake in Central California where we live. The difference is that California settlers drained the shallow 13,670-square-mile Tulare Lake in the 1800s to farm it.
Like Lake Tohopekaliga, Tulare Lake once housed thousands of turtles and fish. Unlike this lake, there were no alligators, or were there?
Remember I told you how noisy the boat is? Apparently, the noise doesn’t bother the alligators. They didn’t budge when we approached them. We also did not get too close.
Gator and Snake Sighting
Taliah wanted to see alligators and snakes. Maybe you can see the alligator here, but it is too hard for me. Taliah got a better picture of it. She took a picture of her screenshot, which enlarged the photo.
And there he is, Mr. Al I. Gator.
Do you think you’d want to swim in Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga?
Snaking Our Way Through the Lake
Our trip didn’t stop there. After oohing and ahhing over Mr. Gator, we zoomed off and came across this black snake. Again I marveled at our guide’s eyesight.
Can you imagine seeing this little guy from a half of a football field away?
Despite humans being his biggest enemy, this black racer didn’t move a muscle as the boat clamored down on him, Nor did he squirm away when we parked inches away.
Would you want to kill this sweetie?
Notice, he posed agreeably for pictures. His lack of venom disappointed Taliah. If he had white inside his mouth instead of on his chin, then we would have been looking at one of Florida’s most venomous snakes.
You would not want to swim around with cottonmouth snakes also known as water moccasins. Even the venomous snakes rarely bite humans unless they are provoked. I’m not sure if cottonmouths would consider a noisy water boat as threatening to them.
After we left the boat, we stopped to see the other attractions, mostly gators.
Don’t forget to tip the driver. He was awesome!
This next picture may be too traumatic for you. I wrestled a gator while I was there. I’ve since healed, but it took a while. I don’t think I’ll go into the gator wrestling business like we saw at Gatorland.
Most of the gators sat quietly within a fenced area sunning themselves. These gators look young and healthy, unlike the one I wrestled.
Did you know that some alligators are white? I’m going to show you those in one of my next Floridian posts.
Other Native Floridians
There was another surprise for me when I turned around from gator gazing. This man stood almost nose to nose to me. Glad we both brushed out teeth that morning, though I’m not sure I smiled.
After wrestling an alligator, nothing much scared me anymore. I think he was disappointed when all I said was, “Oh, hi,” and moved out of his way.
Voted “Best Activity” By Our Party
We enjoyed our day at the humongous Theme Parks. However, I hope I’ve convinced you to go places other than Disney World and Universal Studios if you visit Orlando, FL
Even my young friend voted this as her favorite activity until we went one more location. I’ll tell you about that one in another post.
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