My teacher buddy Cindy has often said, "You guys have the coolest adventures, I want to go sometime."
I always say "You're welcome to come along any time," but then schedules seem to conflict or I get a sudden inspiration and there isn't time to get together.
She lives in the big city dontcha know, so she's pretty far away from PFHQ.
Yesterday, after a day of standardized state student torture known as the FCAT test, we both had a clear schedule and our dirty sneakers, so off we went to see the champion live oak tree that lives deep within Devils Hammock.
Generally, visitors do not drive the JEEP, but Cindy is a car girl (her husband works in the racing industry and writes racing articles) so I knew she could handle it ... plus I owe her big time for tutoring Junior in algebra.
It may be hard to see in the window glare, but she's got a big smile on her face.
It's a JEEP thing.
We drove in at Blue Springs and drove through the park spotting gators along the way. I didn't keep count, but I know we saw more gators along the way than I have seen before. Cindy may be a good luck charm when it comes to gators as she is a UF alum.
We saw everything from little 2 footers to 9 footers. They were all out sunning on the banks or lying in ambush like the fellow above.
This cottonmouth was sunning on the roadway and was not about to move out of the way, even when I got out to photo it. He gets his own post later this week with some closeups, so we'll talk about him another time.
Cindy was very patient as I stopped repeatedly and shot butterflies, gators, snakes, and scenery.
She even took the camera once and managed a Kingfisher shot that's better than any I have taken ... dang it.
It will be in another post.
She's the kind of person you want to take on an adventure because she's excited to see every critter or neat feature you come across.
The tenth gator seemed to be just as interesting as the first, which is the way we see it here at Pure Florida too.
Joi de Tree.
This is the big live oak inside Devil's Hammock. Cindy is pretty happy to be there even though the photo does not show the thick swarms of mosquitoes that were enveloping us at that moment.
If we look closely, you can see that the root to the left comes all the way up to her hip.
That's just a root!
This tree is so amazing. It's growing in a low area, but has created it's own hill over the centuries by it's own leaf fall.
Cindy checks out the other side of the champion.
We didn't stay too long at the big tree due to the mosquitoes, but the tree stayed with me. You know, five hundred years ago, this was the norm. Just imagine a Florida filled with trees like this, because once it was so.
The Amazon would pale in comparison.
Seeing the tree was the last stop on the adventure. A few minutes after seeing it we were blasting back to town leaving hordes of disappointed mosquitoes in our wake.