Mike Meets Gator
2/13 Okenfenokee swamp
Left the campground round ‘bout 9-9:30 (geezer standard time) after a leisurely breakfast in the camper. Beautiful day, sun shining, very little breeze and temps in the mid to high 70’s. Headed for the Okefenokie swamp for our first paddle of the trip. The OKE is a 650 square mile National Wildlife Refuge and forms the headwaters for the fabled Suwannee river.
There have been a couple of changes since our last visit, the best being the opening of a narrow canoe/kayak trail that runs parallel to the main waterway. It was very secluded and quite nice not having to share the water with the tour (“if you look to the right you can see the mighty alligator”) boats and fishermen. There was a fair number of interesting critters, though it is early in the season. We saw great egrets, green herons, red-shouldered hawks, sandhill cranes, foot tall pitcher plants and of course, the obligatory “gators” (longest about 9 feet).
We had lunch at a romantic little platform consisting of a port-a-potty and just enough room to sit by the water.
For safety, Park personnel wanted us to check out at the main center by 4:00 pm and we found ourselves about 2.5 mile from there with an hour to go. It meant we couldn’t dawdle on the way back- pretty straightforward paddling. When we got back, we discovered that Al’s watch he keeps clipped to his PFD was still on daylight standard time and we didn’t have to hurry! Al was upset we couldn’t paddle another hour – Mike was relieved!
We went into the park store to get an ice cream bar to soothe our spirits – found that the freezer had been on the fritz and all the bars were shapeless blobs, but the kind lady went in the back and came out with bowls of vanilla with chocolate syrup for 50 cents each! I think this sanschain eating is really great.
Dinner was at a great little seafood restaurant in Historic St. Mary’s. After stuffing ourselves, we went to the Bloody Bucket for an after-dinner cocktail.