My sons asked me to write down my adventure in the swamp. So here goes:
In November 2009 during Thanksgiving vacation. I was visiting my husband in Charleston, South Carolina. He had to work most of the time so I again had researched different spots that I wanted to take in while there. I had a good time walking around Charleston seeing the different sites and taking lots and lots of pictures. My absolute favorite was south of Charleston at Drayton Hall. But that's a different story.
I had been site seeing for several days and visiting with my husband's family and co-workers and decided that I needed to get out into nature and see the real South Carolina. I had read about Moncks Corner Swamp Garden. It was 80 acres of open swamp that you can explore by row boat. I have lived my entire life in the desert. Not sandy Sahara desert, but sagebrush, cliffs, 114 dry heat and bitterly cold Northern winters. So I wanted to take the opportunity to see a swamp and take pictures with my new camera. Wow did I get some pictures!
The Garden started off innocently enough. There was a lovely hot house that had many different butterfly specimens flying around, birds and lots of different flowers and plants native to the South East. I moved on to the Reptile building and took pictures for my sons as I knew they would want to see the scary snakes and alligators. There were 2 alligators in a pond fenced off from the public. I watched the alligators laying there in the water and marveled at how large their mouths were. After finishing the snake house tour I went in and asked the clerk how much for the swamp tour. She asked me whether I knew how to row a boat and I said yes I do. She told me then that since I knew how to row I didn't need a guide and the tour was free. I should proceed on down to the boat house, pick out a seat cushion, oar and boat and follow the white arrows nailed to the trees. That was it, nothing more. What a false sell!
I found a row boat and got it untied and started paddling. Right next to the boathouse is an island that had been used by Francis Marion "The Swamp Fox" during the American Revolution to hide from the British. It had an abandoned Spanish Mission on it at that time. Nothing now is left except gate posts. I should mention at this time that the 80 acres of swamp had been dug out by slave labor when their master had grown tired of growing rice in that area and wanted a swamp for his amusement. OK! sounds fun doesn't it? I took some great pictures of the swamp and followed the arrows along until (cue corny horror music) my husband called and asked me what I was doing. I told him about my swamp ride and he started laughing and told me to be careful of water moccasins swimming up to the boat and crawling in with me. What! Anyone who knows me knows that I am deathly afraid of snakes any shape, form or anything. The possibility of running into them really hadn’t crossed my mind. So I started paddling a little faster, looking over my shoulder as I went to make sure the snakes hadn't been woken up by the ringing of the phone and decided to murder me. I was so freaked out and irrational at this point that I missed several of the arrows.
Now the woman at the desk had told me that I would have to go under many footbridges during my tour. I came up to a bridge so low that I had to lean all the way back in the boat and keep paddling. As soon as I cleared the bridge I realized that I was in trouble and indeed very, very lost. If you have ever been near a swamp or mucky pond you know how the green gunk on top closes in behind you and erases your path. I had no option except to go forward. I looked at my map and read again 80 ACRES of OPEN Swamp. I spotted an old decrepit dock about 200 feet away with a strange metal framework around it. I decided that I needed to get out of the boat ASAP. I started rowing over to the dock and got stuck on roots. Oh my goodness was I scared. I had earlier tried my oar in the water to see how deep the swamp was and it went WAY over the oar. So I worked my way off the roots and started paddling again and lo and behold I saw a snout come up out of the water. I had been told earlier that there weren't alligators in the wild near Charleston. Those people need to shut up and get their facts straight. There are indeed alligators alive and well in the wilds of Moncks Corner, South Carolina. The snout went down leaving ripples in the water. Oh my heck did I start paddling fast. I probably looked like a Looney Tunes cartoon. Dammit I got stuck again on the first trees cousin’s roots. As I was desperately working my way off without capsizing I saw a ridge of an alligator go by about 20 feet away. I said some bad words and started paddling again, more quickly. I made it to the dock, threw my camera up so that if the alligator attacked someone would eventually find the camera and let my family know where I died. I tied the boat up to the metal frame and got out of the boat. I stood there for a second deciding what to do and suddenly had flashbacks of every stupid Sci-Fi Channel movie I've ever watched with alligators. So I decided to leave the boat and walk back to the boathouse.
Needless to say I went the wrong way and ended up in a very, very scary Horror movie graveyard and then had to walk 2 miles back. I was so frustrated, tired and hot by the time that I got back. No one was around the place when I got back so I just walked out and left.
My husband later told me that the metal frame was probably an alligator feeding station. I would like to think that he was teasing me. For his sake. This story has brought many laughs and amusement to my friends and family. So here you go boys. Here's mama's crazy swamp survival story.