Phase 1 was getting to Chicago. Not much to that really. Thankfully, we weren’t expecting great things in Chicago, because we sure didn’t get them. Our memories of Chicago are wrapped in lots of rain and expensive taxis.
And one truly AWFUL continental breakfast.
Now that we’re back from our bucket list adventure of riding Amtrak’s California Zephyr train from Chicago to San Francisco and back, it all seems kind of surreal. We did so much in a relatively short amount of time that it’s hard to process it all.
And then there’s the pictures. Oh yeah….
At last, I got to see the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center In Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
We just got back from one of our many trips happening this fall. This time we were in Hickory, North Carolina, area so The Farmer could see our grandson playing football at Lenoir-Rhyne University. On the way home I finally got the wish I’ve had since April 1st (no fooling!). We dropped down from Hickory to the Cherokee, North Carolina, area so we could stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
If we’d been making a telephone call to the Okefenokee Swamp, we would have got this message, “We’re sorry, the Okefenokee isn’t at home right now.”
Yep, we went to see the Okefenokee Swamp on the way down to Florida, and imagine our surprise when it wasn’t there!
We walked clear to the end of “The Trembling Earth Nature Trail” board walk at the Stephen C. Foster State Park in Georgia, and didn’t catch even a scent of water.
There were things like this bush growing out of an old cypress stump, called “tussock growth.”
But no water.
There were shrubs of all kinds growing along the trail, too.
These shrubs grow in dense colonies in open to shady habitats. They are supposed to grow in wet to moist sites, but at the moment… no water.
One of the things I was really looking forward to seeing were the carnivorous plants. We did see some Yellow and Purple Bladderwort.
It’s supposed to be a floating aquatic plant, but… no water! Swimming prey is supposed to touch the trigger hairs that operate a sort of trap door that opens and creates a sucking action to draw in the prey. But how can the plants get any food when there’s no swimming prey because there’s no water???
At another spot on the trail, we saw this sign for the carnivorous plants:
At last, what I’d been waiting for! But wait!
Oh no! I’d been looking forward to seeing these plants for a year since I read about this last Thanksgiving! but NO water, so NO plants!
“Moving Water – Most people think a swamp is stagnant water, full of green algae. That can be true, but here in the Okefenokee, the water is actually moving. Even here under the board walk you can see a surface current, especially at the base of trees.”
But oddly enough, I was having trouble seeing the current at the base of the trees. . .
Oh yeah… NO WATER!
The fact there was no water meant we could see these cypress knees more easily since they weren’t partially or totally submerged.
Lots and lots of cypress knees visible.
We could even see cypress knees under the boardwalk. . .
It was easy, because, after all…. there was NO WATER!
Of course, there were things that would have been there, water or not, like the Red Blanket Lichen on the sides of this tree. . .
But it was a little funny and a little sad to see this sign:
And then look up from reading it to see this sight. . .
At least there was a lagoon of water by the park office, even though the water levels were way down from normal.
One of the park rangers told us that because of the dry weather, we’d have to go 1/4 mile or more to find actual water in the Okefenokee Swamp. There were no boat tours because the water levels were so low.
At least we did see ONE little alligator!
I guess next time we’ll call ahead to make sure the swamp is at home before we visit!