The Jones Dozen will arrive on June 6
and every thing is pretty much in place. Thanks to all who gave and are
giving and doing. I can't believe the response we have gotten
without a single mention in the newspaper, or TV just a blurb in this
story and Facebook. Request of prayers for a
dry week, at least rain showers only at night, and lots of turtles
laying eggs. So far this has been a slow turtle season.
Cold water, I believe, has slowed it all down. Only a
handful of nests, only seven until last night and I don't know the
count from that but none in the park.
April was my birthday and anniversary month so
lots was going on. Not because I was born in that month but because
it is Spring and there is always lots going on here. I wanted to
first of all post the photo of the Marsh bird painting I did for
someone who lives on the island. I plan on getting it delivered
this week. Should have already done it but it is a real handicap
not having a van. It requires borrowing one from a neighbor.
is is in its final form. Lots going on here in foliage, and a
nest that gave me a new respect for nest builders. These big
birds start out small but they quickly must have plenty of room to
expand. My birthday did cause one activity. A friend who
was visiting the island wanted to go to Cumberland Island. She
knew I was familiar with it since I used to go camping there and
finally found a cottage to rent which we did for a long time, so she
offered me a birthday gift of a trip to Cumberland Island to if I would
go with her.
love the place and always jump at the chance to get to return.
Along with two friends Linda and my fishing buddy Fran we boarded
the Cumberland Island ferry and off we went. It was the day
before April Fools Day so not really April yet but since the trip was
my birthday present it seemed like April. It was actually pretty
chilly as we headed out on the 9:00 trip. Our light jackets were
not really enough but still we did not want to have to carry a bunch of
The quiet little town of Saint Mary's disappeared as we motored down the St. Mary's River.
always wonder about who lives in these waterfront homes so far away
from anyone else. It seems like a very serene life.
Nearby a dock which had seen better days was an excellent perch for a bunch of Cormorants and gulls.
the way up the river we see the big Kings Bay Submarine Base and on a
shell midden in the foreground is a flock of the big White Pelicans, nature and the ultimate in modern technology side by side.
we disembarked the ferry and did the usual tour of the old Ice House, refilled our water bottles at the fountain behind it,
we left the others to strike out on our own tour of the South End of
the island. The area called the Duck Pond I had never really
explored. I decided we should start out there. In the mind you
can visualize all this as it was in its hey day all landscaped with
water lilies and ducks swimming in the pond. This old tree I am
sure was there to see it all. The fellow up the tree gives a
perspective to the size of the tree. There were surely more
artisan wells back then before so many people were tapping into the
underground water supplies and there was probably a fountain in the
we strolled across the nearby lawn on our way to the old garden area we
saw this very unusual tree. It looked like a hand holding a rod
and what it actually happened to be was a Live Oak wrapping around a
Palm Tree. Very unusual.
Pergola was very bare looking, probably attributed to the cold winter.
But I have a great shot of it on another day when a horse stepped
into the center of it with great light and I got it. One of those shots that
you get one chance to snap.
of the more familiar points of interest to me is the wonderful
fountain, which no longer has water in it, on the back of the oldest
remaining building on the site. It was part of the original
Dungeness built much earlier than the Carnegies time there.
decided to explore what was once vast gardens which fed the whole
household, servants, and family and tutors for the children. This
was the Greenhouse with tabby lower walls and wood construction on the
marsh just beside the gardens provided the fertilizer as the muck from
which is very rich from decaying plant life, was added
to the soil to enrich it. I would say that was truly organic
gardening. The calmness of the water perfectly reflected the
image of the trees above.
The area where Fran is walking was row after row of crops planted. Now it is grass for the horses.
imagine this place as it "was" becomes easier when you have toured the
museum at the dock area. In it you will find lovely photographs
taken when the splendid house was alive and well. Cindy the
granddaughter of Lucy told me she remembered long red drapes which she
used to play around inside the house.
found this flower, which we have identified as in the family of a
native cactus type plant, called a Mexican Poppy, although it is
believed to be native to our area also. I had never seen this
prickly flower before but if the pods had not been so prickly I would
have taken some seeds. It is also easy to see why it would be
call a poppy as the bloom is very poppy like.
is a tradition for any group I take to Cumberland Island to have their
photo snapped at the gates entering the home place called Dungeness.
it took at little bit of doing as I found a branch to set the
camera on and set the timer. it took a few preview dashes for
the camera to catch anything but my backside.
came to see the wildlife, the magnificent beach, and amazing trees. The wildlife which
presented itself first was the wild turkeys, especially this Tom who
led us on a merry chase as we quietly followed behind him. He
took us where only ticks do not fear to tread and we are very luck we
did not collect a leg full. We did do a tick check once we
wandered back on the trail. We still were in hopes of getting
more than a turkey butt shot.
along behind Mr. Tom we discovered several falling down buildings left
from the way back days, and explored their ruins wondering what the
purpose of the building and that building was. We know that Miss
Lucy had a very independent lifestyle, even generating her own power in
a day when not every home in American had electricity.
They entertained famous guests from the Northeast, educated their
children with tutors who lived on the premises, and maintain and cared for a staff to make that all comfortable.
It was a different time and a different lifestyle than any of us
will ever know.
carefully made our way back to the more touristy area and a trip to The
Grange which now belongs to the Park Service. Hopefully it will
be used and not allowed to fall in as so many of the buildings have.
This was private property until only a couple of year ago when it was.
according to the contract with the park service and the owners, turned over to the
National Parks System. The owners tried to negotiate with the Park
Service to allow them to use it on, but why would they do that when it
was now theirs free and clear. Those who signed that many year
extension were all dead and gone and they accomplished what they
intended and that was to have use of it for their lifetime, screw the descendants they had never even seen.
never see the resurrection moss without recalling another story related
to visitors to the island. Cindy died last year and I kept her
confidence on stories as long as she lived, but she said that John
visited the island, and loved it because he could for a change be
unrecognized as he walked the pathways of the island. It was this
love of the place that led him to chose to get married there.
He was amazed according to Cindy by
the Resurrection Fern and loved to go walking after a rain to watch it
spring back to life.
Ahhh, Tom we finally have you with an almost non butt shot as you prance around the big lawn.
objects of your flaunting of the tail feather (like the male showing off
his muscles) are on the lawn, females lounging on the lawn. A long walk but he finally found
the object of his attentions.
a stroll toward the beach and we faithfully follow you in that
direction to see what further adventures you have in store for us.
We are so intent on following you and seeing the horses ahead
that we totally miss the sign telling us of the more scenic pathway to
the Salt Marsh Boardwalk and trail which would have taken us on the
"High Road" over the scenic tall dunes to see the great view of the Raccoon
Keys on the South end of the island.
never the less we did get to see the White horse whose fame had
preceded with stories from the Amelia River Cruise Boat. According to
them the white colt was born into the ranks of one of the herds but
because of his color the stallion rejected him and chased him out of
the herd. The next day his mother left also choosing her son over
the head of her "band". Mothers love with do that. She and the white colt were spotted the
rest of the summer off by themselves. Whatever the rest of the
story is, here is the white horse and now another white colt is being
raised. A stallion will select several females and form his own
band. He usually will have to steal they away from another
stallion some of "his" women, which will often result in a tremendous fight.
Park Ranger who came driving through from the beach directed us to
follow the road to the beach and we chose to part ways with Mr. Tom.
The beach lay ahead.
trail was bit wet and we found ourselves tiptoeing around the several
puddles which almost covered the sand road in places. The patterns in
the sand left by the displacement of the water as the ranger's truck
had splashed through. They reminded me of the tree patterns I knew awaited
once we left the beach to travel the last part of the days journey,
as we explored the South end of the island.
on the beach we could see South of us in the distance a couple of young
yearlings were playing on the beach. Beach goers, us included,
started to walk that way for a better view and the hope off some great
photos of the romp.
Nipping, rearing, running and playing like two year old children, ignoring the people who were walking toward them for the show.
pier from our own Fort Clinch is above the Cumberland Island jetty
which mirrors the jetty on our island and forms the channel we know as
is a lot to be said for the total freedom these horses have even though
their lives may to be what horses in captivity is. Its like my
squirrels. i could have kept them penned inside and their lives
could have gone on to be twice as long as they will be outside in the
wild but it is what is natural for them.
a good long pay time they made their way back to the dunes to the the
elder part of the herd. Mom seems to check them over making sure
the play has not been too rough for her baby.
sad images of life cut short on the beach as we examined the remains of
a dolphin. i thought the flippers especially interesting.
The head was missing as the wildlife people had removed it for
examination to try to figure out what the cause of death was.
There has been some sort of bacteria, virus, who knows what that
has killed a lot of the dolphins lately.
tragic scene of death was the image of three of many dead Cow Nose Rays
were found on the beach. probably hundreds had met their demise
for some unknown reason. My friend Lisa from beach stories in the
past told me it was probably a beaching due to a mass migration
activity. They literally ran themselves aground and died. In
examining their mouth I was finally able to realize what the fossilized mouth
plates of stingrays I find on the beach actually are.
reason I find this beach so wonderful, so deserted, this was the busy
end of the beach. As you head further North you can then pick out
your own mile of beach to sit on. That is why the access to the
island is so limited to retain as much as possible of the wildness that
is still found there.
began to slowly walk toward this horse hoping for a good photograph.
I quietly followed as he walked up the beach grazing on the
beach grass which will be the undoing of his health in later years with
its high salt content. At one point he had turned with his head
down then he seemed to look up at me. I said when do you stop
clicking the camera shutter when a wild horse is walking slowly
straight toward you. i stopped about mid point to his reaching
me. He reached me and just stood looking at me eye ball to
eye ball, probably expecting a treat, but my momma didn't raise no
fools, and then he just turned and walked on up the beach and I walked
along beside him until we both went on to rejoin our mutual friends.
Cindy had told me about a visitor to Greyfield, her childhood
home, feeding the horses some cigarettes as the horses have developed a
love for the taste of tobacco. She had told the man to not do
that but he continued. When he ran out the horse gave him a nasty
bit to the shoulder. If there had not been wittinesses to his
being told to stop he would have sued the hotel.
rested and ate a snack on the benches that waited at the top of the
boardwalk which led us from the beach back toward Sea Camp. Once
we were ready we moved on into the coolness of the deep woods of a
maritime forest. Nestled underneath the trees are where the
camping visitors of Cumberland Island pitch their tents and live their
week there, that is if you are of the kind who likes to keep a few of
the amenities of home like a shower and enclosed regular toilets, although only cold water showers, and the
sky for a roof it is still a very upscale from what back country camping is like.
in my earlier days we made a combination trip. We did the rough
camping to the back country and the isolation that offered, feeling the
freedom of the wild horses, but then we saved the last few days to be
at Sea Camp to re-aclimate to a more civilized lifestyle. We would be
told that we were one of maybe 10 campers at Stafford Beach Campground,
but 99% of the time we would be the only ones there. Never
figured out where the other campers went. It was
truly an adventure in those days and why I learned to love this neck of
the woods. I prepared lots of freeze dried foods for the trip
even spaghetti and we thought it was great.
just a canopy road here and there but a true canopy of huge Live Oak
Trees wildly grown by mother nature kept our rapt attentions as we
marveled at its beauty as we walked the approximately half mile back to
the dock which would be our departure point.
Everywhere you looked was the beauty that we thankfully have had saved for us by
the National Park System, as much as we like to find fault with it,
this is one of its gems.
The whiteness of the tall dunes separates this very different world from the beach life such a short distance away.
remember the pink lichen that grows on the trees here as being a first
time for me to see it and it is still something I do not see on the
trees on our island.
it was time to head back up the St. Mary's River and back to our own
island. Someone decided it was a good idea to feed the ever
greedy gulls. Fun for those on the top deck but can be not so fun
to be in the areas below on the bottom deck.
flock of White Pelicans take flight when the wake from the Cumberland
Princess goes motoring by, they go sailing over the marshes which surrounds and
connects the watery world with the hammocks which have grown to a size
where they are now an island with a name and one of my favorite names is
Cumberland Island, a great place to visit.