Monday, May 29, 2006

Lafayette Passage Paddling Trail

Yesterday I decided to try the Lafayette Passage Paddling Trail. I had been told that it was wonderful, like a little Okefenokee tucked behind the Piney Z development, and while it didn't live up to that description, it was quite nice. It probably would have been more pleasant had I started a bit earlier in the day and the temperature hadn't been in the 90s, but I got a good 3 or so hours paddling in, plus four portages (to and from the boat launch, which is nice because it precludes motorboats, and between two lakes).

I started at Piney Z Lake.
The similarity that it bears to the Okefenokee is that it is full of spatterdock and bladderwort. (It really is, it's not simply that I like to say "spatterdock" and "bladderwort.")And there are lots of waterlilies.
The paddle across Piney Z Lake is very scenic and peaceful -- especially considering that you are less than half a mile from U.S.27! The best part was that there were no motorboats and the only other people I saw were one fisherman and two bicyclists. I did hear and see lots of birds, but I didn't see a single alligator. This was surprising, although not entirely disappointing due to all the recent gator hysteria and the fact that I had to get in and out of the water several times in high grasses. While the drama of being hauled off by an alligator appeals to me, yesterday didn't seem to be quite the day for it. As I was pulling my boat up one side of the berm separating Piney Z Lake from Lower Lake Lafayette I did feel my ankles being clawed but discovered that the culprit was nothing more sinister than spiny wild blackberries.On either side of the two lakes I could hear ospreys squawking, and could see one distantly on a platform on the edge of the Piney Z Lake. Almost as soon as I entered Lower Lake Lafayette I sighted a family of birds. See the mother up on the tree and the nest down below to her left? I couldn't get a great picture of Pa because he was too quick for me and he was becoming very disturbed by my presence, but he's in the nest with some chicks. Here's a bit of his wing.He was very happy to see me leave.I paddled all the way around Lower Lake Lafayette (below) but I never could find the passage to Chaires Lake.It might be grown over or I might have been dazed by the heat; regardless, I had had about enough after several hours in the raging heat and was ready to go home. I might start from the Chaires end next time and see how far I get.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

No manatees for me

I took my small kayak out this morning with the single-minded goal of seeing a manatee. Apparently I am the only person in North Florida who hasn't seen one yet this year. And what did I see? Pretty much everything but a manatee.

Lots of turtles.
A fisherman with a mullet he caught on a hook, no less. Goldenrod. Wild roses. Two Spider Lilies (tucked in the back right) that survived the heavy rains of the past week. A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. (The stripes on his face are bright yellow, which means it's mating season, but the color doesn't show up well in this picture. He also has two long plumes on his nape. I kept asking him to give me a full profile, but you know how Yellow-Crowned Night Herons can be.) A Tiger Swallowtail. A moccasin ("Caution," my Audubon book says, "bites readily." Good tip.)

And a curious Gator,...
who lead me home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lisa and John's visit

Lisa and John came to visit last Thursday (hooray) and left today (very sad.) Christopher came home for the weekend and we all had a very good time. We showed them all the local attractions, from the Wakulla River to the Bradfordville Blues Club. Lisa has some great photos of their "blues tour" from Memphis to Crawfordville, but you will have to wait until she returns home and updates her blog to see them. In the meantime, here are L&J at Wakulla Springs. John is re-enacting a pivotal moment from The Creature of the Black Lagoon.

L&J at the St. Mark's Lighthouse.

Nicholas and his uncle are plotting the overthrow of....wait, I'm not supposed to tell. Forget I said anything. At the airport. They look almost exactly like Americans, don't they (except for the tell-tale W.H.Smith bag)?
Good bye! Come back soon!