Friday, 10/21/11 - Unfortunately, we found out to late about sightseeing in Cumberland Island located off St Marys in Georgia. All the brochures indicated once you took the National Park Service boat over to the Island there was no other transportation or tours available aand you were there for 6 hours. However, on Thursday we found out differently, very recently they have set up a boat and bus tour combination of Cumberland Island, which is not out in brochures yet and were booked for our last 2 days here, Friday and Saturday. Our next reservation with Coast to Coast has already been made to arrive Sunday, 10/23 so NO Cumberland Island for us.
We made the best of it and booked a 2 hour river cruise with Amelia River Cruises http://www.ameliarivercruises.com/ that leaves from Fernandina Beach, FL, about a 45 minute drive South of our RV park. The cruise was to leave at 10:30 am and of course we were early and enjoyed an early morning walk around the historic downtown area. Finally it was boarding time and there were about 15 people total for the ride which turned out to be wonderful and a real history lesson of the places we saw.
The cruise started out along Amelia Island and our amazing captain David gave a real descriptive narrative of the area and has lived here so long and known many of the people on the island and knew so much of the history. Actually, it was a joy just listening to him talk for the entire 2 hours with people asking questions all along the way.
We learned about the shrimp industry and how it is a dying business back here, they can't compete with the foreign imports the same story you hear over and over in every field. On our way out we were able to see dolphins but unfortunately no manatees were in viewing today.
On our way out to cruise along the Cumberland Island shore we had a rare treat in store for us....a submarine coming towards us in the Atlantic Ocean that is stationed at the Naval Submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia. The Captain says it only happens once in a while and it was our lucky day. He said the last time they saw the sub, a patrol boat that goes out in front of them, maned with big guns, came right towards them and motioned them off. The patrol boat looked like they were coming towards us but didn't so it was an amazing photo op for all of us aboard. I just couldn't believe how it looked in the water as we passed each other......Rog, you will love the pictures.
As we continue on our way up to Cumberland Island our next big treat was a beautiful bald eagle the Captain spotted in a dead tree along the shore. Cameras were clicking again and then the eagle flew out of that tree into another one close by with branches for more protection. My lucky shot was I captured the eagle in flight. Already I had my monies worth on this trip.
Finally, we reached the shores of Cumberland Island www.nps.gov/cuis and the first thing you see are wild horses grazing on the grass. There has always been a band of wild horses on the Island and the Captain told us about the birthing process he has witnessed. How they eat only the grasses on the Island and the National Park Service does NOT interfere in any way of protection for the horses. We learned that Cumberland Island was the home to the very rich many years ago, we saw Rockefeller and Carnegie houses. You should have seen Rockefeller's handyman's house....YIKES. The last handyman just retired after 36 years and they built a new house for the new man.
We learned this was the Island that John F Kennedy, Jr and Caroline Bissett were married on and got to hear the whole story from the captain of the wedding and reception. It was pure gold.....so many wonderful stories he told about the people of the Island....I plan to try and find a book of the history of Cumberland Island to learn more about it's history. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and we had a beautiful sunny but windy day on the boat.
We returned to the house late afternoon for a short nap as we were dead tired and were going out again this evening.....a rare night out for us. We are going to the Woodbine Opry which is held at the renovated "Old School" Woodbine Community Center. These are musicians from around the area that get together at 7 pm on Friday night for gospel and bluegrass music and Saturday for country western music. Will said he would buy dinner this evening so he picked Aunt Bea's Buffet with Southern fried chicken and gravy and off we went. It was Southern alright, okra, greens, cabbage and so many vegetables fried and otherwise.....plus fried fish and lots of other stuff. Well we had plenty to eat and then headed off for the music. We were only about 10 miles north of our RV park and of course arrived early and drove around the town of Woodbine before going inside.
Once inside it was the auditorium of their old high school and on the walls in the hallway were senior pictures of all the different classes. The concert is free but they sell raffle tickets for a 50/50 drawing and also a drawing for cakes, pies & other sweets that people make and donate for the drawing. The money is to help pay for keeping the lights on and restoration of the auditorium. We of course bought $5.00 worth of tickets.
I would say the average age of the musician this evening was 75 years old, most were men but there were 2 ladies. The music and singing were "ok" ...better than the last local concert we went to in North Carolina but it was a pretty long 7 to 10 pm concert. Actually, they played mostly country & gospel music and very little bluegrass. There was one exceptional singer, a local minister that had an unbelievable voice and did 3 gospel numbers. The rest were pretty ordinary. Finally, time for the drawing and I managed to win a bake good.....3 blueberry & 3 chocolate chip muffins. We didn't win the 50/50 drawing. Heading home it was as dark as dark could be...no street lights and no idea where we were and the girlfriend, GPS was a little confused (she gets that way in the dark) but finally got us close to something I recognized (I was driving) and then I was able to find my way home. A long but very fun day.
Saturday, 10/22/11 - A beautiful, warm sunny day and we spent today with Will checking the car & RV as Sunday is moving day and me washing clothes, talking on the phone and mostly doing nothing, a great day! Much love to all our family and friends.