Posted by: bree1972 | April 12, 2012

Ted Tells a Tale 4/13/2012

Note:  Ted and a couple of his buddies took a kayak trip this week into what I call “Deliverance” country.  He packed his camera into a zip-lock bag, his kayak into the bed of his truck, and left home Wednesday morning to meet the guys at Turkey Creek.  Below is his story . . .  in his own words.

One of our friends on the lake asked if I wanted to go on a kayak trip the Wednesday after Easter and then go eat oysters at The Old Inne, a restaurant just off the lake – with a stop by our favorite watering hole, Booger Bottom, between the kayak trip and the oysters.  I loved the idea.  Let me remind all Brenda’s readers, I’m about to be sixty-five, and these guys are Brenda’s son Jason’s age.  I knew I was in for a workout.

Ike and Joe were my two kayaking partners.  Ike has a weekend house on the lake, but lives near Macon.  He manages a wildlife and nature preserve that backs up to Indian Springs State Park off I-75 at the High Falls exit, on the way to Atlanta.  His friend Joe lives on St. Simons Island on the Georgia coast.

We left Ike’s house on the lake and trucked our kayaks to Turkey Creek, above the official beginning of Lake Blackshear.  Brenda has talked in her blog about Turkey Creek before because this is where we have eaten some farewell dinners with friends before leaving for Michigan.  By car, it is about 15-20 miles from our house.

It's hard to read this map, but at the very top on the left-hand corner, you'll see a red wavy line which is Hwy. 27. Above that line you can just make out the words "Turkey Creek". The Hwy. 27 bridge is the official northern boundary of Lake Blackshear. Our house is way south of Turkey Creek - on the water practically on the Sumter/Lee county lines (between the numbers 12 and 14 as you read down the left side of the map). We're directly across from Cedar Creek, but that's difficult to read on this photo.

We put our kayaks in at the boat landing on Turkey Creek at about 11:30 and headed down the creek to the Flint River.

As all Brenda's readers know, I love history (it was my major in college), and as I paddled down the creek, I thought about how before Easter, in 1540, Hernando de Soto and his men attacked an Indian town located on an island at this junction of Turkey Creek and the Flint River. He and his men were probably the first Europeans the Native Americans came in contact with. Lots of history in this area.

Once we arrived at the junction with the Flint, we headed downstream toward the lake.  Brenda has talked about our lake before, but I’m going to give you a refresher course.  It is called Lake Blackshear and was created by the damming of the Flint River in the late 1920’s.  It is approximately 20 miles long and rarely more than one mile wide.  It covers about 8,500 acres and has close to 97 miles of shoreline.

The Hwy. 27 bridge is also known as the Luther Story Bridge, and it honors veterans of Dooly and Sumter Counties who gave their lives in World War II and the Korean War. As I approached the bridge, I thought about the two communities that grew up across from each other in the early 1830's at what was considered the head of navigation on the Flint River. One was Danville, and the other was Drayton. Danville was made up of Whigs, and Drayton, Democrats.

Since politics was big in the area from 1840 until 1846, the two groups were at war with one another, and fights broke out anytime one crossed the river into the other’s town.  These differences were put aside in 1847 when the communities buried the hatchet and united in building a steamboat to travel the Flint River to Apalachicola on the Gulf of Mexico.  The name of the steamboat was the Magnolia, and she made two trips before getting stuck on shoals at Adams Creek above Albany.  It took 18 months to float her off, and that was the end of the partnership between the two towns.  Today, as we pass this area, there is very little to remind us that on one bank stood the county seat of Dooly County (Drayton) and on the other bank was located the largest town in Sumter County (Danville).

Once we reached the Hwy 27 bridge, I thought we would just follow the channel until we got into the main body of the lake. But with Ike the naturalist leading the group, we immediately were directed into an area where few venture . . .

. . . an area of cypress trees, Spanish moss, lily pads, and shallow water - and I was sure, home to many fish, turtles, alligators, snakes, egrets and other water critters.

It was so shallow in some places I expected the bottom of my kayak to touch the back of an alligator that would rise up and toss me and my boat in the air like a ragdoll . . .

. . . and as I paddled through the lilypads, I expected a water snake or moccasin to come up on the end of my paddle blade.

Unbelievably, we floated by a huge house set right at the edge of this waterworld, then back out into the main channel for a short time before we moved back into the side waters once again.

Let me assure you I’m not the naturalist that Ike is.  He had brought his long tongs to grab snakes in a way not to injure them.  He actually likes snakes.  He also assured us that these back waters would lead us back to the main river.  I wasn’t so sure, but my compass did show we were heading south. 

We finally came to an area so shallow and dense with trees and Spanish moss that Joe stopped because he thought it was a dead end. I followed Ike through this, and after a hundred yards or so, we popped out into the main river.

Before we knew it, we were back at Ike's dock.

In all, the trip on the water took a little more than three hours, and we had traveled 4 to 5 miles on the creeks, river, and lake.  It was like another world.  The scenery was beautiful, it had been a great day, and we had a great guide.  No snake bites or incidents with gators.  In fact we only saw three gators, two were 5-7 feet, and one was a baby.

There are many more stories and lots more history I could share with you – like the wooden pool now covered by the lake, where semi-pro baseball players used to party.  There are ferry crossings, Andrew Jackson’s visit to Fort Early, and the battle fought on the Flint to stop Spanish expansion into the English territory in 1702.  But Brenda just said “that is enough history and geography for one day for my readers.”

Thanks for traveling along with me.  By the way, after this trip, the beer and oysters tasted mighty fine!

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Responses

  1. I believe I am just up the road from you on Flintside Drive, as a weekend rivah resident. I read your post and I am currently looking for a place to have a girls lunch on a Sunday in April. We would like to ride our boat there and eat. I was impressed with your review of Booger Bottom but they are not open on Sundays. Do you have a suggestion for another place.
    Thanks, Patsy Zoumberis patsyz@bellsouth.net

    • Hi Patsy,
      Cypress Grill at Lake Blackshear Resort is open on Sundays, and you can take the boat over and dock at the marina. It’s a great place!

  2. Ted you can’t leave us hanging like that!! I want more…like the wooden pool covered by the lake? What is that? Where did baseball players party? I love history…it was my favorite subject in school. A different time in history but history nonetheless. Please tell more! (you can leave out the snake part lol) 🙂

  3. Ted, thanks for taking us on your kayak trip. I love history so I’m like Hilde wanting to hear more. Wooden pool, baseball players party, and anything else you want to add.

  4. Thank you, Brenda, for letting Ted do the blog tonight. I love history. I’ve been known to read encyclopedias for enjoyment. Please, Ted, more of the same would be greatly appreciated by this blog reader.

  5. Love hearing local history! Hernando de Soto? wow! Every place has some stories, and I love hearing them. Thanks for sharing your most excellent adventure.

  6. Ted please keep the history stories coming. I love history now that I have gotten older. So please, please, please keep the stories coming.

  7. Oh, loved it. More history + geography please. Are you bringing your musk north this year? Our canoes are yours anytime!

  8. Brenda, Bear and Maddie – thanks so much for giving the floor, so to speak, to Ted for today. Ted – what a wonderful narrative of your journey. I am glad that the reptiles and amphibians stayed off your paddle and bow. It was great to share an adventure with you. Hope to hear from you and the kayak again in the future.

  9. The Luther Story Bridge was named for a World War One soldier from Americus who lost his life in battle. His heroic actions earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
    Three men lost their lives when this bridge was being built. More local history.

  10. Awesome post Ted! We are just getting into kayaking this year. I’m looking forward to similiar trips. Although, minus the gators, snakes, etc… lol
    Theres a spot up north off 75, near Grayling, Mi where there are miles of lil waterways and all along are Blue Heron nests. I can’t wait to investigate them!
    Shaggy, the Dog, is learning how to kayak too. He has a life jacket & I’ve put non skid stickers on the front bow so he can step out a bit & learn how to balance as we paddle along! I’ll share pics when we get it down pat!

    • Hi Nancy! Kayaking is so fun. I got into it a couple of years ago, and then stopped for some reason – maybe because it’s usually not warm enough before we leave for Michigan – this year is an exception. What kind of dog is Shaggy? Ted takes Maddie out occasionally, and she loves it. Wouldn’t dare let her out of his lap though! Would love to see pics!

  11. Great adventure! Really enjoyed Ted’s story and the history!

  12. Enjoyed the history lesson and the trip on the river. You told me stuff I didn`t know, but we`ve seen that house before and I would love to know who lives there. Did ya`ll by chance go into what`s called the buzzard roost? That`s a really neat place too.

  13. I enjoyed Ted’s narrative of his kayaking trip. We are new weekenders on the south end of the lake and enjoy hearing all the local stories. Please tell more.

  14. As I was going to the rivah to work I remembered that Luther Story lost his life in the Korean War not WW1. Must have been thinking of Sgt. York.

  15. I can’t believe Brenda went out on a kayak! It just seems scary! Besides the idea of falling into the water there are a bunch of icky things in the water such as snakes & alligators. No way could I do that! She is really brave!

    • I promise I do kayak, Yvonne! The worse part is getting in and out! Haven’t tipped over yet doing either one, but since I’m known for my grace (haha), it’s just a matter of time.

  16. Great job, Ted! How interesting!!

  17. Ted Ted Ted

  18. Wow! That was fun! I’m thinking about gettying a kayak for our lake house on Lake Martin in Alabama. I need to do some research to figure out what would be best. I like to photograph too so want something that I have the best chance of not overturning. We canoe a lot, so I get that nothing it totally safe for the camera…still I’d like to learn more about them.

  19. Thanks for the Excellent Adventure, Ted! Those murky backwaters look soooooo interesting! I’m curious, how dangerous is it in terms of running into river critters? How bad would it be to be bitten by a snake?

    • Barb – I asked Ted your questions, and he answered: Most of the “critters” are more frightened of us than we are of them. As long as you don’t corner them so they think they have to fight, you are pretty safe. As for the snakes, it would depend on if they were poisonous or not. Our neighbor across the street was bitten by a copperhead a few years ago and almost lost his leg. It took months and months for him to get back to normal, even though he was rushed immediately to the hospital. If you’re bitten and not close to a medical facility, the bite of a copperhead, water moccasin, or rattlesnake can be deadly.

  20. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us Ted! I liked seeing the photos and reading about your trip. Happy Monday!!

  21. Thanks for letting us paddle along, Ted. I want to hear about the wooden pool and the baseball players too!!!!

  22. Wow, this lake looks beautiful! Can I ask – what’s the weather like there throughout the year?

    • Audrey, we are in south Georgia, so in the summer it is hot and humid – very hot and humid! We have a warm spring and fall and a relatively mild (seldom gets below 32 and then for only a day or two at a time) winter. South Georgia is a wonderful place to live, but I have problems with the summer heat. That is why we live in Michigan from May through October!

      • It does sound like a great place! Maybe one day I’ll visit it. 🙂 Thank you for your answer!


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