January 20, 2017


“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers

Carol writes:  As we were slowly working our way south, we were happy to know that we were missing the worst of winter’s storms.  We had heard very glowing reports about the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay campground near St. Marys, Georgia,

so that is where we decided to bring in a quiet Christmas and New Year.  At the entrance gate we were greeted with the sail of an actual submarine submerged in a grassy knoll..

With plenty of sun and space all around for great satellite reception, we were delighted with our pull-through spot smack in the middle of the campground.  It was the perfect spot for peaceful walks and holiday down time.

Our campground was just beyond a barbed wire fence that marked the high-security area where all the submarine activity was located.  Almost everything on base had closed or had limited hours for the holidays, so we found our holiday home to be a very tranquil setting…except for the discordant note of nearly hourly loudspeaker announcements declaring in the distance, “This is a restricted area. Use of deadly force is authorized.” 

Fortunately, in short time, we were able to tune this out…

We rarely pass up the chance to visit a fort.  For us, one more fort is never one too many!  Fort Clinch, 

at the tip of Amelia Island, 

has a diverse history with service in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and final service in the Second World War.

Even the approach to its thick brick walls was impressive!

Powerful cannons sat poised with their aim out into the waters off the shore of this northernmost barrier island.

In the interior central grounds, there were several well-preserved buildings that gave a good representation of what Civil War-era life was like on a typical day in 1864.

Before leaving Amelia Island for the day, we took a short walk on nearby Fernandina Beach,


followed by lunch at the Salty Pelican, where the open-air second floor bar served up great seafood and a mean summery drink called… what else… the “salty pelican.”

By now we had a pretty good understanding why so many U.S. northerners (and Canadians) come south for the winter.  I guess you could say we have proudly joined the ranks of the so-called “snowbirds.”

On New Year’s Day we celebrated the start of 2017 with a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp.  The history of human habitation at Okefenokee was best appreciated at the historic Chesser family home and outbuildings that dated back to the late 1920s.  The explanation for the neatly kept sandy landscape was that the sand made it easier to spot snakes...or their slithery tracks.  Farm life for the Chesser family in the Okefenokee certainly demonstrated a genuine pioneer spirit. 

However, at Okefenokee, it was the swamp itself that was the star attraction.  We hoped that a guided tour into the waters of this incredibly significant wildlife refuge would provide us a good opportunity to see some alligators in their natural habitat.  No disappointments there!  On this swamp boat we saw alligators at every turn!

We got amazingly close to this big boy, but he seemed totally unfazed!  As for me—not so comfortable.

The gators along this canal seemed to be saying, “In our playground, it’s a gator’s life.”  We were fortunate it was a sunny day because there were numerous gators lounging in the grass along the muddy banks,

and on top of grassy knolls.

Likewise, the birds at Chesser Prairie were in their element.

Even the humans were relaxed…

The Spanish moss draped in the trees along the canal was exceptional.

We were so glad we jumped at the chance for a swamp boat tour.  Unless you can find some way to get out into the waters of this unique wildlife refuge, you have missed the best part of the solitude, beauty and complexity of the Okefenokee.

“The trouble with doing nothing is it’s too hard to tell when you’re finished.”  Suzanne Woods Fisher

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