St. Simons Island Vacation
It was coming up on the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Bakers were itching for some adventure, so we broke our tradition of staying around the homestead for the holidays or vacationing in the mountains and took my sister and her hubby up on their generous offer to visit them in St. Simon's Island on the Georgia coast. After checking out the sites in the area on-line, it looked like a trip full of adventure was in store and some quality time with family.
This island adventure did not disappoint with gorgeous beaches and wildlife, historical sites, and tons of tourist attractions that couldn't be tackled in our four day trip made the 5 1/2 hour drive worth it. We had marvelous tour guides in Kristen and Pat who gladly indulged us on the tourist circuit and fed us awesome meals and directed us to a great seafood restaurant, Skippers Fish Camp , for some fresh caught shrimp.
After arriving at lunch, the Bakers took a tour of the St. Simon's Lighthouse Museum and received a special peek at the very top with the lighthouse service men. It was amazing that one tiny light bulb lights the way for droves of ships. It is the specialized glass called a Fresnel lens that makes such a strong projection possible. Then, we visited the nearby pier and strolled through The Village and then over to the golden sands of St. Simon's Beach.
On day two, we stopped along the road to take some amazing pictures of the bird life in the marshes along the busy roads. We got up close and personal with Bitterns, Pelicans, Egrets, Ibises and Wood Storks, and they were all over the island. We found a big group that hangs out in the middle a roundabout on a busy road strutting about digging up bugs in the mud. It was hilarious. I was having some trouble getting close for picture, but Troy inched closer little by little as always, and I was able to capture a beautiful Ibis landing right in front of him with all his camera equipment. But, Troy got the killer up close shot of the same bird landing.
We also visited Christ Church Frederica and explored the beautifully manicured grounds with mammoth elderly oaks and cascading Spanish Moss that are all over the island. They were getting ready for a service, so we were able to go inside and look at the elaborate stained glass and hear about the history of the church.Then, we headed back to the house for an awesome smoked turkey dinner with all the fixings. It was by far the fastest homemade Thanksgiving dinner we had ever eaten.
On day three, we took the first ferry for a 45 minute ride to secluded Cumberland Island from St. Mary's, GA. We were greeted on this cheerful sunny day in November by wild horses on the distant shore. We meandered through the well-maintained jungle-like sandy paths, along the beach, boardwalks, and sand dunes for about five hours, enjoyed a picnic lunch. Be sure to pack one. There aren't stores to purchase these things. In that time, we only saw a fraction of the island. Next trip, we will need to camp or at least rent bikes for more thorough exploration of all the island has to offer.
We spent much of time at the Thomas Morrison Carnegie's vacation estate called the Dungeness Ruins. Much to our surprise there were several armadillos scurrying about in search of food. It seemed oblivious or at least unbothered by our close proximity as we photographed them. Although not particularly friendly, some wild horse cooperated with our plans by wandering near the main ruin and allowing us to get some good photographs. We also spotted some redheaded woodpeckers and wild turkeys, but we did not see any doves, bald eagles, great horned owls, or hogs that are said to inhabit the island. The massive ruins were majestic not only due to their size but also against the bright blue skies.
After a short respite for our tired feet, we headed literally into a brilliant sunset and got some awesome photographs. A sea gull followed the ferry back hovering and begging for his next meal. A few passengers obliged, but then the park ranger said not to feed them, so they stopped and the seagull flew off.
On day four, the Baker boys rose early to catch a glimpse of the sunrise on Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island while the rest of the crew slept in. Later we joined them and strolled along the mansions on the waterfront. In the late 1800s, Jekyll Island became an exclusive hunting club for families with names like Rockefeller, Morgan, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, and Baker. The once private retreat is now part of The Jekyll Island Club National Historic Landmark District, one of the largest preservation projects in the southeast. All the impressive homes and grounds really took you back in time. We grabbed a quick lunch at Doc's Snack Shop and dessert at Island Sweets Shop.
We also visited rescued turtles at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island and learned some interesting facts about sea turtles. Since the boys were so impressed with the unique landscape of Driftwood Beach, they took me back there, and to my surprise, there weren't just a few pieces of driftwood on the beach but driftwood as far as the eye could see. It was nothing like I have never seen.
We ended the day with an awesome dinner at Skipper's Fish Camp in Darien, Georgia and capturing another mesmerizing sunset this time littered with shrimp boats at the Darien Dock on the Darien River. The next day, we headed home bright and early, thankful for such a great time of family and adventure. God is good.