Tuesday, April 1 Folkston, GA
The cabin at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park was quite nice. We would be willing to stay here again.
The Suwanee River starts at the Okefenokee Swamp in GA where we will be later today. The sulphur springs at the park add to the flow as it meanders to the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped at the springs area which had been a popular tourist attraction in the late 1800s. The spring now is pretty much enclosed and the town is trying to re-invent itself for biking/canoeing/kayaking adventures.
There is a visitor center in town that is being run solely by local volunteers due to budget cuts. The volunteer on duty when we arrived early this morning was very pleasant and informative about the town. She suggested several local restaurants that were not known to us and we had lunch at an old hotel restaurant that had re-opened recently.
However, she also informed us about the death of two canoeists on the Suwanee just a week ago. A couple from NY had come down to go canoeing but were told by the state park rangers that the canoe launches in the park were closed due to high water and they should not go canoeing. Evidently they decided to launch their canoe outside of the park. The cause is not known but they ended up in the water and their bodies were found a few days later.
So we listened to the rangers and went walking instead. The recent rains meant that several paths were water covered and we had to back track a few times. The park was not terribly busy today but a tractor show/festival will be occurring this weekend and they expect a full house. Each month the park has some festival scheduled. There is a folk music festival over Memorial Day weekend.
One of the craft stores was open and we chatted with the needle work person. She and her husband are from northern MA and have been volunteering here for 14 years. Her husband is a carpenter and his services have been used throughout the park. She makes crafts and sells them. They stay for four months and live in their RV along with other volunteers in a separate RV village in the park.
After lunch, we took two lane back roads to Folkston, GA where we will be visiting the Okefenokee Swamp. Wildflowers lined most of the roads. Azaleas were blooming profusely along road sides, in yards, and in the park. We passed several Florida correctional institutions and a large Waste Management landfill. Not everything is flowers and green trees.
The Okefenokee Swamp is a national wildlife refuge. Okefenokee means “land of the trembling earth”. Much of the park is built on peat bogs; walking on it is soft and wavy. We stopped at the visitor center but did not have time to do any hikes. Tomorrow we plan on hiking, driving and taking a four hour boat ride through the swamp.
Tonight we are at the Inn at Folkston, a very nice B and B run by a retired railroad conductor and his wife. Dinner was in “downtown” Folkston at the one non-franchise, sit-down restaurant open. Folkston is a train watching town. The CSX railroad runs about 60-70 trains a day through the town on two tracks. It is a main line route in which 90% of the trains into Florida go through this town. On Saturday, the town is having “Train Watch”, a local festival where train aficionados spend the day watching trains and sharing their hobby with like-minded folks.
Ed and Chris April 1 10 pm