Posts Tagged ‘swamp park’

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” — Pogo, alias Walt Kelly

Amazing What You Learn When You Travel

Bridge stand-off in the Okefenokee Swamp. — Photo by Pat Bean

Really? There’s an actual  Okefenokee Swamp? I thought Walt Kelly made the place up, the same as he did Pogo and all those other swamp cartoon characters. I must have missed a Georgia geography lesson, or else my Texas teachers were too enamored with tales of the Alamo to include any other state in their history lessons.

At 600 square miles, the Okefenokee Swamp should not have been so easily dismissed.

I got my first look at this geographical wonder at Swamp Park, a Walt Disney like educational and tourist attraction located on  Cowhouse Island  near where the Suwannee River begins life.

In wetter years, visitors to Swamp Park were treated to a boat ride down this waterway. But it was too dry when I visited the park in 2006. — Photo by Pat Bean

The park features plants trimmed to look like animals, scenic walkways above which alligators laze by a pond and an open air train pulled by a black, red and gold painted engine dubbed the Lady Swanee. The train’s tracks meander through stands of saw palmetto, and past a chickee (an open-air native American shelter) and a replica of a moonshine still. I assumed the sights were intended to give tourists an insight into past residents of the area.

The swamp’s name, Okefenokee, means trembling earth and refers to the land’s spongy moss base. I learned a lot more about the Okefenokee during a lecture given by a weathered local, who said he lived in the swamp alone in the winter.

“Bill collectors can’t find me, and I feel honored when I hear a panther scream,” he said. On a more educational note, he said the swamp’s dark water was the result of tannic acid leached from plants and that it was good to drink despite its color.

“We call it gator-ade.”  At this aside, he brought out several small alligators to give his audience a chance to see details of this ancient reptile survivor up close. I touched the smallest of them, thrilled to be part of the experience and more than a mere spectator.

Book Report: 32,985 words. I deserve my own Bean’s Pat for getting that much done today. It was laundry day, and it required a 50-mile round-trip into Burley to get it done.  I cheated on my blog, however. It’s a homework assignment for a Gotham travel writing class I took a couple of years ago. But the swamp was one of my stops on the six-month journey that is the subject of “Travels with Maggie.”

Bean’s Pat: Heart’s Garden http://tinyurl.com/97f7g6d Day After Day. The wondering wanderer’s blog pick of the day.



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