I spent the last three days traveling around southern Georgia and northern Florida with Mike's brother, his wife, and their adorable 14 month old daughter. Mike joined us for a trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore, where we hiked along the beaches and trails before waving our goodbyes to him as he returned on the ferry to the mainland. The rest of us spent the night in a very pleasant campground, surrounded by tall saw palmettos, live oaks, and the sound of the ocean's waves. The next day we returned to the mainland and drove to Ocean Pond, a pleasant campground in northern Florida. We got to the campground after dark, so we weren't sure what to expect when we awoke the next day...but it was a beautiful place. The "pond" was actually quite large, much more like a lake, and it beckoned to us to swim in it. That is, of course, until the camp host told us that there were alligators in it. He added, "oh, don't worry about it, because parents let their kids swim unsupervised in that lake all the time." Apparently they haven't had any attacks, but that's not enough to convince me to swim with the alligators!
We hiked about six miles along the Florida National Scenic Trail. It's quite flat compared to other national scenic trails, and the forest that we hiked through consisted of pines and palmettos...quite different than the Continental Divide Trail!
The next day, we drove to the east entrance of Okefenokee Swamp, which is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. We toured an old homestead and learned how the occupant had made a living as a "swamper." The boardwalk led us to a viewing tower, overlooking a lake which might have been teeming with alligators. We saw several gators lurking in the murky water, and a few long, black snakes in the understory of the forest. I, for one, was appreciative of the boardwalk, as it enabled us to walk above all of these creatures and avoid potential "interactions." Mike and I plan to go on an overnight canoe adventure one of these weekends, and I'll return with his parents at some point in April.
This morning I cuddled with my adorable niece one last time before they headed on to continue their travels. Now I'm getting settled once again into my Georgia lifestyle.