The kid and I spent some time outside today, getting back in touch with Mother Nature. I decided we should go back to the only lake in the area I know is safe…meaning the likelihood of the two of us colliding with a deranged serial murder or a gaggle of poisonous snakes is low. The weather was perfectly sunny and warm and left us with no excuse to hole ourselves up inside the house. Besides, I did that yesterday. It was time to change up my weekend routine.
As we pulled into the parking lot to the nature center, I noticed there were quite a few people out there. Most were lugging around coolers, picnic baskets, and medieval battle gear. Oh, and there was an occasional dad with a baby strapped to his chest. Stop focusing on the medieval battle gear…it confused me, too. But after we walked halfway around the lake and crossed the bridge to the island, Elle and I found ourselves intruding upon some kind of costumed gang, playing out a knight vs. knight match. They looked at us funny and I immediately felt unwelcome, so we left. Strangely enough, I would have known what to do if we’d run into a mess of rattlesnakes or something, but happening upon a mob of Robin Hoods startled me. The trailmarker guides around the lake should really warn hikers of this sort of thing.
After we got the evil eye from that band of misfits, Elle and I decided to head back the other way and walk the trail on the opposite side of the lake. There were less people over there but more places to sit down and enjoy the scenery. At one point, Elle ran ahead of me, eager to get to a group of cattails so she could practice her close-up shots with her digital camera. I dilly-dallied behind her for awhile.
When I went to step across the footbridge to get to Elle, I noticed the head of an alligator two feet from me. Naturally, I froze. I don’t know why, but my gut instinct told me to go back to that scene in Jurassic Park when the two kids are trapped inside the vehicle and being hunted by the tyrannosaurus rex. Stay calm…don’t move a muscle. If you don’t move, it won’t see you. T-rex can’t see you, it can only detect movement. By the way, this whole conversation with myself lasted about 3 seconds. It was the longest 3 seconds of my life but I had to get to Elle on the other side of the footbridge. So…I went for it and leapt the few feet to the other side and ran to Elle.
I decided to not tell her about the alligator as this would have sent her into a frenzied panic and I was already in a frenzied panic, but in a mom-style kind of panic. You know what I mean…moms have a nifty way of losing their shit but looking like they got it all figured out. And, in a way, I did have it all figured out. If we couldn’t get across the footbridge, we would just walk around the whole lake and still be able to avoid Sir Lancelot in the process OR we’d climb the trees and make our way back to the car by way of treetop-hopping.
Right about then, I wished I had one of those handy-dandy swords from Camelot Island around the way. I wondered if they could hear us if we screamed.
There was no need to scream, in the end. Silly me – I thought it was an alligator head lurking below the waterline waiting to take out the first unsuspecting bridge crosser. It turned out to be a floating scrap of tree bark (seen below).
Anyway, we survived our run-in with nature and role players. Here are some other photographic highlights of our day: