Robin and I had done an airboat ride last March and we wanted to take Tom and Deana along as they had never experienced one. I did and internet search to choose an alternate tour guide near Lake Wales and chose Alligator Cove Airboat & Pontoon Boat Nature Tours owned by Dee and Darald. Am I glad we ever did. We couldn’t have been more pleased. We left about 8 o’clock this morning in pea soup fog, concerned that it may not lift for our 10 a.m. start time. When we arrived we were greeted by Captain Darald and his lovely wife Dee. Immediately we could tell this would be a different trip. Never had we felt so comfortable and made to feel as if it were a privilege for these people to serve us. Dee took a few photos of us, waved goodbye as we headed out with Darald and headed back to her house. We thought nothing of it. Deana got a bit excited by the roar of the engines and the lift of the draft but soon felt at ease when we hit the open water. As you can see from the slideshow, the fog still hadn’t completely lifted as we headed out onto Lake Kissimmee. Tom was chosen as co-pilot. This meant that if the Captain Darald fell off the boat, had a heart attack, or was swallowed up by a ravenous alligator, Tom would take the helm and guide us back through the maze of channels and swampland. This did not make me feel the least bit comfortable. Tom cannot swim. So you can relive my inner fears when he positioned his posterior adjacent to the captain.
The morning was glorious. We were shown a plethora of wildlife, flora and fauna as well as getting some history lessons and well known facts from Darald. Time and time again, he would stop to share stories with us or point out interesting things our nubile eyes were missing. About half way through the journey he stopped the boat, spying a bald eagle in a far off tree. Darald then left the boat with a piece of leftover fish and walked into some lowlands to call it in. Coming back to the boat he told us to just wait. No sooner had he said that than the eagle descended from his treetop and in one fell swoop zeroed in on the carcass and picked it almost quicker than my Canon lens could grasp it. This was just one of many highlights of the morning. Alligators, birds of prey, birds of every kind, cattle, egrets, osprey, birds that I can’t remember their name, too numerous to count were spied all morning. The captain must have taken a liking to his quarry as the normal tour of an hour and fifteen minutes lasted almost two and a half hours from the time we boarded to pulling into port again. I would love to be able to write well enough to convey the feeling of being out there on the water, early in the morning, in the original natural state of old style ‘Florida’. Hopefully the photos will do justice for that. Upon our return, Dee greeted us all again and invited the ladies to hop in her golf cart. She was taking them back to her house and we fellows were to follow suit. Upon arrival Dee and Darald invited us in and we got the grand tour of the redesigned house. Quite a bit of work had been done and an extensive remodeling job made four bare walls once ravaged by a hurricane a welcome and homey abode. These people were treating us like long lost family members as the moments went by. Dee had put on a pot of coffee and just finished some homemade brownies for us to sample. The love permeated the home almost as much as the smells of the goodies. As the moments passed, I was continually mesmerized by the hospitality. We had come down here to take an airboat tour. And now we were being treated to the owners home and hearth as if we had known them for years. And Jasper, their Great Dane just wouldn’t seem to leave Robin alone. I can’t say enough about these good people. Never have we been received by a business like this. This just wasn’t and airboat tour. This was an adventure with new friends, spending half a day in their company and promising to renew the friendship often. I wholeheartedly recommend this adventure highly to any of you visiting central Florida. And there is nothing that I won’t do to promote their business in the future. Visit Alligator Cove any time you get the chance, just off Highway 60 near Lake Wales and you’ll spend a day you’ll not forget for sometime.