Saturday, July 26, 2014

Destree Fun Trip 2014- Okefenokee Swamp Park

Okefenokee Swamp park was the next stop on our trip. While I was sad to leave St. Mary's, the beautiful ocean and our comfy little loft bed, I was excited to head to the swamp. I had never been to a proper swamp before and I had never seen alligators in the wild.

While in Okefenokee, we rented a two bedroom cabin from the state park. While I wouldn't exactly call it "roughing it", the cabin backed up to the swamp and was walking distance from the boat rental area and entrance to the park. The cabin didn't have wifi or even cell phone service, but did come equipped with A/C and television. It also had running water and bathroom and a full kitchen. 

Deer regularly walked through the yard of the cabin and, because we were staying there during the week, we pretty much had the place to our selves. I get the impression that during the weekend that place is pretty busy. 

We stayed in Okefenokee for three nights (the longest amount of time stayed anywhere on trip). The evening that we arrived we got settled in, cooked dinner and relaxed. I started reading Rainbow Rowell's novel Fangirl, which I finished while we were there, and started Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes. There was a lot of down-time, and because of this, this was probably the most restful stop on the trip. 

The second day, we rented a  flat-bottomed motor boat from the state park ($50 for two hours) and headed into the park. Apparently you can hire guides that can take you into the park, but I'm sure it costs more that $25 an hour! We had a splendid time, touring the swamp, going up and down watery alleys, stoping for a snack on Minnie's island, and seeing a controlled burn, safety watched by the park rangers. We saw fish, enormous spider webs and so many alligators, swimming up and down the river. We even saw a mama a baby alligator! The mama was the only alligator that we saw that actually seemed to chase after out boat. I guess she thought we were just a little too close to her baby!

The only thing I really didn't like about Okefenokee was the heat. It seemed like everywhere up to this point in the trip had been relatively temperate. Whether because of the location to water or due to rain, I hadn't really been too warm. But Okefenokee never cooled down. At one point I saw that the sun had gone down and thought it must be a little cooler outside, but it was nothing like Colorado. It never really cooled off their and it was so humid!

On the third day, we went on a little nature trail that went behind the ranger's station. The boardwalk trail took you through parts of the swamp and allowed you to see insects, spiders and we ever saw two water moccasins! Boy, was I thankful that we were up where we were and that they were down where they were! Rick's dad got a few water samples from a little pond we passed by. We finished the trail around 12:00 and it was already so hot. We headed back to the cabin and hung out there until the afternoon, when we headed into town to check out another ranger station. We tried to go to a little nature center/book store, but they were already closed. We got a few more water samples, met an alligator floating happily along in a pond of his own and stopped at a grocery store for some supplies. While checking out, we met a local girl who, upon hearing that we were visiting from Colorado said,

"Wow. Why would you come here? We still have DSL". I thought she was a heartbeat away from asking us to take us with her! It just goes to show that even if you think you live in the most boring place in the world, someone else is going to find it fascinating.

That night we watched Creature from the Black Lagoon, because Friday is Monster Movie Night in the Destree family and because we were in the swamp.


The next morning we packed up and headed back to civilization.

Next stop. Atlanta, GA.

Alligator Face

Why did the turtle cross the road?
Papa Destree, driving the boat we rented from the state park.
Lily Pads! The canoes that are available for rent. You can also rent kayaks & flat bottom boats (what we had) 

Cyprus Trees
Cyprus Trees
Ol' Man Destree, taking some pictures
Cyprus Trees & Spanish Moss. We learned on Cumberland Island not to handle the Spanish Moss. Apparently it's infested with Chiggers! 

These kids like boating!
It was like a fairy land!
Rick took a turn at the wheel
Just one of the MANY alligators we saw while touring the swamp.

Back on dry land
Swamp seen from the boardwalk nature walk
Rick made a friend! Don't worry. It's actually just a discarded skin, but this gives you an idea of the size of the spiders in the swamp. In fact, this was a small spider. *shudder*
Beautiful Fungi
One of the many alligators we saw on the boat trip 

One of the water moccasins we saw, slithering around below the boardwalk

Beautiful Cyprus Trees 

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