Georgia On My Mind: Florida to Georgia
After leaving Daytona, we trucked on up through the state with only a brief stop in St. Augustine. And then we thought we’d just “keep on truckin’.” (Okay, how many of you over the age of 50 had a poster or a sticker on your notebook that said that when you were young? Or was that a West Virginia thing?) Anyway, the weather had some different ideas for us.
First, St. Augustine. We took a mooring ball in somewhat unsettled waters/wind which made for a long and somewhat wet dinghy ride in to land. We did get off the boat a bit and met up with our friends Brian and Jane from Mar-a-lago (from the B to B Fleet. We keep crossing paths!) We had to stay in St. Augustine an extra day due to some bad weather moving through. As Frank likes to say, “You’ll have that.”
Next we wanted to go to Fernandina Beach. We missed it on the way down . . . and guess what? We missed it on the way back up, too. (You’ll have that.) Between the stretch of unfavorable weather and the fact that there was a trawler (boat) gathering in Fernandina, it just wasn’t in the cards. There was more bad weather coming and we wanted to make SOME progress north, so we made it to a marina on the southern side of Jacksonville and sat there for three days waiting for storms to move on through. We managed to get out for a couple of good, long walks up the highway to visit the Publix grocery store and the Waffle House. There were also two fun restaurants on the premises, so we made the best of our days there.
Next stop, Cumberland Island, Georgia! This is a place we had heard so many good things about and wanted to visit. It is a National Seashore and only reachable by boat. One of the things it is known for is the wild horse population. I most definitely wanted to see the wild horses! We were off and in search of them. There are three distinct areas to explore on the island: 1) The trails and camp sites in the marsh lands, 2) the beach on the Atlantic side, and 3) the ruins of an old mansion that had been owned by the Carnegies at one point. The horses roam the entire island – or so we hear.
We anchored by the island and took the dinghy to the dock where the daily ferries arrive from St. Mary’s, GA and where the ranger station is located, and began exploring.
It was a chilly, overcast day which actually made for comfortable hiking. First, we followed the paths through the live oaks and spanish moss. Gorgeous!
Kept looking for wild horses . . .none to be found.
Then we cut across to the beach. It was practically deserted with just a few other people wandering the island. We looked up and down. No wild horses . . . we kept walking.
Eventually we got to the Dungeness Ruins. (Dungeness is the name of the mansion and grounds – kind of like “Tara” from Gone With the Wind.) What a history of this site. I will give you the headlines. It’s pretty interesting, and remember, this place can only be reached by boat.
– Original mansion was designed by Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. He got the land in exchange for a bad debt. His widow built the original, four story tabby mansion on the site in 1803.
– Dungeness is occupied by the British during the War of 1812 and used as a headquarters. (I’m wondering if Mrs. Greene was tearing the draperies off of the windows to make a dress . . . )
– In 1818, Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry, moved into the house and stayed until his death and was buried there for a time.
– Mansion is abandoned during the Civil War and burns down in 1866.
– In the 1880s, one of the Carnegies buys the place (Thomas, Andrew’s brother) and begins to build a 59 room Queen Anne Style mansion on the original foundation. Although he does not survive to see it finished, his widow continues to live there and builds three other mansions on other parts of the island for her children. (Do you notice a theme here? The guys start the place, die, and the widows end up living in there. Hmmm…)
– The Carnegies move out in 1925 and leave the mansion sitting empty.
– The mansion burns in 1956 – arson is suspected. The remains of Dungeness are now preserved.
It is a beautiful piece of land with amazing views of the woods, marshes and shoreline. Any sensible horse would LOVE to hang out here! Still nothing. Let me point something out: Here are pictures from the blogs of some of our water buddies:
And here’s what we’ve found so far: It ain’t right.
At last, far far in the distance, way far away, I spot . . . could it be . . . if I had binoculars I’d know for sure . . . yes, it appears there are two or three wild horses!
That was as close as we ever got. Sigh. I’m changing the words to the Rolling Stones song “Wild Horses” to ” wild horses … couldn’t drag themselves out….” It was a delightful visit to Cumberland Island IN SPITE of the fickle horses. What a beautiful and interesting place.
After that stop, we buzzed right on through the rest of Georgia, pausing only to anchor overnight by Raccoon Island south of Savannah.
After that we headed into the Carolinas. Next post (coming soon), we’ll catch you up on our Carolina travels. Right this second we are sitting in North Carolina, so yes, I’m a little behind again, but we’ve been hauling gas! (minus the “g” and plus the “s”) We have stayed put for the last couple of days to let the bad weather pass through . . . we did well seeming to be just north or south of the worst storms (or as we sometimes call the, free boat baths.)
And so, the trek towards home continues!