Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Was Almost Alligator Bait

I—we—were almost alligator bait on Alligator Alley today.

Alligator Alley is an infamous highway that runs between Ft. Lauderdale/Miami and Naples, Florida. It’s infamous because it’s so dangerous and so many people have died there. Several times a year we hear horrific news reports of traffic fatalities on this stretch of road.

It used to be two lanes – one each way with no medium diving them. Then it was unbelievably dangerous. People drive way too fast on it and at night, there’s no street lights. People pass where they couldn’t see and then vehicles full of people would end up at the bottom of the bordering canals and wind up gator bait.

It’s a bit better than it used to be. Now it’s four lanes—two on each side with a wide middle. There are shoulders and fences between the road and canals.

The fences don’t look too strong, however. There are still no lights along the highway for nighttime driving.

This route is the only road through the Everglades from the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami/Boca Raton area to Naples in Florida. We’d have to go way north or way south out of our way to avoid it and the Tamiami Trail way south is probably just as bad or worse. We’d have to go HOURS out of hour way to skirt around to the north. So sometimes it’s a necessary evil. I usually only travel that way if I’m going to visit my cousin Debbie on the west coast of Florida or if I’m going to a romance writer’s conference or booksigning on the other coast.

Today, we went to meet our Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill in Naples for lunch. They’re visiting Debbie and will be going back north next week. This was our last and only chance to see them. So we met halfway at an IHOP in Naples.

The ride to Naples this morning was pleasantly uneventful and I was beginning to wonder why Alligator Alley still had such a horrible reputation. I discovered why on the way home.

By afternoon, the other drivers were manic. They were going way over 80 (I was going 70+ and they were whizzing around me) and weaving in and out. That was bad enough.

And then…some nut job who was parked on the shoulder pulled in front of me from a dead stop. I was going 80 and this jerk pulled into the lane without building up any speed at all. I had to pounce on my brakes and swerve to the shoulder to avoid crashing into him. A little closer and I’d have wound up in the canal with a van full of five kids and me Maybe you heard me swearing and hollering all the way where you live, even if it’s Australia. That’s how pissed I was.

After that, the drivers got fast and wove in and out more frequently. I guess people were coming home from their weekends and anxious to get back. That’s no reason to kill my family.

If I had been chatting on a cell phone or doing anything else that would’ve distracted me for that split second when the jerk pulled out in front of me without warning, I wouldn’t be here to write this. I have to wonder if this guy had a death wish? Who can’t see a huge bright red van in the bright afternoon sunlight???

You'll also want to see what Amarinda Jones, Anika Hamilton, Anny Cook, Barbara Huffert, Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, Dakota Rebel, Kelly Kirch, Molly Daniels, Sandra Cox, Regina Carlysle, and Cindy Spencer Pape are up to, so make sure to visit them also. :)

4 comments:

Cat_Johnson said...

Thanks for joining me on the radio last night!
Cat

Amarinda Jones said...

Oh, was that you swearing? I thought you were too pure and sweet

Ashley Ladd said...

You're welcome Cat. Thank you again.

Ashley Ladd said...

Amarinda - have you read any of my books???

You're probably being facetious, but if serious - I get that all the time. I wonder why?

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