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I’ve shared a lot of random stories about my travel experiences but I don’t think I ever shared the story about that one time at a rest stop. You’ve been to a rest stop, haven’t you? In fact, I only visit them when I’m been traveling for miles and miles and miles. They aren’t my first option to stop at but when you want to make good time and don’t want to veer off the highway too much, they are great options. Usually you go to use the facilities, maybe grab something from the vending machine and head back to your car. An average trip to a rest stop shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Of course there is an exception if you are traveling with pets, kids or a ton of people. Rest stops generally have picnic tables that make it easy for everyone to eat comfortably and take a break from driving and riding.

A few months ago my husband, daughter and I took a road trip to Marco Island for my sister’s wedding. The trip went surprisingly well aside from our daughter crying 3 of the 4 hours it took us to get there. All things considered, it went well and so we just knew our trip back would be as easy. But it wasn’t. Everything went nicely until we pulled over and stopped at a rest stop.

My husband and I agreed that I would run in first to use the restroom. I’m like a 5-year old when it comes to road trips. I not only ask “Are we there yet?” a thousand times but I also have to use the restroom every 40 minutes. We pull into a parking space at a rest stop and I neither walk or run, but I fly to the ladies’ room. Sweet relief is granted and I make my way back to the car. Out of the corner of my eye I see a crowd gathering towards the vending machine. I am far from the nosy type. I mind my own business which is probably why I’d stay alive in a horror movie. But I had to pass the vending machines to get back to my car so I took a quick glance and then I see it. It being a 6-foot alligator. Said alligator had a crowd around it and was sluggishly trying to walk away. This gator had to have been sick or injured because it wasn’t chomping away at the older man that was poking its head with a stick. I jetted to my car as if I was training for the 2016 Olympics.

I told my gal pals this story and they weren’t surprised because they too had their own rest stop stories to tell. Is this the norm? Do crazy things always happen at rest stops?