Way Down Yonder

or Three Lessons I Learned While Biking.

The adventure began at one of my favourite places to ride: the seven mile loop at Crystal River Preserve State Park. It was a rough go. We had had thunderstorms recently and there was a lot of water on the trail. Therein lay my first lesson:


Yep, I got my feet and one knee good and wet on this one. There was a second where I wondered whether I would ever stop sinking. On the up side, because this experience led me to walk around some of the larger puddles (until I got brave enough to bushwhack) I got to stop and smell the flowers. Wherein came lesson number two:


“I don’t see any butterflies” you may well be asking as you view this picture of a huge thistle (and I mean huge, this came all the way up to my hip). I rode past many of them and almost all were hosting big beautiful black and yellow butterflies but try as I might I could not capture a photo. I know, I know, that’s as annoying as talking about the fish you didn’t get but I assure you that they were there, collecting nectar and pollen and contributing to our greater ecological good. Here are a few other flowers I stopped to admire.

Tiny violet
Not so tiny iris
Atamasco lily
Flag pawpaw

Yes, boys and girls, that is a picture of a flag pawpaw. Now some would say “what happens in the pawpaw patch stays in the pawpaw patch” but I have to share my next lesson because had I not learned it I would possibly not be here to share it. For as much as I love the drama, yesterday I learned:


Yep, I saw my first gator in the wild at this little rest stop. Can you find him/her in the next picture?

No? Here’s a zoomed photo. I thought about getting close because I only had a cheap phone camera but I quickly recalled reading about those travelers who fell to their deaths while trying to take the perfect selfie at the Grand Canyon and decided to practice some restraint. Next time I will take a better camera.

I was a little overconfident because I could only see the arse end of it. Now with hindsight I am wondering if that is just a trick gators use to lure in their prey. Maybe they know that some of us homo sapiens are as stunned as children who cover their eyes and think “you can’t see me because I can’t see you.” Like I said, I didn’t push my luck. It looked to be about eight feet long and very well fed. Hopefully not on unleashed puppies. The white pole in the picture probably once held a sign warning about the possibility of alligators (likely a popular sign to steal for rec rooms). I can’t help but wonder now, looking back at this1. why they would put a park bench right by the gator hole and 2. why you have to walk past the gator to read the warning sign.

See ya later alligator…

© Judy Parsons 2022

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