Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm on island time and loving it

You know, I really enjoyed my visit to Cumberland Island with Mike and Linda, but there was so much more there to see that I just had to find a way back.  Of course there's the ferry which is nice and very busy this time of year.  But if you know me, you know I had to try something different.  So I looked around and found what I consider a fun way to get back to see another part of Cumberland Island. 

So on Monday morning I met up with Crooked River State Park ranger Jessica
and we all loaded up into our kayaks to head out.  And I was anxious to get on the water.  Not only has it been too long since I had a good, long paddle.  The sand gnats were eating me up! 

It was a nice, small group.  Besides me the only other paying customers were a very nice lady named Jane who is a media specialist at a middle school in Florida and her two teenage sons.  Jane paddled a tandem kayak with Brooks while Jeremy with the long arms whose one stroke equaled two of mine had a sit on top kayak like mine (although mine was a prettier, brighter color!). 

Bringing up the rear was Trish who is a local retiree from the nearby sub base and avid kayaker who volunteered to help out.  It was great to have Trish along as we paddled past the base since she could explain some things about what we could see although we couldn't see much (no subs going in or out today) and, as she assured us, if we tried to get a closer look even in a little ol' kayak, we would be escorted out of the territory by chaser boats.  We didn't test her theory on that one!

Trish explains about Kings Bay Sub Base to Jane and Brooks.

It took us about 2 hours to paddle the 6 miles to Cumberland Island starting in the Crooked River, going out through the salt marshes, crossing the Intercoastal Waterway, and finally paddling over a small section of Cumberland Sound.  There weren't too many boats on the water that day so the paddling was nice and easy and the company was good so the time slipped by quickly. 

Soon we were in view of the docks at Plum Orchard where I had to learn a new technique: dismounting from kayak to dock.  I won't pretend I was graceful, but I did get onto the dock without getting wet or flipping the boat so I call that a success.

It was good to be on dry land again and we were all agreed we were hungry.  Just ahead of us stood Plum Orchard, the summer cottage of one of the Carnegies, that offered deep, shady porches with wide porch swings.  We all hauled our gear up to the porch and sat down to eat our picnic lunches.

Before we had even finished eating the docent (who gets to live here 3 months of the year!) came to start us on our tour.  I was thinking of how much Darlene would have loved the bedrooms and bathrooms.  Take a look at the bathtub and notice how many taps there are.  One set of taps is placed high enough so that the maids could wash your hair more easily.  The tubs sort of remind me of the old tubs in the old hotels in Hot Springs, Arkansas, don't you think so too, Darlene?

After the tour we finished up our lunches and headed for the beach on the east side of the island.  Of course that meant hiking 2 miles through the pine and live oak forest.  The birds were plentiful and I was able to add both the red-eyed and white-eyed vireo to my list.  Jessica was great at recognizing bird calls.  And her mnemoics were a hoot.  The white-eyed vireo does indeed sound like he's saying, "get the beer quick, chick!"  The path through the woods was a bit long and I was beginning to get tired, but then we hit the dunes and I knew the ocean was just over the hill.  It was totally deserted giving the 6 of us our own private beach.  We all stripped down to swimsuits and headed to the water.  It was a little cool but with the temps in the high 80s it felt just right.  Jessica and I walked the shore looking for sand dollars and talking biology stuff.  Jane and Trish stayed in the surf till it was time to go then Jane had to go round up the boys who had roamed far down the beach.  Time for another quick snack.

The walk back was easier and somehow quicker.  The boat from the park had already come back to pick up our kayaks and had now returned to pick up 6 weary passengers.  The 6 miles back took only a few minutes by motor boat.  I was actually a little sad to see the day end.  But it was definitely a trip I will never forget.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really wonderful trip. You sure are making memories.