There are three different parts of Army Ranger school and the last part is training here at Eglin AFB.
They have to learn to navigate through swamps and deal with the reptiles that live in them.
And because of this training, Rangers have become known for their knowledge and skill regarding most things reptilian.
They have a snake house at their camp on Eglin, which we got to tour during the Open House
It's a square block building and the glass tanks the snakes are in form another square inside the building.
Meaning there is a narrow walkway between the cages and the wall around the building.
We got to the snake building and everyone turned around and asked if I would be coming in.
I've gotten better at controlling my phobia of snakes and I hate it when the boys call me a girl so I said "Sure, I'm coming in."
What was I thinking?
I was trapped in a narrow corridor between snakes and a brick wall.
There were Water Moccasins, Copperheads, big Rattlesnakes, little Rattlesnakes, Pine Snakes, you name it. If it lives in Northwest Florida it was in there.
We rounded the corner and I could see the light from the door at the other end of the room so I told myself to breathe and that I'd be outside soon.
But then the people in front of us started saying "Holy cow, look at all of them!"
We inched along and then out of the corner of my eye I saw what everyone was talking about.
That mass of snakes did me in.
I was still about 30 feet from the door and there were people in front of me - including my children - but none of that mattered.
I was leaving the building.
The Island King turned around to look at me just as we got to the snake ball and saw the look in my eyes. He pulled the boys flat against the wall and yelled "Move aside, Move aside!" in his loudest voice.
As I went plowing past he grabbed the camera out of my hand and took the picture of the snakes.
The people in front of us all turned to see what the Island King was yelling about and saw me coming so most of them were able to get out of my way.
Except for the one man standing in the doorway.
I mowed him over like a professional linebacker.
I didn't stop running until I was a good distance from the building.
I could see the Island King apologizing and helping the guy off the ground but they were too close to the building for me so I wasn't able to apologize myself.
Poor guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Later, the Rangers held a demonstration out in the training field and I didn't even consider staying up close to watch.
The Island King and the boys were right on the front row and got to see the whole thing.
I waited in the shade behind the bleachers. And I wasn't alone. Turns out there were quite a few other ophiophobes in the crowd as well.
As for the demonstration, these guys are NUTS!
They brought the poisonous snakes out in boxes and then teams of three men would get the snake out of the box and onto the ground.
Where they could pick it up.
And then walk it down the line, letting everyone touch it's tail.
The boys enjoyed the demonstration and I enjoyed sitting in the shade talking about growing tomatoes with a woman from Gulf Breeze.
On the way home the Youngest Island Boy said "I'm not going to tease you about what happened at the snake house but I am going to stay far away from you the next time we see a snake."