Today I visited the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is ten miles or so from the campground. It was sunny but the wind was a bit chilly. I had not dressed for it because I had supposed that it would warm up. Was I in for a surprise!
Okefenokee Adventures is a private company that partners with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Seravice to provide visitor services. They offer guided boat tours, boat rentals, a small cafe and a souvenir shop. They also collect entrance fees for the Refuge. One of the employees of Okefenokee Adventures lent me a jacket to wear on the guided boat trip. Bless her kind soul!!
Before the tour, I saw an outstanding film about the Okefenokee NWR. There was little narration; the film spoke for itself.
The tour took about an hour and a half. The only other passengers were a man and woman from Pennsylvania. They are RVers and are staying in the same campground as I. Our guide is a seventh-generation "swamper" who obviously loves what he does. He has been doing this for 37 years. He took us down the Suwannee Canal and into Grand Prairie a short distance. He turned off the motor and we sat there for a little while listening to the sounds. We saw a few water birds and a small alligator sunning itself. On the return trip we saw another, larger alligator hiding among the trees. The guide skillfully guided the boat close enough for us to get some photos of it.
After the boat tour I ate a sandwich at the little cafe. Then I took the Swamp Island Drive, where I took a couple of trail walks: the Homestead Trail and the Boardwalk. While I was out there, I heard two very loud booms. It really startled me. Right after I had returned to the campground, I saw a couple of my neighbors, who told me that it was the space shuttle. The campground owner actually saw it.
The Homestead Trail leads to the Chesser family home on Chesser Island. It was dedicated in 1977 to the Chesser Family in honor of the character and lifestyle of all settlers of the Okefenokee. The house was closed but visitors can explore the grounds and outbuildings.
The quarter-mile-long Boardwalk was interesting but the thick plant growth prevented me from seeing the birds and animals. The best viewing place was on top of the Owls Roost Tower. From there I saw two large alligators sunning themselves. I zoomed out as far as my camera would go and then placed it up to the binoculars on the tower. The photo turned out better than I had dared to hope.
This has been another good day for sightseeing.