Spring in the Okefenokee and St. Marys

The dh and I headed south in April to do research for the Protectors series.  This time, though, we branched out from the swamp and the nearby towns.  We drove half an hour east to St. Marys, which is on the coastal marshes.  The National Park Service runs a ferry from there to Cumberland Island National Seashore.  We didn’t have time to take that trip, but we’ll definitely do so in the future.  I have it in mind for Tasha’s book, a couple down the road from here.

We started with the Okefenokee, as usual, but visited the west side and Stephen C. Foster State Park for the first time.  Getting there felt like a bit of an adventure. We drove south and then, on mostly deserted roads, turned west, crossed into Florida and then drove back into Georgia a few miles later.  And drove.  And drove.  But it was worth it.

ONWRE_Spatterdock

 

 

As we’d been told, the Okefenokee’s west side is very different from the east side.  The water lilies on the east side are mostly white, but the west side has yellow ones.  They’re called spatterdock.

That’s as open as they ever get.  To me, they look more like doorknobs or walking cane tips than lilies.

 

ONWRW_waterway

On the swamp’s east side lies the Suwanee Canal.  Cut to move timber out of the swamp, it follows a straight path that reveals its manmade origins.  The east side, in contrast, has no canal, so the boat trail meanders among the trees.

This looks more like my mental image of a waterway through a swamp.

The boardwalks on both sides of the park were heavily damaged in the Honey Prairie Fire of 2011.  The one on the east side is being rebuilt now, but the one on the west was already largely repaired when we visited.

ONWRW_bdwalk1 

 

 The boardwalk makes it possible to walk across  the prairies, which would otherwise be difficult because the land  in a swamp prairie is usually under a foot or two of water.

The photo at left is one of my favorites from that stroll into the swamp.  I love the way the light filters through the trees and the black water reflects the trees and sunlight.

 

  

1stPres_StMarys

For a change of pace, we visited the City of St. Marys.  It’s a beautiful waterfront community on the coastal marshes.  One of the first things we saw as we drove into town was the First Presbyterian Church.  We thought the architecture was interesting, with the sanctuary upstairs.  

According to a nearby historical marker, it was built in 1808.  It has withstood a lot of bad weather since then! 

 Wtrfrnt_StMarys

Here are boats moored along the waterfront. We felt lucky to have such beautiful weather.

The dh and I like to visit old cemeteries and read the tombstones.  Many, of course, are just names and dates, but some have inscriptions that give insight into what people were feeling.  

St. Marys has one that goes back to the 18th century, but we didn’t anticipate that there would be flies.  We should’ve, but we didn’t.  Not having bug repellent handy, we cut that part of our visit extremely short. 

NPSHQ_StMarys

 

Here’s a photo of the National Park Service headquarters.  They not only run the Cumberland Island ferry but have a small museum with one of my favorite things to see while traveling, a bookstore!  

I found some terrific research materials there and at a bookstore a couple of blocks away.

 

Marshes_StMarys

 

 

Near the Park Service building, the walkway runs along the marshes.  I see the mages’ Collegium as being on terrain similar to the town’s but outside Brunswick, so I was very interested in the marshes.

 

ParkFountain_StMarys

 

 The town has a beautiful waterside park.  You may have seen my photo of birds bathing in this fountain on Facebook.  This photo gives more of the context, and I love being able to see the inlet beyond the park.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief report of our trip, which is also a peek at the mages’ world.  If you visit St. Marys or the swamp in the spring, be sure you take bug repellent!

Jul 1 2013, 12:55 pm No Comments

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