Monday, May 2, 2016

Jekyll Island--Our New Favorite Island!

We were up early this morning, on our way for a full day of activities at Jekyll Island. We parked the car at the beach, and took off on the bike path that encircles the entire ten-mile-long island. It was so early that Denisa was wearing a jacket as we rode beside the marshes on the river side of the island.

Starting from the north end of Jekyll Island, our first stop was the Horton House. Built in 1743, it is one of the many "tabby" houses we have seen in this area. We were first a little confused about the word tabby showing up in so many historical descriptions we were reading. Then we learned that tabby is a mixture of equal parts of sand, lime, oyster shell and water that is mixed into a mortar and then poured into forms to build walls. It can even be used for floors and roofs, and is obviously very durable.

Bikes are a great way to get around this little island, with paved paths and constant shade. It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful day on the coast of Georgia.

One of the things we enjoy about traveling is learning new things. Today we learned about the Jekyll Island Club. The clubhouse was built in 1886, for the "most exclusive club in the world." It was here that millionaires that we have heard about all our lives spent the summer season. We could name-drop that we walked where the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and J.P. Morgans walked. They just got a hundred year and million dollar head start on us. Many of the families of the members lived in the clubhouse, being served three meals each day and living the life of luxury. Today the clubhouse is a state-owned luxury hotel where ordinary people can spend a night in rooms that cost from $200-400 per night. Our $15 camping site might not be quite as deluxe, but we can stay almost a month for the same price as a one night in the club house. 

The front lawn has the equipment for tournament crochet set up. Who knew that real people actually dressed all in white and really played crochet?

Some of the club members opted to build "cottages" rather than living in the clubhouse for the summer. Below is the Crane Cottage, built in 1917. This was the most expensive and elegant home ever built on Jekyll Island. These cottages were mansions by most standards, and today it is a bed and breakfast.

The Moss Cottage was built in 1896 for the Struthers family. All the cottages and the Jekyll Island Club House were used each year for only four months. The families would arrive in January, and stay until April when they returned to their mansions on the mainland. This winter club life on the island continued from 1888 until its final season in 1942. World War II was the crowning blow to the Jekyll Island Club, and the island sat silent until the state of Georgia purchased it in 1947. Now it is available to commoners like us to get to experience the life of the rich and famous first hand.

As we rode our bikes on another section of the trail, we already started talking about this being our favorite bike ride of 2016.

We have now pedaled our way to the most southern tip of the island at St. Andrew's beach. There were some hardwood trees that have had too much salt water, but still stand bare on the beach.

Denisa can even be a tree climber when the tree is this picturesque.

St. Andrews is the beach where locals hang out, and we enjoyed watching another fishing technique. They used a 50-foot net with weights on the bottom to drag along the sandy bottom of the water. We saw them catch shrimp and crabs in their net. But we also watched as a dolphin came closer to the shore. It seems that dolphins think raiding a fishing net is easier than catching fish in the open seas. So a group of friends on the beach headed out into the water to walk behind the net to dissuade the dolphin from tearing holes in it in an attempt to steal the catch of the day.

In the picnic area behind the beach was a memorial to the ship named "Wanderer." It seems fitting that two people that are wandering His wonders would pose beside the wanderer memorial.

So far we have biked around 15 miles, so we were glad to make a stop for a meal at the Jekyll Island Market. Earlier a local told us that the Love Shack served the freshest Georgia shrimp on the island. If you are eating them this afternoon, they were swimming in the Atlantic this morning. When we parked our bikes at the market, we saw a huge crowd enjoying the annual 3W Festival. Celebrating wine, whiskey, and wildlife, participants can sample all the food and booze from more than 80 booths by buying a $65 ticket. That was over our food budget, so we split a shrimp basket at the Love Shack and watched one of the wildlife lectures about sea turtles instead.

Fueled with that wonderful shrimp (and some equally good cookie samples), we bicycled the rest of the island circle back to the car. It was one of the best 18-mile bicycle rides we have ever made, and we saved the best stop for last--Driftwood Beach.

This beach has gray weathered driftwood that stretches for close to a mile. On the north edge of Jekyll island, erosion has moved sand away from this end of the beach. These giant trees never were supposed to be so close to the salt water, which killed their roots.

Littered all over the sand, these tree skeletons make great back drops for photographs.

Mark said it felt like senior pictures all over again as we kept taking pictures on Driftwood Beach.

We weren't the only ones taking pictures. There was a group of students dressed for the prom using the trees for some great pictures.

Just a few feet down the beach there were two people pledging the rest of their lives to each other right there on Driftwood beach. Next door, they were setting up for another wedding. This beach is consistently voted as one of America's ten most romantic beaches, so it makes a beautiful place to get married.

Right between the prom pictures and the wedding ceremony was a group of kids slathering black mud all over each other for a cheap spa treatment. The pastor for the second wedding was a little worried about the noise they were making as they threw black mud at each other. His dress shoes weren't good for walking in the black mud, so Mark volunteered to ask them to quiet down in respect for the bride and groom.

The evening sun was lighting up the beach, so we continued down the beach for some more pictures.

We were there at low tide, and it looked like this tree monster was climbing out of the sea. Under the water at hide tide, the tree was covered with barnacles to give him the appropriate monster texture.

The receding beach has literally pulled the sand away from the roots, leaving eery jail-like caverns.

It's amazing that some trees remain standing upright with their roots showing.

With all the fun of the driftwood, we almost forgot there were sea creatures on this beach too. We saw that several cannon jelly fish had been washed ashore.

Mark spotted some chocolate sprinkles several different times on the beach, always surrounding a hole in the sand. How could this ice cream topping find its way to the beach?

Mark is the master of googling, and he found what was making this curious phenomenom by googling "chocolate sprinkles on the beach" to get his answer. It's actually the fecal pellets made from beach ghost shrimp. Almost never seen, the ghost shrimp lives in a tube under the sand--some times as deep as 16 feet. They send their waste up the tube to keep their underground homes clean. It's a good thing that Mark didn't sample those chocolate sprinkles!

A little further down the beach we found this ghost crab (not to be confused with the pooping ghost shrimp). He was standing on his tip toes, casting his meanest shadow as the sun was sinking in the sky.

Since it was low tide, there was water trapped in low spots on the beach. We spotted a trapped anemone, waving gently in the shallow pool.

There are almost no shells on Driftwood Beach. So it was amazing to see a perfect whelk wash up on the sand as we walked down the far end of the beach. We also found a fresh oyster shell, with bright green sea weed attached.

We have truly wandered His wonders today. After all the fascinating creatures on the beach, Denisa thinks Mark is still the most fascinating of all.

As we returned to the busy part of the beach near the entrance, the second wedding had not yet started. From visiting with the pastor earlier, we knew it was now thirty minutes past the scheduled time. But we also heard that the bride was going to arrive on a horse, so we joined the rest of the non-invited wedding guests on the beach to watch the grand entry. Mark played paparazzi to get this shot as the bride arrived on her steed.

After exploring four islands in the last week, we recognize that they all had unique personalities. But Denisa has decided that Jekyll was her overall favorite. It has history, a brush with the rich and famous, activities, good food, great biking trails, and the most dramatic beach we have ever seen. We hope we'll have the opportunity to come back to the Golden Isles again!


  1. we always stop at Jekyll Island when we are out east...

    1. We will be back to Jekyll again! We have taken advice from your blog on good beaches to visit like Crooked Island. Let us know if there is anything else we need to do as we travel in the east.

    2. We will be back to Jekyll again! We have taken advice from your blog on good beaches to visit like Crooked Island. Let us know if there is anything else we need to do as we travel in the east.