Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 29 Dec. 3 Okefenokee Swamp

It's off to the Okefenokee Swamp!!

Let the second half of the trip begin!!!!! My aunt will be traveling with me until December 10th. I am so excited to have her along and know we will have a blast!!!
First stop- ORANGES!! It is Florida and we couldn't pass up the orange trees!! They wern't quite ripe but we will give them a day and see how they are.

This next place was incredible. I had seen on the map that the Ocala National Forest could be on our way if we headed east out of the Villages instead of north. Since we had a 4:00 boat to catch into the Okefenokee Swamp we only had about 45 minutes to spare in the forest. The ranger told us if we had time for only one stop make it Silver Glen Springs. I might re-name it the Blue Lagoon with boiling sand.

Check this out...

I am used to the "woods" being full of fir trees and deep green colors with bushy underbrush. Down here, the woods are full of palm trees and what they call furns. You can see one close up on the right side of the trail. When I asked what they were, my aunt said, "Oh, those are furns." Hmmm... doesn't look like a furn to me. Well, these are the Florida version of a fern.
The trail turned into a boardwalk because the ground was mostly water and couldn't be walked through.

THEN, we reached a point where I could see the mini springs. They call them boils in the ground. They are like what you see at Yellowstone National Park but they are below water. They draw the sand up from under the ground and just continue to fester.

After coming out of the trees, it was a sight straight out of the movies. The water was the brightest blue I have ever seen. The center of the picture below where the blue is the richest is where the big spring was coming up. If you looked at it just right you could see the huge (10-foot) wide hole in the ground where the spring bubbled. The water was quite warm and even I could swim in it if I had more time.

This is one of the native furns.
Back to the blue lagoon from a different view

After leaving the really cool blue lagoon, we headed for the Okefenokee Swamp. We had a 4:00 boat to catch, so we had to hussle.

We opted for a fast food lunch and stopped at Popeyes. I had to put this in because we were laughing so at the drivethrough. We pulled up to the speakers and the lady on the other end of the speaker had an incredibly strong southern accent.
I started by saying, "I would like the 6-piece chicken nugget meal."
"Ma'am, wha Kinna siiides ya waunt with that there chicken?" Now, take this accent and put it through a jumbled speaker.

"HUH? Excuse me?"

"I said, wha kinna siiides ya waunt with youz chicken?"

"What are my choices?"

"Co slow and po-tate-oes."

"Cole slaw, please."

Still trying to understand this through a mumbled speaker...

"Wha you wan ta drink?"

I had to ask her to clarify 3 times.

"Diet Coke."

"Ya wan Spaucy or Mauild."


"I SAID spaucy or Mauiiiiild."

"Oh, mild."

I then placed my aunt's order and went through the same thing. By now, there is a line of about 10 cars behind us waiting.

She said, "Ma'am, U total's..."

Oh, jeez, I'll just pull up to that there winder.

She didn't seem too happy with my lack of ability to understand her southern drawl through a mumbled speaker. I can't decide if it was just bad food or if they did something to it to mess with us, but it was not worth the stop and it was very spicy.

Off to the Okefenokee...

Welcome to the Okefenokee Swamp. This place is huge. 600 square miles of swamp.

I always thought the trees expanded at the bottom so they could suck up more water, but our very talkative guide explained that they are this way to stay standing in the very soft ground.

And see those little pieces sticking up- they are part of the root system on the trees. They come back up to the surface and are called knees.

This is a picture of the mass amounts of moss that hangs from the trees.

I then looked up and it was like a white fairy dressed in flowing fabric.
Welcome to the prairies of the swamp. When the guide originally told us we were going into the prairies, I pictured fields. Not even close. These are swamp prairies and there are all kinds of different birds that live here. I really had no interest in seeing the birds, but once I started seeing them, I was facinated. Ain't no parakeets here.
According to our guide, the prairie is alligator heaven. I was hoping to see one but we never did.

Here are two of the cool birds. They are Sandhill Cranes. these birds are about 4-feet tall and can fly with no problem.
Here are the water lillies that grow in the swamp. They were everywhere.
OK- this is a sunset tour, so let the sunset begin... ENJOY!!!

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