Aris wrote this one song called King of the Everglades. It's about this dude who lives a rough life, it sounds like The Doors caught in a swamp, and is available on Spotify and iTunes. But since Aris wrote it, I need not be concerned much with the subject matter, and I probably don't know 78% of the lyrics anyway. I got myself an education on the song, though. The best kind of education. Which requires full submersion.
So I didn't actually swim in the Everglades, there's gators in there! And as a drummer, I like all 4 limbs intact. We roll into Coopertown's, just West of Miami, as a large group ready for whatever they throw at us. Turns out they hand us the 6 foot gator, they don't chuck it through the air. Anyway.
These guys are the truly Kings of the Everglades. They drive big flat bottom boats with nothing in them but a few rows of pews, what must be a hemi attached to a fan, and...well, that's it. Our guide, Robert, took Mike's boat, much to the latter's feigned frustration, and thus commenced some verbal bantering. Mike, the elder, who was guiding another boat at the same time, was talking some good smack about Robert. Well, not be outdone, Robert fires up his boat and roars off to love his dominance, only brushing us lightly on the surrounding foliage in the process.
With such a non-traditional boat in these waters, the style of driving reminded me of the best-of moments behind the wheel when the roads are twisty and the snow packed hard on the asphalt. It was a Tokyo-drift fest out there! And our cheering egged him on all the more.
He pulled off a couple miles in to welcome us to his office as Mike drove by. Obviously his boat was not as fun as the one captained by Robert. We chose the right guy :) Here we are, in a massive flowing river, with grass as far as the eye can see, and all sorts of special trees growing up, providing a good home for the sought after gators. The Everglades. Source of fresh water for most of South Florida. And home to hundreds of thousands of alligators.
Robert called the gators out of hiding as we breezed along the soft flowing river of grass. Literally called them. And they would come! Curious, insightful, uncaring, they strolled around their aqua home knowing who was boss. Not the humans, to give y'all a hint. Most were females, who are more territorial, and the ones we saw were of good size, 12 ft+. We tasted leaves with aspirin in them, listened to the knowledge of King Robert, and enjoyed every moment on that boat.
Upon return, we got to hold a 6 foot gator, who was much more up to be pet than his wild counterparts. Robert and Mike argued who would win the next night's boat race. My bet's on Robert. These guys don't just work on those waters. They live them, breathe them, and rule them. Kings.