Alligator hors-d’oeuvres on the Chattahoochee

I shouldn’t have told my wife about the alligator. She had wanted to take a float down Atlanta’s river, the Chattahoochee, ever since we’d moved here and seen people drifting down casually in colorful rafts and tubes as we drove over the river’s few overpasses.

“Few” is an understatement really. You might not even know Atlanta has a river if you blink as you drive over one of the freeway overpasses. It’s a long and wide river, but on Atlanta’s map it’s like a wisp of smoke floating up the western nose of the city and over its head to the north-east.

The river here is not really used like other cities use bodies of water. There is no River-Walk, there is no grand park with a river view, there’s no real commercial center on any part of the river. There’s really only one restaurant with a river view that I know of, appropriately named Ray’s on the River.

The Chattahoochee is more of a nature-protected area for floaters, hikers and fishing. Unless you own one of the nice homes on the suburban banks, or are floating past one of these homes, you really can’t appreciate it too much as a casual tourist.

So Alex wanted to “Shoot the Hooch” as they say locally… that is until I told her about the alligator. I had read an article about a large one living in the Chattahoochee that had been photographed and seen every so often over the last ten years. This was a 7-foot creature that did not belong this far north, but somehow found himself here and adapted (kind of like my wife and I adapting to Atlanta from Los Angeles).

It took me a bit of cajoling and the promise of a raft, not an inner tube, since there’s at least a bottom to a raft and some space to move around lest you get attacked by anything, but I finally talked her back into the idea.

Well, the day we chose to go happened to be Labor Day and the only flotation devices still available on this crowded day were inner tubes. “Oh, hell no,” said Alex. “I am not letting my toes dangle in that water for the next two hours like alligator hors-d’oeuvres.” And that was that.

I recently read the alligator was trapped and toes are now safe to dangle. When I told Alex the good news, she replied “what about the snakes?”




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