Canoeing the Okefenokee

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I attended an annual Association for Symbolic Logic meeting at the University of Florida in March of ‘07, and my wife Wendy and I decided to drive since Radford to Gainesville is only about 600 miles. It is a drive, though, that takes you right past the Okefenokee, and as a lifelong Pogo devotee I couldn't let the opportunity slip. It was early March, but the swamp was exquisite. We rented a canoe and headed out into the waterways. “Gosh,” I thought, “I hope we spot an alligator...”

Wendy in the front of the canoe.

After a couple of false starts, we found we could navigate best with Wendy in front. It is just on the cusp between winter and spring. Technically, the Okefenokee is not a swamp. Anyone to whom that makes an ounce of difference can pursue the matter on Wikipedia.

The first allegator.

Hey, wish granted! What a beautiful animal. (Click on any image for a full-size version.)

Another alligator.

Oh, wow, another one.

Albert and Churchy La Femme.

And another one! Hunting turtle, seemingly. No, no! It's just Albert and Churchy La Femme!

A tourist boat.

Tourists. Humph.

Lilypads against the shoreline.

Glorious. And check out the lilies! If you look closely, you can see the buds coming up.

Alligator on the prowl.

If you look really closely, you can see the alligator drifting lazily towards you. Uh, let's back out into the middle again…

Alligator close to the canoe.

Nice and easy. (Nervous laughter.) That was exciting, wasn't it dear?

Alligator close up.

Yeah, he's still following us..

Great Blue Heron.

Oh, maybe he's after the Heron. What a magnificent bird.

Alligator with lily on its nose.

I think that one is watching us too.

Picture of a tree stump cum planter.

Wait, gotta take a picture of that. Apparently the swamp recycles old tree stumps as planters.

Lily buds just starting to open.

We wished that we could be back when these were in full bloom.

Alligators approaching.

Hoo-kay, stay away from the banks.

Alligator close.

Seems to be keeping its distance.

Two more alligators.

Oh, they're on that side too.

Alligators yet closer.

And coming closer.

Alligator very close.

And closer. Wouldn't it be funny if we panicked and tipped the canoe right now? Honey?

Another alligator on the shore.

Is it me, or do they look like they're planning something? I suddenly feel like a kid on a junior-high playground who looks around and realizes none of his friends are there.

Coming back to the canoe dock.

Whew. Yeah, time for a beer.

Wendy getting out of the canoe.

I had just said, “Let’s do this again!”

Warning sign about swimming or wading in the swamp.

The sign wasn't howlingly funny on the way in. I now grok the old chestnut, "It isn't the wild unless there's something that can eat you." I highly recommend this experience.