Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Wedding Day, Part One

An evening wedding allowed us to start out Friday morning with a quick trip to Gator Country, outside of Beaumont. Gator Country is a small wildlife park specializing in alligators and crocodiles. Really, it's a mud puddle full of about three dozen big lizards. Only $7.00! John-Paul and Julia Wallace and their kids came along.

We saw baby alligators, alligator mid-day feeding, and "Big Al": largest gator in captivity in all of Texas. The "show" starts every day at noon, so we were somewhat upset when we arrived 15 minutes after the hour. What we didn't know is that the show didn't start until paying customers actually arrived at the park. After seeing sundry alligators, we were taken to the "big pond" which held 30 alligators ranging in size from seven to eleven feet. The two keepers staved off the gators with ten-foot lengths of PVC pipe and used a rusty machete to cut raw chicken thighs into tasty morsels for the gators to eat. We stood safely behind a six-foot cyclone fence.

We saw the park's new saltwater crocodile and the site of the soon to be Gator Country Restaurant. But then came the main event. After fifteen minutes of the staff beating the surface with their PVC pipes, we got to watch a completely stagnant mud puddle, I mean, pond erupt from beneath as Big Al himself emerged. He's a seventy-five-year-old gator that's been amazing audiences for years. He wasn't hungry, so they just bounced some hot dogs off his head.

We capped the event off with a serving of deep-fried alligator. Chewy! As we gathered to leave, we heard an interesting conversation between staff members. It was almost time for the two o'clock show and the lady who led our tour asked one of the pond construction guys if he wouldn't mind taking the next group. The guy was sitting with his cutoff jean shorts, a tank top, and a baseball cap with the name of his favorite brand of pickup truck. "Yeeah. Ah don't mawnd as long as yew don't amawnd me lookin' lawk sum sawrt uh redneck hellbelly!"

(I don't think anything would have helped that situation.)

They do weddings!

Pics T-B: Ian Wallace grabbing the baby crocodiles tail, John-Paul holding the adolescent alligator, "Big Al" emerges, the feeding at the main pond

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