All I Want to Do is Cross the Road

Guest Post and Photos by Nancy Dobias

For those who work at Myakka River State Park, I'm sure it requires its employees and volunteers to wear many "hats" as they interact with the public and wildlife.  No doubt it requires a lot of patience, a lot of hard-work and a devotion to maintaining a safe environment for the wildlife and the many visitors who come to experience the Magic of the Myakka Kingdom.   For those who come to the park, most come to see the alligators and if something unusual should occur during their "adventure" in the park, it certainly is something for the Book of Memories.  Saturday afternoon many people were able to add one memorable experience to their Book of Memories.  It didn't involve one of those oversize alligators that becomes a YouTube star overnight.  Instead, it involved one little alligator hoping to get across the road.

There were no crosswalks, no streetlights to ensure the little one's safe passage.  Instead, cautious drivers making their way slowly through the park spotted the little guy and immediately stopped to ensure other drivers would also notice and wait until the little one cleared the road.  He had apparently decided that the road made a nice warm surface on which to rest and was taking his good old time getting across.  When one visitor "explained" to the alligator that it was not safe to slumber on the road, it obviously was not something that the little guy wanted to hear.

By this time, more and more vehicles had stopped in both directions, all to ensure that the little guy would not accidentally be hit...that he would be safe.  Soon two people who volunteer with the park arrived to  "encourage" the alligator to continue his journey and find a better spot elsewhere.  Armed with a shovel, one volunteer was hoping to "herd" the little one in the direction of safety BUT the little guy wanted no parts to that idea.  Maybe he thought he was going to be put to work clearing trails or ditches.

Whatever he thought, the little guy was staying put and to show everyone that he meant business, he "voiced" his disapproval to all who would listen and then plopped down for his "sit-in" demonstration.

By this time a young lady who is one of the park's Rangers showed up.   She asked that all stay back, that she could "herd" the little guy in the direction of the woods.  The Ranger gently nudged the little guy but this little guy wanted no parts to anyone telling him what to do.  The more he was "encouraged," the more he dug in his heels and did what any 2-year-old having a bad day would do.  I fully expected him to start screaming, "NO!  You can't make me. I wanna staaaaay!"  Again, the Ranger was persistent.  She gently and continually nudged him in the direction she wanted him to go. 

When this didn't seem to achieve the expected results, the next ploy was to use a bath towel to "herd" the little one.  Where you would think this might be less threatening than the shovel, the alligator must have thought he was going to get a bath because he wanted no parts to the towel.  He "attacked" the towel and his movements tumbled him off the road and into the grassy area!  Voila!  Problem solved??

You would think.  Throwing  the towel on top of the alligator HAD temporarily confused him but he was an obstinate soul.  Once he untangled himself from the towel, the little guy was once more ready to re-claim his piece of that road.

Not to be thwarted in her attempt to keep the alligator safe, the Ranger assumed her best goalie-stance, blocked the little one's dodges, and steadfastly maintained her vigil.

It was at that time another Ranger arrived and she asked that everyone clear out, that our presence was making the alligator too aggressive.  She said that the little one would be relocated to safer area and it would be best done without an audience present.  Everyone cooperated.  Vehicles were cleared out of the area and I assume the little one is now safely tucked away somewhere talking about that strange experience he had when all he wanted to do was to get across the road.

For those who work in the park and who have to patiently deal with the public, thank you for your kindness and the modeling you give to children about possible career paths to follow.  You did a nice job with the little one!




guest post by Nancy Dobias

Golden meadows kissed by the sun are still yours for the viewing if you happen by Myakka River State Park.  The magnetic draw of the fields must be overpowering as nervous parents throw open their car doors and kids of all ages throw caution to the wind as they race to the fields in delight.  These fields not only have the pull on the human children, but they also beckon fun-loving fawn as well.  Of course, second-nature does govern their behavior.  Curiosity controls the fun-loving abandon as the fawn first peeks through the flowers to determine if we might be a threat.

Since Mom was nearby, she also was consulted.  Mom had years of experience in the park and figured all would be well but she did, however, monitor the area before she was satisfied that her youngster would be safe.

It must not have been the response the youngster expected because he still wasn't quite sure it was safe to leave Mom's side and romp among the wildflowers.  Mom checked once again.

It was then that we decided to let them enjoy their lunch in peace and go elsewhere in the park to check out what was happening.  Since we hadn't been to the weir for awhile, we next drove there to see if it was open.  Although it hasn't been repaired, the path to the weir is open and visitors could walk out to the weir.  At the weir are two pathways through the tall grasses that allow you to view the passageway of water over the weir.  Fish must be abundant because generally birds and alligators can be found congregating near the weir.  You must be careful when you walk through the grasses because you never know what also might be sunning on the banks of the lake.

Although he didn't mind our taking a few pictures of him, after a few minutes of taking pictures enough was enough! Since he wasn't being cooperative, we checked out the other path beside the weir.  The birds were more plentiful here.

The alligators were still around but they weren't as evident.  In fact we never even noticed the one beside the bird.  Birds and alligators live in such close proximity that they seem to tolerate one another quite well.  If you haven't been to the weir in awhile, springtime is a nice time to check out the wildflowers in the vicinity.  It sure makes for a pretty landscape.

Our last stop was to check out the BIRD WALK.  A storm was moving in and we weren't sure how long we had before it hit.  The Bird Walk looks like a fantastic place to view a sunset or sunrise but I don't know if it has the right alignment for that to happen.  It's also a great place to view a storm a'brewing....  Florida storm clouds amaze me.  It's impressive to see how low those clouds can be.

Since the storm was ready to hit, we got off the Bird Walk and as we retraced our way back through the park, we took one last lingering look at that "river of gold" and wondered if the fawn ever did get to take his fun-loving romp through those fields of gold.  It was raining up ahead.  Maybe the fawn might enjoy running through the "sprinkler" too. It sure was an interesting day at the Magical Kingdom of Myakka...a baby alligator who only wanted to cross the road, a fawn who wanted to leap among the wildflowers, alligators who wanted to doze in the grasses and visitors of all ages who couldn't get enough of the park's beauty and appeal.  It's all there.  All you have to do is decide to go.

Liquid Gold Flows at Myakka River State Park


Liquid Gold Flows at Myakka River State Park

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

If you live in the area of Myakka River State Park, I hope you take the time to visit the park in the next couple of days.  If you do, you will see a field of "liquid gold."  At least that is what it appears to be.  Few visitors could resist the pull of such a sight when I was there on Tuesday.

Car after car pulled over to marvel at the "molten gold" layered upon the field.  Visitors of all ages hurried through the trees and out beyond to gaze at what nature had painted upon the landscape of Myakka.

I kept waiting for a bridal party, or someone posing for senior pictures, or friends wearing their outfits for the Junior - Senior Prom.  Although they never came, others did.  No one could resist posing with a backdrop of such glorious colors and majesty.  Even a lonely palm tree got in on the act.

Yes, the park is alive with colors.  It's also alive with alligators.  Sometimes there are those who don't consider the foolishness of where they are getting their photographs.  Fortunately the alligator didn't make a move towards her.  He just did what alligators do....THIS time.

What visitors need to keep in mind when they see all the alligators along the banks of the river is that these animals are not puppy dogs waiting for you to take a "selfie" with them.  It is best to keep your distance and to marvel at the Wonders of Myakka from the safety of the bridge! 

Serenity's Stalemate

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

If you spend enough time along the rivers of Florida, you're bound to see an alligator or two but some rivers seem to have the motherload of alligators.  Myakka River is one such river.  Not only does the river offer its visitors scenic peeks through the many trees that overhang its waters but it also allows visitors to observe the alligators as they interact with the river and its other residents.

When you go to Myakka River State Park, you're sure to notice that some alligators seem eager to have company.  Perhaps they need the new visitors to listen to their old stories, but you'll also notice those who seem rather annoyed when newcomers have the audacity to enter their domain.

Because alligators intrigue me, when I go to Myakka River State Park and walk along my favorite trail, I invariably wish I had brought along a chair on which to sit.  It's especially interesting when you happen upon the BIG GUYS of the Myakka.  ENORMOUS!  Typically these fellows are not doing much but I figure they MUST evenutally move.  I just have to wait them out.  If I were a braver soul, I would sit on the ground and wait for the action to unfold, but I just know the ants would find me.  Instead, I stand there.  I watch, I wait, I wait some more.  I watch THE BIG GUY on my left,  I watch the BIG GUY on my right, I wait,  I watch. My cameras are heavy but I can do this, I continue watching,  I continue waiting.  My camera is ready and I am ready.

Neither alligator approaches the other.  You would think one might come over to say "Hey! How ya doing?"  Maybe they are both the shy types.  Other alligators happen along but they veer off, slightly away from them.  I guess they don't want to disturb their rest.  I continue to wait,  I stay vigilant. "I can be more patient than an alligator," I think to myself.  I continue to watch.  My knees are killing me from standing here so long, "Oh how I wish I had a chair..." I whine to myself.  I wait and watch, wait and watch, wait. I zoom in on the BIG GUYS to see if a closer "look" might somehow reveal what their plans might be.  First I inspect the one on the right, next the one on the left.

And then I make my move, away from the BIG GUYS, still wondering what I might miss but knowing I'll be back, pulled by the beauty and wildness of the Myakka River State Park and what I might see or experience around the next bend in the river or whenever one of those BIG GUYS may actually move.