Sunday, December 3, 2017

Girls and Gators (WW # 122)

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Good food, good friends, good conversation!
This week three of my friends, fellow bloggers and southern sole sisters met in Panama City Beach to run the half marathon.  My co-host Tricia drove over with Teresa and they arrived Thursday evening.  We enjoyed a delicious late dinner of grouper tacos at Shades.   We frolicked on the beach early Friday morning before heading to the airport for Karen.  

This pose led to a recreation of Charlie's Angels...
Once snagging Karen, we hit up famous Thomas' Donuts for breakfast and returned to the house to kick up our feet a while on the deck in the sun.  The warm sunshine felt fabulous but also gave us a hint of what race day would be like {cue ominous music}.  I threw out a few suggestions for an afternoon adventure and we decided on an air boat ride.  Karen and Tricia had never done one and although Teresa and I had -- I thought it would be an enjoyable experience for all of us.

Hello, little fella!

Part of the air boat adventure experience is to view the gators they have in captivity and also have the opportunity to hold one.  I think the gator I held in the past was smaller.  This one freaked me out a bit but I put on a brave face.   We boarded the Swamp Vette and were delighted to find a very colorful, entertaining, salty, barefooted boat captain we later nicknamed "Cooter".

Ready to fly.  Ear protection is required!
Let me say Cooter gave us more than we bargained for, staying out long after our time was up.  After thrilling us with a few 360 degree turns in the main channel and taking the air boat right over mud, limbs and the channel's edge, we went deep in to the brackish tidal creeks to see if we could find any gators in their natural habitat.  The water and it's reflection as it winds between the seagrass is amazing.  

The reflections in the tidal creeks were amazing!

After viewing the nesting areas of a couple of their resident very large gators (one over 15 feet), we eventually spotted a gator in his habitat.  In fact, Cooter got in the water to rustle him out of hiding for us.

Cooter...just doing his thing.
Cooter insisted that finding any gator on December 1st was a true miracle in itself.  We also saw bald eagles, ospreys, and surprise -- several dolphins at play.  Keep in mind, we were not in the ocean. These dolphins would have to travel 14 miles to return to their necessary saltier water.  


The gator we found was 3-4 feet long.
After our incredible experience, we went to packet pickup and enjoyed carbo-loading with a mid afternoon pizza and a Starbucks pick-me-up in beautiful Pier Park.  We were determined to return to the house to capture the sunset.  Barely making it time, it did not disappoint!  And here's where I'll leave you...

You'll have to tune in later for the race recap and post race shenanigans!

And that's a wrap!
Have you ever been in an air boat?

Have you ever held an alligator?  Would you?

Have you visited the Florida panhandle?








64 comments:

  1. Yikes....you're just gonna leave us all hanging??? I have an inkling of what all went on, but am excited to hear all the down -n-dirty details ;-)

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    1. The fact I got this much of a post up is amazing. LOL. I don't even have my thoughts together about the race yet!

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  2. Oh, I would have loved all that except no touching reptiles. Ewwww

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    1. I'm willing to bet, having to choose between the two -- your picture would have been taken holding the alligator. Bahahaha!

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  3. Alligators kind of scare me. I do not think I would ever hold one.

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    1. I'm grateful they bound his jaw. However, Teresa held him first and his jaw was free to move. {GULP}

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  4. Well, you know the answer to the last question. Sounds like a marvelous ride! What fun!

    I don't know if I'd hold a gator or not. Maybe.

    You're a beat for getting a post up!

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    1. He felt like a big snake. Which means I've actually held a snake! EEK.

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  5. I can't wait to read your recap and all about your post-race shenanigans! I'm sure you four beautiful ladies had an amazing time! I have never held a gator, but I definitely would if given the opportunity! I WOULD NOT get in the water looking for gators like Cooter did, though. ;-)

    Thanks for the linkup!

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    1. No. I'm not Cooter-crazy either! His salty boat captain character made for a great experience though.

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  6. Alligator no! Meeting up with you all for a fun race weekend yes!

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  7. The boat ride sounds like a blast...and I think I would have been able to hold the little one like you did. Can't wait to read more!

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    1. I was OK until he would squirm and remind me that he was alive. LOL.

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  8. Looks like such a fun weekend! How great that you got to spend some time with running blogger friends!

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    1. Running friends are the best. We all get it!

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  9. So many great pics! I loved following along with your trip on insta. What a fun weekend getaway :)
    I would absolutely not hold an alligator! You have some serious courage, lady!

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    1. Thankfully, this one was relatively tame. I'd consider him trained too. He walk back up the steps and into the ticket office where he lived all on his own.

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  10. I've pet a gator, but it was at a convention, and it was small, with its snout duct taped. I don't think I've seen any gators in the wild.

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    1. When I took this tour several years ago, we didn't find any gators. But, it was in the middle of a summer day. I would think the loud engine noise would scare them away.

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  11. I've enjoyed seeing all the awesome fun that you all had this weekend! How fun to meet up with friends, run a race and then enjoy some adventures :)

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    1. Meeting other ladies through the blog over the years has been the single best experience of blogging. I hope to meet many more...including you!

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  12. Oh man, so much FOMO. So bummed I missed this year's shenanigans. I did the air boat excursion last winter. I felt the same way about holding the gator. Just suck it up. Can't wait to hear more!

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    1. We sure did miss the original #holottafun ladies this year. We just need to make it a convention don't you think?

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  13. So fun that you ladies got to do this together! Fit friends are seriously the best friends! I've never held an alligator, but I probably would... As long as it was supervised! Haha!

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    1. Hanging out with running pals is the best! I like meeting new ones too. It's an instant connection.

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  14. Wow, alligator?! I would be so so scared! I've never seen one up close, besides maybe at a zoo? But I don't think I'd want to.

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    1. The gators at our zoo don't even move. To be able to see one in it's natural habitat is really amazing.

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  15. I'm answering NO to all 4 of your questions. LOL. :)

    Your weekend sure looked like a holotta fun! Can't wait to read about the recap and post-race shenanigans.

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    1. We did have a HoLottaFun! When runner girls get together -- that just seems to happen.

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  16. Oh, I don't know if I could handle a gator! I'm afraid I'd freak out and drop it! I haven't been on an air boat either, but I'd try that without the gators. ;-)

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    1. I was OK until the gator wiggled. I didn't like that very much! It's amazing how well they can hide in the wild.

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  17. What a fun weekend you had! PCB looks like a blast :)

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    1. I try to find something new/different to do on each trip. It's a great place to visit.

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  18. What a fun weekend! And I love that the boat driver's name was Cooter. Lol!

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    1. I don't remember what his real name was. But he looked, acted and sounded like a Cooter to us. He made for a great experience!

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  19. This sounds like so much fun! I loved following your adventures all weekend long. You guys are the cutest. Can't wait to read the recap!

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    1. I'm just going to have to plan something so I can meet you too!

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  20. I would DEFINITELY hold an alligator. If memory serves me, I've held a tiny one, like wayyyyy back in the day when I too was tiny. But not in recent years. Sounds like such a fun weekend!

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    1. This may be the one I held years ago. He is much bigger now! Freaky.

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  21. I have been on an airboat ride and it was so much fun! My hubby held the alligator...not me!

    Can't wait to hear about the race and all the fun.

    Hope to be invited next year.

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    1. The race organizers need to make some necessary improvements! But at least the HoLottaFun was still fun. Of course you can come next year.

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  22. Wow, that's so cool you saw all that wildlife! I'm especially impressed with the dolphins. It sounds like a fun outing.

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    1. I couldn't believe the dolphins traveled that far from the ocean. Actually, Cooter told us how long they could survive in the less salty water but I've forgotten.

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  23. What a fun weekend! I've been on an airboat before, but I've never held an alligator, I don't think I'd be brave enough! Visions of Crocodile Dundee come to mind!

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    1. Ha! Well, Cooter would certainly never be mistaken for Crocodile Dundee. Aren't those air boats LOUD?

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  24. The beach always looks beautiful! I can't believe you held that gator! You sure look brave! LOL I would have been completely freaked out! I've never been on an airboat before, but it sure sounds like fun!

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    1. Relatively speaking, I assume this gator was tame (if there is such a thing). YOu'd enjoy the air boat ride. I'm sure they have them all over the southern coastal area.

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  25. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed our weekend and how much I appreciate you being the 'hostess with the mostess'! Love ya my Southern Sole Sista!!

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    1. I am so honored you came. I thoroughly enjoyed our wonderful weekend and it just makes me look forward to our next adventure!

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  26. I've been on an air boat ride and it was a lot of fun! There were gators involved but we kept our distance. Looks like you all had a good time. Looking forward to hearing all about the race.

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    1. I was really surprised we found a gator in the wild. The last time I took this tour it was in the heat of summer and we didn't see nearly as much.

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  27. No I have never been in an air boat or held a gator. But if I ever vacation in FL it looks like something my hubby and I would enjoy doing. Question about Cooter... wasn't he worried about getting attacked by the alligator he was going to wrestle?

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    1. Cooter was just trying to scare the gator we had spotted out of hiding -- not catch him. But he seemed unconcerned about his safety when he just jumped in the water.

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  28. I am so glad you suggested the airboat ride, it was a wonderful experience :) and I actually enjoyed the gator although when he wiggled it did make my heart rate go up LOL I can't thankyou enough for a great weekend!

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    1. I'm glad we decided on the airboat. Cooter was just icing on the cake too. You were petting that gator in your video. LOL.

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  29. The air boat ride sounds fun... not so sure about the gators! I think I might rather hold a tame-ish one than go looking for a wild one though.

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    1. I think the one we held was pretty tame. He walked from outside back into the ticket office to get to his pen. "Quitting time" is what he was thinking.

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  30. Sounds like a fun time! I'm not sure I'd hold a gator even if it was that small. I haven't been to the Florida panhandle but it looks nice. Great beach pics!

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    1. Your kids would have loved every minute of this experience. And so would you!

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  31. Looks like you all had a great time! I've never been on an air boat but sounds fun! I'm not sure about holding a gator either. :) Looking forward to your race recap!

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    1. Like I told Sherry, your kids would have loved this experience. You would have too!

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