Cumberland Island: Part 2

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Our second day on Cumberland Island was a hiking day.  We arrived, by ferry, on the island a few minutes before 10:00am and set out for our day hike of the south end of the island.  From Sea Camp Dock (where we got off the ferry) to our first stop was about a mile. 

(Photo Credit: My Mister)

Our first stop was the ruins of Dungeness.  This place is a dream!  Beautiful ruins surrounded by a massive green space and of course wild horses!





 These 2 got into it a couple of times while we were there.  Please note that we were not as close to this scuffle as it may seem...we zoomed our cameras for the photo but the sounds these 2 were making was enough that I stood completely still until it was all over.

On this site there were two previous Dungeness, one built by James Oglethorpe (1700s) and one built by Nathanael Greene, but the one (well the ruins) that you see today was built by the Carnegie family in the 1880s.  Interesting fact:  Robert E. Lee's father, Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee died (1818) at Dungeness and was buried in the small cemetery on the property.  The Carnegie's Dungeness had 50+ rooms and required 100 servants.  The Carnegie family lived in Dungeness until the late 1920s at which time they moved into other mansion they had built on the island, one being Plum Orchard
 Remember this starter home?

The other two mansion built on Cumberland Island for the Carnegie family were/are Greyfield and Strafford Mansion.  Greyfield (aka Greyfield Inn) is currently an Inn and we were informed that rooms run about $600 per night...ummm no thank you, I'll take the ferry back to my hotel with a room above the karaoke bar anyday!  Strafford Mansion was built on the land of Strafford Planation.  Strafford Plantation grew Sea Island Cotton .  However, the plantation house was destroyed and all that remains are the brick chimneys.  The Carnegie's purchased the property and built Strafford Mansion.  Greyfield Inn and Strafford Mansion are located on private property.

Dungeness ruins has a current tenant, a family of Osprey.  They currently have a huge nest in one of the chimneys and we watched them for almost an hour.  We got to see the male Osprey bring a snake to the nest for lunch for the family, which was pretty cool!  These birds are fascinating to watch!

The tabby house is the oldest structure on the property dating back to Nathanael Greene's time on the island (mid-to-late 1700s). 
 Pergola. (Photo Credit: My Mister)
 

Recreation House Ruins


Cemetery (Photos Credit: My Mister)

Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee was buried in this cemetery with full military honors by Louisa Greene, Nathanael Greene's daughter.  Robert E. Lee visited the island twice after his father's death, once to lay flowers and once to repair his father's headstone.  In 1913, Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee was removed from this burial site and reinterred at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia with his family.  However, the family decided to leave the headstone as a remembrance of him.
Palmetto Tree growing in a Live Oak tree...cool, right?!?!
Wildlife along the way.

Before heading to the beach, we stopped by the Ice House Museum.  On our way to the museum (which had restrooms and a treated water source), we encounter a couple of dung beetles.  I had never seen dung beetles and was just fascinated to watch them in action.  So for those of you like me that didn't know about dung beetles, they take dung, roll it into a ball, then begin their journey with the rolled dung back to where they live.  They may decide to use the dung for a couple of different things but one use would be as a food source.  It was incredible to watch these tiny beetles in action!

It's time to go to the beach!
 While we were there,  Cumberland Island had 22 active nesting areas.  It was so exciting to check the chart each day to see if it had increased.  Our first day there the active nesting areas were 16.  It gave me kid giggles to know that while we were sleeping more turtles made that trek onto the beach, found their nesting spot and laid their eggs.

 I am not a beach person (mountain girl here) but this beach I loved!  Since there is a limit on how many people can be on Cumberland Island at one time (300) the beach had very few people to the point where most of the time it felt like we were the only ones there, well other than the cutest birds (you'll see them below).  We walked in the water (ankle high is as far as I'll go), flew our alien kite, and bird watched.  There were no large ships coming through, no high rise buildings within view, no planes with banners flying over, no people laying out, no plastic/trash left on the beach...it was awesome!

 Jellyfish.
I fell in love with these cute birds!
Our Alien kite (also photo credit: my mister)

After hanging out on the beach for a while, it was getting close for us to be back to catch the last ferry of the day.  Our day of exploring the island on foot was amazing!  We hiked about 5 miles and had one of the best days together exploring, leaving the island that afternoon was definitely a little sad for us.

Happy Travels,
Amber

Cumberland Island: Part 1

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

This trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia was a dream!  Cumberland Island has been on my 'to-see' list for a few years and I finally made it this past holiday weekend!  I first learned about Cumberland Island after reading Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island  (have you read it?)  Cumberland Island is a 17.5 mile island located off of St. Marys, Georgia and is only accessible by boat.  The island is  pack in/pack out, limited treated (drinkable) water sources and limited bathrooms (the indoor flushing kind).

Hiking is a new found love of mine!  Growing up I was definitely an indoors, give me all the air conditioning kind of girl (who could blame me when a spring day in South Carolina is 90-95 degrees with a heat index of almost 100 & the humidity is 100%...I think that's close to melting temperatures!) but as I've gotten older there is just something about being outdoors experiencing what the good Lord created.  My mister enjoys hiking which is where I got my first taste of the whole hiking experience.  And between reading books about female hikers (Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail) and watching hiking youtube videos/reading blog post (Homemade Wanderlust), I knew that hiking was my way to get out there and explore and discover new plant life, awesome views and different types of wildlife (I'm still saying no to snakes, I just can't, even in the Bible the snake is bad so I'm sticking with that).

After stopping for lunch in Savannah at Green Truck Pub, we continued our journey to St Marys.  St. Marys is a cute little historic town right on the water.  We stayed in the Riverview Hotel and while I was a little hesitate about staying there after reading the TripAdvisor reviews, I am so glad that we did.  It is definitely a quirky place which fit us just fine.  Our room was right above the bar which had karaoke going on every single night.  While this may be disruptive for some, we had a ball dancing around the old hardwood floors in our room to the music and just singing along...it was a blast!

Since our hotel was located in the historic district and within walking distance to almost everything we set out to explore this cute town.  We grabbed some dinner, walked along the water, chatted with a few locals, toured the Cumberland Island Museum, visited an antinque store called The Merry Mermaid (so adorable!), and explored a local bookstore.
 First Bank Catholic Church (1840s)
 Riverview Hotel is the building at the end.

 Orange Hall (1830s)




Ferry check-in started at 8am at the Cumberland Island National Seashore visitor Center.  After checking in (and grabbing coffee for my mister, it's a must for him!), we walked down to the ferry to wait for boarding to begin.  The ferry ride to Cumberland Island is about 45 minutes.  Once we arrived on the island we met with our tour guide for the day, Judy with the Land and Legacies Tour, and off we went for a 5-6 hour tour of the north end of the island.  Seeing as the island is 17.5 miles long and we weren't camping, we figured the van tour would be great since we could cover the entire north end then hike the south end on our second day (& yes the van has air conditioning!).  There is only one main dirt/sand/shell road running through the island.  Our first stop was at the Cumberland Wharf.



Then on to the First African Baptist Church.  The Church was built in 1893 by African Americans and used as their free place of worship.  You may recognize this small chapel as it was the place where John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married in 1996. 

 Carol Ruckdeschel's residence is located on the same property as the settlement and to say that I was excited was an understatement.  While we didn't see Carol it was still awesome to have read about where she lives and to get to see it!  If you are interested in the work she is doing on Cumberland Island, check out her website:  http://wildcumberland.org/

Our lunch stop was at Plum Orchard Mansion.  This mansion was owned by the Carnagie family and was a starter home (yep, a starter home!) for George and Maragaret Carnagie.  The mansion was built in 1898 and is 22,000 square feet.  It has an indoor pool and a squash court.  We were able to tour the main floor, second floor, and basement.  In one of the great rooms was the old Carnagie grand piano and guess who got to play it...ME!!!!  I was thrilled!  The park service has a variety of sheet music located on the piano so I grabbed a piece and set off on playing while the other visitors toured around the room...it was great!


 I fell in complete love with these plants!
 Carnegie family crest linen wallpaper.
 Original Tiffany lamps through the first level of the house.


 Beautiful wallpaper.
 Getting to play this piano was incredible!
 I would wear this everyday!
Indoor Pool.

We were back in time to catch the ferry back to St. Marys after enjoying a wonderful day on Cumberland Island.  Stay tuned for part 2 of Cumberland Island where we hike the south end of the island and encounter several wild horses.

Happy Travels,
Amber