The cement pylons to my left are close. I could reach my hand out the window at 70 miles per hour and skim my fingers along their surface. The Kenworth piggybacking a Peterbilt is tucked in on my right. If it weren’t for the height differential the driver and I could thumb wrestle for the outside lane. Rain is falling so hard it kicks up grit in the hydroplane lane and hoses it onto the windshield. The wipers move the whole mess around all shuka shuka shuka– wearing grooves in the glass.

I have to get out of here.

I-95 takes a whole bunch of nobody special to a whole lot of nowhere good if you ask me.

I pull the ripcord and bob my way off the interstate in a big Chrysler M300 the color of a blue Hall’s mentholyptus cough drop and take the first road west, U.S. Highway 82.

Before long I am in the country- in a part of Georgia never seen before.

Thunderheads boom and loom while I drive down a corridor of pines and palmettos, not a powerline in sight. Stephen Foster Memorial Park straight ahead, my destination. After all these years of going to the Folk Festival I am on a secret back route that crosses the Okefenokee swamp.

The sun blazes around Cumulonimbae crowning the pines. NPR comes in with exceptional clarity and somber reports from China are tolling.

Okefenokee means “trembling Earth.”

The park entrance does not look familiar, a problem when you have been to a place almost yearly for 18 years. My endless unknown highway is at a dead end. Olive drab john boats and American flag red canoes are anchored in a freshwater harbor and a screen door slaps with people carrying out water, bait, and assorted gear from a general store.

This is the wrong State Park. This is the wrong state.

The road that will take me to Florida and the other Stephen Foster park is eighteen miles back up the dead end road.

I close my eyes and sigh with satisfaction, as though I had just finished a Sunday spread and still had room for pie.

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7 Responses to Okefenokee

  1. Explorers, the historian Aaron Sachs wrote me in answer to a question, “were always lost, because they’d never been to those places before. They never expected to know exactly where they were. Yet, at the same time, many of them knew their instruments pretty well and understood their trajectories within a reasonable degree of accuracy. In my opinion, their most important skill was simply a sense of optimism about surviving and finding their way.”

    Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost