January 29, 2012 – Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

OK, so, it turns out, the Australians I met yesterday aren’t Australian, but English (suggesting I need to learn to tell accents apart better). So I am a little less worried about the snake problem. I am pretty sure England doesn’t have poisonous snakes.

[Note: I looked that last bit on the snakes up on the Internet (guaranteed 100% accurate all the time), and it turns out England has three types of snakes, which means there are more types of snakes in my itty bitty Indiana backyard than exist in all England. Only one of those three English snakes (the Common Adder, though the Internet seemed to give it like 10 different names) is poisonous, and the Internet also informed me that an Adder bite would be highly unpleasant, but would likely not kill me. Does that even count as poisonous? Anyway, point here being, no wonder when the campground host informed the English people that there were three types of poisonous snakes here they immediately moved.]

That said, as I was enjoying a beautiful day today, I noticed something as I took a picture of Choppy – the ominous grass behind our campsite, which to this non-Floridian suddenly look like the sort of grass that would most definitely harbor alligators (note: all grass in Florida looks like the sort of grass that would most definitely harbor alligators to me, as do all wet Florida areas and any standing water in Florida, including but most definitely not limited to parking lot puddles. In fact, the only two places in Florida where I do not worry about alligators are Key West and the Magic Kingdom. The former because I have been repeatedly reassured there are none, and the latter because I can’t imagine the lawyer field day if some kid got eaten by an alligator while waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise (OK, there are alligators there, but they are fake, so they don’t count) I probably would have noticed the alligator issue earlier, but I had been a bit preoccupied with the snake menace).

Choppy in the SunChoppy enjoying some Florida sun, apparently oblivious to the lurking alligator menace behind her.

I immediately did what I always do in these situations, which is look up the presence of alligators in the area on the Internet (again, guaranteed 100% accurate all the time). Sadly, the Internet failed me on this point. While the Internet is clear that there are alligators in Pensacola, which is right across the bay from here, it was less clear as to whether any made it out to the islands. However, it was clear that they make it to similar islands in Mississippi, so I am not taking any chances with the alligators here.

Mainly, this means not going anywhere near the grass at the back of the campsite, and keeping an ear open for any ominous hissing sounds coming from the grass, as I’m pretty sure that’s the only sound alligators make. So far, all I have heard are birds during the day and raccoons at night, so that’s good. Unfortunately, the presence of the raccoons does mean that all my food has to go in the car, because raccoons are always going to find a way into food left outside. It’s like camping with little, potentially rabid, and very cute bears on the loose).