Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adventure Day at James H (Sloppy) Floyd State Park, Summerville, GA

Adventure JournalEntry Date: September 2010It was time for the annual Adventure Day at James H (Sloppy) Floyd State Park again, and we had to be there. Adventure Day 2009 was cut short for the Tribe because of rain, so the kids were anxious to do some of the things they didn't have time to do last year. The weather this year was about as perfect as it could be.

We camped at the park so we could get an early start (and we love camping there). Our first stop was archery. All the kids received straight bows last year for Christmas, so they knew the basics. They all did pretty well with the compound bows the rangers provided, but they still need some practice. The helpful DNR rangers gave them some pointers though (pardon the pun).

We then wandered over to the area where the rock wall was located. The kids enjoyed the educational snake show provided by Jason Clark of
Southeastern Reptile Rescue before climbing the wall. Smokey Bear and some DNR fire fighters were there with their cool equipment, including a Polaris UTV with all kinds of neat firefighting gadgets onboard.

There must have been 25 or more rangers present to make everything run smoothly, including keeping the loaner fishing rods in working order. Adventure day is the one day a year they let kids (16 and under) fish in the stocking end of the lake. Lee Thomas landed a nice catfish, and there were people there with strings of fish totaling 25 or more pounds. It was a little crowded, but fun was had by all.

After fishing for a while and eating a free hotdog lunch, the kids got a short shooting lesson and target practice with pump bb guns. To wrap-up this wonderful event, we toured the Southeastern Reptile Rescue trailer. Jason Clark captures reptiles such as snakes and lizards when they're somewhere they are not supposed to be. In the trailer he had a small alligator, a Gila monster, and a respectable collection of venomous snakes.

Jason does events like this, but he also does private birthday parties that include encounters with reptiles like the Albino Burmese Python pictured above. He shares a lot of funny stories about the animals he has rescued, the places he has found them, and the unusual people he meets in his job. It's an entertaining and hair-raising show, but most importantly, it teaches kids to safely respect these widely misunderstood animals. Personally, I liked the show, but I'm not going to be sitting on the front row.

Back at the campground, we enjoyed a nice afternoon of play and exploration. Sloppy Floyd State park is our favorite place for rockhounding, and the kids are avid rock hunters, so that kept them occupied much of the afternoon. We found some very nice purple and pink chert with a .2" layer of agate partially enclosing it (very unusual).  There was also a little game play Mancala) and fireside relaxation at the site which had a nice view of the playground.
In summary, this was a most perfect day. The temperature was pleasant, the activities were fun, the DNR staff was hospitable, the park was beautiful, and the food was free. How much better can it get?

That night, I got a lesson about being a prepared camper (which I normally pride myself on). About 3am, I woke to the sounds of thunder. I hurriedly jumped-up, threw on some shoes, and ran outside to replace the windows I had removed from the Jeep three weeks earlier. Finally, a relief from the Summer drought. Unfortunately for me, it ended in a big way about the time I got outside. It's ok, the Jeep, my camping chairs, and I all needed a good shower.

Note: The only complaint we could muster on such a perfect day was that Mother Nature unleashed the yellow jackets (aggressive yellow wasps). For some reason, this time of year, yellow jackets are abundant up on Taylors Ridge and the vicinity (could be the fruit-bearing muskadine vines- aka wild grapes). No one in our crew got stung, but it made us uneasy a lot of the time.

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