We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, May 1. 2014
My snap above is the main lodge. As I mentioned previously, it's a barrier island accessible only by small boat.
What sorts of people would spend serious bucks to inhabit rustic cabins built in 1910 on the edge of a swamp with far fewer amenities than home, the air full of skeeters, Diamondback Rattlers and gators roaming around, no elegant plantings other than God's, simple home cookin, no umbrella drinks, and where the evening entertainment is an academic talk on bird migration?
Well, as Mrs. BD pointed out, it can be expensive to get that old-timey vigorous WASPy in-the-woods time these days in remote places. A condo on a beach with WiFi and TV, hotel menus, and Pina Coladas and lounge chairs around the pool would be less than half the price tag, but boring as heck. She believes that my Yankee-types, as a matter of taste, like either grand luxe or rustic roughing-it, and nothing in-between. Probably right. In addition, we do not like to sit on vacations. Go Go Hi Ho.
As she also pointed out, the price at Little Saint Simons is all-inclusive - all meals (no menu choices, of course - family-style), all of the naturalist adventures, all the boats and kayaks and bikes, all the booze and cocktail hours and oyster roasts and shrimp boils at the beach. And the entirely private 7-mile island, just for you. Chef is a grad of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America for those of you in Yorba Linda) but he does home cookin like his grandma.
So who was there (all with spouses)? A self-selecting elite bunch of folks. A recently-retired career Army Ranger from Colorado who discovered an interest in natural history. A retired Memphis cotton broker. A NYC doctor. A high school teacher couple from Salt Lake City. An 8th-grade Science teacher from Michigan. A famous nature artist from Massachusetts. An Ornithology prof from Georgia Southern (not a railroad - a university). A professor of something from Boston. A fund manager from Chicago. A jolly, congenial, and intelligent crew, and a tattoo-free zone for sure. Lots of laughs at mealtimes.
Despite the skeeters, they have a high repeat rate. I would recommend March-April-May or October for a place like this. Too hot and too many bugs in the summertime - for me, anyway.
Our temps last week were daytime highs around 76 and nights high 50s-low 60s. Constant sea breeze. Perfect.
I remarked to Mrs. BD that it must be a rare "resort" vacation spot indeed where, when one of the resident naturalists asks for a show of hands for the next morning's 7 AM birding in the marsh, almost everybody present raises their hands.
"Meet at the trucks at 7 on the dot."
More boring travelogue pics and nature details below the fold -
The dock. You can take a skiff out anytime you want, for as long as you want. Fishing tackle freely available. Kayaks too.
We called it Jurassic Park, riding on the bed of a GMC truck into the maritime jungle with the early morning birdsong - mostly Carolina Wren, Yellow Throated Warbler, Parula Warbler, Cardinals, Gnatcatchers, Pileateds, Summer Tanagers, Cardinals. Clapper Rails clapping in the distance. Black Racers wiggling across the sandy roads and the occasional Diamondback Rattler. The naturalists shove the Rattlers off the road with a stick after giving everybody opportunities for close-up photos.
The dining hall in the main lodge. Cultural note: Southern gals dress and make themselves pretty for dinner, even in the woods and regardless of age. Mrs. BD says they are more into expressing their femininity than Northern gals. It's a good thing, and a good lesson for Northern gals.
A quiet little room to read in or to have a Martini, in the main lodge. The 2 families that own the island take it over for family events from Thanksgiving through January, so they get the good duck hunting for themselves and their own guests.
Georgia maritime forest: Live Oak, Slash Pine, Loblolly Pine, Magnolia, with an understory of Palmetto, Cabbage Palm, and Red Bay. Abundant Spanish Moss.
I'll post a Part 2, probably on Friday.
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Beautiful pictures. It sounds like it was everything you hoped for, and something I would enjoy too. Tell me how the seating was on those benches on the truck? How easy was it getting up and down? (and did you do any "small plant " botanizing?)
The bugs, the snakes, the humidity - just like the peace corps in West Africa in the 60's without the shabby elegance of old money. How was the fishing?
Love that Spanish moss. Reminds me of northern Florida, where my parents moved for retirement. Where you can break into a sweat sitting in the shade.
Would you take the same vacation in August? At least it should be cooler in August than inland TX, where the daily highs hover around 100 in August. I was talking recently with a neighbor who has lived here all his life. We both agreed that 90-95 degrees is OK, but we would never be comfortable with 100 degree weather. [Though I do TX summers with only 5-10 hours of AC total, so I have acclimated myself a fair amount.]
BD: "The high price is for the ambience"
room: "Oh, well, that's fine then --is it on call 24/7?"
BD "Come again?"
room: "The ambulance?"
Reminds me of a starter home we tried to buy near St. Francisville. Unfortunately Napoleonic code + 2 people divorcing each other and hate = no house for us.
...you'd think St Francisville's world famous statue of Longfellow's Evangeline would mitigate for people having a place to live --
I live in Northeast Florida, and I appreciate all we have here-birds, snakes, gators, hog, deer.
Looks like my neck of the woods down here in Central Fl on the St Johns and all the lakes. Still lots of critters down here, too.
Thank you for that BD. As a young married couple without much earning potential my wife and I lived on St Simon's Island. I always wondered what the experience there would be like.
I remember most of the old money real estate being owned by the Jones brothers. They owned the Sea Island Cloister hotel where George and Barbara Bush honeymooned? I thought they owned LSSI also.
The Episcopal church on SSI that Charles Wesley helped start is a beautiful place and service for high church. Cumberland Island is a nice day trip and is populated by wild horses and turkeys. Plus the beach is white sand and the ocean bluer as it's safely south of the marsh. Boats from SSI go there daily.
Thanks again for bringing back to the beauty of the area.
Great pics & commentary, BD. Of all the flora and fauna I've seen here in the South, my favorite is Spanish Moss. It's no big deal when seen in the country, but when a city's laced with it, it's almost magical.