Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tour of Cumberland Island

My first morning on the island I was up, made my instant oatmeal and packed my day pack. This sounds so simple, yet it took me over an hour. I move so slow. I wanted to leave by 8 and I left at 8:24. As per usual, I gave myself extra time knowing I'd probably be late. I was headed back to the ferry dock for a 10am island tour. I was told to arrive by 9:45. My hike to camp yesterday with all my stuff took 1hr40min, so I figured leaving at 8 allowed two hours and plenty of time. I arrived at just over an hour. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will need to do my morning routine faster to actually leave by 8. I need to be at the ferry at 10 but it only gets light after 7 and it's hard for me to get moving in the dark.
The one car road that runs the length of the island

My campsite and the stuff I remembered

Enough on my time management. Today was a tour of the island by the ranger and/or volunteer. We had six in our group and we took a van to the north of the island. The island is 17.5 miles long and ~3 miles wide in some spots.  The island was 90% owned by Lucy Carnegie at one time (her husband died just a year after their house was built). There are still three Carnegie mansions on the island, two of which are in use. We toured the empty one, Plum Orchard. I found out you can volunteer (minimum one month) to live in this mansion if you agree to perform daily maintenance/cleaning and provide house tours six of seven days each week. Interesting....:) (although it was only $2/night to camp - very budget friendly)

The house had several bedrooms, a master bath with a shower (unusual for the time) that even dispensed shampoo through the shower head too! There was electricity (mainly light bulbs), squash court, 9-10' deep indoor pool, hydraulic elevator and other neat things. 
Mansion at Plum Orchard

We had our picnic lunch here, under the trees

The advanced shower

Dinner bell

The fire suppression system (i.e. water hose)

Circuit breakers in the basement

The hydraulic elevator - did not take it for a spin

The indoor, spring fed pool

We saw the Stafford Plantation, which was a cotton plantation and had around 300 slaves. The house actually burnt and Lucy Carnegie rebuilt it for one of her kids. 

One of the planes for personal use at one of the private mansions
We saw the first African Baptist church. JFK Jr. and Carolyn were married there in a very small ceremony. The church probably only seats 30 or so. 

A peek inside the church - super small

First African Baptist Church - founders.

The island is almost all owned by the National Park Service, primarily from gifts or nominal purchases from the Carnegie ancestors. However, some retained their right of use for some time, which is how there are still private properties today. Those inhabitants have direct lineage to the Carnegie family.

There are different animals on the island, wild horses, deer, wild pigs (they hate these), 300 bird species (200 are just passing through), alligators, raccoons, armadillos, wild turkeys, sea turtles, snakes and maybe a bobcat. They have sanctioned hunts for the deer and pigs. The pigs have little ones three times a year though and they've proven hard to kill off. The horses top out naturally around 140. Amelia Island nearby has bears, but none here. They think one day that one or two bears may swim their way over.

One of the horses that I almost ran into on my morning
bathroom run in the dark - that was a shock :)


I think these are horse remains - they leave nature to itself

It's hard to see, but there's a wild pig in there - right above
the log that's laying on the ground in the middle (rare to see)

The tour went until 3:30 and was really good. Afterwards I went to the beach near camp, watched the birds swoop in for fish and waded around. I used the cold shower. It wasn't too bad and I was hoping it would help me sleep well. It was very humid and didn't cool off much; the previous night I was a little too warm in my wool pjs and down sleeping bag :).

**My step total for Wednesday on the island was 22,239, 9.4 miles and 10 floors climbed. Thursday was 13,297 steps, 5.6 miles and 6 floors climbed.  Tuesday I must have forgot or something because there's no info.

The Atlantic Ocean - a 10 minute walk from my 
campsite and no one in sight

Horseshoe crab up on the beach - looks prehistoric!

Footprints in the sand (mine of course :))
It's hard to see, but the dark water in front of the breaking
waves is full of fish that are flopping around, trying to
escape the sandbar.
A better perspective of the crab

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