May 3-5, 2012... Prince Creek, SC

Day 1 on Prince Creek: Beautiful sunrise, mirror-still water reflecting the trees, birds everywhere, kayak in the water. Today's objective - circumnavigate Longwood Island. Out paddling, John reveling in flowers he could photograph from the water. Mysterious creek - we enter - magnificent cypress swamp, herons dashing about, woodpeckers hammering away, what's that crazy sound? Try using the video feature on the camera to capture the sound. (didn't work...)

Creek ends; paddle back out to Prince to continue north. Turtle sunning on a log, then - what's that swimming up there? Turtle? No! ALLIGATOR! Patti freezes, John saying, let's get a little closer. OK. It sees us, then swims away. Patti trying to figure out how big that gator is from the part exposed above water... How big does it have to be before it can upend a kayak and devour the paddlers? Maybe we should have worn life jackets... Not 10 minutes later (after John has been consoling Patti saying that the alligator is more afraid of us than we are of him) another one surfaces sideways NOT FIVE FEET IN FRONT OF THE KAYAK!!! We're blocked in. Now we are seeing at least four feet of animal, and that is only eyes to mid-back. And who is in the front seat - chicken Patti - John is In back - so who would get it first? OK. So two seconds later our reptilian friend submerges and swims away. Wanting no more of this little adventure, Patti makes John paddle as fast as possible towards the ICW and the relative safety of other humans on boats. About an hour later, we are safe 6 feet above the water on Anhinga.

Just to increase the torture, Patti goes online to learn about alligators in South Carolina. Here's a few fun facts: there are millions of them, males grow to about 13 feet and over 500 pounds, it is now mating season so they are out and about more, they eat ANYTHING, splashing (like from a kayak paddle?) can indicate prey in distress and trigger feeding, and to be safe try to stay at least 60 feet away. Oh yeah, that funny noise we heard earlier? Alligators bellowing - mating calls. So here we are in paradise, surrounded by alligators. One good thing - they've only attacked humans in South Carolina 11 times since 1948... Better record than sharks...

Not feeling ready to get back in the water, Patti opts out of kayaking and stands gator watch for the next couple of days. We continue to hear them bellow all around us from both banks, and in the evenings we hear splashes that don't sound like fish jumping or birds feeding. Oy. On Day 3, we spot one lurking in the lily pads across from Anhinga. As the tide goes out, more and more of the gator is exposed. A little blue heron goes nearby to fish unafraid. Patti thinks about our forays in the lily many gators were watching us?

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