The Gull Reef Club

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6/6/2018 · 12:46 am· Michael (Net2007) · My friend, my friend, (s)he’s got a knife
I've often felt this way, it's strange and divisive times in many ways. As far as this goes, I... | Read More

7/12/2017 · 4:22 pm· Trouble · Half of Us Are Wrong or in the Alternative, Half of Us Are Right
I've been following the saga and cataloging links of interest that contain more than mere rhetoric.... | Read More

12/23/2016 · 8:43 am· lordhelmet · Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!
Merry Christmas to you and Mike as well as a Happy New Year!... | Read More

11/3/2016 · 1:30 pm· Jaime · See Something, Say Something, A First Hand Account
Sure doesn't, which in no way explains why the Cubs won! Interesting that we all woke up this... | Read More

11/3/2016 · 12:21 pm· LH · See Something, Say Something, A First Hand Account
No good deed goes unpunished. But at least the Cubs won.... | Read More


Time Change – Let’s Compromise

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:59 pm

Since we Americans continually, collectively complain about the semi-annual time change, and since we can’t rely on Congress* to do anything useful (about it or anything at all), I have a suggestion for compromise.

Assuming we don’t stop this insanity at some point (which we really should), we should start the time change 24 hours earlier than we currently do. This would allow us to spring ahead or fall back on Friday night (technically Saturday at 2a) and give us a whole weekend to get used to it. As it is now, we only get one Sunday evening to get used to it then it’s suck-it-up-for Monday! I would wager that we would all be more productive if we had a wee bit of extra time to adjust.

Of course, this is an antiquated system and needs to be relegated to the history books, but if we are going to cling to it, we might as well try to make as best as we can.

*I recognize that many states have taken the burden on themselves of establishing whether they will adhere to a time change, but that is because these states have been failed by our Congress, who truly is the proper authority to establish this.


Dun Hun of Dinermania

Filed under: — Jaime @ 7:55 pm

We were watching the New Year’s Day episode of Jeopardy during dinner tonight. The following answer was posed:

“At its peak in the 5th century, this Hun’s empire stretched from the Rhine & Danube Rivers to the Caspian Sea”

Both Mike and I say outloud, ‘Atilla”, which of course, was the correct response. I sarcastically retort, “Like there are any other Huns.” Mike turns to me, and with a serious expression, says, “Dun.” I ask, “Dun Hun?” “No, I’m still eating,” he replies.

I about died.

Really. I inhaled tortilla bits from my taquitos, and coughed and laughed and cried all at once. Best joke of 2019 so far and I walked right into it.


Difference of One Year

Filed under: — Jaime @ 10:47 pm

From our backyard weather sensor, January 2, 2018 v. 2019

I am liking 2019 much, much better so far.


Coming Back To Life

Filed under: — Jaime @ 12:29 pm

We made it back from yet another adventure into the Okefenokee Swamp. We kept it short and sweet this time. Our first night was in a cabin at Okefenokee Pastimes. Next night, the 27th, we had a permit to stay on the Monkey Lake platform. After that, it was back to Pastimes for another night in a cabin and then home. Altogether it was about 15 miles of paddling. Pretty easy. The weather was nearly perfect. Temps were +20-25 degrees above average, so mid 70s/day and upper 50s/night. The rains held off until we were back from our paddle and taking our showers at base camp. It was a perfect little getaway nestled between Christmas and the New Year. I hope to share more, but for now, I plan on sending 2018 away and ringing in 2019. Happy New Year.



Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:39 pm

We interrupt this Paddlethon to report the capture of a convicted felon.

My first one:

Yes, it was delicious.


Paddlethon, Starting the Journey

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:06 pm

As you may have guessed by now, we took a paddling adventure last week into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. For this journey, we entered on the east side near Folkston, GA. For the uninitiated, there are three public entrances to the the Refuge, one on the west (Stephen C. Foster State Park), and two on the east (Kingfisher Landing and Suwanee Canal Recreation Area). There are NO roads that go through the 350,000+ acres of the Refuge Wilderness Area. None. There are 120 miles of water trails, mostly for canoes and kayaks only, but some allow under 10 hp motors. We paddled 26.2 of those trails in our kayaks.

The first stop was Okefenokee Pastimes, which served as our base camp. It is a privately owned campground just outside the Refuge boundaries. This was our first time staying there under the new ownership. We were really impressed with the improvements that have been done. We stayed there our first night in order to be close to the Suwanee Canal entrance.

We arrived early enough in the day that we were able to sign up for a sunset cruise with the fine folks at Okefenokee Adventures, the official concessionaire of the Refuge. It was truly fortunate that we took this cruise. Our guide, Steve, was marvelous. Welcoming and well-informed. Not only did we learn a lot, it was the only chance we had to take pictures while moving on the water. Paddling time was spent paddling, not taking pictures. We got some great ones on the cruise.

We were up before the sunrise on Tuesday morning. We packed up camp at Pastimes and headed into the Refuge via the Suwanee Canal entrance. There we checked in with Okefenokee Adventures. We checked in that we were permitted for two overnight stays in the Refuge – the first night on the Round Top Platform and the second on Canal Run.

It was a beautiful day to start our journey, although a bit hot. We launched about an hour after sunrise, and began our way down the orange trail aiming toward the Round Top platform.

Stay tuned for the rest of the journey.


Paddlethon, The Photos

Filed under: — Jaime @ 8:19 am

The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the photo album! The album includes a map of the trails we paddled and of our sunset boat tour. Enjoy. Okefenokee, October 2018.


Paddlethon, The Videos

Filed under: — Jaime @ 11:07 pm

I am still writing a narrative of our paddle and will post a link to the photo album. In the meantime, enjoy some videos that Mike has been ambitious enough to put together.

The first is a time lapse of the sunset of October 2, 2018 at the Round Top Shelter Platform. The sunset wasn’t spectacular but it was our sunset. Round Top Sunset

The other is of the resident gator of Canal Run bellowing in the morning.
Canal Run Gator Bellow

The second video doesn’t really capture the deep bass-ey vibrations of the bellow nor how well she got it to echo off the outhouse wall. It was amazing to hear in person.



Filed under: — Jaime @ 12:57 pm

We made it back from a few days of kayaking into the heart of the Okefenokee Swamp. A literal marathon of paddling – 26.2 miles. An amazing adventure. More to come, stay tuned.


Requiescat in Pace, Reflections of 9/11/01

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:17 pm

In looking back at my writings here at the Gull Reef Club, I realize I have never shared my experiences on 9/11/01. I wrote this up a long time ago and have posted it elsewhere. Today is a good day to reflect on this, and share what I went through on that day. Please share your experience if you are so compelled; I’d really like to read it.

My morning, 9/11/2001:
It was a typical workday. I began the morning rituals around 8:45 am. First, I turn on the TV to CNN. Next, I feed the cats. Third, I prepare the coffee.

Mike was either in the shower or working on getting there. As I was preparing the coffee, the anchors interrupted with a “this just in” reporting “something” had hit the World Trade Center, most likely a plane. I watched the speculators continue for a minute and then yelled to Mike that a plane may have hit the World Trade Center. The anchors slipped into presumption mode and seemed to be coming to a conclusion that it was most likely an accident.

I resumed the morning ritual but with an ear tuned to the TV (it was an open kitchen/living room) and Mike went out to have a smoke. I began washing the coffee cups. I heard the anchors become very excited and say something about seeing a second plane. I turned to look at the TV just in time to fully witness the second plane fly into the building.

I became really weak. I knew this wasn’t an accident. I called to Mike but I couldn’t quite find the words, so I ran to the door to tell him what happened. We both returned to the living room and watched in disbelief for awhile. When we heard there were other hijacked planes, I said to Mike, “We’re being attacked.” And while the reporters on the TV would not confirm the same thing, Mike did to me, “I know. This was no coincidence, not an accident.”

The day was spent in front of various TVs, radios and computers, telephone calls made, the ‘I love yous’ and ‘are you safes’ exchanged. And as the day wore on and day gave way to night, the doubt settled in. The questions started coming like a flood. I have never in my life experienced such uncertainty and fear.

It changed everything.


Monday Metaphor

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:25 pm

About a week ago, we noticed a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar had cocooned on our front porch. We have been on butterfly watch since then.

Monday morning brought us this:

May your Monday be as productive!


Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:04 pm

This morning, I read of the tragic drowning death of goalie Ray Emery in Lake Ontario. Such sad news about a classy guy.

Water safety is nothing to shrug off. If you plan on being on or near the water, please take the time to learn basic safety and response skills. The sea is unforgiving.

For the past few years, GCaptain has run this public domain article about drowning, Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. I implore you to read it, share it.

Be safe and have fun out there.


Virtue Strawgnaling

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:49 pm

It’s summer, which means it’s bogus outrage season for so many Americans. Bored? Why not get angry over something that is relatively unimportant and will assuage your insecurities about being on the right side of history? It’s the 21st century American way.

This year’s outrage topic de jour? Plastic straws. Let’s ignore the fact that plastic straw waste makes up a whopping .02% of all the world’s plastic waste, and let’s also ignore the fact that we Americans only contribute about 1% of the world’s plastic waste altogether. We have to ignore that if we want to be outraged. We also have to ignore these facts if we want to give the illusion that we are “doing something” about said outrage.

Go ahead, “do something” you amazing anti-pollution advocate you. Go ahead and declare your self-righteousness to the world and let us know that you won’t be using plastic straws anymore. That will fix things, and it sure will make you feel good about yourself. Stroke that ego with your paper straw.

Hopefully next summer’s outrage will be more interesting. Maybe I will get on board. In the meantime, I will be over here, sipping a cool drink from a plastic straw.

Source on plastic waste facts


Chanson Obscure

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:06 pm

My love for all things old and historical snared me another gem last night. While listening to an old music stream (20s-40s) in the shower, I was treated to a song by Ted Weems and his Orchestra called “Slapping The Bass”

It is too hokey and fun not to share. Where else are you going to get such great lyrics as, “I love the way they slap that grown up baby today!” Enjoy
Slapping The Bass, Ted Weems and his Orchesta

PS – anyone (else besides Mike) notice how similar this song is to the intro of Next Stop Pottersville? Anyone (else) have any clue as to what TV show that song is referenced in? You can be on my tv trivia team if you get that right.


Slow TV Summer

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:57 pm

Regular readers of The Gull Reef Club know that I one of my hobbies is to watch live webcams. I’ve been doing this for quite awhile now, starting, back in the day, with unsecured webcams (usually via Insecam) to watch people’s New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world.

Thanks to things like Periscope, YouTube, and even Twitter and Facebook Live, webcams have become ubiquitous. I no longer have to seek out unauthorized webcams just to peek at other parts of the world. Now, people are voluntarily putting live cams online for all of humanity to view.

Lately, one of my favorite cams to watch is the Geirangerfjord Cruise Port in Geiranger, Norway.

Geiranger is in the Arctic Circle; meaning this time of year, the sun never sets. This is the exact reason I keep tuning in. I have never visited any lands of midnight sun, and I don’t know if I ever will get the chance to go for real. (Plus, I just looked it up – it is 46 degrees in Geiranger right now. I’m not sure I want to be that cold in the summer ever). This is a nice way to experience the uniqueness of our world without breaking the bank.

I highly recommend tuning into this feed at 6p tonight or tomorrow. Today is the last day of spring and tomorrow the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Norway is six hours ahead of us here on the east coast, so if you tune in at 6p, you will see their bright, day-lit world at midnight. Ha det gøy!


Founding Flounder

Filed under: — Jaime @ 1:49 pm

Almost a year to date of our maiden boat voyage, I have finally caught my first keeper fish from said boat. A 17 inch southern flounder. Yes, it was delicious.


Advice from Mom

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:08 pm

“Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

Growing up, I got a lot of advice from my mom. She’s a good mom and that’s what moms are supposed to do. Of all the things she told me, I think that “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.” is the best advice she gave. Oh and did she give it – and often!

When I would complain that I was being picked on for being smaller than all the other kids – “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

When I would whine that my friends were allowed to do x, y, or z and I wasn’t allowed – “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

When I would declare my bedtime too early – “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

When I perceived my siblings were getting a benefit that I wasn’t getting “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.”

As an adult, I find I say this to myself nearly every day. No matter my age, it will always be true – “Life’s not fair. Get used to it.” So thanks, mom, for all the great advice over the years, especially this one.

What is the best advice your mom gave you?


The Gull Reef AV Club

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:24 pm

Here are some updates on what I’ve been reading, viewing and listening to here at the Gull Reef Club.

The Terror. Monday night was the last episode of the 10 episode mini-series on AMC. To say this show has been amazing, would be insufficient. This series was a fictionalized history of the doomed Franklin Expedition, with a twist of horror thrown in. It just so happened that this series premiered around the same time as my budding maritime history fascination, so watching this has been a perfect match. It is a testament to how wonderful this show was, knowing everyone dies in the end (no that is not a spoiler, that is history), and I was still compelled to watch every minute of it. I feel that emptiness that I always feel after a really compelling series has ended. I want more, but I also really liked how it ended and will eventually be satisfied with it. Word is AMC is considering doing another history-based mini-series next year or possibly a prequel to the Franklin Expedition (maybe covering the Ross expedition?). If they can make one of the caliber of The Terror, I’m in.

I’ve also watched every episode so far, but the last one from last night, of the revived Roseanne sitcom. I grew up watching this show, and it is delightful to see everyone assembled again in the current phases of their lives. The show always did a good job of making working class lives feel normal. So many other family sitcoms seem to lecture on how they think you should live or are cartoonishly unreal, Roseanne never did that. They more mirrored everyday life, and are not afraid to touch the normal third rails of TV. The honesty is refreshing, even if it is slightly uncomfortable. Remember the lyrical lesson from Jimmy Buffett – if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

I think I have mentioned before that I also am a regular viewer of LivePD. I think I will refrain from discussing this one in depth because it is worthy of its own post someday. I like the show, but I hate it too. Remind me to tell you why.

Nive and the Deerchildren. I love the connectivity of our modern world, and Nive Nielsen is a perfect example of this. While watching the Terror, I noted one of the stars of the show is named Nive Nielsen. Nive is an unusual name, and the only person I’ve ever met who had it is a cousin of mine. I went down the rabbit hole to learn a little more about this uniquely monikered actress. I learned that she is far more than an actress, and in fact, considers herself a musician first. After hearing some of her music, I was an instant fan. Nive & the Deerchildren defy some of the arbitrary rules I have made for myself regarding music I will listen to. I normally dislike modern female singers (sorry, just the way it is) and I also really dislike whispering over microphones. In fact, I really hate the sound of any voice whispering. It makes me nauseous for the most part. Yet, with Nive & the Deerchildren, I could listen all day. If I were to describe it, I would call their sound Space Folk. Give them a listen. You won’t regret it.

Oscar Alemán. I first learned of Oscar Alemán about six months or so ago when I was looking into different artists’ covers of the Irving Berlin song, Russian Lullaby. Alemán’s version is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and his mastery of the guitar prompted me to look into him further. Like Nive, but for entirely different reasons, I became a very fast fan of Alemán’s as well. Check this guy out too. You also won’t regret it.

Okefenokee Books. These next two entries are a bit old, from earlier this year. I read two children’s books, both with the Okefenokee Swamp as the theme/setting.
The first was Into the Okefenokee: A Story of War Time and the Great Georgia Swamp, Louis Pendleton. This was a “I didn’t mean to get sucked in” book. It was one of those miserable, cold, winter days we had earlier this year and I was looking to kill some time. I was searching for something Okefenokee related to read since our trip was coming up. I came across Pendleton’s book and gave the first chapter a read. Probably because it was a children’s book, it was really easy and I found it a good enough story that I kept on. A short time later, and I was done with it. That’s the nice thing about children’s books, they are so easy to read.

This was an endearing tale of two young brothers lost in the swamp during the end of the Civil War. There they meet some confederate deserters and their family’s slave Asa (since freed), who was taken captive by the deserters. The tale is of the boys and Asa’s escape from the swamp and back to civilization. This was very much a feel-good story, with the boys and Asa as heroes. I should warn you, if you have a soft spot for animals and hunting bothers you, don’t read this. Some of the hunting side-stories in this book are brutal by today’s standards. I would have been perfectly happy if I died not knowing what a gander pull was. Know I know. Don’t look it up. It will sicken you. Regardless, nice book, easy read.

Swampy and Babs in Okefenokee, Zan Heyward. Mike found me this little gem as a hardcover, original print. I later learned it was one of twelve children’s books that were available by subscription only. It’s a little hard to track down information about this, but it appears it was part of some promotional writings commissioned by or for the Okefenokee Swamp. I would love to get my hands on the other 11 books eventually.

This was also an easy read, with charming children characters. The focus is Swampy, a boy raised by his grandfather and mother near the swamp. In this book, a little girl, the daughter of a family friend, named Babs comes to stay with Swampy’s family for the summer. Babs is a city girl, but takes to the swamp immediately. Their adventures involve scouting out and helping set up a camp for some researchers who want to come into the swamp. While doing so, they encounter gator poachers and have to deal with that before they can get camp set up. Since it’s a children’s book, there is a happy ending and everyone gets what they wanted, except the evil poachers, of course. I doubt you’ll ever run across this book, or any in the series, but if you do, grab it.

I guess that is all for now. Stay tuned, I know there will be another update eventually.


My friend, my friend, (s)he’s got a knife

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:05 pm

As much as I am trying to move away from following current politics for the sake of my own sanity, the occasional stupidity bleeds in and I feel compelled to comment.

The most recent, bleeding stupidity comes from the Mayor of London, who stated, after a rash of stabbings in his city, “No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife.” (Reference: Mayor of London, Twitter Feed)

Oh yeah, Mayor Khan? I guess this tiny woman didn’t need her daily-carry knife to open all her mail? Nor did I need it when I cut off a loose string from my sweater? What about my dinner plans? That delicious butcher beef is not going to cut itself.

There are times when politicians say the most ridiculous things to convey the illusion that they are reacting to issues of popular concern. This is one of them.

Just another reason to be thankful that I live in the great state of Georgia where knives are not weapons, but people-stabbers are criminals. It is sad someone of such education is unable or unwilling to make the distinction, and chooses histrionics instead.


Adventure Log: Stephen C. Foster State Park, Okefenokee Swamp

Filed under: — Jaime @ 2:12 pm

Destination: Stephen C. Foster State Park, Okefenokee Swamp

Dates: March 13-16, 2018

Monday 12th – We were supposed to leave this day, but nasty weather came in Sunday night and lingered into Monday. Fortunately, I had the whole week off, so we had enough flexibility that we could just leave Tuesday.

Tuesday 13th – On the road by 9:06a.m. 197 miles from our house to SCF. We have started a tradition of stopping at the Dunkin Donuts at the I-95 exit in Kingsland adding just a few extra miles. The coffee is (almost) always worth it. They have, apparently, discontinued coconut donuts, which was a great disappointment to me.

We arrived shortly after 1pm. It was bright, sunny, and in the low 60s – I think. We didn’t bring a thermometer with us (note: put one the list for next time), and we had no way to check the weather. The park is completely without wifi that we could find, nor could we get any cell signal of any sort. We were truly remote. It’s always a refreshing feeling. I feel bad for people who get anxiety if they turn off their electronics, and disdain for people who think they are so important that they can’t.

We got the tent up in short order. Inside, while setting up, I saw the shadow of two butterflies fly over the tent. Burned that image right into my brain. Turns out they were two swallowtails and they hung around most of the day. Welcome to camp!

We had dinner early. Cheese steaks, apple sauce and chips. Yes, somehow we managed to pull cheese steaks off in the middle of nowhere. It was kind of impressive.

Because we had eaten before the sun went down, we had a little time to try to fish the boat basin. We had to stock ourselves with some freshwater fishing tackle because we’re geared up for saltwater at home. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Those fish in the basin, which we saw plenty of, did not want anything we could throw at it. Not really a surprise. It was a beautiful way to enjoy the sunset. Back at camp, we lingered around the fire until bed.

Wednesday 14th – We planned to let ourselves ‘sleep in’ this day, and were up by 8:30a. The wind was already blowing and gaining strength as the sun warmed things. High winds can make kayaking unfun, however, so we planned to head down to the boat basin and check things out. Indeed, it was windy and felt cooler than Tuesday.

We opted to take a short paddle toward Mixon’s Hammock. We wanted to check it out again, not having been there since our magical Christmas Eve night 2016. Technically, we weren’t allowed to go stop at Mixon’s because we didn’t have permits. It just so happens we met the very people who did for that day/night right there at the basin. Dan, and his son Maximillian, were packing up their canoe getting ready to go out. We got to chatting with them, and they invited us out to see the island. In return, we, ok fine – Mike – carried a load of firewood for them in his kayak. It was going to be a cold night and they were pretty loaded down as it was. Pretty fair exchange, if you ask me.

Mixon’s Hammock was as lovely as ever. The water level was certainly higher than last time making it much easier to get in – especially over that one big log you have to paddle over right before you get there. I hated that log much less than last time. The campsite was pretty much the same, although sans the snazzy improvised log bench Mike made. We suspect someone burned it. It can be difficult to scavenge firewood on that small of an island.

We paddled back, and while we enjoyed it, we were glad it was going to be the only paddle of the day. We had a quick lunch at the boat basin to ensure we were on time for the 2pm tour.

The tour was a perfect way to spend the chilly, windy day. The tour was informative, and I learned and re-learned a number of things about the swamp. For example, I can’t un-see mistletoe growing in its parasitic way on its host tree. (How did I not see that before? It’s everywhere).

Yes, we saw alligators – every day we were there. It was too cold for them to move much. They don’t bother you even when they do move much. I’ll spare you my diatribe about Florida tourism and it’s damage to people’s perception of gators, but remind me. I’d like to rant on that some time.

The highlight of the tour were the white ibis. Thousands of them. Shortly into our tour, masses of them flew over the boat, heading in the direction we were heading. They roosted in the trees ahead of us. We eventually landed near the shore. We watched them some more as some roosted while others waded down low in the grasses away from the shore. The sun was so brilliant, with no clouds, that their white feathers seemed to glow. Seeing them was magnificent and unforgettable.

Back at camp, we had dinner. This night it was chicken gumbo. Mike made it the week before, froze it, and vacuum sealed it. It was the perfect dinner for what was shaping up to be a chilly night. Nothing beats a nice, spicy filé gumbo. We followed that up by a kick ass campfire. Mike really out did himself with that one. We warmed up by the fire with a cup of cocoa (for me) and hot tea (Mike).

Then bed. Remarkably, it wasn’t all that cold that night in our tent. We have pretty warm sleeping bags, and a space heater. It is a little weird wearing a hat to bed, but sort of fun, too. All in all, we both slept well enough.

Thursday, March 15th – Big paddle day. We had hoped to get up and out on the water early to maximize our time. We were up by 8:30a and on the water just before noon. Probably a little later than we wanted, but still plenty of time. Our first destination was east to Billy’s Island. This was a quick, easy paddle – just over two miles. Once at the island, we walked the entire trail. Seeing the remnants of some abandoned logging equipment was pretty cool. Of course, it inspired me to watch numerous, early 20th century logging videos once I got home to try to figure out what I was seeing and how it worked.

There was also a little cemetery on Billy’s Island. I believe it is called the Lee Family Cemetery. It was a bit old, with the few interred there having passed in the later 1800s/early 1900s. It was surrounded with a very tall chain link fence, and there were a few downed branches inside. I had to resist every urge not tear down the fence and clean it up. Chain link fences have no business on a historic island like that, especially surrounding a cemetery. I get that they are trying protect the cemetery, but there has to be a better way. It was garish. Those buried there deserve better. Regardless, our time at Billy’s Island was pleasant and a nice first stop for the day.

We continued our paddle by heading back west on Billy’s Lake, and made the turn north toward Minnie’s Lake. We made it as far as the Minnie’s Lake Day Shelter before turning around to head back to camp. I hold precious memories of the Day Shelter on Minnie’s Lake. During our first trip to the Swamp in November 2014, we made a stop at the Day Shelter. At that time, there were abundant yellow flowers all in bloom. It was so bright and such a visually overwhelming scene. I remember feeling true serenity there. Coming back to a place that I held so dear, and seeing it in a different season, was so grounding. I don’t know about you, but it’s not often that I get to feel a true sense of belonging. In ‘society’ there is always someone or something that makes me feel awkward, annoyed, uncomfortable, or simply an outsider. There, for that late lunch break at the Day Shelter, I was where I belonged, completely comfortable, completely me. I desperately want to return.

Quick question – which one of you graffitied the Day Shelter to say ‘Kayak Naked’ – and…did you???

The paddle back to camp was pleasant until we hit Billy’s Lake again. On the open water we experienced the roughest paddling all trip. The winds were pretty gusty and blowing against us, not to mention the current, what little of it there is, was also against us. Fortunately, we have experience paddling the Skidaway and Wilmington Rivers here in Savannah, which are tidal, and can be rough even on the nicest of days, so this wasn’t too bad. Knowing that it was the last paddle of our trip certainly didn’t make it any easier.

We made it back to camp a little later than we wanted, meaning dinner got started late, which is never good when you’re famished. Adding to the un-fun, we learned our air mattress had sprung a leak. Mike went into his zone and worked to get the fire started, dinner started, and fix the air mattress, all while I showered and then started packing things to leave. Unfortunately, the air mattress was not patchable. Insert a little while of extreme stress and frustration here. This absolutely sucked; It was ugly there for bit. That is all I plan on saying about those hours of stress. It is not really worth dwelling over, because within three or so hours, we were past it. We finally managed to eat some dinner (Dublin coddle), and made up for the rest of the evening with an amazing fire and kick ass smores. No night is ever ruined if it ends with a relaxing fire and smores.

We got to bed pretty late this night. Nearly 2 am, if I recall correctly. Yes, we slept on the ground. Well, technically we had the flattened air mattress, then blankets that we put down, then our sleeping bags. We also had the space heater so, all in all, it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t even all that sore when we woke up the next day to take down camp.

Friday, March 16th. Packed up. Went home.

If you look at a map of the paddle trails, it doesn’t seem like we covered all that much of the swamp. We calculated that we paddled about 9 miles on the second day. I feel pretty confident that we can make farther trips into the Swamp, and try some more overnighters that are farther away than Mixon’s Hammock. Mike and I have discussed our desire to paddle across or more fully navigate the entire Swamp. Seems like a lofty goal, but one I think we can meet. It will take some planning, but that is part of the fun. I wonder how many people can lay claim to having traversed the entire swamp? I want to be one of them.

Counting the minutes until we can return.

The Gull Reef Club