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A great visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

A few weeks before our trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was looking through the things to do and came across the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Sadly, when I went to their website, I learned that hurricane Mathew had been very mean to them. Many habitats were damaged. Thankfully, these were the animals day areas, and their nighttime digs were safe, as were all the animals.

Lucky for us, they opened the day after Christmas, with only the wolf exhibit being off limits. So, off we went!

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Many of these animals cannot be returned to the wild, for one reason or another.

Many of the birds cannot fly. On the cages, they have signs that inform you that birds that cannot fly like the security of the small space.

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It was almost low tide here, the water was slowly getting lower, exposing the oysters.

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Hey look! It’s BOB!

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Bob-Cat!

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Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there any one at home?

The red fox was supposed to be in here. Maybe in the little house.

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WHO!

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Thee were two bald eagles in here. There was a long tree trunk that went from the ground to this high roost.

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Bison bison.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Savannah

We really wanted to get out and kayak while we were down in Savannah. The weather wasn’t so bad (for a Midwesterner), however the day we picked turned out to be very foggy. We were a bit uneducated dealing with tide information. Of course we knew what it was, just to what degree did the water change. Considering some of the piers we saw were 100’s of feet long, we figured we wanted to go during high tide, and ride low tide back out for less paddling.
We chose to launch from the Rodney J Hall Boat Ramp, as it was nearby, kayak friendly and free.

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MINE! MINE! MINE! Fish heads for the gulls. Ass fisherperson could have thrown them off the ramp, tho.

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Note the water is high on the poles. There’s a bird perched on every pole!

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I love how birds sit on the poles.

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This guy had a kayak that he peddled instead of paddled! Very cool!!

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Not sure what type of birds these are.

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The pelicans followed this guy like begging dogs! Too cute.

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I think these are oysters on the shores.

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The tide had gone out about 5 feet by the time we came back to the boat ramp.

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The water had gone down so much, we couldn’t get near the poles the birds were on at the beginning of the post.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah Blooming Flowers 1-1-2017

Happy JANUARY blooming flowers!! 😉 I know, that you know, that I know nothing blooms in Illinois, in January… Well, maybe an occasional Lenten rose… Or a houseplant… However, I was in Savannah, Georgia recently and all of these colorful blooms were here to meet me! Of course, I took photos of everything that had any color in the landscape, so there are some berries and seeds also.

A technique I use to identify things is knowing when something is in bloom. Folks will ask, “What’s the beautiful, blue flower I see blooming now (say May).” I know that the  pulmonaria family blooms then, show them a photo and they gasp, “YES!” Here in Savannah, it’s 3 zones different that me (me = 5 – here = 7/8), things aren’t blooming at the same time they bloom up North. I had to go on my botany skills… that flowers have families and knowing their ‘shapes’, I could get close on identifying them. I’m not going to go crazy trying to identify them, but if you know one I don’t, give a shout out in the comments.

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I’m going to start off strong with one I should be able to ID in any situation! Ilex verticillata ~ Winterberry  || I’m not sure of this one, but it has a salvia type flower and was a bush.

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Camellia japonica ~ So beautiful!!   ||  Strawberries anyone?

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Tradescantia ohiensis ~ Spiderwort    ||   A Rudbeckia ~ Black Eyed Susan

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Pentas lanceolata ~ We use these in our flower displays (as an annual), not sure if it actually grows here, or is used as an annual also.   || Woohoo! Azaleas! There were some blooming, but not all. I hear coming here in March is the best time for blooms.

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More Azalea    ||   I know this in the oenothera family, because the 5 star stigma is a trait of that family.

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Beautiful moss

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An avens, perhaps?

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Liverleaf Hepatica ~ Hepatica americana

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I’m not sure at all about this first one   ||   This one is in the aster family

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Lantana camara ~ Invasive here.

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Agave bracteosa ~ Variegated Agave   ||  A Honeysuckle

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I had to look this up, as I did have a Sago palm (cycas revoluta) at my house in Florida. Mine must have never bloomed before. This one is a female and that center is called megasporophylls. In typical male fashion, he blooms with a large spike.

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Looks like an annual?    ||   Another beautiful Camellia

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Variegated ginger    ||    More Camellias!!

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A ligularia of some sort, very cool   ||  More azaleas

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Nice to have spice right outside the door!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah Proper (Georgia)

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We spent about two days in ‘downtown’ Savannah. It is a small town, however my idea of small may be skewed, as I’m from Chicago. We walked most of it in those two days also. There are lots of overpriced shops, slushy bars, awesome restaurants and tourist traps to see. Mingled among those places are some true, local places. We had a lot of fun finding the REAL places of Savannah!

The architecture is beautiful here as the Yankees didn’t burn it down during the Civil War, like so many other Southern towns. The mayor at the time just said, “We give up, don’t trash the town!” General Sherman actually liked the town so much, he agreed and then gave it to President Lincoln as a Christmas present.

There are something like 34 ‘squares’ (little parks) within the city. They all have their own theme and are decorated differently. When they were first built, the homes surrounding them were responsible for the upkeep. They are all very beautiful, have nice places to sit and all have a different history about them. Often, there are sculptures and fountains within them. I highly recommend a walk through as many as you can.

We loved the open drinking policy here. I think it helps merchants sell more stuff to ‘loosened-up’ tourists! Ha!! We had a few good laughs at a bar down by the river, that touted it was a ‘Green Bay Packers’ bar. Perfect! That means I’ll get a side car of beer with my Bloody Mary! Nope. I then asked the bartender if they played dice here. In Wisconsin, it is a common practice to play a dice game called ‘Ship, Captain, Crew’, where you play dice for your drinks. I think he knew where we were going with this or maybe it was our Midwestern accents, however he owned up to not really being from Wisconsin. He was from Denver, and had just bought the bar the previous week. They did have one really awesome thing going for them, they had dill pickle shots! Vodka, pickle juice and a secret ingredient…. OMG, were those good. -+–*

Driving was a bit frustrating. Many streets had large medians and actually had a stop between directions. The tree lined streets are gorgeous, however all the Spanish moss hanging from the trees prevented you from seeing the traffic signal until the last moment. Toss in drunk pedestrians and it’s a party!!  Extreme care is needed when driving here.

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The tree lined streets are to die for! Love this entrance.

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We did go to the beach, or Tybee Island. I did put the toes in for posterity, but that’s all that was going in! Brrrrr!

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Tybee Island Lighthouse

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Half Police car, half Taxi!

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We don’t like the mainstream bars or the ‘flavored slushy’ bars. Here we found places to go that normally would scare tourists away. When I asked this tattooed and pierced bartender for a Mimosa (Orange juice and champagne) and Yes, I clearly did not think before ordering it at a bar like this, it’s just that it was before noon, and I wanted to have my OJ….  😉 He told me he was out of champagne, however, he could make me a Mimosa lite. “What’s that?”, I asked. He said, “Bud Light’. Ha! Fine. Kamikaze Shot it is!

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We could not believe how dog friendly they are here also. There were dogs everywhere, in stores, cafes, art galleries, parks… There were dog water bowls and poop bag stations at every square. many places offered treats when you came in. Way to win over the doggy parents!

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We don’t like big, crowded tours. We did enjoy a private horse tour of the area with Jenna (human tour guide) and Fabio (Horse cutie)

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I can’t remember the significance of the first house, however the orange one here is The Mercer House.

The Mercer House was designed by a New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, the great grandfather of Johnny Mercer (singer). Construction of the house began in 1860, was interrupted by the Civil War and was later completed, circa 1868, by the new owner, John Wilder. In 1969, Jim Williams, one of Savannah’s earliest and most dedicated private restorationists, bought the then vacant house and began a two-year restoration. This house is one of the more than 50 houses Mr. Williams saved during his thirty-year career in historic restoration in Savannah and the Lowcountry.

Since we had a load of driving to do, we decided to listen to an audio book: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt. The book takes place in Savannah and I’m pretty sure its required reading if you are to live here. Ha! They call it “THE BOOK” down here. All the events are true in the book, however they are a tad bit mixed-up, chronologically. Small spoiler… there is a murder in the middle of the book. The lower room on the left is the room it happened in. After having listened to the book, it was very cool to see the actual houses in relation to one another.

We actually just watched the movie and feel it kinda sucked. Maybe if we hadn’t read the book, it would have been better.

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Here’s a weird story; It was about 9 PM, well past dark, and we were walking back to our truck. After cutting through a cemetery, we emerged about 2 blocks from the truck. A black gentleman on a bike said hello, we reciprocated. He then stopped, motioned across the street and asked us if we knew the cemetery originally went another 10 feet over? We stopped and said no, that it was interesting there is now a road over it. He told us he was born here and then continued to tell us about how they moved bodies and why one of the headstones is oddly on part of the sidewalk. We thought it was fascinating and continued to listen. I’m not sure what went wrong, however after about 7-8 minutes of talking with him, he blurted, “Well, I can tell when someone from Chicago doesn’t want to be talking to a black man like me” (We never mentioned where we were from). He then told us to have a good evening and rode off. What the heck just happened? We looked at each other with our mouths open. Did he just call us racists??

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Johnson Square

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I think this is where Oglethorpe was originally buried. It is right in the middle of a right-of-way.

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Oglethorpe Square   ||   The signs read: Historical steps, use at own risk. They were all different sizes of steps, you had to look down. We saw a lot of folks that should have walked down to the ramp. Public drinking is somewhat entertaining for the sober folks also!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Old Savannah Ogeechee Canal

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A sample of a lock

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Savannah-Ogeechee Barge Canal is one of the prime relics in the history of southern canals. Beginning with the tidal lock at the Savannah River, the waterway continues through four lift locks as it traverses 16.5 miles before reaching another tidal lock at the Ogeechee River.

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Equipment needed to maintain the canal

The Savannah-Ogeechee Canal was constructed between 1826 and 1830 by African and Irish laborers who moved thousands of cubic yards of earth. A boon to Georgia’s economy, the canal moved cotton, rice, bricks, and natural fertilizer.

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Lock #5, or whats left of it, just before the Ogeechee River

A nearby historical marker reads:

THE 15TH CORPS AT THE SAVANNAH AND OGEECHEE CANAL

On Dec. 6 1864, the 15th Corps [US], Maj. Gen. P. J. Osterhaus, USA, the extreme right of Gen. Sherman’s army on its destructive March to the Sea, forced a crossing of Great Ogeechee River at Jenk’s Bridge (US 80 east of Blitchton) and drove the Confederate defenders toward Savannah. Corse’s division crossed and occupied Eden. Smith’s division remained on the west bank with the corps trains. With Hazen’s and Woods’ divisions, Osterhaus moved down the west bank, Hazen to take the bridge over Canoochee River east of Bryan Court House (Clyde), Woods to prepare crossings over the Ogeechee at Fort Argyle (1 mile W. across the river) and on the charred ruins of Dillon’s bridge, at the mouth of this canal.

On the 8th, Corse moved down the east bank to this point and found the bridge over the canal in flames. He rebuilt it, then camped here for the night. On the 9th, Smith arrived with the corps trains. Corse moved forward to the Darien road (US 17), defeated a small Confederate force entrenched astride both roads, and drove it toward Savannah. On the 10th, Corse moved north of Little Ogeechee River followed by Hazen who, having secured the bridge over the Canoochee, had crossed the Ogeechee at Dillon’s Bridge. Smith moved north along the canal, followed by Woods who had crossed the Ogeechee at Fort Argyle. That night, Corse, Woods and Smith were in line facing the strong Confederate works along Salt Creek, with Hazen in reserve at the Little Ogeechee.

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Ogeechee River

The lumber industry revived canal usage following a Civil War-era lull, but a yellow fever epidemic blamed on the canal caused a further decline. The canal closed in the early 1890s as the Central of Georgia Railroad served transportation needs. Beginning at the Savannah River, the canal comprises six locks and 16.5 miles, ending at the Ogeechee River.

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Oreo likes to be the leader. He often looks back at me, surely thinking this pink ape is ‘Givin it all she’s got”* when it comes to speed.

When it comes to size, this canal is not very large. Not with the size of canals built today.  I’d say it is about 12 feet wide here. The barges must have not been wide, however guessing they were just plentiful.

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Tree knees. What? Yup, tree knees. The little ant-hill like humps coming up from the water are called knees. These are produced by trees that grow in water filled areas. All tree roots need oxygen at varying levels. Water species compensate their water-logged roots with this special root growth that ‘comes up for air’ so to speak. And here you thought they were called knees because they are about that hieght and you bash your knees on them! HaHa!!

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True to it’s name, there was Holly on the trail!

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There was a small amount of damage from the recent hurricane that came through. The wooden path was busted-up a bit, however not impassible to a limber person.

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Edible Cladonia evansii: What’s not to lichen? Haha! Its common name is Deer Moss and deer love eating it. Its not exactly ready-to-eat for humans, it needs some preparation. It is very high in carbs tho!

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We walked from wetland forest to a sandy palm area. I’m not familiar with the geology here, however it was fascinating!

  • Star Trek – Scottie 😉 Didja get that Scifi?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy New Year!

My type of fireworks! See all the colors? Georgia allows fireworks. We’re getting a free show from all the neighbors.
Downside.. the boys are freaking out. Breck is in the pooper, Oreo is under the table.  😳 Why do more folks like the boomers over the Ahhh pretty ones?

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy New Year!

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Note the Cresent moon

Happy New Year ya’all! 
I’m loving my Savannah vacation… however all good things must come to an end. We leave tomorrow morning for the tundra Illinois. 
I do have many posts in the drafts folder from my trip for you.  I didn’t like my weakness in formatting, along with not being able to write an informative post and chose to wait until next week to post them.
I don’t generally do New Year’s resolutions, as my birthday is the 7th. There’s no way I will deny myself anything on my birthday! If I need to start a resolution, it’d be the Monday, following my day.
An easily achievable goal will be to learn enough html language to get me through a situation like this. If anything, I will make/save a cheat sheet on my phone and tablet to be able to use when needed. I had learned this awhile ago, just need a brush up!
Otherwise.. I have no other resolution thoughts… Well, I do, but they are no different than last year. Try to do more volunteer work and try to get into a non-profit. We’ll see!

Hope all of you have a great New Year’s and don’t beat yourself up on resolutions. 😣 You can start a goal anytime! 🤗

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

This is a 4 mile, drive through wilderness preserve. How cool is that?! There are alligators here, so staying in the car was just fine with me.
This area was originally used to grow rice. Settlers cleared the area of trees, and built levees to control the water.
The water here is what is called brackish, a mix of saltwater and fresh. There is a delicate balance going on. Not too much salt, not too little.

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This channel of freshwater from the Little Back River was made by the US Army Engineers. The area was getting too much saltwater up from the Port of Savannah as modern needs enlarged the port. The USACE  diverted freshwater (very salt free)  from farther up the river to balance out the ecology.

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Unknown butterfly. Folks stop to see what I’m taking photos of, and after they see is not a gator, they pass by, all pissed off. 😛
The speed limit was 20, however hubby just allowed our truck to idle at about 4.5 MPH. There are limited areas to pull over to let folks pass. We pulled over often as folks just flew past us. Why go through such a beautiful area so fast?! Gators were the main attraction. Folks wanted to get to the next gator and didn’t care about anything else.  When a gator was found, a “parking cluster f**k” would occur. No one understands what pull off the road means. And what is it about leaving doors open? You’re not a cop requiring a shield, an escaped fugitive or a standing start racecar driver. Close your dang door!
I didn’t bring two important things on this trip… binoculars or a charged real camera. I left my charger at home.. Illinois home. Gaaaa! So sorry you have to deal with camerone photos.

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Alligator Alley is a common name for roads down here!

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Yellow-bellied Sliders! My hubby has a great eye for finding things in the brush. It also seemed all the good stuff was on the driver’s side. I ended up getting in the back seat on his side for awhile to not miss anything!

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Tree tunnels. Love them! These are ‘Live Oaks’ (Quercus virginiana) covered with Spanish moss. They call them live oaks here because the new leaves push the brown ones out, thus they are never really leafless or ‘dead’. Over the pond, they have evergreen oaks…. these are different.

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Snowy Egret. Another snow bird! These guys live by me in the summer and take the long flight down here seasonally. They were everywhere!

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Here’s what everyone came for! Mr. Crocodile! 🐊 We spotted this guy about 20 feet away from the road. My guess is he’s about 15′ long. The cool temperatures (50F-70F) keep them kinda sluggish and they generally only come out to sun themselves.

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Unknown bird. This guy was right on the side of the road. Not afraid of me at all, hence I was able to get a few closer shots.

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Another tree tunnel.

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A beautiful line of oaks.

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Another beautiful, unidentified  butterfly

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Liverleaf Hepatica / Hepatica americana… I think! It looked like beautiful shamrocks.

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Not as big as the last one, however still a gator! A fellow tourist pulled up along side of us standing outside taking pix. He asked us in very broken English, “Cross?” And motioned across the road. I think gators were new to him! We nodded no and I made a sleepy type motion to him and he understood. He was safe.  Ha!  Just remember… I dont need to outrun the gator, I just need to outrun you!

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Such a beautiful area… I wonder what it looked like with when all of the trees were still here…

Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Skidaway State Park

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So sad.

We came here to Skidaway Island to bring the boys for a walk.

Hurricane Mathew came through and made a mess of things early last October. There is still a lot of clean up needed.
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Oreo pulling me down the trail

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Sadly, the boardwalk to the observation tower was damaged.

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Wow! Prickly pear! Very cool thing to see.

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I think these are clams.

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Trees really don’t have deep roots. With winds over 157 mph, I’m shocked more aren’t blown over.

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This is a salt marsh, a very unique area.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl