Watch out for gators, Chet

I saw this promotional item for the next Daytripper episode and I couldn’t resist a personal remembrance.

Chet Garner is taking Panhandle PBS viewers on a trip to Orange this week. The program is broadcast Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Garner will explore the waterways and swamps of a region that has no shortage of water.

Orange is way down yonder, bordering Louisiana on the Sabine River. It’s humid, hot, full of wildlife and when you get off the well-traveled areas, it’s serene and mystical.

Here comes the remembrance.

My wife and I lived in nearby Beaumont for nearly 11 years before we moved to the Panhandle in early 1995. Family members would visit us there and we’d show them the sights, sounds and smells of the most colorful and interesting part of Texas.

Our niece came to visit once. She was about 10 at the time. We decided to take her on an airboat ride in Orange. We drove east along Interstate 10, paid our money and took off in the airboat with a guide at the helm.

We cruised deep into the quiet regions of the backwater. Then the guide noticed something in the water. It was a baby alligator. He then plucked the critter out of the water with a long-handled device that snagged the gator around the neck; it didn’t hurt the little guy.

Our niece was thrilled to death to hold the gator. For that matter, my wife and I got a pretty big thrill out of it, too. The gator, which about a foot long, began to make a lot of noise … kind of a throaty sound that, I suppose, in gator language, was tantamount to a distress call.

Then the guide looked over his shoulder and saw a much larger form swimming toward us. It was Mama Gator, coming to the aid of her baby, the guide said.

He bid goodbye to the little critter, turned him loose and let him swim back to mama.

We then got out of there — quickly.

This upcoming Daytripper excursion will bring back some warm memories of a distant — and vastly different — region of our great state.


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