Volunteer Boat Ride at Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP)

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With eager anticipation we packed our lunches, gathered jackets, hats and scarves, and stayed up late watching the Oscars after enjoying an excellent Cuban meal prepared earlier by Katie. That was yesterday.

This morning came early but we rolled out of bed, got ready, and met the others outside at the appointed time of 8:15 a.m. Not too early because the day dawned a cold 40-something degrees and not too late because we had a 90-minute drive to the west side of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Seat cushions and life jackets had been piled in the van (thanks to Lisa and Tony for gathering) and Mary did the driving. Bruce and Ivan hauled the fire boat and met us at the boat basin. After lining up for a restroom break and some maneuvering into and out of and between two boats, the ten of us (Bruce, Ivan, Carol, Mary, Fay, Lisa, Tony, Jamie, Ken and me) finally were satisfied that we were safely positioned before Captain Bruce and Ivan steered us through the channel and onto Billy’s Lake for a day of adventure.

Light on birding, but the day yielded plenty of gators and turtles. Our first stop was Billy’s Island where we stretched our legs on a short trail and explored the Lee Cemetery. Remnants of ancient railroad cars were scattered along the trail, evidence that a saw mill there once supported a small community and a narrow gauge railroad hauled out the mined cypress trees.

Once we were back in the boats we headed for Minnies Lake and the day use a platform where we had planned to eat lunch. To our surprise we shared the space with other folks who had gathered there just before us, but everyone meshed well with plenty of space for all.

Heading back upstream was a challenge as our Captain once again navigated those tight spaces and turns between the Cypress, against the current this time.

When we broke through to the open water of Billy’s Lake we were able to pick up the pace and feel a good breeze on our face. By then the day had warmed to the point of a light jacket and we were glad for it and we were blessed with a sunny day all along.

A short way along and we arrived at Mixon’s Hammock where we got out and explored the wooded area there while being entertained by a pair of hawks overhead and a beautiful dragonfly that befriended Lisa.

The boat ride ended where it began in the boat basin at SCFSP. We met a couple of furry friends in the parking lot… The puggle named Brandy caught my eye with her smile…

All this was possible because of an amazing volunteer coordinator named Gracie who was with us in spirit but unfortunately was working in the office today.

The camera captured over 400 pictures today, but I’m sparing you by sharing only the best 116 or so… Enjoy!


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