Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island is our second stop in Georgia.  Many loopers hurry through Georgia and the only reason I can think of is the tides are tricky along with the ever-present potential of running aground.  Rhonda and I are determined to take our time enjoying this beautiful part of the Atlantic coastline.  The entire coastline of Georgia is a series of "barrier islands," many of which are still in their primitive state.  Here's a good summary of those islands and some explanation for the extreme tide variance that we found on the island today at the museum.

Off of the top of my head, some of the island names are Tybee, Skidaway, Ossabaw, Wassau, Sapelo, St. Catherines, St. Simons, Jekyll, and Cumberland.  We lived at Belle Island (an interior island) from 1984 to 1987 and as I noted previously, our younger son, Scott, was born in Savannah.  I'll never forget when we arrived in Savannah from Shreveport, LA.  Rhonda was very pregnant with Scott and we had rented a house on Whitmarsh Island while we built our home at Belle Island.  We drove right through downtown Savannah  on St. Patrick's Day totally unaware that Savannah has the second largest celebration in the country, second only to New York. At the time, we still owned our first boat, a 16-foot Newman bowrider ski boat and traversed these waterways many times.  Shrimping and crabbing were favorite times also.  Anyhow, we have some great memories in coastal Georgia and look forward to some reminders of those days.

We decided to stay 3 days at Jekyll for 2 reasons.  Easter Sunday was our second day and we didn't want to be traveling that day.  Then the marina offered us a third day free for staying 2 days.  It's hard to turn down a free day plus the weather was a little bit iffy with thunderstorms forecast to be scattered throughout the day (they never showed up).  Anyhow, it's been a very pleasant 3 days and we've come to love Jekyll Island.  Now if everyone reading this blog would donate lots of money to us, we would consider living here.  Contact me for details on the PayPal account or for an address if you prefer to send cash.

Here's a brief history of the island - my version but will be sort of close.  In 1742, William Horton was charged with establishing a military post to protect Fort Frederica.  He later established his home on the island and Horton House is still part of the remains on display from those early years.  The island changed hands over the years and the real history for which it is known today began in the late 1800s when a plan was devised to make memberships available to 100 of the super rich men of the day to a very exclusive Jekyll Island Club.  Names such as Rockefeller, Goodyear, Morgan, Pulitzer, Vanderbilt, Gould, and Astor are a few that responded to this opportunity to be part of a super seclusive and exclusive winter getaway to a subtropical climate retreat.  Some had their own mansions built on the island which they referred to as "cottages."  To promote social interaction, none of them were built with kitchens and members dined together at the Jekyll Island Club.  By WWII, the members controlled 1/6 of the WORLD's wealth.  By the depression years, the exclusive club had seen its heyday and the state of Georgia bought the island in 1947 for a paltry sum of $675,000.  OK, here are lots of pics to give you an idea of the splendor these families enjoyed here.  First some of the "cottages."

All of these are uninhabited today but have been restored for visitors and tourism.  However, the Crane Cottage has rooms for rent and has meals available for lunch and dinner.  Rhonda and I ate there and it was outstanding.  Crane built Crane toilets and seems to have been a bit obsessed with that theme.  There are 17 bathrooms in his cottage! Apparently the Crane Cottage caused some dissension among the members as it was much larger and a bit more extravagant than the others.  I guess some things never change, huh?  Here are some pics.

One of the members, Henry Hyde, was very selective about who he wished to be around so he built the Sans Souci to house six friends of his choice.  Members with children or mistresses were excluded of course!

And if you think the cottages are nice, take a look at the Jekyll Island Club.

A few shots of the inside of the club.

A side porch, pool and grounds.

One point of interest was that some of the walkways around the club were not bricked but were made of wooden timbers driven upright in the ground.

So, you get the idea.  Also, two significant events occurred here.  Several of the members gathered to develop a proposal for the Federal Reserve System.  Their draft was not the final version, but the one adopted contained many of their ideas.  Also, the first transatlantic phone call was made from here. 

A museum is housed in the old stable.  Here's a shot of the rafters, definitely built to withstand time.

Faith Chapel is take-your-breath-away beautiful but they would not allow pictures to be taken inside.

Many of the live oak tree branches are so long and large that they rest on the ground.

There is lots of other activity here today within the historic district.  Lots of shops, a sea turtle foundation, bookstore, commissary, glass shop, bikes for rent, etc..  The island also has miles and miles of bike and walking trails, pretty much around the entire island and throughout parts of the interior.  There's an airport, campground, water park, golf courses, convention center, and a really nicely developed beachfront that extends for miles with nice trails, restrooms, pavilions, volleyball courts, and a pretty beach to go with all of that.

On the north end of the island, the beach is designated as "Driftwood Beach" for obvious reasons.

There was a wedding being held down the beach about a 1/4 mile away and this part of the wedding party had parked too far away and was hurrying to make "I Do" in time!

Rhonda found a pretty good-sized living whelk (sea snail) in some of the tidal pools at Driftwood Beach.

And we ended one of the days with a nice low-country shrimp boil at Sea Jay's Restaurant.  Been a long time since we've had that - very, very good.

So, it's time to move on, but not very far.  Got to play the wait-for-rising-tide to get out of here, then we need to refuel in Brunswick, backtrack a few miles to get back on the ICW, and then run about 25 miles north to Darien, GA.  The town is about 7 miles off of the ICW but other cruisers have great comments about their stop there, AND the town has a free floating dock with power for 2 days. It's really good to be in Georgia again.

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