Every Thursday, I try to participate in Travelers’ Night In (TNI) on Twitter. It’s in the middle of my workday so sometimes it’s difficult. TNI basically is a global discussion about, well, travel (read more about it here), with different topics each week. This week’s topic is “animal encounters” and that got me thinking…..
I’ve had a few animal encounters in my life, most of them occurring in or around Yellowstone. But my most infamous animal encounter story goes a little something like this: I was 10 and with my family on our annual Florida vacation. The five of us were bike riding on then-undeveloped Sanibel Island. We were biking for hours on narrow trails that bisected swamps and cut through heavily wooded areas. Dad led the pack, followed by Mom, then me and Felicia, and Frankie was taking up the rear. When it was time to start heading back to the bike rental place, we left the scary trails in the woods and rode out onto a residential street. We were happily biking along, admiring the big, new houses on that particular street, when all five of us came to a screeching halt. I swear, it was like something out of a cartoon. A whole line of Folinazzos on bikes braking and skidding because of the massive, greenish/blackish reptilian figure that appeared a little ways down the road. My breath was lost somewhere between my diaphragm and my mouth; all I could muster was a breathless, “Is that….. an alligator?!” By golly, it sure was an alligator. At the time, in my 10-year-old mind, that enormous alligator turned its head, looked at my family, and said to itself, “Oooh, lunch.” At the same time, a disturbing thought penetrated my paralyzing fear: a few days prior, in a one-day-when-you’re-on-Jeopardy!-moment, my father informed us that alligators are capable of running up to thirty-five miles per hour. All I could think of was my then-four-year-old brother at the back of the line being unable to pedal his little legs fast enough to outride that alligator. I was snapped to by my father’s voice instructing all of us to slowly and calmly turn our bikes around and begin pedaling in the opposite direction. I thought I was going to pass out. That alligator almost ate my whole family!
True story. Well, almost. The reality is that the alligator was crossing the street about thirty yards down. Now, in my thirty-six-year-old mind, I’m pretty sure it didn’t even turn its head and see us. But that doesn’t make for a very fun story now, does it?
Posted by Francesca