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.
Boat out from Fernandina, Florida to the island, along St Mary's River, up to Georgia. A famous place, but not too easy to visit so I'll give you a little tour.
- below the fold
Mrs. BD likes islands. Over the years, we have visited several of the
southern US Atlantic barrier islands - Kiawah, Hilton Head, Sea Island,
Saint Simon's Island, Little Saint Simon's, Jekyll Island (briefly), Amelia Island
(briefly), and now the southernmost one, Cumberland. (We have also
checked out the Gulf coast Florida islands - Captiva, Sanibel, etc.) We
have not been to Gasparilla and it is not on our to-do list despite its rustic Old WASPy club and dirt roads.Not rich enough, and we like to discover different places instead of the same old place.
Of these travels, we agree that the only ones of these places worthy
of second visits for people who like what we like in the way of remote
natural getaways are Little Saint Simon's and Cumberland, but the old
town of Fernandina on Amelia is a charming little historic village.
Cumberland Island has an interesting history,
from a pirate hangout to the Spanish to the Brits to sea-island cotton
plantations, then abandonment with dangerous people, then the turn of
the century money barons, to its current state as part of the
fully-protected National Seashore with no development at all on it. The
gullahs are long-gone. Old Lucy Ferguson always patrolled her island
There are only four private landholdings left from historic deeds,
one Rockefeller, two from Carnegies, and one mysterious. The only place
to stay on the island is the historic Greyfield Inn, owned and run by Carnegie descendents. It only hosts about 20 guests at maximum but they squeezed in 50 for JFK Jr's wedding.
It's not a resort - has no resort things, no pool, no golf, no sauna,
no hookers, no gambling. It's a quiet, secluded place with a small
number of pleasant guests. Sometimes I wonder whether destination pricing is just to keep out the riff-raff.
Cumberland is twice the size of Manhattan. It is 17 miles long. There
are only around 10-15 permanent residents on it. There is only one real
road - a one-lane sand track. The habitat is Southern Maritime Forest. That
means sandy soil, Southern Bay, Longleaf Pine, Live Oak, Palmetto,
Magnolia (the Palm trees themselves are not native - and are not native
anywhere in the New World).
The Inn's dock on the Inland Waterway - Atlantic on other side
The only gas pump on the island, mainly for the Inn's pick-ups and tractors but also for the few Parks Dept vehicles.
The island's main highway. I think it's what Broadway looked like in 1630, minus the palmetto. There are only a handful of private homes on the island and few are ever occupied. There are a few Rockefeller vacation homes on their retained land but they are rarely used. Since 90% of the island is now National Seashore, there will be no further construction.
The parlor of Greyfield
The breakfast room
The dining room - random seating. Meet new interesting people and have fun. Do not sit next to your spouse. It's considered unsociable.
The Inn also has two cottages. We chose one of them because I am an early-riser, and like to bang around, watch birds, and make my own coffee at 4 or 5 am.
In early morning, wild turkeys walk around the lawns and, in the evening, the dumb horses appear and crop the scanty grass. But they keep it mowed.
The little parlor in our cottage
View from our little porch. Mrs. BD is trying to convert me o those Keen shoe-things. They are ok, I guess.
Morning on the dunes - Loggerhead Turtle tracks. They anticipate 700-1000 turtle nests this Spring. It's estimated that one in one thousand hatchlings reaches adulthood. Otherwise, it would indeed be turtles all the way down.
Boardwalk along marsh. Marshes are my favorite places. My back unfortunately prevented my kayaking around on this trip.
A poor photo of Royal Terns on the beach. The two on the left are mating in public. The horny male will strut around with a minnow, trying to tempt a willing female for a quicky. That's the way men are.
The bike road to the ocean beach. Parula Warblers and Summer Tanagers around the woods. Other fun birds seen or heard: Screech Owl, Chuck Will's Widow, Swallow-Tailed Kite, Ospreys, Oystercatcher, Wood Stork, Painted Bunting, Semipalmated Plovers, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Gnatcatcher, all the egrets. Eagles there but did not see them.
Interesting factoid about the Southern Maritime Forest. They need fire or the scenic Live Oaks will dominate instead of the Longleaf Pines. The island will be introducing more "controlled" burns this summer. Smokey The Bear was always wrong. Always, let it burn when it wants to.
The wild (feral) horses are an annoyance and many want them killed/removed. Do not approach them; they are nasty and not tame. Ignore them and they ignore you, but if you try to say hello, they will attack and kick and bite. Walking dog food, imo. Too bad they have no riding horses at the Inn. An insurance issue.
Did not see any of the wild boars, and they are slowly ridding the island of them, down from over 2000 to around 200 now. They are snake-killers and egg-eaters. They are also edible when cooked properly
Our birding truck ran over an armadillo. Crunch. Guy on the truck said "One down, one trillion to go."
An old abandoned 1890s vacation home, Plum Orchard. Why the Parks Dept wants to keep it going with taxpayer $ is beyond me. Maybe as a memorial to capitalism? Life was good before the income tax.
A cool Tiffany lamp in that old place
The old Carnegie Dungeness estate on the southern tip of the island burned down in the 1950s.
The Greyfield Inn's breezy, comfy porch in day, and for after dinner drinks. No bugs, unlike Little Saint Simons, probably because there are no vast fresh-water marshes and there is always a good sea breeze.
BTW, as late as the 1940s according to Harnett Kane in Natchez on the Mississippi, wild hogs which were descendants of De Soto's "commissary on hoof" were still extant in the hardwood bottoms of the Mississippi River.
Nowadays, the hog is much more likely to be a former pet that out grew the cute and loveable stage. FWIW, they say the horses on the Outer Banks just to the North are have similar genes as Spanish breeds.
Armadillos are quite good swimmers and at low tide, its an easy swim, slog thru the swamp to the inland side. Boat stow aways are also possible.
Amelia Island at the peak of the season is worth a visit just to watch the beach bunnies work the lonely old rich man crowd.
Thanks BD, and having lived here since the 70's, the only chance I've ever had to make it to Cumberland was fishing in Christmas creek which took skill and luck as the breakers would wash over your stern if the skill part wasn't there.
As locals we are still occasionally reminded of John boy Kennedys marriage there and we read of the errant small plane that makes an emergency landing on the wide low tide beach.
Mrs. Mudbug and I will be attending a family reunion near there soon. Mrs. Mudbug's family went to Fernandina Beach for her birthday when she was a little girl. We can try to visit some of the beautiful places you've shown us.