Kittie Howard


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jekyll Island, Georgia

When my husband was in the Marine Corps, we had three tours at Camp LeJeune, the Corps' sprawling base near Jacksonville in southeastern North Carolina. Since he deployed often, I'd sometimes visit my family in Louisiana. The usual route was south to Atlanta, west to Montgomery, south to Mobile, and west to New Orleans. During one return trip to Camp LeJeune, I opted for a bit of variety and didn't cut north at Mobile.

Since the day was still young when I reached Pensacola, I decided to push onward, to Jacksonville, Florida. I quickly realized I'd traded the long haul between Mobile and Montgomery for an even longer haul -- the 460 miles to Jacksonville, Florida. Instead of doubling back, the sensible solution, I decided to push on as I never been east of Tallahassee, the state capital.

Umm, the answer turned out to be more pine trees, not exactly exciting, and since I didn't want to get caught up in Jacksonville's morning traffic, I cut north, to Brunswick, Georgia. It wasn't long before I saw a sign for a Holiday Inn, a good thing as the bright summer sky had turned into a purple-laced sky.

The exit led to a narrow two-lane road that cut through tall marsh grasses, not exactly a welcome sight, but another Holiday Inn sign encouraged me onward. Since my VW lacked air conditioning, I rolled down the passenger's window for more fresh air that humid summer night. More frogs serenaded me, a dubious touch beneath a pitch black sky and marsh grasses taller than my VW (well, okay, it was a Bug).

What seemed like a million miles later, I pulled into a one-pump gas station. The attendant assured me the Holiday Inn was "down the road a little bit." I translated that into about two miles, and, sure enough, a Holiday Inn appeared.

After the lady at the desk lectured me about not getting a room in Jacksonville, she handed me the key to what turned out to be a suite overlooking the marsh and waters beyond. Surprised at how the lady had upgraded my room, but too tired beyond a shower and crawling into bed, I wouldn't know about the view until morning, when I stretched to the sound of birds chirping.

I was on St. Simons Island. It was magnificent, gorgeous beyond words.

Fast forward to the return trip to Virginia my husband and I made from New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, and we're on Jekyll Island. Since developers had turned St. Simons Island into a hodgepodge of tourist traps through the years, we fled to Jekyll Island and what turned out to be one of our favorite stops during our trip home.

Jekyll Island is one of Georgia's four barrier islands. Its 5,700 acres include 4,000 acres of solid earth and approximately 1,000 acres of mostly tidal marshlands. Along the eastern shoreline are eight miles of wide, flat beaches. My header is a photograph I took on a bitterly cold, windy (50 MPH) day that will forever warm my memories of a pristine island.

Wealthy northern industrialists own Jekyll Island and used it as a secluded winter getaway until 1947, when the State of Georgia bought the island for use as a state park. Since 1971, state law has mandated 65% of the island's beaches, salt marshes and forests remain unspoiled. As a result, the island has 20 miles of hiking trails and some of the most majestic, moss-covered trees imaginable.

There's no McDonald's or shopping center on the small island. Nearby St. Simons Island provides whatever one needs. The 35% of the land that can be developed has been done so with strict regulation by its managers, the Georgia state legislature, that preserves/encourages the island's cash cow eco-tourism business. But more about this later.

Beyond the island's pristine vistas, Jekyll Island also a deep history that deserves further exploration in upcoming posts. In the meantime, some Polar Vortex brrrr! photos:

Water and marsh grasses -- from the car as we drove across the causeway to Jekyll Island from St. Simons Island.
Over-arching trees on Jekyll Island.

Spanish moss on trees.


One of the easier hiking trains.

I took this of pelicans on a restricted part of a beach with a zoom lens. One can't go everywhere as there are nesting areas.

37 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you cut across the top half of Florida, yeah, that's a long, boring trip. Least you found a cool place to stay in the end.
I don't think I've ever seen so many pelicans in one place!

Tracy Jo said...

Great story and I love when people do nice things...like upgrading your room. Love the other island and photos. So glad they are preserving this one. So many places to see!

D.G. Hudson said...

I love that shot with the pelicans! We saw them a lot in Daytona.

As for Jekyll Island that was where I watched the fireworks from during a trip to my relatives who lived in Brunswick, when I was a teen.
You brought back fond memories of summer days and nights, Kittie!

David Macaulay said...

wow I do love the islands down here - went to Tybee Island once but that was about it. Nice commentary

Out on the prairie said...

I would enjoy visiting this area

William Kendall said...

Jekyll Island looks tremendously appealing, Kittie! Terrific shots!

mshatch said...

Lovely pics - your new header reminds me of the beaches on Cape Cod :)

Deere Driver said...

Still a toll to get on the island?
It is a great spot especially when you realize all the dollars spent there a century ago to keep it private. Now a state park if I remember correctly.
Was there my daughters last high school spring break, and post surgery for me a few years back. A great place for beauty and nature.

Anni said...

Hi...I just stopped by to say hi after seeing your comment link at LouisianaBelle [Gail's] blog and was entranced with what you shared. We live in an area along the Gulf Coast where there are restrictions when birds are nesting. Sometimes...it's roped off. Which I appreciate the government watching out for our natural inhabitants.

Your trip sounds just heavenly. Oh, and I have a son and a brother who 'were' Marines...I know, I know...once a Marine, always a Marine. Oooorah.

Amy Jarecki said...

I love hearing about your travels! the moss hanging from the trees is beautiful!

Norma Beishir said...

These are beautiful photos, Kittie! Looks like a wonderful place!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

We've been to those places in south GA many times, and I love it down there. Great pictures!

Gail Dixon said...

Georgia resembles Louisiana in many ways. I'd feel right at home there, I'll bet. Gorgeous shots of the moss-laden trees and great ones of the pelicans.

Denise Covey said...

It's amazing what you can find when you get off the beaten track. That night at St Simons Island sounds wonderful. What a pity it's turned into a tourist trap, but that is seemingly inevitable when there is a beautiful spot. Glad Jekyll Island hasn't lived up to its name. It sounds like a great spot.

As always, Kittie, I enjoyed your travelogue. I've just arrived home from my latest trip to Europe and have finally lost the jetlag! Woo hoo!

Oh and have bought your latest tome. Looking forward to reading.

Denise

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kittie - I'd love to visit Jekyll Island - it sounds just gorgeous .. your header photo is wonderful.

Development is sad, but necessary I suppose .. thank goodness Jekyll Island has been protected.

I do love the idea of these travels ... one to add to my wish list ..

All the photos are evocative ... cheers Hilary

Jim said...

Hi Kittie. Good to 'see' you today.
This island is quite incredible and so good to hear that it is a 'protected' site. It will be there for many future generations!!
Great photos and I enjoyed reading about your 'neck of the woods'.

SA Larsenッ said...

Sounds like a few places we have here in Maine - no commercialism. It's nice, sometimes. Thanks for sharing your adventures and images!

Shallee said...

Wow, what a gorgeous place!

Jen Chandler said...

Oh my heart! This was gorgeous. Thank you for posting these photos of my favorite shoreline. Living in Savannah, Jekyll and St. Simon's were just a couple of hours drive. When we move back, I'll make more trips down there for the solitude and the pelicans and the fragrant, salty breezes!

Cheers,
Jen

LD Masterson said...

I'm going to add this to my list of places I'd like to visit. Thanks.

'Lara said...

Great story and the area is beautiful.



Crystal Collier said...

Beautiful. I've never been there, but being in FL, that's not too far away. You've got my wanderlust revving.

Ms Sparrow said...

It's wonderful that such places are kept pristine when everywhere wild places are being destroyed! (And good to know that McDonalds hasn't invaded every inhabited area of the country!)

Marguerite said...

What a lovely island! Would love to go there someday, but wish that I was in the Florida Keys today! It's 28 degrees and sleeting and snowing here!

Crack You Whip said...

Already packing my bags! Lovely!

Cape Cod Kitty said...

Hi Kittie,
I just love this post and seeing new areas. I've always wanted to visit the islands of the GA coast and now you've taken us right to the beauty of Jekyll. Looks like I need to start planning a trip. Loved your road trip adventure.
Think of you often.
Love from the other Kitty

joss said...

wow! the island is beautiful. I love the trees with the Spanish moss. The moss makes them look enchanting :) discovering beautiful places is always nice. My husband and I found a lovely spot on the moors near us, that was less known than most of the areas on the moor and yet incredibly beautiful. In the summer when every where else is packed with tourists we head there with our dogs and enjoy the peace and tranquillity. It's lovely.

Nicki Elson said...

I want to go there! I'm overdue for a visit to my sisters-in-law in Atlanta and Jacksonville - maybe they can meet me at Jekyll Island!

Lynda R Young said...

Those Spanish moss trees are amazing. We don't get anything like that here in Oz.

Julie Flanders said...

Oh, my parents went to St. Simon's Island on their honeymoon 60 years ago and I've always thought their pics of it were so pretty. I don't think I'll tell my mom that it has now turned into a tourist trap mess.
Jekyll's Island looks gorgeous! Love those moss trees.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

It's amazing how much your photos remind me of Bucerias. And that shot of the trees looks just like the highway to Punta de Mita. The tops of the trees touch over the winding road. I love your stories, Kittie. I'm there with you every step of the way.

Inger said...

Great that the state is preserving this lovely island. I have never seen Spanish moss on trees, it looks fabulous.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An interesting post that I enjoyed reading. Nice shots!

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Pk Hrezo said...

How lovely! I've always wondered about GA's beaches. Living in FLA, I don't usually venture to other east coast beaches. I've been to GA hundreds of times but never once to the coast. Looks so nice!
My fave places to vacay are the ones with no McDonalds or other chain stores. :)

Viola said...

Hi Kitty,

Jekyll Island looks exquisite, and I love the bird life. Unfortunately, I will probably never get there!

☆sapphire said...

WOW! Pelicans!! There are no wild pelicans in my country. We can see them only in zoos. With the Spanish moss, the island looks like one in a fairy tale. The preservation efforts there sound GREAT!!

Carol Kilgore said...

Ahh....
So relaxing. I need a good trip to the beach, but I have to wait a few more months. I'll be really ready by then.

Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos!