Unfortunately, I still have not seen an alligator in the wild so there WILL be a part 2.
I have swam at the Gandy beach, eaten grouper, spent the day at Disney, drank at the sandbar but in the two years I have lived in Florida, I have yet to see an alligator in the wild. So this raises the question is, am I true Floridian? Not yet.
Well, Tyler and I took off this morning to make me a true Floridian – still not sure if I want that title.
We went right into St. Petersburg, about seven minutes from his apartment, and drove right into Sawgrass Lake Park, where he was sure we’d see some.
Seriously, who knew a giant park was right in the center of the town?
The second we crossed the threshold we were out of city life. We were surrounded by Florida forests and marsh.
We started off at the little information building and looked at an expo of the taxidermied Florida wile life. We then went on our merry way to find the Florida wildlife.
You start off crossing a bridge over the water, so we started with me scanning the water for any signs of an alligator, but of course, none were in sight.
There is a little over a mile of boardwalk at the park that takes you over the marshlands to the observation tower. The boardwalk weaves through trees, fern gullies, and about a million giant banana spiders. And through the Florida humidity which is its own being.
We climbed up the swaying observation tower ready to find some gators in the lake below. Still no gators.
However, we did see some birds, that I honestly don’t know the name of but I see them everywhere down here.
We looked around for a while, hoping to see a tanning gator on the edge of the lake. When we gave up at this location and walked back down we decided to explore the other trails at the park hoping to catch a glimpse of even a baby gator.
Lucky for us, there were two more trails to try. The Maple Trail will lead you to the Hammock Trail which is home to the education pavilion.
On our way to the next trail we stopped at one of the look out points just to see if a gator arrived. And apparently we MISSED him! Some guy said there was one right before we got there. The nerve of some gators! We started out on the Maple Trail, stopping at every overlook to search for our gator. We found way more banana spiders.
Now at this point, it started to hit mid-morning and the sun was out and ready to destroy everyones day. We started worrying more about our chaffing, sweating, and overall heat. Every time there was a break in the canopy, we quickly scuttled to the next shady spot. Still, no gator to be found.
But alas, we had the Hammock Trail to try! Once we stepped foot on the Hammock Trail we instantly left the Florida swamps and marshes to find the hot, flat, sandy Florida; showing us how truly diverse the Florida ecosystem is and how quickly it changes.
So this part felt like a hike, just like a Florida hike where there’s no hills. The Hammock Trail had little trails winding off and dead ends to be explored. We attempted to explore a few but at this point we needed food and AC. We also totally thought we would get lost and take a wrong turn; until we rounded a bend and there was the beginning, we looped through the entire trail.
We left the Hammock Trail and had one more part of the Maple Trail to try. We crossed another bridge and looked for our gator. No gator but we did find a lot of fish and an adorable little turtle swimming around.
We made our way back to the beginning and started walking down the sidewalk that leads back to the parking lot, then we saw it. The ripples. Something was in the water! This was it, I could feel it, how romantic it would be to find our gator at the very end. We rushed to the edge of the water – making sure to avoid the fire ants that had already invaded Tyler’s shoe.
But then Tyler broke the news to me, just two fish swimming in circles either fighting or mating. No gator for me today. At least we found an adorable tortoise hanging out off the side of the sidewalk – and if you haven’t noticed all turtles and tortoises are adorable and you cannot say otherwise.
Welp, now gator sighting for me today, maybe our next outing I can become a true Floridian.
But we did finish off our outing at our favorite non-Waffle House breakfast spot, Skyway Cafe. Their skillets are tantalizing and we think about them almost daily. If you’re anywhere near the 4th St North area in St. Petersburg, this is the place to go. And trust me, the skillet is the way to go.
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Let me know what your favorite Tampa Bay spots are or places anywhere in the world because eventually things will calm down and I will spend my days traveling, again.