As the sun came up over the horizon, I greeted it with high anticipation. I was ready to go on today’s adventure. Breakfast already eaten and my safari hat on, I could hear the jeep arriving into camp. With the driver in place (my human dad) and my camera assistant (my human mom), we were ready for anything.
Taking off for the day would be slow traveling. The terrain was rough and the grasses were high. What little roads we were told to expect would be dusty and full of ruts, since it hadn’t rained in months! My mouth was already starting to dry as I was panting, so I was glad we had canteens of water with us.
Since I had no concept of time or the distance we had traveled, I began thinking I was seeing a mirage of water ahead. One thing I do have is a great sense of hearing and keen sense of smell. Telling dad to slow down, I moved forward cautiously, my eyes focused on our first sighting of wildlife in a nearby watering hole.
Our guide told me there were hippopotamus cooling in the water from the hot sun. They didn’t look too big or menacing, but their bodies were hidden. I hoped to get a closer look.
Unfortunately, one of these guys had a different idea in mind! With the warning of potential danger coming my ears were up in alert mode as a hippopotamus approached us with his mouth wide open. I wondered if he was friendly, hungry or just wanted to see if I would fit in his mouth! My human got the picture and we once again headed for the next watering hole, with the hopes it would be a little tamer.
Now, our guide said he had an unexpected trip awaiting us today and we had just enough time to go into the deeper, back waterways of the river. Using what is known as an airboat, we settled into our seats and put on ear protection headgear, which protected our ears from the sound this big fan made. I have never seen such a big fan in my life and certainly not on a boat!
The guide said, “Sit back and enjoy the trip, Wrigley, it won’t take long to get to the waters of the most misunderstood reptile!” The boatman gave us the signal (because we couldn’t hear very well) that we were going to slow down and to get our camera ready. And to keep my paws inside the boat!
Wow! There they were in all their glory—alligators! Small ones and big ones lurking in the water and near the shore! They looked harmless enough, even though this big fellow had a rotating eye on us!
I started to feel a little uneasy and frightened of my surroundings when I let out a yelp and bark of fear, which brought my mom to me.
“Wrigley. Wrigley; what is it? What’s the matter? Wake up! You must be dreaming!”
“What? Dreaming?! No mom, it must be real, because I remember it all so well!”
My mom said, “Just calm down a minute and think, Wrigley, where you have been lately. Let’s retrace your steps.”
Oh yes! I’ve been in the wonderful state of Florida with so much to do and see, I remember now. We’d been in Florida for three months and every day has been filled with sightseeing a world of wonder.
We started out at Fort DeSoto State Park, consisting of 1,136 acres and five interconnected islands called “keys.” It was two weeks of stepping back in time to the Ponce De Leon era.
The vegetation was heavy, thick, lush, and had lots of little lizards scurrying around everywhere. I even had the pleasure of meeting two surfers (with a beautiful cause of helping autistic people enjoy the water). They taught me how to paddleboard and took me out into the ocean. What a great time I had!
Next came Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring, Florida. This beautiful park encompasses more than 9,000 acres, with 159 well-kept campsites and several river/swamp boardwalk and hiking trails to explore. I even got to take the tram tour, behind the scenes, to see the wildlife and alligators in their natural habitat.
The last two stops traveling in our motorhome were Homosassa Springs Wildlife Preserve and Silver Springs State Park with the glass bottom boat tours.
There was a sign at Lazydays RV in Tampa that fits my lifestyle to a T, and I would like to share it with you before I go. “Take two free spirits and a pinch of wanderlust. Mix it up in a house on wheels, add lots of laughs, first time experiences, new friends and, yes, a dog or two. All this makes life one awesome journey you want to share.”
RVing may not be for everyone, but for this dog and my family, it has been a dream come true.