Jekyll Island

Jekyll is one of the barrier islands along the Georgia coast. It has a long and fascinating history. In colonial times it was owned by a man who built Georgia’s first brewery. Then in the late 1800’s it became one of the most exclusive resorts in the country. A group of families bought the island and built a “clubhouse,” which is now a grand hotel.

Only 100 people were accepted into this club and only the wealthy could afford it. Some of the names of members were Vanderbilt, Morgan, Rockefeller, Field ( as in Marshall Field’s), Goodyear, and Pulitzer. World War II brought an end to the club as the island was ordered to be evacuated for security reasons. The state of Georgia then bought it and turned it into a State Park.

They have preserved many of the buildings and houses that the Jekyll Club members built. I did the walking tour around the historic district.

     

           

The Federal Reserve was created on the island in a clandestine meeting of financiers in 1910. They secretively took a train to the island and spent a week hashing out the details of new currency regulations for the country. None of the employees were allowed to know who these men were, so they used aliases.

The island has several beaches, some of which have interesting landscapes.

       

The movie Glory was filmed in part on one of the beaches, now known as Glory Beach.

Along with the history discoveries, a highlight of my stay was a boat tour. The purpose of the tour was to see dolphins. Bluenose Atlantic dolphins live in the waters surrounding the island. They sure were fast whenever they came up for air, but I did manage to get a few pix.

     

The tour was a lot of fun. The captain played music throughout the trip with some special songs. The trip started out with the theme song from Gilligan’s Island. Although thankfully OUR tour was only one and a half hours. Then at the first sighting of a dolphin, he played the theme song from Flipper. Running commentary included a lot of island history and points of interest.

I stayed at the campground so I could explore the area. This place has something I had never before seen. There are a lot of snowbirds here, and each one has a sign post with a sign that has the state where they are from. Cute idea!

The island is on the Intercoastal Waterway which is part of the journey known among boaters as The Great Loop. It runs up the eastern seaboard to the St Lawrence Seaway, across the Great Lakes, and then down the Mississippi River and back to Florida. People travel it on a regular basis and are called Loopers.

The island has many other attractions, such as a water park, a 4-H camp, golf courses, and a 20 mile bike/walking pathway that goes around the perimeter. There are lots of shops and restaurants. I ate a lunch at The Wharf and had a crab cake BLT that was delish! Although the entire island is designated a state park, there is a thriving town with year round homes  in the middle of it.

This is my new favorite State Park. (so far LOL)

 

 

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Edisto Beach, South Carolina

I spent a relaxing couple of days in Edisto Beach, SC. It’s a lovely little beach village. I had always known about them, from reading or watching shows, but I had never been in one until now. It looks like a fun place to vacation. I dird a little research and discovered most of the house are duplexes and are rentals. Each one has a name, some are cute: Eye Sea,  3 Gulls and a Buoy, Just Beachy, Seas the Day. And some were more traditional: Carolina Paradise, Beach Dream, Family Tradition, Southern Comfort

I stayed in the State Park that borders the town. It’s got two sections, one on the beach

and one back in the woods. I stayed in the woods cause it’s cheaper. I like the sites that have electric and water hookups. I can charge my laptop and DVD player, saving my inverter some power. I could have spent even less if I chose one of the walk in tent sites, but…I’m to old to carry all my gear more than 20 feet. LOL.

The trails are wonderful, solid ground pathways that are accessible to wheels (bikes and wheelchairs). They’re full of shells cause they use sand from the beaches which are full of them. Made it interesting to watch the ground as well as view the plant life.

       

There was a nature site that is a hill of shells, mostly oyster, that was once nearly twenty feet high. Supposedly it was used as a trash heap for hundreds of years. It has since been reduced to about six feet.

The education center focuses on sea turtles as they are prevalent in this area. In the mating season, people living on the beach are encouraged to turn off their lights after 10 pm cause that is when the females lay their eggs in the sand.

This park is on the ACE Basin, which is a bay with three rivers emptying into it. The Edisto River winds through the area.

      

You can see where it has changed course and left a huge marsh.

The campground was great. My site was right across the road from the bathhouse. Showers and flush toilets – hurrah! Even though boondocking is preferable (cause it’s free!) when I want a shower, a campground is a good choice.

 

Mackinac Island

 Warning: A boatload of graphics in this post…pun intended.

Mackinac Island is a resort in the Straits of Mackinac, which is between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It’s right beside (so to speak) the Mackinac Bridge.

The ferry I took went under the bridge before heading out to the island. This guy was going under it at the same time.

The village looks like a nice, quiet place,

      

but during the summer tourists invade by the thousands. I think I saw at least 3 different school groups.

The island has a ton of history. Father Marquette started a Mission for Native Americans. Then the fort was built during the revolutionary war, so there were soldiers living there along with many fur traders. The fur trade became so lucrative that John Jacob Astor built a business on the island. There was a battle during the French and Indiana War, and during the Civil War the fort served as a prison.  Then after the soldiers left for good in the 1890’s, it became a favorite resort. Many summer homes were built, some of which are bed and breakfasts now.

Today it has at least 20 hotels, 30 restaurants and bars, many, many t-shirt and souvenir shops, and several other attractions.

The fort itself is up on the ridge above the town. It is one giant museum. Here are impressions.

          

Every place on the island is beautiful. Even the miniature golf course!

There is a road around the island but no cars are allowed on the island. It’s a nine mile walk to go around it and the most popular mode of transportation is bicycles or horse drawn carriages.

      

I mentioned that the fort is above the town. The island is a huge hill rising out of the water with cliffs all around it. After eating lunch at the Tea Room over looking the harbor,

I walked across the island through the woods from the fort

to get to this, Arch Rock.

Then to get to the road you need to go down….

I didn’t walk all the way around, just enough to get a taste of the scenery.

        

One thing the island is famous for is fudge. However, since I’m on a budget I didn’t think spending $12.00 per pound for candy was a good idea. So I had a cone with ice cream with fudge in it on my way back to the ferry.

If you want a unique place to go on vacation, I suggest Mackinac Island. It is spectacular.

 

 

Great Lakes Memories

Today I made it over to Lake Michigan. I used to go there when I was young. We would swim at Warren Dunes and climb the sand hills. Occasionally ride a dune buggy.

Visited Little Sable Point at Silver Lake State Park. Went out to the light house.

It was great to feel the sand under my feet again.

Then I drove through the town of Silver Lake. There was an event going on called the “Jeep Invasion.” I bet I saw a thousand jeeps and four wheel drive vehicles. No kidding! I felt inadequate. LOL.

My roaming then  took me through the Manistee National Forest and on into Cadillac where I stayed at a Walmart. I bless Sam Walton for being an RV’er and giving his blessing to anyone who wants to park overnight in a Walmart parking lot. Most of the stores let you , but some don’t, so asking first is a good idea.

Wisconsin – Governor Dodge State Park

On my trip to the House on the Rock, I stayed at the Governor Dodge State Park. It’s an interesting mix of prairie land and woodlands. I did a couple of hikes.

Stephens Falls is a beautiful spot. It’s down in a gorge right in the middle of the upland prairie. It was named after the family that farmed this land before they donated it to the state.

Here’s a spring house that they used for refrigeration

The falls

     

This is the path down into the gorge. Stone steps, thank Goodness there’s a railing.

Then I went on a walk to find the Lost Canyon. It too is a lovely scenic spot.

                         

This State Park is nearby several places of interest. (I don’t like the term tourist attraction) The House on the Rock, Taliesin which is Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, a folklore retreat, and it’s close to Wisconsin Dells.

Southern Wisconsin is delightful. Rolling hills with farm fields stretching to the sky is the scenery.

Earth Day and Raptors

Earth Day was cold and rainy. So I mostly stayed in the car watching movies. I did journey out a little in the evening when the sun finally decided to come out. Walked another trail. This was an interpretive trail on land management and how the DNR has maintained a refuge for the wildlife in this area.

Sunday I got up early and went down to the lake for a meditative hour.

At noon there was a program at the Nature Center on raptors – birds of prey. Dana, the ranger who did the lecture, was excellent. She really knows her birds. She brought out the Red Tailed Hawk you see at the top of this post. And then a little screech owl.

All the birds they keep at the center have been injured and cannot survive in the wild. Patoka Lake is a habitat for birds and the Nature Center is a great educational resource.

All in all, my time at Patoka Lake was wonderful. I will come here again

Mark Twain Day

Sunday, April 2 – I spent the night at Mark Twain Lake State Park. It’s just west of Hannibal, Mo where Samuel Clemens grew up. The park includes the village of Florida, Mo, where he was born.

Since the season just started, there  was only one other campsite occupied. The people there came over and invited me to supper. They had cooked a big pot of chili and said they thought I might be lonely and wanted to share. Kim, her husband Topper, and Kim’s mom Edna were thrilled that I accepted. We had a lively dinner conversation and enjoyed their 2 dogs’ antics. Kim had just retired before I did, and since Topper is still working, they do short weekend trips. We compared notes on places to go and the joys of retirement.

Monday morning I went to the State Park museum. Mary Ann, the ranger who runs it,  let me in early cause I got there a half hour before it opened. She told me come on in since I was already there. It’s an amazing place. They have the original house where he was born. He lived there for 4 years before the family moved to Hannibal. It has interactive displays about his life and works, and a very good movie. It also has furniture from his homes.

I spent another hour wandering the park. The land had been designated a State Park in the 1920’s with the help of Clemmons daughter. It’s along the Salt River, with the lake being formed by a dam built in the 1950’s.

             

After that, I got back on the highway and headed into Hannibal. There is a Mark Twain Museum there also, along with the house he grew up in, The cave from Tom Sawyer is nearby. but it rained all afternoon so I stuck to the indoor stuff. This museum was as good as the first one. Many more displays about  his books, lots of stories recounting his youth,  travels, and family, more historical information about the times he lived in, and a special exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings from his illustrations of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Then, right across the street was the Hannibal Museum. Did you know that Clemmons is not the only famous person to have lived there? Cliff Edwards was a performer known as “Ukelele Ike” and was the voice of Jimminy Cricket in Disney’s “Pinnochio.” And Maggie Brown, who you may know as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” (She was never called Molly, that was made up for the musical) was born and grew up in Hannibal.

It was a most satisfying day.