Boon Docking in Lake Jackson, Florida
Starting a travel blog featuring one of the least dramatic of locales is an interesting topic in itself, so let’s talk about Boon Docking. The boonies in slang refers to places wild and peaceful. Simple.
Even describing the Boon Docks you can see from my choice of words that I like that kind of thing – a place where there are fewer people.
I thought the lazy pace of the boonies meant less of a dramatic view. But there I was wrong – you just have to work harder for the view.
Places like Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon were made easier for our masses to get to even without good working legs and feet, but out here in the wild… the Serengeti’s rival.
From the watch tower Lake Jackson spreads out in the distance, all open waters and lily pads, and long legged birds. They say most of the waterbirds have disappeared over the years, with the whispered hope that they are returning with concerted efforts by conservation teams. Oh hosh and bother…. to my mind it’s stepping up to its version of public consumption.
Stilted she shouts, great clouts of grey hair flying, her broomstick held firmly between her thighs… ‘It’s off to romp where none can see! It’s off to have a bit of a spring spree… scree of eagles, and hawks.’
The pride of vultures blackening two trees of the palm hammock – now there’s a sight, walking in palm trees that have their own freedom. Not potted palms in manicured lawns, but jungle-like palms with bark strewn floors, easy to walk through, except for the ruts and runnels left from marauding pigs. Towering overhead, with the great wings of vultures sounding almost like some aeroplane or something startling… so close at hand they are.
Yes, sigh, there are wild pigs here and alas and alack I’ve seen nary a one! But I did see two eagles with a nest taking up two thirds of a solitary oak tree sitting in the middle of a dry prairie. Master of all and what….
So, bird songs – the quiet evening starts phasing to rest, and frogs are croaking their lullabies alongside swan songs, or are those mating calls? And green, green! Of course there are insects. But since it’s been dry here, not too many. And there were a few deer sightings on the way home, down the dusty road.
We walked on our first excursion into the depths of this wild life preserve. And walk we did, til I began some blisters on those two middle toes. The ones that always do that!
I told Alex to keep going- I would return home. But then I could not help myself. I followed at my own pace, chanting to take my mind off my feet. And oh, how glad I was once I’d passed the vast expanse of dry prairie to the trees surrounding the lake.
With their massive heights and long strands of Spanish moss draped like some kind of zombie movie character, they were a sight to behold. At night I could imagine the scary cast of the place, like a setting of doom or sinister happenings, but during the day in sunlight with its play on leaf and fuzz, how dazzlingly beautiful.
It is all inviting living caves of shade and peace. Cows lowing in the distance. And then the lake coming up for view, with all its lily pads and birds… and the smell of water. So there you have it.
The trip also brought a few visits with neighbors, from Michigan and Ontario. Long time boon dockers, with stories of swimming in canals in the Everglades south of here. “Back 30 years ago we bought a carpet and laid it on the bottom of the canal and took our baths there for the season. Then we’d pull out the carpet with a chain and our truck and leave it in the bush. Next year it would have decayed into the landscape.”
But then they went to look in the waters at night with flash lights and saw dozens of alligators and other things… decided maybe not so much any more. But, he did have friends who’d grown up in the Everglades and spent their entire childhood swimming in the canals. The trick was to sit for 20 minutes and watch the water, they told him. If no bubbles appeared, or ripples, then you’d be good to go. Alligators can’t stay submerged more than twenty minutes. And, if one is smaller than you it will leave you alone… so babies were okay.
Thus, a land I was beginning to have a grudge against for all the mosquito bites from earlier in the year, down at Burns Lake in the Big Cypress National Swamp Preserve, had turned into a friend I’d like to revisit. Perhaps we’ll make time to take the great Florida Walking Trail…. it winds through this preserve and the parts I’ve walked on are touchingly beautiful.
I’ll leave you with one more thought. There is a thing that happens in my gut, right in the middle of my chest and belly, when there is no electric current buzzing around, and the surrounding land is still from lights, and human business is farther away. It’s a kind of relaxation, like, ‘Oh, here I am and it’s more than ok. It’s really and truly fine.’ That, my friend, is what truly brings me back to more experiments with boon docking.
Leave Your Thoughts
What do you think about boon docking and the slow, scenic landscapes of Lake Jackson, Florida? Do you like to travel in lazy, backwoods places like the boonies, or do you prefer a different style of travel? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!