Okeefenokee   Joseph Zorzin
  Dec 17, 2002 13:45 PST 

----- Original Message -----
From: Leverett, Robert
Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 12:40 PM
Subject: Okeefenokee


      Did you see any monster cypresses while there? I never did see any in my visits. I think Will gave us information on that in an e-mail a long time ago. If I remember correctly, he said the cypresses in Okeefenokee just don't get all that big. Maybe I'm dreaming and he didn't say that. Will, please straighten us out.


I vaguely remember reading while there that almost the entire place was clear-cut early in the twentieth century. They built train tracks up on stilts to get the logs out. There are some "islands" in the swamp and the logging camps were on those islands. No, I don't remember any really big trees but I never got out of the boat- as you really can't, except on those pine islands.

I saw thousands of birds there- all the big exotic birds, ibises, herons, egrets, storks. The place is magnificent. Boating up the Swannee River to Billy's Lake, you look to the "shore" which isn't dry land, just trees in the water- covered with Spanish moss- and those huge birds up on the tree tops. The water is dark from tannic acid and that makes it spooky as you can't tell how deep the water is- and of course there are 'gators there. At one point we saw one on the shore, and Dave who was steering the boat - went right towards it- it slid off the shore and went under the boat- just like in a Tarzan movie! What a thrill!

The lighting storm was terrifying. There was one lightning blast every few seconds, and the rain was blowing sideways from the strong wind. By that time I was steering the boat, but my glasses were so wet I could barely see- like driving down the turnpike in a storm with no windshield wipers. In some spots in the Swannee River, the trees are growing in the river, so you need to steer around them which is difficult in a small fishing boat- at one point I ran up on to a "knee"- Dave steped out on to another knee to push the boat off- luckily he didn't slip and become 'gator food. By the time we got back to the state campground we were drenched and very freaked out. Before we started into the swamp, I asked the park ranger what the weather forecast was as the sky was very cloudy and threatening. He said it was going to clear up. As we got back I tried finding that guy to clear up a few things with him, but couldn't find him. <G> Fortunately, and amazingly, as we got out of the boat and walked across a small field- there was a clothes driver in the middle of the field hooked to a long extension cord back to one of the park buildings, as if God put it there so we could dry our clothes. Very strange!

Just one of the wild adventures with my friend Dave and water. Once we had a canoe overturn in the Housatonic in April while wearing heavy clothes while the river was raging. Another time we fell through some ice on the frozen pond at the Audubon sanctuary in Lenox. Lots of fun, back in the good old days. <G>

Oh, on the subject of big cypress, for that you'll need to go to Corkscrew Swamp, a National Audubon park in the NW corner of the Everglades- I think back then in the '70s it had 10,000 acres and much of that I think is old growth!