Tuesday, March 22, 2011

alligators.wild horses.turtles.and the moon.

one morning...last week...early...
we went for a walk.
a short hike...at a park not far from here. La Chua Trail. Paynes Prairie.
it's only about a three mile hike altogether.
we've been to this park many times...nothing ever remains the same.
the water goes up...the water goes down...
the gators get bigger & BIGGER...and new ones are born.
the last time we walked this trail, was back in october.
the gators were a little sparse.  i did a post on that day's hike also.
you can check it out here if you WANT more GATOR: "el lagarto".

THIS day though...there were  SO many alligators!
probably because the weather's warming up and the water was higher...

the first part of the trail is along an elevated boardwalk.
you're looking down into the 'sink hole'. Alachua Sink.

"Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek."
~Dan Rather

after about a half  mile, the boardwalk comes to an end 
and you're walking a dirt trail which runs along the edge 
of one of the Sink's tributaries.

these babies are about 2 weeks old. 
the ranger said they were born about a month earlier than normal.
their mother was right there...not 3 feet away...
(approx 8 - 12 inches long)

part of the Sink...where the water doesn't flow...is covered with algae.
and so is everything else that comes out of there...

turtles and gators...living in harmony...
for now.

a Snowy Egret...patiently waiting for a fish to swim by.

and one did! he speared it with his beak!

a gator...resting...at the water's edge.

this one's debatable. hmmmm. right on the cusp...
teenager? adult?
but definitely not a baby anymore!
(they reach breeding maturity at 8 - 13 years, or  6 - 7 feet long)

this one's a toddler.
the banded tail means it's still fairly young...
(overall - approx 2 feet long)

they say you can estimate how BIG a gator is by the size of it's head.
measuring from the tip of the nose to the eyes...
if the head looks to be 12 inches long, then the gator is probably 12 feet!
ONE inch = ONE foot.

some of the gators we saw looked to be at least 15 feet long!

this same park also has Wild Horses and Bison.
a few weeks ago while hiking a different trail, 
we were lucky enough to have the horses stop on the trail ahead of us!

we just had to sit tight...and wait for them to cross the trail.
they  say not to get too close...the Alpha male is very protective!

we've never seen any of the Bison there. 
we've talked with other people along the trail, 
 who HAVE seen them...but they didn't see the horses...
so i guess it just all depends on your timing...luck.
we DID see EVIDENCE of the Bison though...ALL ALONG the trail...
watch your step!
(yes! this picture will be reappearing 
in my future post titled "one crappy post")

across the park...and back to the gators...

a Great Blue Heron...

and a flying turtle...

and so...the trail comes to an end...
see ya later alligator. in a while crocodile.

back home...the day comes to an end...
looking through the trees out front...the setting sun...

and then the moon...looking out back...almost clearing the trees.

and then rising above the trees...
what a nice way to end the day...
a full moon. the Super Moon...
the closest the moon has been to the earth in 18 years.

BUT, before i sign off...there's something i have to mention.
Blogger Awards.
i've talked about this before. 
of course, we all like to be recognized...we want to know that people 
actually READ what we write...and enjoy what they see.

BUT...how can i possibly pass on an award...to only a few?
how can i PICK other bloggers out of those i follow?
i'm sorry - but i can't.

i am truly humbled...and honored.....that someone thought me worthy of an award.
everyone deserves an award. everyone deserves recognition.
(LOOK at my sidebar...the other blogs i follow! they ALL deserve a READ!)

so please know...with deepest gratitude...i very much appreciate the thought...
your acknowledgement of me.  :]
PLEASE...visit Keda at Journey Keeper
AND Susan at KardKornerKrib !!

(you'll be glad you did)
thank you  :)  
they are worthy of the awards they received...

anyway, enough said 'bout that!

thanks for wandering. stay cool.
have a safe journey...enjoy the ride!

:] laura

"What lies behind us and what lies before us 
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
~Walt Emerson


  1. Hi Laura,
    Boy, you found a big assortment of alligators. Breeding season is in full swing by the look of it.
    Some large older ones too. Real interesting to see them out in their natural surroundings.

    I love the egret action shots too! How cool, you were right there at the right moment to get those pics :)

    Your moon photos are really nice as well - I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's take on the moon. Thank you.

  2. Great moon! We missed it in our part of the world...dumb clouds!
    What a treat to see those horses, I love that leggy foal.
    Can't wait to see the crappy one..what if you get an award for crappiest blog!!? ;0) tumbleweed

  3. YOU are an awesome lady, Laura! These gators gave me the chills & still are! It's how you put it together and present it to us that just makes me drop my jaw!!!!...:)JP

  4. What a fantastic catch of the egret spearing a fish...you had to be right on smooth to get that with good stop action on your camera. And the baby gators are really cool. I didn't know how they measured a gator's size-it's not like they hold still while you take a measuring tape to them. Thanks for mentioning me, but you didn't have to say anything. I made the award myself-your blog is fascinating! You know, I picked you up from "blogs of note" because your title sounded so cool, but it was a little while before I got the nerve to follow and I am glad I did! I've been to your previous post from the other day, but have to go back because I wanted to look some more. Oh, and your Emerson quote is chilling and so true. See you later Laura!

  5. Wow, that is quite a lot of wild life in that park--alligators, horses, turtles, egrets, herons. I think I'd be pretty nervous with that many alligators around!

    Love the full moon as seen through the trees, that is a pretty cool shot. :)

  6. Wow! thanks for all the gator infor! Pretty interesting stuff - and I didn't know most of it! Beautiful pictures as always. Love the horses and the colt.

  7. Laura I really like your photo of the moon with the branches in it
    kind of messes with the mind, it's like looking through a telescope, but what you are showing is the whole, not the hole ;-)

  8. Susan (of Oz)! according to the ranger...breeding season isn't supposed to be in full swing yet! it's a little early! (guess there were alot of 'horny' gators this year?!...must be something in the air? water?...) :]

    Tumbleweed stacey! yeah, the mOOn...so cool...but then it always is!! the horses were way cool...kinda scary when they ran by us...galloped by us...VERY close...i was too scared to put my camera on movie! ha! >the crappiest post is coming...hmmmm, crappiest post award??!! nbow there's one to be proud of!! yeah! :]

    Home in the Hollow/JP! yeah!! those gators can sure give ya the chills...some of them are just so HUGE...and staring you right in the eyes....yikes! :]

    Susan (KardKornerKrib)! i KNOW you made that award yourself...that's what was so amazing about it!! i SHOULD have gone ON about that...but i just wanted to 'get 'er done'! ha! just kidding...(me no redneck...FAR from it....) i have NEVER been SO humbled in my entire life...(well, maybe....) as when i was picked for Blog of Note! damn...i never thought i was worthy of ANYTHING!! BUT because of THAT, i found so many others...like you...who i might otherwise never have run across. cyberspace is so endless.... OH! and the egret in action...i was SHOCKED that i actually got it! wow! (had it set faster...like for action shots...i was so lucky!) :]

    Kateri! YES!! so many animals living together...but i guess they all understand each other...and if the gator gets hungry...well...time for nature to do its thing...
    you don't REALLY have to worry about the gators...as long as you don't climb down the bank into the water... yeah, the moon was awesome...i'll bet you have a shot on your blog... :]

    Erika Jean! you're welcome!! always happy to oblige...with some NEW info!! at least it's nice to know that it WAS new...to some...and, i guess it was pretty special of us to see thew horses...not all visitors to the park get so lucky... :]

    Kel! ha! yeah, exactly...the whole...not hole...or is it? no, can't be...if it was a 'hole' then when we landed on the moon...they would have passed right through...right?!! we've been watching the bats take off every night at dusk...so fitting with that moon picture!

    Thanks everyone!! i appreciate your wandering through...:] laura

  9. LauraK, this Posting just might be one of your Ultra Superb ones.
    I've just completed a visually interesting journey, guided by interesting narrative... to then be awed by the Moon.
    My words are inadequate.. my mind still full of the experience you have given me.
    Thank you for your wonderfulness.
    With good wishes to you from Magda(Australia)

  10. thats a great post Laura .....how close did you get to them?...I used to have a turtle that used to sunbathe like that...She lived in our garden pond she would hibernate every Winter and I would know it was Spring when she came out to sunbathe at the first warm days ......she died a few years back she was 30 yrs old ......i do miss her .....x

  11. You're so brave to walk around near alligators. Nice moon shots, too. I totally missed the super moon. I'll catch it in 36 years.

  12. Oh my goodness I just LOVE your posts Laura. Scary alligators -- but really fantastic photos.
    i went on your Etsy page because i really covet one of your decorated jawbones - but alas you only post to the US. I shall just have to admire from afar!

  13. Magda! wow...thanks for the kind words!! just wait 'til i come out with the 'crappy post'...and i hope you still find it wonderful & full of new experience! ha! :]

    artymess! SOME of the gators...i'd say we were under 10 feet away...but usually we're up on the trail...they're 5-6 feet below in the water or on the bank. it was a little scary at times...but everyone keeps their distance from each other! wow!! your garden turtle had such a comfortable life!! living among the flowers...i love turtles! and it just makes me laugh when i see them sunning like that! weeeeeeeee! :]

    vickie/VMS Photo! actually...from where i'm at...by the time the moon cleared the trees out back...it didn't look all that much different than any other full moon. that picture i took didn't look any different than the one i took over lake lochloosa (in another post...and on my sidebar) a few months back... :]

    Alexia! thanks! yeah, those gators can be a little scary...just don't look them right in the eyes! OH, and about the jawbone...i don't know what the shipping overseas is...that's why i say on my etsy page to just contact me for each individual item and i'll check on it. email me if you're interested! :]

    Thanks for swinging by!! thanks for taking the time to...sit...relax for a minute...and leave a note...it's always nice to see ya! :]laura

  14. Back again LauraK,
    I was intrigued by your Alligators, so I went researching and discovered in Australia there are none it seems. What I had been remembering were the long narrow faced Freshwater Crocodiles.
    And I'll add, that even though I didn't research all avenues, I did check some main connections... and very few photos I saw of Freshwater or Saltwater Crocodiles were as good as your Alligator ones.

    Though you may feel humbled in being awarded for the efforts you put into your site, you really are very deserving of such honours.
    Every recognition you receive is also recognising every wonderful subject's image and story you give... so in essence you are the custodian receiving the accolade on their behalf, and given appreciation for your story-telling.

    Heaps well deserved LauraK. Your site is fascinating, informative, warm, friendly and a pleasure to visit and wander about in.

    Thank you for being you...

    Love your cute "i have gone to the forest" picture.

    Quite looking forward to seeing your "crappy post". Poop and I have an abiding, still ongoing relationship!

    Bestest of wishes to you from Magda(Australia)

  15. Magda...thanks again! you are too kind....i appreciate your time and compliments. :] soooo...you're ready for a crappy post, are ya...well...i'm up late...can't sleep...think too much...i might just start to work on it...you've been warned... :]

  16. I have no idea how I missed this post! It should have appeared on my reading list for the day, yet didn't! Anyway, better late than never as they proclaim in the classics :)

    What a brilliant post, AGAIN!!! Your photography is always such a treat, Laura and you take us on the most incredibly travels. I have loved every single moment of this one, but I'd be hard-pressed if I were asked to name a favourite post of yours, as they are all, always an absolute delight! Likewise, to name a favourite theme/photo in any single post of yours...too difficult...all are great!

    Those alligators are huge. I need to find out what the difference is between them and our own fearsome crocodiles.

    When I come here, I really do find it hard to leave :)


    Des xoxo

  17. That was one massively exciting trail. I have to say I love alligators. They are always painted as such an underdog and they really aren't that mean. They are just in it for survival, like everyone else...
    Beautiful moon pics, so glad you captured that journey too.
    Thanks for the mention.

  18. thanks Desiree and Keda!! yeah, the GATORS are something else...i think it's HUMANS that make them BAD! in the wild...they would normally shy away from people...BUT when they start being fed by humans...well, it changes them...
    they're so prehistoric...i love 'em!

    and Desiree, i THINK that crocodiles are much FIERCER than gators!! i'm not certain...i'll have to look that up...

    anyway...so glad u 2 enjoyed walking along the trail...take care and i'll see you at YOUR place this week...when life slows down just a little...for me... :]laura

  19. Love the horses. I did not know they had wild horses in FL! Love the Moon photos also! Wonderful!


thanks for stopping by! it's always nice to hear from fellow wanderers!