Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge.
Okay folks, all in tune now. Let’s all hum a few bars of “Way Down Upon the Suwannee River”……….
The majority of today was exploring the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. And yes, there were a couple places to see the real Suwannee River.
Actually, much of the Refuge is pretty much the same – at least the part I could see. The vegetation was either riparian/inland, or marshy stuff. The 9 mile loop road took you through essentially another large swamp, but with much more underbrush and trees. I was actually very surprised to see the amount of pines – appearing like Ponderosa pines, throughout the region.
The loop road had the usual ditch paralleling the roadway. Just a couple of gators along here, and I almost got a pix of a turtle, but he took a dive before I got to him. Oh yeah, and this time there was no guard rail along the road, so the pictures of the gators were taken from my truck. And I didn’t stick around to see if the baby’s momma was anywhere nearby. Both photos were from 25-30 feet away.
There was a family – mom and two boys, who were doing some volunteer work (actually, the teenage boy was doing the work, while mom and younger brother walked the trail) at the River Trail. The mom said they had just begun doing this. He was blowing leaves off the boardwalks – sound familiar Larry?? At any rate, I had stopped at a small park down the road to have my lunch, and they showed up a few minutes later at the same place for their lunch. Being the old P and R guy that I am, I thanked them – especially the teen, for doing the volunteer work, and that their (his) efforts are appreciated, even by an out-of-stater. Told him volunteers don’t usually receive much in the way of thanks, so wanted him to feel good about what he was doing.
Okay somebody, I’ve gotta get an atta boy for that one.
So, a couple of the pictures are of the “Shell Mound”, which was the result of 3,500 years of the Indians leaving their clam shells, etc. in this area. It was really strange seeing all the shells under the bushes and trees.
So on down to Cedar Key, which is an historical community at the end of the road, on the gulf. After driving through the central town – maybe two long blocks – is sort of reminded me of a mini Galveston/Lahaina rolled into one.
Most of the homes had no yards – or at least no landscaped yards. They were either pretty much natural vegetation or a combination of shrubbery, boat parts, sailboats, or other nautical items. This was very much sea dependent. Apparently, this is a major clam farming area. They also had mullets ?????
And there was absolutely no where to go if there were a hurricane. One road in and one road out. And flat, flat, flat.
At any rate, I eventually found a small city park – about 100 yards of beachfront. At least here there was sand. Everywhere else it was marshy bogs. So I at least had a chance to wade a little in the gulf, although the water wasn’t what I would feel comfortable swimming in. Alas, there were no rocks to throw or skip.
When I was on my way down to Cedar Key, I had passed a Country Store that looked, well, interesting. So on my way out, I was intending to stop, but passed it before realizing it, and thought, oh well, I really didn’t need to stop. But then I thought, why not, so I turned around and went back. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to find – look at the photos, and you’ll know what I mean. Obviously, it was VERY basic, with a few – and I mean a few – canned and packaged goods on one wall, with a couple of coolers. I bought a soda for 75 cents. (no, not because I’m cheap, because that’s all I wanted) The proprietor was an older woman named Dottie, and there were two other older women inside chatting with her. Again, some more local color. After I paid for the soda, she entered the sale on a sheet of paper that was ¾ full of other sales. Her accounting and/or inventory system, I’m sure. I asked her if she would mind if I took a picture of her store, and she said okay. Then I took a map of Oregon inside to show her where I was from. When I was walking out the door, I heard her say something to her friends about Oregon. So, my little country store visit was sort of neat.
My last stop of the day was a local café in Old Town. And I mean local. The meal was okay, and very basic. Dinnerware was the type we were using at the Senior Center for the mealsite. I came in wearing a clean t-shirt and shorts – and almost felt a little overdressed. And then there is the local chit-chat, and everybody saying hi to everybody. Real down home feeling! Oh yeah, and one of the waitresses was called Granny – for a reason. And she should NOT have been wearing that skirt.