That turned out to be a pretty good idea.
These little walking paths stretch all over the swampy marshes once you get in the park. Yep, they are technically bridges, so I wasn't thrilled about walking on them, especially knowing that alligators might be lurking below. But I devised a great plan to only walk on the nails. That way, if a board came loose or the railing became unsteady, we would be standing on the most stable part of the bridge. I know...I'm a little paranoid. But the plan worked, and none of us were eaten by alligators that day.
McKay looked and looked under every lily pad for one of those alligators, but couldn't see anything.
We did see tons of these pond apples though. They just grow wild in the middle of the mangroves and the swamp. Apparently the alligators and other wildlife like to eat them. They're very seedy, though, so I don't think they're very delicious for human consumption.
Finally, we saw a little alligator swimming around in the dark water. Isn't he so cute??
I was perfectly satisfied to call that an alligator sighting and get off the bridges and back to the safety of the car, but the kids kept walking.
And I am so glad they did!
Around a corner and under one of the bridges, we found these guys...
I did have my zoom lens on for these pictures, but it's not that zoomy. We were actually this close to these beautiful giants! We could have reached through the railing and touched them. Don't worry...we did not do that.
We lingered for a really long time and just watched these guys. (We named them Fred, George and Lily.) They are absolutely amazing creatures. Unbelievably calm and still...until of course, they decide they want to eat you, and then they become lightning-fast beasts that can bite your whole hand off in seconds. We gained a great respect for the gator on this little side trip and the kids talked about them all the way to Miami. Just one more memorable experience to add to the many others we had on our two week adventure in Florida.