Into the Swamp

The lads are ready!


VegeMatic in action

A good-sized gator

stalking crocodilians


We woke to a bright and sunny sky the next morning.  It looked like a good day to be in a canoe.  After breakfast we headed over to the park headquarters, to rent a second canoe and to claim our reservation.  The Canal Run canoe trail was ours today and tomorrow - twelve miles in to the sleeping platform, and then twelve miles back out.

We broke camp and all of the camping gear we needed was packed into buckets and a large rubbermaid, and then stowed in the front and middle sections of my canoe.  Everything else was locked in the vehicle, and we made ready to shove off.  We had to wait for the passing of the 'Vegematic', a shallow-draft vessel with twin chopping blades mounted vertically.  This was used to keep the main channel open and it seemed most effective.

Tracey and Rick paired up in the rental canoe, and I took the other with all of our gear as my companion.  It was terribly exciting to be back here, with whatever adventures the day would bring us just around the next bend. 

A short paddle up the narrow canal led us to Billy's Lake, an area of open water and lovely stands of full grown cypress trees.  The sun was shining, the air was crisp and clear.  Woodpeckers were tapping off in the distance, and every now and then we would flush a kingfisher from its favorite fishing spot.

We turned to the right to keep our trail heading, and soon came across the first of many alligators.  The first gators get all of the attention, of course, and all of the photographs.  We strayed awhile, paddling up on basking crocodilians to take their pictures.  Rick and Tracey had a project - find a gator that would let them 'slap tail'.  It wouldn't be the first ones we ran across.

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