Posts Tagged With: Georgia State Parks

Okefenokee Swampy Weather

Not to be missed!

We arrived at Laura S. Walker State Park for a 3-night stay on a warm, sunny afternoon. Our campsite was large, the lake was within sight and hiking trails promised to keep us entertained…then the rain began. Hard rain. Dumping rain. Never-ending rain.

The first night it rained hard…all night long. It rained hard all the next day and night. Our last morning offered a tenuous break in the weather so we grabbed umbrellas and zipped over to the nearby Okefenokee Swamp Park to have a look around. Not knowing what to expect, Reg bought the coveted “E ticket” so we could see and do it all…boat ride, train ride, nature show and all the other displays scattered throughout the park.

We saw just two other guests while at the park but they left early. We had our boat and captain all to ourselves. She was a wealth of information concerning the 438,000-acre Okefenokee Swamp. Peat, at the bottom of the swamp, gives the water a brown color resulting in vivid reflections. It’s the largest black water swamp in North America. Indigenous people inhabited the Okefenokee in periods of Georgia prehistory. These days, visitors might see wading birds, amphibians, deer, Florida black bears and everything in between…and of course alligators.

After all the warnings posted throughout the past couple weeks, we were pretty excited to see our first real, live alligator in the wild. Our guide estimated this one to be about 8 feet long and noted it was sporting a yellow identification tag. Resident gators are all tagged and named. When we returned to the dock, we learned we’d met Sweetie.

The sky opened up again just as we boarded the Lady Suwannee train car for a short trip along the tracks. Again, we were the only riders but tour conductor kept up a steady stream of information as if she had a full train of passengers. We were impressed.

“Old Roy”

Old Roy lived in the Okefenokee Swamp for almost 20 of his 90 years. When he died of old age in 1972 he measured 12’ 10” long and weighed about 650 pounds. Roy had a reputation of attacking fishing boats and helping himself to strings of fish so he certainly made himself at home. He remains on display at the park, in a building named after him, where visitors are encouraged to touch and take photos…and so we did!

Some of you might remember the syndicated newspaper comic strip Pogo, published from 1948-1975. It was set in the Okefenokee Swamp and featured a menagerie of creator Walt Kelly’s colorful, animal characters. The park hosts a small tribute to both creator and characters.

When I saw this Swamp Girl movie poster, I thought it had to be one of those campy 1950s B-movies. After a little research I found that it was released in November of 1971, after a June premiere in Waycross, Georgia…the out-of-the-way town neighboring Okefenokee Swamp and just up the road from our campsite. Never mind that it scores a lowly 20% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sometimes there’s just no accounting for taste!

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Battling it out on Savage Island

We survived a wild week in an untamed wilderness known as Savage Island. The deer ran with abandon, the raccoons thought they owned the place and the squirrels were relentless in their efforts to steal our Happy Hour hors d’oeuvres.

The campground is located at the end of a long, straight road within the boundaries of Georgia’s Fort McAllister State Park. Surrounded by marshlands, numerous waterways and the Ogeechee River, the park is home to one of the best preserved Confederate earthwork fortifications. We put off the decision to tour the fort. Neither of us were eager to wander alongside the ghosts of another reconstructed Civil War battlefield, but curiosity got the better of us.

Despite all the fortifications, on December 13, 1864, Fort McAllister fell – the final victim of General Sherman’s famous March to Sea. While the Civil War came to an end soon after, the battlefields live on throughout the southern states. It would take a lifetime to explore them all.

Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Backroads Across America:  Magnolia Springs State Park

We scored another winner tonight in the Georgia State Park system.  While we couldn’t ask for a more restful setting, Magnolia Springs hasn’t always been a quiet little campground.  Magnolia Springs has a story to tell.

Back in 1864 this area was known as Camp Lawton, a prison established by the Confederate Army to hold Union soldiers during the Civil War.  It was thought to be the largest prison of its time.  Although it was constructed, occupied and abandoned all within just three months, Camp Lawton still managed to house nearly 11,000 prisoners.  The site was quickly abandoned as General Sherman and his Union troops advanced across Georgia.  That was the end of the Camp Lawton story until 2010 when an archeological dig began.  A history center opened in 2014.  Both are located within the park boundaries.

Today, Magnolia Springs Upper Lake appears to be a peaceful spot to soak up the sun, cast out a fishing line or paddle a canoe…and you can do all that, but beware!

Categories: Backroads Across America | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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