Dead ‘Gators in my Thursday’s Windows.

We had a beautiful sunny Florida morning with 21C, as we started our road trip up to the family in New Jersey. After a couple of hours driving on the Interstate 95, I espied a sign, proclaiming “Last Starbucks for 146 miles, coming up Exit 176.” 😯 Oh horrors! A quick detour was definitely called for, and I happily consumed my favourite chai latte and sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and basil Panini, before we continued on our merry way. Sitting at a table outside the window were three old men, one of whom was wearing a rather scruffy Santa hat, which rather curiously said “Happy Birthday” on the front. 🙂

We stopped to refill the tank at a gas station just outside Palatka. Here there were many stalls displaying fresh oranges, pecan nuts and beautiful shell ornaments.

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I realised that we must be in the heart of  ‘gator country, when I looked through the window of the souvenir shop, and saw this.

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Walking around to the other side, I saw even more of them.

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The sun reflecting on the window was too much for a decent photo, so an inside shot was called for. I think even Phil would agree that this one is quite a large specimen. I couldn’t help wondering why there were so many baby ones for sale. Do people actually go alligator hunting? I checked this out, and read that Florida is the alligator hunting capital of the world, and 5,000 permits are granted every year which entitle each hunter to catch and kill two of these unfortunate creatures. The season runs from August 15th to September 1st, so for those two weeks, there must be feverish activity in those marshes. We did buy one of the tiny baby ones about four years ago, for our grandson in South Africa, but today, we just stole a few pics.

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Then it was back in the car, and before we knew it, we were at Jacksonville, almost out of Florida and into Georgia, and not a palm tree to be seen.

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I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on part of my journey, and looking at what I saw through these windows. To see more Thursday’s Windows entries, just click here.

I have very patchy internet, especially through the rural areas, so although I’ve managed to visit some of your posts, I still have hundreds of your emails in my inbox. I’ll try to catch up as soon as I can.

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Of alligators, ants, and generalisations.

Hi again. This evening, we went to the club lounge and I played a few tunes on the piano, much to everyone’s obvious delight. Our friend’s husband has promised to bring his saxophone over to our house one day, so that we can do some duets, which could be very interesting. I’ve played with a trumpeter and even a bagpiper before, but not a saxophonist. Maybe we can do a bit of jazz. Cool

His wife writes for the club magazine, and has asked me to do an article on the capturing of Mr Smiley the alligator last November. I’m sure some of you remember the story, but in case you missed it, we had a resident alligator in our lake, which used to sun itself on the bank opposite, and probably eat most of the fish population too. This is why the water birds became so scarce at one point. I guess he used to eat them too if they came too close.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, one of our neighbours reported seeing him, to the authorities and last November whilst our son was visiting us with the family, the trapper came to take Smiley away. He was rather large for one man to handle, and fortunately our son arrived back at the house just in time to give him a hand with pulling him out of the water, taping up his mouth and loading him into the truck.

All this was watched by our two small granddaughters who weren’t at all phased by it. Hubby and I missed the whole episode, much to our disappointment, but at least we saw the pics. So it looks as though I’ll be able to add another claim to fame here by getting an article published in the magazine.

Since my episode with Vinnie last Sunday evening, I’ve had so many more smiles and waves from people here, as well as comments about my performance. The Americans are very generous with their praise. In fact I would go so far as to say that they are the friendliest people I’ve ever met on my travels around the world. I can’t understand why some people denigrate them as a nation. I saw on someone’s blog the other day, comments generalising about and making fun of Americans, and of course everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Unless you’ve lived amongst them and experienced first hand what they’re all about, you can’t make assumptions. Just as one wouldn’t like someone to say that all South Africans are violent, or all Scotsmen are mean, or all Irishmen are stupid. One thing I can say though, is that the people who work in the shops and restaurants here are so friendly and helpful, that they put our lot to shame. People really take a pride in their jobs, and seem to genuinely enjoy serving the public and with a smile too. I shall be looking for the same kind of service and smiles in Pick’n Pay and Woolies when I get home later this month. Undecided

Well, I can’t believe that it’s the end of the week once again and in just over three weeks we’ll be on our way back home. I’m a bit worried about returning to our house. I saw that 68ghia was saying that the ants are particularly plentiful this summer, and she even has to strain the water out of her kettle. I was chatting to my mom on Skype today and she also complained of dozens of the nasty little critters in her kitchen every day. I now have visions of my house having been taken over by armies of ants over the six months that we’ve been away. I certainly hope not.

On that happy note, I’m off to bed. Hope you all slept well. Enjoy your weekend. Chat again soon.