Today didn’t start as well as it could have, but it all turned out well.
We had reserved a 10:00 Alligator River Kayak Tour, in Alligator River Wildlife Refuge, about 50 minutes away from the condo. We got up earlier than we would have liked so we could make it there in time, but when we arrived at 9:45, the kayak van was nowhere to be found. We gave it until almost 10:00 in case they were running late, but then I called. The young woman on the phone was really helpful, tracking down the driver, who had somehow got the tour info wrong – he was back up near where we started! They offered to reschedule, but said he could make it down there quickly if we wanted to wait. After a bit of discussion, we decided to hang tight.
We picked up a map of the refuge and looked it over while we waited. To our surprise, the area right outside the refuge is the Dare County Bombing Range. I’m sure whenever they use it, the animals feel super safe and have no stress.
Our guide, Tyler, arrived around 11:00 and hastily unloaded the kayaks. In some ways, the delay improved the tour, since some of the wind had died down, or it had at least pushed away a good part of the cloud cover. We paddled into a wide river and battled the wind to cross it, the followed the edge into a more narrow area that led through the swamp. Just as we entered the narrow area we saw a little alligator (maybe 3-4 feet) resting in the reeds. I tried to take a picture, but with my camera secured in a plastic baggie it didn’t come out too clearly. That’s the reason for the blurry image on this entry, too.
We saw turtles and an osprey on the tour, and learned that the area used to be a logging town. As the logging industry died in the town, the residents took up making moonshine. The entry to the swamp is narrow and not super noticeable, and the only way in, so they were easily able to keep it hidden. They used to sink barrels of it in a small lake, and Tyler said there is a rumor of some still hidden.
When we got to the lake, we let ourselves drift for a while, enjoying the sunlight. Then we began the trip back to the launch, making a loop from where we started. The water was really high, and the walking path that follows along part of where we paddled was submerged after a short ways. Tyler said that the waters in the area are mostly controlled by winds, rather than lunar tides.
After our tour, we went back to the condo for a huge lunch of leftovers. Next, we set out for a few shops. One was closed and the others held little of interest, so we turned back. Cristin drove us on the road beside the beach, and I attempted not to fall asleep so I could navigate. Naturally, that meant that we had to have nap/reading time when we got home.
Now we’re making our last dinner and packing up and refusing to believe that we have to return to reality. Tomorrow holds a 10-hour drive. Oh, joy.