Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Next Few Days

With rain on the way, we went to...a tourist trap!

We went to our AirBnB for the night, did laundry, had hot showers, and went to sleep by 9 or so.
The next day we got up and drove to our last spot, camping near Apopka!

We stopped for what turned out to be four HOURS to get the power steering pump replaced.  It was crappy since on the road repairs are always stressful, but being able to steer was AWESOME!

Gopher tortoise at the campsite

We set up the tent, spread out the backpacking gear along the fence to dry out, then went to the springs!

The next day, we spent the WHOLE DAY at Disney Springs.
I had a really happy kid.

We rode the monorail.

We went to the French Quarter by because we got bad bus info.  
But that was okay because we took the boat back from there!

We had dinner and got back to the campsite.

Wednesday morning, we packed up everything but the tent, which we left to dry in the sun and went back to swim in the springs one last time.

This hair thing worked out well.

We went back to the head and swam it again!

Chan has a unique way of snorkeling.
I call it foot first.

Such clear water!

Chan needs no oxygen.  I don't think she ever used the snorkel


Well anyway, as the sun got up, it started getting warmer outside than inside the springs which makes a body COLD.  So we decided to head on out.

We got the nice dry tent put away and headed out without much drama.

I left the buns in my hair.  It was kind of adorable.  hahaha

Super long and not exciting drive back home.  I drove a while, Gina drove a while, I drove the last stretch.  It took 10.5 hours to get back.

I don't think those middle seats will be going back in any time soon. 

Cumberland Island

Chan and I have been planning to join a women's group on Cumberland Island for months!  It was first set in October and got moved after Irma demolished the road (via debris) and the island was shut down for 2 months while they cleared it.

Shelly, our fearless leader, persevered and got us back on the schedule for April.  We needed a LOT of camping space!  Sign-ups had closed weeks ago, but there was a last-minute cancelation.  Gina had a last-minute open schedule (after juggling one family illness after another) and a last-second slot opened from about 3 in the afternoon until midnight the day before the trip and she nabbed it!  I had not seen her in 6 months!

Chandler had the whole back seat and spread out accordingly.  The middle seats were taken out to give more space and because one of them squeaks when the road is not perfectly smooth.  hahaha.  It can be nutsy making.

We stayed at a campground cabin Thursday night, booked via AirBnB and that worked out fine.  It had 3 beds in the cabin and we had a fan to mask the worst of the highway noise.  

We arrived too late in the day to do much, but we wandered the grounds and checked out the amenities.  Chandler jumped on the bounce pillow, we checked out the pool and playground, walked around the perimeter of the grounds and played ball racker.

Gina had blue balls.

The next morning, we met up with our group at the Riverview Motel in St. Mary's. 
Shelly did the roll call, there was a Q and A time, a little time for chatting, then off with our parking permits and time to get our stuff!

Now...Chandler and I had full packs that weighed over 20 pounds.  Food, gear, extra rain gear, hammocks, swim gear, 2 towels each!...I thought we had overdone it.
Then I saw the WAGONS of gear the other women were bringing.  I swear, it was like that boat was headed to some deserted island 1,000 miles from WalMart, so better bring it ALL!
I will admit, I had a pretty good time trying to guess what all was in there.

At the new docks, awaiting our 'don't try to pet the horses' talk.

Our vessel

Goodbye, mainland USA!

The trip over was uneventful

Chandler says, "This is literally my mother's zinc."
It's true.  I got that in a Cairn box.  Twice.

I LOVE maritime live oaks and Spanish moss.
Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor a moss.  It is in the same family as pineapples!
Natives called it Spanish after seeing Spanish beards.
No clue where the moss aspect came in.

These are so pleasing.

Ah, Chacos.  Has there ever been a sexier footwear?  You don't even have to have them on to enjoy the way they hold your feet.
Look at that tan line and how the sand is sticking to my sunscreen.


We set up quickly and went off to walk a while.

We, of course, walked to Dungeness.

The osprey are back!


We walked over to Ice House to see if there were manatee at the docks, but it's a bit cool yet.

There were horses aplenty though!

The tide was out, so we walked along the riverside shoreline back to Sea Camp docks

We waited a few minutes for the last ferry to dock, then rented bikes to ride to Plum Orchard for the tour the next morning.
We rode for the rest of the day, I have not been on a bike in YEARS

Back to Dungeness!

We rode all the way to the salt marsh, checked out the cemetery, then parked the bikes and walked the boardwalk, looking for critters.

We saw a garter snake which was a blur in the shot I took.  Then we saw this deer.

Another anole

GIANT turkey

Gina on a bike


We rode back up to the dock to watch the sunset:

Our camp!

Saturday morning we were up and packing for the 15-mile bike ride to Plum Orchard.
One of the ladies came running over and said Shelly needed to see me NOW.
I walked down to where she was, wondering what I had done! 

She explained there had been enough tour slots bought to cover us if we wanted to join the group.  Otherwise, they would just go to waste.
We got the okay to keep the bikes another day since we would not get to use them after all, then Shelly added several goodies to our lunch menu (of a protien bar) and we went off to get in the vans with the rest of the group!  We got to see the whole island!

This is a private residence now, but the little building beyond the trucks was the hospital on the island for a plantation.
The slaves were able to grow veggies and they worked on an assignment system.  Once done with their assignment, they were free to do what they wanted.  Higher echelon slaves were allowed to check out guns and hunt for meat.
After the war, the slaves were employed to help build and run hotels on the north end of the island.  They were able to purchase lots over time for $11 each to build houses and a small community grew.  They built a church, the first African American church in the US.

the road, called Grand Boulevard, crosses 4 tidal creeks and is about 18 miles long.
It took 90 minutes to drive to the end.

A raccoon!

A horse in the background!

The far north end of the island.

We went back to the settlement.
Below is the little church:

Most of the houses have fallen in or a gone.
One has been turned into the restrooms for the tour and another is occupied by Carol Ruckdeschel, who bought the house 35 years ago and is a self-taught naturalist.  She is basically a more awesome version of what I want to be when I grow up.  Check her out.

Wild boar!

We arrived at Plum Orchard after a 3 hour AC van ride and not a 7.5 mile bike ride.  :) 
We had lunch and did the tour.

Tiffany lamp, turtle shell on the outside, acorns inside.

Shampoo on tap

After trying to draw Dungeness the day before, I decided this doll house was likely more my speed for sketching!

I just liked the line of the sink

The horses are feral, not wild.
They are also not native to the island, and so are left totally alone.  They are given no supplemental feedings, no vet care, no vaccinations of any kind.  They will kick and bite, so people are asked to stay 50 feet away.  We were inside the van, which is how I got these so close!

The females fare far worse than the males because pregnancy, birth, and nursing all take a toll and the seagrass is not very nourishing.
The horses live about 1/3 as long as domesticated horses and struggle to survive on the island.
There are two camps, one that thinks they should be removed as an invasive species and another who thinks they bring in the tourist dollars.


The salt marsh at the south end of the island

The tour ended at 4 and we headed off to do our own thing for a while.

Back out on the beach!

We had showers and went out to dry off in the sun.

Then we climbed in the live oaks

This is more a pic of Gina...

We popped in at site 12 to see they had improved the racoon cage situation there!  When we were there last year, our food was in the dead center of the cage and they still managed to poke it with their racoony fingers!

We took hammocks around to watch the sunset

That night, Chandler and I rode bikes up and down the Grand in the dark, letting the fireflies zip past us like stars.  It was SO beautiful!
Then we went and walked on the beach for a long time, listening to the roar of high tide.

The next morning, our last on the island, we went to watch the sunrise.

A cold front was coming in, bringing afternoon storms and there was no sunrise, only a lighter grey in the skies.

At camp, we finished packing and rode our bikes with full packs back to the dock to await the ferry.


I did this.

Our trash for 3 days! 
And we had a Sprite from the ferry one night.  Gina had those cans.  Still, not a bad haul!

We got back to the van, loaded up, and headed out toward the next stop, an AirBnB in Jacksonville.  We could not check in until 6, so we had some time to kill.

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.