Begging your pardon, but it's been about half a year of reptiles here in Cottage Lake.
Today I handed in 250 pages' worth of words about reptiles to my editor.
Part of the fun in researching this wonderful topic was having an excuse to head up to Monroe and visit The Reptile Zoo.
Not that you need an excuse. But my family's driven past it for 16 years and I could never persuade them to stop and visit the World's 10 Deadliest Snakes or the Albino Alligator.
So when my sister and her three wonderful children came for a visit, it was the perfect opportunity to head out of town with my 10-year-old nephew.
The Reptile Zoo, on the outside, has the look of one of those roadside mystery spots where water flows uphill or the force of gravity is missing or the like, but that's clearly just to pull in road-weary travelers. It's actually (shh) educational. The owner is a former science teacher who is out on the road himself visiting schools with a menagerie of reptiles most of the time.
It's hot and humid inside, and there's a pungent pong--just so you know. But that's because the place appears to be geared to the comfort of the cold-blooded critters. I'm not an expert, but I've been to enough zoos to know the creepy feeling of being in a place where animals are not housed properly, and I certainly didn't get that feeling here; in fact, the reptiles here seemed bright, alert, and active, which isn't something you typically find yourself saying about reptiles.
I say "lucky" guardedly, realizing that seeing a vat of rats in broth and watching snakes consume them is perhaps not everybody's cup of tea.
But my nephew certainly enjoyed it, especially as he got to hold a small alligator for the keeper (in addition to getting to hold a corn snake, one of several animals rotated in and out of service over the course of the day for visitors to touch).
The zoo is home to a wide variety of lizards, snakes, and turtles as well as a few crocodilians, with clear signs explaining who's who.
If Burma-Shave still made highway signs, they'd tell you what to do:
NEXT TIME YOU DRIVE
STOP AND SEE
THE REPTILE ZOO
THEY'VE GOT A COBRA
AND LOTS OF OTHER