Sunsets and the Okefenokee Swamp

We are off again on our first RV trip of 2019. Our first stop was Laura S. Walker State Park in Hoboken, Georgia. We were there during the weekend and the park was full of families enjoying their days off. The park was a perfect home base to explore the Okefenokee Swamp Park which is a short drive away.

During the last 12 years we have visited the Okefenokee Swamp several times from the southern end in Fargo. I posted about our last visit there at The Land of Trembling Earth It’s been over 40 years since we visited the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross. Our two young children were with us back then. Oh, the memories!

This well run and well maintained private park has been attracting visitors to the swamp since 1946. There are boardwalks with views of the swamp, a train ride, educational exhibits, and wildlife presentations which are all included in the entrance fee. For an additional fee, visitors can take a guided boat tour through the swamp.

Not all of the boardwalks were open when we were there. Some are closed due to the high water level caused by heavy rainfall in December and January. One of the boardwalks that is open took us by several American alligators in their native habitat.

After seeing an interesting presentation on native reptiles of the Okefenokee we took the train ride through the swamp.

After so many visits to the Okefenokee Swamp in Fargo, it was fun to see it from a different location.

Adventure in Bonaventure

When a friend of mine asked me if I’d like to join the Tybee Island Garden Club on an outing to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia to learn about camellias I didn’t have to think twice about saying yes. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to go. It was cool but not too  cold on the sunny Saturday morning in January we spent going through the cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery is located on a beautiful bluff above the Wilmington River. Once a plantation, the land became a private cemetery in 1846. In 1907 the cemetery was made public. The cemetery covers about 100 acres of land with many interesting gravestones, monuments and tombs in a gorgeous setting with stately live oak trees, dogwoods, azaleas, camellias and other beautifully maintained vegetation. Today many visitors to Savannah make Bonaventure a must see stop during their stay.

Our guide was Doug Webb of the Bonaventure Historical Society. We learned that many of the camellias in the cemetery are historic, older varieties that are not easily found in nurseries these days. Doug is very knowledgeable about the camellias and spends one day a week at the cemetery with other volunteers planting, fertilizing, watering, and propagating the camellias.

As we went through the cemetery he pointed out the different varieties of camellias, talked about how they air layer the plants, and kept us entertained us with stories about the history of the property. We are very grateful to Doug for sharing his expertise with us.

One of the most visited graves in Bonaventure Cemetery is that of little Gracie Watson. Gracie was born in New England in 1883. Her family moved to Savannah when her father became manager of  the Pulaski Hotel in downtown Savannah. Sadly, in 1889, when she was six years old, Gracie developed pneumonia and died. Her parents hired sculptor John Walz to carve a monument of their daughter. Her parents moved back to New England and are both buried there. Little Gracie is all alone in Bonaventure.

There are stories that Gracie’s spirit is still around. There have even been sightings of Gracie’s ghost.

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Gracie Watson in Bonaventure Cemetery
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Gracie Watson at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA
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Little Gracie Watson Grave at Bonaventure Cemetery
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Little Gracie Watson

There is so much to see in Bonaventure it’s hard to capture it all. We went there to learn about camellias but we saw so much more.

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One of the many ancient live oaks in Bonaventure Cemetery
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An angel in Bonaventure Cemetery

More information about the cemetery can be found at Bonaventure Cemetery. There are tour companies that offer guided tours or you can pick up a map at the visitor’s center and explore on your own. A good time of year to visit is in the spring when the azaleas and dogwoods are blooming.

Breakfast In the Salt Marsh

When the tide is just right and the minnows in the water are plentiful, wading birds gather in the salt marsh in search of food. White Ibis, Egrets, Herons, and Wood Storks can often be seen feeding side by side in the marsh.

This morning my husband got my attention to show me a long line of white birds lined up on the railing of our neighbor’s dock. By the time I got my camera ready many of the birds had flown down into the marsh but there were still a few white ibis and great egrets surveying the area before diving in to eat.

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White Ibis searching for breakfast in the salt marsh
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Great Egret
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White Ibis
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Great Egret

It’s always entertaining to watch the white ibis as they feed. Usually there is a large group of them poking their long beaks under the water to capture fish. Suddenly, all of them will start wading through the water in the same direction in search of more food. They don’t stay long in any one place. Eventually, they tire of the area and fly off in search of better fishing grounds.

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Ibis dining in the salt marsh
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White Ibis dining in the salt marsh

I never know when I’m going to stumble across flocks of birds in the marsh but it’s always a treat when I see them. I was lucky to see them this morning and was glad to have my camera nearby.

 

Winter in the Butterfly Garden

Although most of the plants in my butterfly garden are finished blooming for the winter, some of flowering plants continued to bloom in late December and early January.

The milkweed is blooming and attracting Monarch butterflies. Because Hurricane Irma destroyed my butterfly garden in 2017 there were no butterflies or caterpillars last winter. I replanted the garden in the spring of 2018 and in December, 2018 I was thrilled to find monarchs and caterpillars on the milkweed once again.

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Monarch on milkweed in January
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Monarch Caterpillar

Two days later, this caterpillar had changed into a chrysalis.

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Monarch Chrysalis December 24, 2018

I checked on the chrysalis every day. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, it was starting to change.

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Week old monarch chrysalis after rain December 31, 2018

I continued checking on it daily and I could see subtle changes each day. Just when I knew it wouldn’t be long before a butterfly emerged, I found it lying on the ground the morning of January 5. We did some research on the internet to find out if there was anything we could do to save it. We tied it to a branch with piece of thread and let it hang in a jar. It’s been over a week since then and still there is no change.

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We rescued the Chrysalis after it fell on the ground on January 5, 2019

I wish there had been a happier ending to this post. I’m sad to say that our butterfly didn’t make it.

 

Wandering Dawgs 2018 Year in Review

Our 2018 was filled with a few short RV trips, Daytona 500, parades, festivals, Universal Studios Orlando, gardening, Georgia Bulldogs, wildlife, beaches, mountains, and lots of fun!

 

Happy New Year!