Cumberland Island National Wildlife Refuge

Trip Start Nov 22, 2007
Trip End Dec 01, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday we got up early to catch the ferry to Cumberland Island. There are no facilities on the island other than the restrooms and water fountains at the ferry docks. It is a national park, and some park service personnel live there but otherwise it is not permanently inhabited by humans. Instead it has a plethora of wildlife-many species of birds, armadillos, turtles, wild horses, sea creatures and such. People can day trip or tent camp. You can rent bicycles, but otherwise you have to use your feet for transportation. Once you are on the island, there is only 1 ferry back at 4:45 pm, so you are there for the day. Got to bring your own supplies of go without.

When you get off the ferry you can spend an hour and a half getting a tour of the sights of the island. The island was the site of some old family estate or other and there are some buildings, and some ruins, as well as the "carcasses" of old model T's that were left behind from that era. A couple of roads crisscross the island. One takes you to the undeveloped northern section where there are miles of hiking trails and camping. The other bisects the island and leads to the beach, which is opposite the ferry docks. The weather finally was finally in our favor. We had temps in the 80s-unseasonable even for GA in the winter. A great beach day!! We didn't take the tour but set off on the road to the beach-about a 2 mile trek laden with our beach chair, umbrella and backpack with the day's supplies-sunscreen, bug spray, food, water hats beach towels etc;. They say you can find sharks teeth along the roads. We were unsuccessful on that score, but did see a variety of woodpeckers, squirrels, and some of the wild horses.

The trek was well worth the effort. The beach was breathtaking and there was no one but us! We set up our spot and walked for miles along the coast looking for treasures. We found some cool shells and a really big sand dollar. Angel wing shells larger than I had ever seen. And many, many horseshoe crabs (most had permanently beached) of all sizes. Nasty looking jelly fish too.

We had the beach virtually to ourselves for the most part of the day. Others who had been on the ferry with us started to wander over to the beach side later in the day. One of the groups was a family we had noticed on the ferry. We called them the "Nike Family" because they looked like an advertisement-everyone one had one or more articles of clothing emblazoned with the Nike logo. Now, the beach stretches for something like 18 miles, and we had set up our spot first thing when we got there. You would think that someone coming along might decide that they would park themselves somewhere else, but not the Nike family. The four adults and 6 children decided that 20 feet away from our spot was the place to be. So much for our nice quiet beach! The fathers decided that this was the time to teach the young boys how to play football. Well, I don't have kids, but I have heard tell of that father-son sport thing. I witnessed first hand the pressures that young boys are under when their fathers decide that they should be naturally good at a sport that they have never played!

We were just dozing off in the sun when the end zone moved to within 10 feet of our spot and the one father-who clearly knew EVERYTHING about football-kept screaming out plays and making sure his son heard the step-by-step instructions on what to do. Now you always hope that people have common sense so you don't have to remind them to be respectful of your space. It is always an awkward moment when you feel the need to tell a stranger to please take themselves elsewhere, they are creating a disturbance. You never know how people are going to react. But this was too much! We did finally asked them to take their game further down the beach (thanks Bob!), and they obliged, finally realizing that there was a whole wide open space stretching for about 10 miles to their right.

One thing about Cumberland Island-no-see-ums abound, you know, those tiny little gnats that you can't see, but they like to bite you! And they are completely resistant to any kind of bug spray. Back at the dock waiting for the ferry seemed interminable with the bugs! We were one of the first to the ferry dock and got to watch as the other passengers approached the dock and were attacked by the no-see-ems. It was comical to see when they had crossed into no-see-em territory because they would start swatting at themselves and each other trying to get relief. Everyone was relieved when the ferry finally pulled away.

The seagulls followed the ferry on our return, obviously mistaking us for a fishing vessel. The sun was setting over the water as we made our way back to the mainland.
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