Beaumont, Texas was always a marker between where I was from and where I was headed. I didn’t take many road trips that far east growing up, but the few that I remember were usually to Florida or New Orleans. If I could make it to Beaumont, I could guess how much longer the rest of the journey would be from the back seat of a cramped Honda Civic Coupe.
Entering Jefferson County, Texas, where Beaumont happens to reside, from the west, there is a landmark that I not only had to feature, but of which I am still in awe. Along the Eastbound side of Interstate 10 stands the wide smile of a bunker shaped like an Alligator. It is the entrance to Gator Country Adventure Park, both an attraction and sanctuary to 450 American Alligators, Crocodiles, and other reptiles.
Guests are invited to purchase feed bags as well as hot dog packs from the park to feed the gators and learn a bit about some of the misunderstood species. In addition to regular admission, season passes also exist and support the care of all of the animals at the park. Gator Country does house two of Texas’ largest Gators in Big Al (13 feet, 4 inches long) and Big Tex (13 feet, 11 inches). There are live shows to educate visitors of all ages, hosted by the Gator Country staff.
Most of the facilities are fenced off with chain link, but the open air feel of the park is unlike any other I have experienced.
I wouldn’t consider myself a real “reptile person”, but the animals are well-cared for and presented in very accessible ways even to the novices like myself. I’m not posing with a boa constrictor (or, honestly even just a feather boa) any time soon. Instead, I was a big fan of the tortoise exhibit which allows guest access to the feeding of the animals fresh romaine lettuce. Far from the 80 teeth that an Alligators have, but it was a great time to learn about all of the animals (including a Raccoon and Prairie Dogs) on site.
I suggest that if you are in the area that you make the stop. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
The track this week is “Gator Road” by The Stampeders. It’s a single from 1971’s “Against The Grain” LP. It’s a southern rock and funk take coming from a Calgary based male trio. While I may not exactly think of The Great White North as honky tonk country, the Calgary area has a long and rich history of cattle driving and professional Rodeo. Anyway, how many other songs have the word Gator in them? Enjoy the spin and I’ll get ready for next week.
Let’s all take care of one another, y’all.