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Meaher State Park is located on Pineda Island, in Mobile Bay. There is a public launch ramp just east of the entrance to the park. When I arrived at the ramp, there was a family fishing from the dock, and they were pointing to a small alligator swimming just off the launch. They were surprised that I would go in the water with the alligators so close. I assured them that gators had never bothered me before, but if I didn't come back within two hours, please call the Marine Police.
I set out to the south, headed for the I-10 Bayway, just south of the park, and before I had paddled a mile, I had seen four more gators. Two of them were rather large, six to eight feet. Luckily, they were more afraid of me than I was of them.
One big gator was lying in shallow water, sunning himself, and might have been asleep. I was able to get within four or five feet of him before he bolted. When he did finally move, he really moved, splashing water all over me, and into the boat. I was probably as scared as he was.
I proceeded south until I reached the Bayway, and paddled in the shade of the bridges, headed east, planning to circumnavigate Pineda Island. When I reached the river on the west side of the island, I turned north, and headed back toward the Causeway. Just north of the Causeway, on the west side of the river, is a slough that runs behind the BlueGill Restaurant, a landmark on the Causeway for over 30 years. On Sunday afternoons, they have live music on the porch overlooking the Mobile Delta, and delicious local seafood, as well as icy adult beverages. It's worth a stop, whether you arrive by car or by boat.
I continued on northward, in the lee of the island, and saw several more gators (10 in all) in the next couple of hours. There were several fishing boats in the area, but they were not a problem. The jet-skis are the real problem in this area, but none of them were around on this day.
I continued around the island, back to the launch. When I got there, there were more fishermen on the dock, and another (or the same) small alligator cruising nearby. I suspect that he had been fed from the dock in the past, and has come to associate humans with food. That's not a good thing for humans or alligators.
I was able to take out and load my kayak without losing any body parts, so I would recommend this paddle to anyone with a bit of adventure in their soul.
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