Thursday, 14 February 2008

Okefenokee Swamp

Apparently we were all extremely tired last night, as despite the constant roar of hooting trains, we all slept until 10am! Little Barney hardly moved the whole night (I know this as he was sharing a bed with me). The Okefenokee RV Park is basic, but I like it here. I don't know if I could spend 2 weeks here with all the trains going past, but apart from that it is quiet, remote, and seems a nice enough place. The nearby town of Folkston is very quaintly American looking. There's not much in it, and I figure that most Americans wouldn't think much of it, but coming from Ireland it just looked amazing to us.

We spent the entire day today at the nearby Okefenokee State Park & Wildlife Refuge. It costs $5 for one weeks entry in a vehicle which is pretty good for the finances. I think our family could easily spend a week there, if we weren't moving on tomorrow. We took the first option as we came into the park, which was a scenic drive with various stop offs and walkways along the way. Perfect for our family, as it means we can take the home and food (and toilet) with us. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we completely lost track of time and didn't realise that the park had closed!

We spotted a few wild alligators in various parts of the swamp, which was exciting. Half way round the drive there is a short walk to a real old homestead house. The sign on the door reads "Dedicated to the Chesser Family, in honour of the character and lifestyle of all settlers of the Okefenokee". The Chesser family built the 5 bedroom house entirely from wood in 10 weeks. They grew their own vegetables, kept their own animals and made syrup to sell. They were entirely self sufficient, with their 7 children, but both parents also held down full time jobs. There was a guide sitting in a rocking chair at the door, and no other visitors were around, so he sat and told us all about the family and the house. Then we went inside for a walk around. We all really enjoyed this. The kids enjoyed looking in the bedrooms, whilst Dan liked all the outside barns and out sheds. We saw how the family made their own sugar from sugar cane, and maple syrup from the trees nearby. The house and gardens were just idyllic. I could so easily live there!

We drove on a bit and stopped at the board walk. This is a 2 mile round walk on a boardwalk through the swamp. The area we walked through was so deathly silent (when the kids stopped making noise long enough for us to hear the silence). There were various areas along the walk to sit and enjoy the view, but best of all was the tall viewing tower at the end. We passed a man who told us he had found two huge alligators in the swamp, and that he'd left the binoculars in the viewing tower pointing at them, so that we could see them too. And right enough, they were pretty big ones. The scenery at the top of the tower was breath taking. But the kids were behaving like wild things by this point, so I took them back to the RV and let Dan enjoy the silence up there for a while. It was at this point, when we got back to the RV, that we realised the time, and that the park had closed!

On the way back to the RV park we stopped at the Folkston Funnel to view the trains. However, despite one coming past our RV park every 3 minutes, not a single train came past the entire 40 minutes that we sat there!

Tomorrow morning we are heading up to Jackson, and staying at a gorgeous RV park there called High Falls State Park, for 2 nights.


Anonymous said...

what a great day it was! At one point bree spotted an alligator really close so I got out to have a closer look. It was not a big one but i got within a few feet of it. its the closest I have got to a wild one so far, (both legs still intact)


Anonymous said...

Bree, you are such an eloquent writer and really bring your travels to life with your words. Your blog is making fascinating reading, thank you. I almost feel like I am there with you.
You really ought to write a book about something one day as you clearly have a talent for penmanship!
Caroline xx