With one more week left in Gainesville, Kiernan and I had a really pleasant, sunny day to visit the Payne’s Prairie Preserve Nature Park. We drove there, but Abby Hogan showed me the Hawthorne biking trail that goes right past the North Entrance too – a beautifully scenic bike trail between downtown Gainesville and Hawthorne. From the North Entrance we headed to the La Chua trail and overlook.

When we were there the water levels were much higher than usual – the sink was full, plants and pollen floating on the water, making everything luminous green and the alligators weren’t sunning themselves on the bank of the sink… They were all along the trail and sometimes on it. The sign posts warn walkers to stay at least 20 ft away from the alligators, which is not too far away considering how fast they run. They look really docile (or comatose?) just basking in the sun, but it’s creepy seeing their eyes open and close or seeing them slip back into the water so quietly you’d never hear them coming up behind you. You get used to squeezing past them on the narrowing trail, though.

Besides alligators, there are wild horses, wild pigs and bison on the prairie as well. We didn’t see any pigs or bison, but we were on the trail early enough in the morning to see a small herd of horses with two foals at the end of the trail. They were too skittish to get really close to (with alligators all around it’s not surprising), but it was special 🙂

We stayed on the trail just long enough for it to get really hot, but not sunburned…

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