I just got back last night after about ten days vacation spent mostly in Florida. Among the highlights of our trip was seeing a manatee grazing at the inlet in Anastasia State Park. We were lucky because most of them migrate north in the summer. It helped that the tide was near its peak during the early evening and that most of the visitors were gone. The high tide made the seagrass accessible for grazing, and with less people the manatee felt more comfortable feeding near the area with the picnic tables (where we were watching for dolphins that came in with the tide). The manatee never quite showed its face but we were able to see the motorboat scars on its back. A park official told me the next day that nearly all adults have scars like this. This is attributed largely to motorboats not obeying the speed limits (and lack of enforcement). Earlier that evening we saw a family looking for manatees using a motorboat. I don't think it would be unreasonable for motorboats in Florida to be required to carry a GPS device to enhance law enforcement. Given that this form of transportation is almost never used for sensitive matters (unless you are a smuggler) this policy would not violate civil liberties.

On the drive back to Maryland we spent the night at Motel 6 somewhere in South Carolina. To break the monotony of the long drive, I searched the free pamphlets near the reception desk for points of interest along the road and found this gem barely 20 minutes drive from interstate 95. Beidler Forest is an old growth forest swamp near the middle of South Carolina (east of 95 and slightly north of interstate 26) with nearly two miles of boardwalk (most of it forming a loop).

Other than the large alligator we saw in the lake and the 4-foot water snake sunning itself on the boardwalk we did not see much spectacular animal life, but the hike through such a large and pristine swamp far from the cacophony of motorboats and cars was well worth the small detour. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent!