Opportunity doesn't knock twice; it will bang down your door if you let it.

Guest post by Nancy Dobias

Going to MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK for me is an opportunity to look for alligators.  I love to check out their expressions and to wonder what they might be thinking about.  Some have that "dreamy" look, some have that "joyful" look and some have that "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" look.  (Obviously those are not ever going to be asked to be on the Welcome Wagon!) Most of the time I see the alligators  sunning themselves in their normal spots along the banks of the river.  Everyone seems to have their favorite spot and I look forward to taking their pictures there.   

Today since the river was up, there really wasn't anywhere for the alligators to get out of the water to pose for my pictures.  I can imagine they must have been extremely disappointed not to have gotten their pictures taken.  (Well, most were probably disappointed.  A few might have been disgruntled when I happened along.)  As I drove slowly through the park looking for my potental models, I wondered when or where I might encounter the Lords of the Myakka.

First I noticed the fields.  The fields resembled the river.  Would alligators be there? 

Further along, some fields resembled the Upper Lake.   Would alligators be there??

If they WERE there, I wasn't seeing them.  Maybe they wanted a change of scenery.  The woods were pretty.  There was water in the back part of the woods.  Would they have gone there to have gotten in touch with their inner self?  It did look rather peaceful back there.

When I attempted to walk back to see what I might see, all I got for my efforts was a close encounter with a not-so-friendly biting fly and a nasty mosquito.  (So much for communing with nature.)  Hurridly I zig-zagged back to the car as I "struggled" to outrun the rather hungry "woods-dwellers" and cursed the day I forgot to bring my trusty green can of DEEP WOODS OFF.   

Being somewhat taken aback by my sorry day in the wilderness, my last ditch effort was to go down to the weir.  Surely the alligators would be here.  If the fish are here, the alligators will be here.  Wrong!  The fish WERE there.  Proof of that is a few fishermen probably were going to need to hire a semi to haul their catch home.  But alas, no alligators.

MORAL OF THIS STORY:  Don't go to the park just to see alligators.   If you narrow your focus too much, you may miss all the beauty that the park offers for those who would just take the time to "see."  Each bend of the road or river, every turn in the trail...it all awaits.

AND you might even see a bottlenose turtle seeking a crossing guard to help him safely cross the road!  (Of course it would have been nice if the turtle first would have decided whether he really wanted to cross the road instead of waiting till the last minute and then just going back into the woods on the same side of the road from which he started!)  Who ARE these turtles anyway???!!!