The coast of Georgia is littered with more barrier islands, and after having such a wonderful experience on Hunting Island I was excited to see more.
Outside Savannah I spent a day exploring Skidaway Island State Park, which is on the intracoastal waterway and has trails going through marsh, salt flats, subtropical forest, and all kinds of cool historical sights. I took a walk early one sunny morning and saw numerous marsh birds fishing along the water and hunting for insects in the wetlands- a little buggy but beautiful. Almost like magic the open marsh grasses gave way to a dense forest which once served as a hiding spot for bootleggers and you can see the remains of old stills rusting and overgrown now. The path later took me past Native American shell piles, Civil War earthen barriers, and an observation tower. Wish I had known there was camping here since it was very quiet and great weather, but alas I had places to be, namely Tybee Island a few miles down the road.
Tybee Island is a barrier island not far from Savannah which looks like a prime summer destination. It reminded me of the Outer Banks and beaches near Chincoteague, open with dunes and lots of rental housing but not a huge touristy boardwalk area (at least that I made it to). In early January it was pretty deserted which was wonderful. Easy parking near the middle beach, almost no one else in sight, and water too cold to swim but nice to dip my feet in as I walked the beach and later set up a chair for a picnic lunch and some reading time in the breeze. What a lovely and relaxing time.
On my way off the island and to the highway, I stopped in to Fort Pulaski national monument, because why not. Like every fort I’ve visited, it had cannons, exhibits on the old soldier’s lodgings and lifestyles, and the history of the fort. This particular fort was notable in that during the Civil War the Union tested out new rifled missiles (or something cannon related… guns aren’t my deal) which totally penetrated the walls and made the site obsolete. So thats’s something? There are lighthouses here, too, but one path was under construction so I couldn’t go.
Further south I imposed upon some very kind acquaintances, the parents of a former family from my old school. One of my favorite kiddos from a few years back had moved out of the area but his mother and I keep in touch, and I visited them at his grandparents’ home in Saratoga Springs a few summers back. Very kindly they offered to put us up that night, and little did they know I’d be back at their daughter’s invitation at their summer place in Georgia! Jacqueline and Dave were nice enough to welcome me on their first days of vacation into their home on Jekyll Island, which is right on the water where I had the ocean waves lulling me to sleep and had beautiful sunrises each morning from the balcony.
Once a summer escape for the wealthiest (think Vanderbilt, Morgan, Rockefeller, etc.) when owned by an exclusive club, the island retains that opulent history now that it’s owned by the state. The whole island is best accessed by bike or electric vehicles thanks to a series of great paths, which was unfortunately not my first option since I can’t ride a bike. I know, it’s ridiculous. The old club area has the summer cottages to tour, and still operates as a resort with a gorgeous clubhouse and wharf. I enjoyed a sunset from the pier before having a drink in the clubhouse surrounded by pictures of millionaires past making the first transcontinental phone call, making deals, and letting loose away from the public eye. Sadly no rich husband awaited me there that night, though. Alas.
On the northern end of Jekyll lies driftwood beach, similar to the decimated beaches of Hunting Island covered in ghostly reminders of past storms, which I walked in the mist. Rounding the northern corner of the island on the beach I caught glimpse of the overturned ship that’s been in the channel for months, and arrived at the fishing pier, home of the parking lot which gave me my long awaited license plate game victory. From there I got to see the marshy area on the interior of the island on the remainder of the loop.
On the southern end of the island I spent another morning walking the beach and reading, and came across a number of neat sea life sightings, some I recognized and some I didn’t. If anyone knows what that brain-looking thing is, let me know!
Before I left I stopped by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. Here I chatted with a guide who was very excited to have an adult embrace the games meant for children (in my life as a sea turtle I lucked out in my random stamp choices and lived to be a full grown adult- score!). I got to watch as the staff operated on an owl who had been injured by a car, and see the turtles recovering from shell injuries from boats and cars, some recovering from frigid temperatures, and even some super cute hatchlings from last summer’s nesting. I admit it- so many squeaky happy noises came out of my mouth uncontrollably. What a great place with a great mission!
Random other Georgia fun, a fun find at the GA visitor’s center, and a pit stop by the smallest church in America- seating for 12! Spent a night at St. Simons island en route to Jekyll and had a great veggie burger and slept near a marina, and when I was at a McDonald’s using the free internet for a while the next morning I guess I was unknowingly occupying one of several tables a group of regulars uses, and when they decided I’d been in their space for too long they all came over and sat around me explaining this is where they sit on Saturdays…. and one talkative gentleman stated chatting and trying to give me tips of where to go and telling me about his daughter’s ugly shoes being great birth control. So there’s that? He also mistakenly drank my coffee so I left that behind and packed up real quick. Good incentive to hit the road! I thought back to visiting my aunt and uncle in Salem, VA who are regulars at a Wendy’s and imagined taking their table by accident and immediately understood these locals’ frustration. Now on to Florida!