Yesterday morning it was sunny and warm, but a storm was forecasted to arrive in the late afternoon/early evening. Oddly enough, the weather guessers were right for a change. At 2:00, all the volunteers and several staff members loaded up into the big van and headed for Waycross, GA. That’s where the north entrance to the Okefenokee NWR is. That entrance is run by a private concessionaire, and we were visiting to experience their holiday lighting. Tonight’s photos are from that visit.
To begin with, we all started down the swamp boardwalk on the way to the elevated observation tower. The folks in the entrance store said it was a quarter mile walk to the tower. I figured if I took my time, I could do it, and I sure wanted to see the views from up in the air of the swamp.
Well I’m here to tell you that it is more than a quarter mile walk down a boardwalk. See those stairs at the end of the bridge over the water? I think just getting there was a quarter mile, and the tower was nowhere in sight. My hip was already killing me; I looked at those stairs and thought of all the stairs going up and down the tower. Yep, I had to pack it in and quit. I’ll have to wait until spring to enjoy that trail!
I gingerly made my way back, but stopped often to enjoy the reflections in the watery swamp as the storm clouds and haziness rolled in. This may just be the headwaters of the Suwannee River that weaves its way down into Florida.
I finally plunked myself down at a picnic table near the food concession stand. As I rested, I looked skyward and a whole bunch of vultures began to circle. I shook my fist and told them I wasn’t dead yet! They all began to descend, but in reality I believe they were just looking for good roosting spots to use to weather the incoming storm. Those trees in the bottom of the pic already harbored around a dozen black and turkey vultures at 4:30 in the afternoon.
We all had tickets for a ride on the Miss Suwannee train to view the Christmas Light Display in the swamp at 6:00 pm. As a light rain began, the train boarding whistle blew early hastening us to head out a.s.a.p. in hopes of avoiding the worst of the storm. (No refunds on tickets for bad weather.) I had just finished a burger at the concession stand, but the workers had thankfully saved a seat up front for me in the first car so I wouldn’t have to walk so far.
We started out in the dark just as the skies really opened up. It was a delightful half hour ride through the dark swamp. I was very impressed with the amount of lighted displays along the way. There were
Christmas carols playing as we rode, and I sat back on the bench to just enjoy the experience. Until…the train hit a curve that tilted us a bit, and all the rain water rushed down a groove at the back of the seat and quickly made me sit up and take attention as the cold water soaked into my backside! Those clammy wet jeans never did dry out until this morning.
I worked the VC this morning, and roved in the afternoon. It only got into the low 50’s today with very brisk cold winds. Not many visitors today, and I can’t blame them for not coming. During the afternoon, I took a little time to once again talk to the folks at Okefenokee Pastimes. This is a campground/cabin/guide service establishment that is located right at the east entrance to Okefenokee NWR. It’s only about five miles from where I’m now parked.
I had spoken to them about staying there for my recovery last month just after my doctor appointment at Mayo. At that time, they told me they only allowed people to stay a maximum of one week in their campground. As things have worked out over time, they are making an exception for me, and I will be moving over there shortly before my surgery date. I am very relieved. While they seem to have lots of rules for their campers, the place is exceptionally clean, safe, and very well run. There’s even a handicapped shower stool/seat in the immaculately clean shower room. The price is $25/night or $150/week. I can live with that.
My other choices in the area that I investigated may be cheaper, but I would not be as comfortable at those locations. One was RV sites located between two railroad tracks! Sam may have loved that deal, but not me, for sure! 70 trains a day go though Folkston. Well, I have rambled on enough tonight. Guess I’d better quit.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy