Prior to our current stop at the Crooked River State Park, we had been staying in the Okefenokee Swamp at the Stephen C. Foster State Park. It is really an amazing place to visit and the bugs weren’t even really that bad. We never saw many mosquitoes but I was annoyed by the yellow flies that bite in the evening! I enjoyed watching the dragonflies hunt down the other insects.
After several days of discussion, I finally convinced Alan that we should take a John Boat out into the swamp. The State Park rents canoes and boats with small motors for a very reasonable price. The alternative was to go on a ranger-guided boat ride. I thought it would be fun to take a boat out onto a Fork of the Suwannee River and have lunch at one of the shelters.
We got a reasonably early start (for us.) The Swamp was really cool. It looked like we were on a movie set. There were dozens of alligators and we saw deer feeding right along the River.
Our first stop was Billy’s Island. It used to be inhabited with a whole town before the Swamp became a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937. We pulled into the dock and took a little stroll around the Nature Trail, saw some of the rusting relics and visited the cemetery.
There were a couple of shelters along the river. We stopped at the Big Water Lake Shelter for lunch.
On our way back, the motor made a big bang noise and that was it. I understand from Alan that there is some kind of pin that probably broke. That meant that we had to start paddling. At this point, we were almost 9 miles from the main dock.
The paddling didn’t go too bad. Luckily, we were going down stream. Alan figured if we kept paddling steadily, it would have taken about 4 hours to get back. We passed a couple of men fishing who later passed us going home. They said they would tell the Ranger we were stuck. The Ranger in the Search and Rescue boat with the big motor came to get us when we had about 2 miles left to paddle. We got towed back. The ride was pretty cool – we were slaloming through the trees.
I had a great time. I didn’t even mind paddling although I suspect I will be sore tomorrow. We got to hear the birds and watch for more wildlife. I may not have been having so much fun after another two hours, though. I would call the day a great success even if it didn’t go as planned.