We ease the kayaks off the Yakima racks, the same ones you'd use on top of your car, clamped onto the hardtop's grabrails. I paddle down a small tributary canopied by overgrowth. It narrows to where I can barely take a full stroke. After 100 yards or so, I lose site of Dave and float alone in the creek. The sound of my kayak gently rippling the surface of the shallow water does little to upset the natural silence. Turning a bend, the rivulet widens, opening the canopy to sunlight. I stop in midstroke. There on the sandy bank sits a massive reptilian form, basking in the sun. I notice right away its thick snout and blackish-green coloring. It's an alligator, a far more common, though no less disconcerting, sight. The sleeping predator pays me no mind. Even so, I give him a wide berth.