Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cumberland Island, a Crown Jewel of Georgia

Adventure Journal - Entry Date: 1/1/11 (January 1, 2011)

Cumberland Island is one of Georgia's crown jewels. Its considered one of the nation's most pristine and well preserved barrier islands. The Tribe has seen TV shows, books, and calendars featuring the live oaks, Spanish moss, and wild horses of Cumberland Island. How could we resist?

So, as a Christmas present, we (Mommy and Daddy) gave the kids a Southbound adventure. Cumberland Island was but one stop on this week-long adventure, but it certainly was one of the best destinations of the trip.

After celebrating New Year's Eve and getting a good night's sleep at Crooked River State Park in St. Marys, we headed for he dock to catch the Cumberland Princess ferry. The 9am ferry allows for a relatively full day on the island, and that was our intent. Although we had studied Cumberland Island-related websites, we weren't exactly sure what to expect. We knew to bring our own food, so each of the kids wore their backpack containing lunch, snacks, and water. That turned out to be a very good idea.

When we arrived on the island, we first visited the Ice House museum (attached to the restrooms). This small but well insulated building reveals some unique history of the island, The ranger gave a very informative lecture on the history of the island going back over 250 years. She was very knowledgeable, and I wish we could enjoy a long evening by the campfire learning from her.

From there, it was a short walk to the ruins of Dungeness, a Winter home (mansion) built by the Carnegie family that burned in 1959, Incredibly, what seemed to interest the Tribe the most were the armadillos, Armadillos are not native to the Southeast. Most we have seen in recent years have been dead on the side of he road. They have invaded Cumberland, and they're quite used to humans. At the Dungeness ruins, we had a very close and exciting encounter with an armadillo that thought we were one of his own kind.

From Dungeness, we walked to the beach. The beach is deep (wide) and completely untouched by commercial development. The pictures tell the story. We found lots of very nice shells, but no sharks teeth. About half a mile up the beach, we discovered a large injured bird on the beach, and that made us eager to hasten our hike to the camping dock's ranger station to report the injured bird. When possible, they will try to rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife.

When we finally reached the National Parks campground, we weren't prepared for the beauty. Live oak and palmetto create an Eden-like tropical environment the likes of which we have never witnessed. This may very well be the most beautiful campground we have ever seen, Its enough to tempt the Tribe to try roughing it a night or two in a tent. This time of year, it would be bearable.

After a short visit with some fellow travelers at the campground dock, we hiked the river trail back to the dock where we originally landed. In all, we probably walked around 2.5 miles, and the kids never complained about their backpacks. While waiting for the ferry to return us to the mainland, we watched wild horses and armadillos rummage for food while we rummaged for sharks teeth along the rarely traveled road.

Cumberland Island is a paradise virtually unspoiled by man. If you want to visit for the day, its a day you will never forget. If you want to stay overnight, it can be very inexpensive, or require a second mortgage depending on you standards. Would I return? No doubt. Something this unspoiled so close to home is a treasure for sure.


For lots more pictures and better descriptions of the amenities, please visit Cumberland Island's dedicated page on the PB&J Adventures website!

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