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Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another great adventure

Yesterday, I picked up Pam and Stan, a refuge vehicle, and got some help hitching up a boat behind the truck.  We were off for a 25 mile drive to Kingfisher Landing to do some canoe trail maintenance.

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       It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we put in about 28 miles on the water accomplishing our chores.

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Jackie, a local volunteer, was our boat captain, and I must admit that he did most of the work installing the signs we had with us.  We were pretty much just along to enjoy the ride.  And enjoy it we did!

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There were scattered cypress trees, wet prairies, and Jackie took us to see many of the small lakes located in this area of the swamp.  In the picture above, you can see a peat blowup in the lower center.  That’s not mud, it’s peat.  Some say the buried peat in the swamp is 15-20 feet deep.  Gases form in the decaying matter, and small ‘blowups’ occur.  If there are enough of them, they become a battery, and grasses and eventually trees begin to grow on this ‘trembling earth’.

Jackie was a very interesting guide for us, and shared his vast knowledge about the swamp.  His family has lived in or near the swamp for eight generations.  He is also one of those unsung heroes of the Vietnam War, in my opinion.  He was drafted into the marines, served in Vietnam, and suffered great physical harm after stepping on a land mine.  It’s amazing that he even lived through that experience!  He is presently the President of the Okefenokee Wildlife League (friend’s group of the refuge), and makes his living wrestling and capturing problem alligators for private individuals, golf courses, and such.  Like I said, a very interesting man.

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Of course, Flat Joey accompanied us on this adventure.  Fellow volunteer, Barb, helped me fashion an official Okefenokee life vest for him which he wore all day.  First graders need to understand the importance of wearing a Mae West if they are on the water.  Since I was the photographer, FJ sat on his great aunt Pam’s lap while we traveled through the swamp.

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After traveling the red trail, we headed back to the green trail to install more mile marker signs.  There is a shelter on the green trail at Bluff Lake.  That’s where we headed for lunch and a much needed porta-potty break.

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FJ chowed down on some peanuts, while the rest of us enjoyed our sandwiches.  He’s a light eater don’t cha know.  Open-mouthed smile

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This was the view from our picnic area.  I do have to report that I made this trip without my cane, and was able to (almost) hop out of the boat first to tie us up to the dock!  Yahoo!  What a good feeling that was.  Maybe some time in the future I will be able to return to Okefenokee and reserve one of these shelters for an overnight trip.  I’d love to experience the sounds and sky show from this wilderness one night.

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On our way back to the landing, Jackie was able to show us the blooming pitcher plants.  In this section of the swamp, the pitcher plants are an amazingly large size.  Even the stalks with the blooms are 2-3 feet tall.  The blooming is just beginning, and soon this area will literally be covered with a blanket of yellow.

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Once back on land, we visited Jackie’s nearby home.  He had been out Tuesday night capturing a problem alligator from a private land owner.  It was a good ten footer.  He was trussed up with tape keeping his jaws closed.  It was kind of sad to see.  Jackie was keeping him on a rope in his pond until he could be transported.  That means this alligator is not long for this world.  That alligator rolled and rolled fighting against being pulled up from the bottom of the pond.  I suppose removing it is necessary, but I wish there was a place it could be moved to so it could live out its life naturally. 

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Jackie is a hunter, and the inside of his house is festooned with evidence of his prowess, including this black bear.  He is not a sport trophy hunter, but uses the meat to supplement his larder.  It’s not something I would do, but I respect his right to do so.

By the time we hauled the boat back to the east entrance, parked it, and unloaded everything, the three of us were pooped.  It was a great day on the water, and I think Pam and Stan truly enjoyed being volunteers for eight hours.  Another one of those days for the memory banks.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

27 comments:

  1. What a wonderful opportunity for your guests. . .and I'm absolutely loving FJ's adventure! :)

    Janice
    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing Blog
    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

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  2. Loved FJ's life jacket, a good lesson for everybody. Wonderful that your cane got left behind! :c)

    We wish we could have headed your way, but all our plans went down the drain. Who knows, maybe we'll catch you up north.

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  3. They need the Florida Gator Boys from TV. They take the alligators back to an alligator farm or alligator "rescue"/sanctuary type place and they get to live out their lives someplace else. I think they release them somewhere eventually.

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  4. How lucky is Flat Joey to have a life jacket custom made for him! Nice to see him abiding by good water safety.

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  5. Wow another great day!! I want a gig where I get to ride along in that gorgeous swamp with someone who does the work and is the guide too. Well done on your part for sure! And great news about your mobility - no cane. I know it must feel great. Terrific pictures of the pitcher plant. Isn't there a back area in the swamp where the alligator could be put? Like you, I hate to think of him having to be killed because he was a problem for someone living in his neck of the woods. Boy do I wish I could get up there before you leave but no luck. I'm along the gulf until mid May.

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  6. I can see that flat Joey is having the time of his flat life!

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  7. Peat blowup, eh? I love learning new things!

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  8. Good job with the life vest for FJ. I wonder if it is not possible to relocate the problem alligators to a different swamp where it is not likely to endanger humans or himself. Similar to what they do with polar bears in Churchill where they put the bear in jail for a while and then take it somewhere far from town ... they have a three strikes and you're out policy with the bears, but at least they are given a chance.

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  9. Your doing a wonderful job with FJ, Love his vest how cleaver. Joey is going to have a blast when he gets FJ back.

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  10. Glad you all...including FJ...had a great day of adventure!

    The pitcher plant is interesting....don't know that one. Will have to do some research.

    Great ro hear you managed without your cane today.

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  11. What a fun day on the water. I think its hard when animals have to be moved because us humans have taken over their turf but it is a fact of life.

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  12. What a grand adventure - for all of you including FJ. Love the life vest. What a great story for those kids.

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  13. very interesting and entertaining.

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  14. I love Flat Joey's life jacket... first graders aren't the only ones who need reminded. Looks like spring is the ideal time to be at the Oke.

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  15. I also love FJ's life preserver. That can be a good lesson for the kids.

    I don't like what they do with the gators either. It doesn't seem fair, does it?

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  16. Definitely one for the memory books--I'm getting a new appreciation for swamps!

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  17. Yes, your friend there does do some interesting things. I suppose after having served in Vietnam, alligators are not an issue. Good for him and thank him for his service.

    Oh my, my nephews Flat Stanley is so jealous of Flat Joey's adventures.

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  18. Flat Jack is sure having one awesome visit. Hope he enjoyed his ride on Emma.

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  19. Nice day in the swamp with FJ! Hope those gators didn't scare him.

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  20. I always learn something when reading your post. Being able to go out on the swamp with Jackie must have been a treat. I bet he can tell some great tales.

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  21. Jackie looks like a great guy...like you said, another unsung hero...wrestling alligators in his spare time...wow!

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  22. Another great adventure! Thanks for sharing, they are always really entertaining. I was wondering how Jackie catches the alligators... does he set up traps?

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  23. That Flat Joey sure gets around, but who would have figured a diet of peanuts and bear meat.

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  24. I hope you are going to share the narrative FJ will write about his trip --I did this with the granddaughter of a friend of mine a couple years ago-- our trip was in Washington Oregon and Idaho-- the kids really learn a lot from these type of adventures.

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  25. Flat Joey is seeing all the sights! What stories he will have to tell when he goes home! from boat rides, to gators, to bears!

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  26. Wow, what a sunny day! I want do the same advanture,interesting!

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