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Canoeing With Alligators on the Old Santee Canal

Friday, October 14, 2011

We agree to put boating on the back burner and explore the reserve from the safety of the boardwalk. Cyprus and sycamore trees tower over head and pink rose mallow blooms in the marsh. I take note of my surroundings, mentally cataloging the flora and occasionally stopping to see what fauna I might spy in the tangled undergrowth. A black and yellow garden spider stakes out his territory, his body hanging upside down in a zippered web. A monarch butterfly flits across my path. I peer over the railing to follow her progress and there, in the reeds beneath me, lies a four foot alligator. His eyes are black and his skin is the color of duck weed. I am overcome. Not with fear mind you, with awe. He looks so ancient, like a creature from the land that time forgot. Suddenly I cannot get in that tippy canoe fast enough.
Have dinner on the canal at Gilligan's Sea Food Restaurant in Monck's Corner (just minutes from the Old Santee Canal park) where not only will you find the best hush-puppies on the planet, you can feast on sustainably harvested local shrimp and recycle oyster shells. Yes, they plant the shells back in the oyster beds helping insure cleaner water and happy eating for generations to come. Open 11am-9pm and 11am-10pm Friday's and Saturdays.