As previously noted, Choppy and I spent a couple days exploring the swamps of southern Florida last week. Our first day was mostly focused on a drive through the swamp to Naples. We spent the next day exploring the swamps. By “exploring,” I mean “driving on a random road through the swamps and looking at alligators from the safety of our car.” Specifically, we drove the Loop Road, a gravel road that goes through part of the swamp.

Now, based on my previous experience with a looping trail, you’d think I would be wary of another looping route. At which point you would show yourself to be new at reading this blog, because I regularly engage in activities that my previous experiences should keep me from repeating. In this case, it’s a good thing that I repeat activities that previous experiences would suggest I should not repeat, because the Loop Road? Quite likely the most terrifyingly awesome road I have ever driven. I’ve illustrated the road experience in pictures.

Alligator WarningThe first sign on the Loop Road. In case you are not aware that alligators are large, dangerous animals, this sign serves as a nifty note on that fact. And, yet again, this sign indicates that people are dumb and need to be reminded of the danger of alligators pretty much constantly, lest they suddenly be overcome with an overwhelming urge to start feeding them.

A WarningAnother sign further down the road. I’m pretty sure the implication that you are about to die should you continue down the road is unintentional. Though I am not entirely sure.

Hey, an AlligatorOh, look! An alligator just chilling next to the road.

Indifferent Choppy and AlligatorHere is Choppy, entirely indifferent to the alligator sitting next to the car. Note: this indifference is only because she did not see this particular alligator.

Excited Alligator and ChoppyThis? This is Choppy when she realizes there is an alligator outside the car. Much barking ensued every time she saw one. In related news, Choppy would survive approximately two minutes were she to escape into the swamps of southern Florida (or, more accurately, she would survive approximately as long as it took for her to run across an alligator. On the Loop Road, this would be far less than two minutes, as they were everywhere).

Hey, Just an Alligator ChillingWhy did the alligator cross the road? Because it’s not like anyone was going to stop him. (Note: I took a lot more pics of alligators, and video (to come soon!), but some other pictures are in order (particularly as all alligators start to look the same after a while)).

Take a Hike! Nothing Will Kill You! The pamphlet for the Loop Road suggests that a trail along the road is “an opportunity to stretch your legs.” Here is one of the trails along the road. As you can see, the trail is underwater. As you can’t see, there are alligators within a few feet of this trail. This suggests to me that this is only an opportunity to stretch your legs if (a) you consider hiking the same as swimming, and (b) you don’t mind losing one or both of your legs to an alligator.

A School Zone. Seriously. I kid you not, there is a school randomly located in the middle of this alligator-infested swamp. I’m guessing the people who allow their kids to go to school here are the same ones who need the constant reminders not to feed/touch/go swimming with the alligators.

Cougar Warning at a CampgroundA helpful message from the National Park Service (paraphrased by me): “If the alligators don’t get you, the cougars probably will…

Who Camps Here…but whatever. Here’s an awesome campground in the middle of this swamp. Why don’t you stay the night and press your luck? We didn’t mow, because that might give you an unfair advantage in escaping the alligators and cougars.” Note: There actually was a person camping in this campground. In a tent. It was most definitely not me.

The Stupidest Man on EarthAnd last, but not least, one of those people for whom all the signs were erected. I drove the Loop Road several times (because it was, as I said before, terrifyingly awesome), and everyone on the road was safely ensconced in a car the entire time. But not this fellow, who I saw on my last pass. Nope, he was out and about, even though I had previously seen alligators exactly where he is standing in this picture. But, my favorite part of this picture is a bit hard to see, because I kid you not, his license plate is “BYEEEEE.” I am still astonished that this is real and I saw it (though I did not see him get eaten by an alligator, which really would have made the situation come full circle).