Interstate 75 is the main vehicular artery in our part of the world, running north-south, (roughly) following the west coast of Florida.
Aside: Did you know that Interstates are numbered oddly when running north-south, and evenly when running east west? Okay, I thought so.
At abeam Naples, where it runs into the Everglades, the freeway makes a ninety degree turn, and heads due west. The toll plaza ($2.50) at the commencement of the cross-Florida section is the half-way point between my town and Miami, so it’s a kind of driver’s landmark. There is a large sign here, proclaiming your entry into what is known as “Alligator Alley.”
For eighty miles or so, the road barely turns. It’s straight and boring, because it’s as flat as a lake out there, which isn’t a surprise, because it IS a huge lake. The Everglades are beautiful and frightening. It’s not called Alligator Alley for no reason, although the fence that separates the hard surface from nature keeps the wildlife from becoming road kill. That’s a good thing.
There is another type of alligator that does prowl the freeway, however. This one is two-legged, comes in a khaki uniform, and drives a Crown Victoria with lots of lights. Our friend, the policeman, seem to enjoy the habitat in Alligator Alley. This is the one place I drive where I will not go even one mile per hour over the 70 limit. The gun-toting alligators here hunt in packs, up to seven of them at at time, and I have seen them pull over cars that I could not detect going more than the limit.
They must make a fortune from fines, which reinforces their behaviour. It’s a bit like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel, because it is so easy to speed here. The road is straight, the scenery is boring, it’s a long haul to wherever you’re going, and it’s often empty. But don’t be fooled. The many bridges over the drainage canals provide perfect hidey-holes for the fuzz.
It might take you ten or fifteen minutes longer, but my advice is to never, ever speed in The Alley. A ‘gator bite here could take a big chunk out of your hip pocket.