As if there was any question, Denise Kleiner noted, "I'm a history nut."
Kleiner, the general manager of the boat tours that go out of her concession at Jiggs Landing, took exception when her 12-passenger, electric Duffy boat passed what appeared to be a Tiki hut on the Braden River.
A passenger said he saw a Tiki hut.
"Tiki hut?" Kleiner asked. "No. It's a chickee hut."
She then explained how chickee huts were built by the Seminoles in Florida, chickee means "house" in Mikasuki languages that were spoken by the Seminoles.
A raised wood floor is one of the main differences between a chickee hut and a Tiki hut.
Kleiner looked another direction and launched into a discussion of para grass, an invasive exotic plant from Spain that was brought to Florida to feed the Spaniards' cattle, who didn't like native Florida grasses.
"In the 1800s, you couldn't even see this river because it was covered with para grass," she said.
Over the years, the para grass was contained to the banks of the river, but it still flourishes.
Her head would snap one direction to point out a cooter (a freshwater turtle she says comprises 80% of the alligators' diet) then back the other to direct eyes to a moorhen and a purple gallinule.
"The bigger the bird, the higher the tree," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.
She saw a brown pelican fly over.
"The pelican is a sea bird, but they come here when there is red tide," she said.
The tour was a nonstop lesson in history and wildlife. Kleiner lived on the Braden River for years (she shows her former house during the tour) but she now lives in Tara.
She described why she is so passionate during her tours.
"It is part of who I am," she said.
Tour prices start at $12. For more information, go to JiggsLanding.com.
Also note that on Saturday, Jiggs Landing is hosting the 10th annual Holiday Boat Parade. Registration is free for those who want to put their decorated boats in the water at the Jiggs Landing boat ramp. Boats need to be lined up for the parade by 6 p.m.
The parade will circle Evers Reservoir and then go to Linger Lodge. Those planning to eat at Linger Lodge should try to get 7:30 p.m. reservations.
Those who don't have a boat and want to participate can reserve a boat tour at JiggsLanding.com.