Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Our time on Jekyll Island is about gone.  We are leaving in a couple of days so this will be our last blog for a while.  The pic below is of a little hermit crab without a shell.  This one is pretty small;  as they get bigger, they get bigger shells.

Island sunset, a beautiful and vibrant orange.

Our last trip around this area was to Okefenokee Swamp.  One fine autumn day Brock and Leola and we hopped on the bikes for the 60 mile ride.  A beautiful one coming and going.

Everywhere we've been on the east coast we've seen historical markers, but they are pretty much unreadable because they have no place to pull off to read them.  This one was at the intersection of two busy roads.  We were stopped at a light when I took this.

The Okefenokee is a National Parks site so the first thing we did at the visitors' center was to stamp our Passports.  Then we browsed around the informative and very interactive displays soaking up information.  After we watched the wonderful and awe-inspiring short film, we listened to this amazing robotic story teller.

The building also houses the gift center and a small short order eatery.  We enjoyed our sandwiches and drinks, then took a boat ride into the Swamp.  We were the only ones on the ride.  Our guide was a local guy and very informative about the area.  He was an expert gator spotter. 

There were quite a few gators out sunning.

The Okefenokee is a wonderful place to canoe and kayak.  There are miles of waterways and several places to (permit) camp for extended stays.

Fall colors were on display.  The waterways ran through large areas of lily pads and bladder wort.  The latter looks like root masses in the water.

These wonderful flowers were blooming everywhere.  These are blooming on a  floating mat of grasses.  As the roots gather more soil and support more plants.  As the plants die and decay, they form peat hummocks that gradually replace the open water.

Pulpit plants.  These and the bladder wort are carnivorous.

Wonderful reflections.  The water in the swamp is 98% pure from the surface down about 6 inches.  All the plants on and in the water act as filters.  A swamp is a place of standing water.  If no rain falls, the swamp dries up.  

Another fall bloomer.  The berries on this shrub are poisonous.  The native people used them as a purgative (in small quantities).

The other way to visit the swamp is by wheels along the nature drive.  We failed to pick up a guide so we just made one stop.

Closeup beauty

The original boardwalk was destroyed in a wildfire.  This new one is made from recycled plastic.

We walked to the end where there is a three story observation deck.  We observed that we saw no wildlife.  Too soon for migratory birds I guess.  We did observe several bodies of water.

Yes we old people climbed this without stopping.  We just kept telling ourselves that on the way back it was all downhill.

Brock and Leola are newlyweds.  They just celebrated their 8th anniversary.  Congrats! 

We did see this white heron flying around.

Time for a pose with the bikes.

This completed the things we wanted to do in this area.  We had a great time and the weather (and government) cooperated.

Tune in later for more adventures.

Louise and Duane

Monday, October 28, 2013

Scrimpin' with friends and turtle viewing

After we discovered friends Ken and Bonnie from PA were visiting the RV park, we had to walk over for a visit.  In the course of our conversation we mentioned shrimping.  They were eager to learn something new, so we took them out one sunny but chilly day.  As Ken got the hang of the net and the tide receded more, there were more shrimp in the net.  He had a ball and we each ended up with a quart bag of shrimp! 

Bonnie, who doesn't like fish, gamely pinched off heads and threw them to the shore birds.  Duane taught Ken to split shells and devien.

Ken hitting his stride, Bonnie glad she doesn't have to do it!

Another day last week we visited the Sea turtle center with friends and neighbors Brock and Leola.

The building housing the gift shop and displays was the former power plant for the millionaire's getaway "cottages" on the island.

Display in the gift shop.

This guy would fit inside the skull of the one above.

The center was full of informative interactive displays.  After viewing the displays we went next door to the rehab center.  These turtles will not be released because  their injuries make them vulnerable to predators.  The one on the right is missing part of a front flipper.  The one on the bottom has paralyzed back flippers.  Others will recover and be returned to the sea. 

The Sea Turtle Center was a fun way to spend an afternoon.  We recommend it to anyone visiting Jekyll Island.

Next up, Okefenokee Swamp.

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cumberland Island and Ft. Frederica

Now, here's something I never saw before!  Duane and I had swapped helmets with Brock and Leola. When they traded their Goldwing for a Spyder, their communications system went with the bike.  We offered to let them test our system as part of their quest for a new system.

In case you didn't remember, Duane's helmet is black.  This is a front view of the new Spyder, which has two wheels in the front and one in back.

To help break in the new bike, we rode with  them one day to a little restaurant to join our shrimping friends for a $10 shrimp buffet.  But weren't you catching shrimp to eat?  you ask.  Yes, but these shrimp are already cooked!  There were 14 at our table, and they were too busy stuffing face to pose.   I can't blame them--the shrimp was delicious.

On our way home we detoured for a visit to the local HD store.

One day when we didn't have anything planned we rode bicycles along a very small part of the miles of paved hike/bike path.  We rode to the pier then looped along the wildlife viewing trail.

There wasn't a whole lot of wildlife in view, but I managed to spot this horseshoe crab in the tidewater flat at low tide.

Just as I got back on my bike, I saw something trotting down the path ahead of me.  Guess what it is.

One of the many resident raccoon.

Our rv park is very shady with an abundance of Georgia pines and live oak trees.  I looked outside one night for the moon and found this gem.

For the first long ride for the Spyder, we rode 60 miles to St. Mary's to inquire about taking the ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore.  We cruised the visitors center, reading about the island first.  It is a national parks site so visiting it would be free, but the ferry ride is $18 each so we decided against a visit. (We wouldn't have minded the price if the money went to the parks service, but the ferry is run by a private contractor.) From what we read in the visitors center, the island is uninhabited but was once the home of the Carnegies.  There are a few ruins to explore, but most activities are limited to walking the hike/bike path or shoreline, viewing wildlife, and fishing.  We can do all of these things on Jekyll Island, including visiting ruins.  We finished our education in the visitors center, took a couple of pix, and headed home.

Cumberland Island is in the horizon.

Since the National Parks Service was back in business, we were also able to visit Ft. Frederica on St. Simon's Island.  We started with the St. Simon's Sweet Shop for ice cream for lunch.  Literally!  Then it was on the bikes for a ride to the north end of the island.

Fort Frederica and the town of Frederica were established as a military outpost on the Colonial Georgia frontier. From 1736 to 1749 the fort and its regimental garrison were the hub of the British military operations on Georgia's frontier.  The town was peopled by "worthy poor" people--prominent  English citizens who needed a new start.  The first settlers consisted of 44 men who were mostly skilled workers and 72 women and children.

The fort was built first with attendant storehouses, then the town was laid out in 84 lots, most 60x90 ft.  Each family received a lot for building and 50 country (outside the town) acres for crops.  Over time the settlers replaced their palmetto huts with houses built of wood, tabby, and brick in the Georgian style.  Orange trees shaded the main road,  75'-wide Broad Street, which ran from the fort to the town gate.  The town was surrounded by a 10 ft. palisade and a 10 ft deep moat.  The dirt dug from the moat was thrown as earthworks between the palisade and the moat.  The town was also guarded by bastions on the corners. 

Archaeologists have uncovered most of the bases of the houses along Broad St.  There were info boards for each one.  This was particularly interesting.  

Part of the fort.

You all know what this is.

This is thought to be the forge in the blacksmith shop which was within the fort walls.

This shows how the houses would have been divided on the ground floor.  The circle on the left is an oven.  This was working space mostly. Since the lots were small, living space could be added by going up--a lot of houses had second and third floors.

Soldiers' quarters. Other soldiers built palmetto huts outside the walls.

Taking a break on one of the many nice benches placed around the town site.

View of the town area.  Try to imagine it with houses instead of trees.

Time and sediments have filled in a lot of the moat.


This road led from the town gate to Ft. St. Simon's, 6 miles south.  The British fought the Spaniards there and not far from the town gate. 

After touring the town site, we visited the visitors center to stamp our National Parks Passports.  We view the exhibits and the short film then headed for home.We really enjoy our visits to National Sites and and very glad they are all open again.

Join us later for more adventures!

Louise and Duane