After just a week on the road together, my friend and I found that we were living for the next set of trees, the next perfect spot to string the hammock. It may seem like a simplistic ambition, but we figured we might just as well have one as not.
After a coffee and scone at Cedar Oak Cafe & Java Joe'z in St. Mary’s, Georgia, we plotted our course south towards Tallahassee.
Finally arriving at Camel Lake in the Apalachicola National Forest south of the city, the first thing I did was to dig out the hammock and string it up between two trees beyond our campsite, on a meandering lawn beside a crystal-clear lake. Took me all of three minutes, tops. Kicking off my flip-flops, I fell back into it and called over my shoulder to my friend that it was ready whenever he was.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and a cool wind swayed my encased body. And I noticed the silence. The park was the quietest park we’d stayed at yet.
Good thing quiet was what we were looking for. Couldn’t hear a motor of any kind – no highway nearby, no major roads even, no airport, no neighborhoods, no voices…nothing. Just ten campsites set in a circle around ultra-clean restroom facilities, beside a spring-fed pond that in the early morning was as still as glass, in the middle of thousands of acres of preserved forest. We had the place to ourselves — aside from our hosts.
In that secluded, silent lake, alligators lurked. We were later told that you can estimate the length of an alligator by the distance between the nostrils and eyes in inches, which you’d then convert to feet. The one that I stumbled upon and that thankfully leapt in the opposite direction from me as I did from it was about three feet, I’m guessing.
Walking a bit further towards the designated swimming area, there were signs posted that explained the park was their habitat and they were harmless unless provoked. That didn’t stop my friend, the Doubting Thomas, from throwing a pinecone at the thing I claimed was its face. The thing that wasn’t my alligator ducked.