Another month gone by quickly, as has the year – 2011 is now history!
We were in Brunswick through the end of the month and working on the same Habitat house. Because of the holiday break, it was an easy month. By the time we left Brunswick and our Habitat friends, the house was totally dried in and was ready for drywall. Seeing as our volunteer numbers had dwindled due to the holidays, drywalling will start in January when there’s a full crew. During the month, we welcomed back Jay and Joyce, and Helen and Gord, and met Kit and Brenda – it’s always such fun to make new friends and renew friendships and work alongside these great folks.
One Saturday, we were joined by volunteers from a Sunday school class – we all got along so well that we continued our fellowship over lunch. Diana and Kevin invited us to join the gang at Twin Oaks BBQ in town – another great place to eat to add to our list.
The slower work schedule gave us time to do some exploring. One nearby treasure is the Fort King George State Historic Site. From 1721 until 1736, this fort was the southern outpost of the British Empire in North America. His Majesty’s troops endured incredible hardships from disease, threats from Spanish and Indian attacks and their unfamiliarity with the harsh coastal environment.
After it was abandoned in 1736, General James Oglethorpe brought Scottish Highlanders here – the settlement was called Darien and became the foremost export center of lumber until 1925, when the supply of lumber was depleted.
Today, using old records and drawings, Fort King George has been reconstructed. We started off our tour with a film, and then visited the museum before we went out to the grounds. We learned about the area’s first inhabitants, the Guale Indians, the Spanish mission built to convert the Guale to Christianity (remains of the mission visible on the grounds) and the fort.
Among the many reconstructed buildings, a favorite is the three-storied gabled blockhouse. The lower level contained the powder, ammunition and supply magazine; the gun room on the second floor with cannon ports in the walls for enemy boats approaching from the river; a third floor gun room with a look-out post above. Surrounding the blockhouse are buildings containing the barracks, officers’ quarters, blacksmith ship, bakery and brewery, and other necessary buildings.
This was a wonderful stop – not only was it very informative, the weather was ideal for walking around – none of those pesky gnats and mosquitoes out that day but on warmer days, bug repellent is recommended.
Routine stuff got done also – a quick run to Sam’s Club in Pooler to get new tires for our Honda Fit; Larry figured out a way to hook up the high-speed internet that Dave and Mary provide so everyone could get a good signal – it’s now mounted on a light pole behind our RVs.
Pat and Yvette came down one weekend, camping at nearby Blythe Island Campground – we joined them for supper at Cracker Barrel Friday evening, having a four-way joint birthday celebration. The next night, we enjoyed a campfire at their site along with Pat’s wonderful seafood chowder.
One Sunday, we kicked off our day by enjoying the breakfast buffet at the Jekyll Island Hotel with the gang. After we attended the Sunday services at the Jekyll Island United Methodist Church, we joined church members Pat and her husband Jerry for a personalized tour of the island before heading back to church for a special Christmas concert put on by the music minister – excellent music and fellowship afterwards as we enjoyed snacks. A few days later was the church’s monthly potluck – again, great fellowship and some fun working a Christmas carol word game.
We bagged several geocaches during our stay – some in Brunswick, several on Jekyll Island and a few on St. Simon’s. Geocaching is a great way to get in some exercise and having fun at the same time. While caching in Brunswick, we discovered the Farmers Market near the marina – great find and great produce!
Christmas started off with a candlelight ceremony at Jekyll Island United Methodist Church. Christmas Day, we picked up Lucille’s mother in Richmond Hill on the way up to Pat and Yvette’s place for a holiday gathering and feast.
Back in the Brunswick area, Dave and Mary, Kit and Brenda, and the two of us enjoyed a guided tour of Sapelo Island, just east of Darien– $10 per person got you a round-trip ferry ride and a guided 2.5 hour bus tour – wotta deal! Island manager Fred, a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employee, was our tour guide – what a fabulous job he did telling us about the history of the island, its inhabitants, and the partner agencies working together on Sapelo. Besides the DNR, located on the island are also the University of Georgia’s Marine Institute, the National Estuarine Research Reserve, the 8,420-acre R J Reynolds Wildlife Management Area and Hog Hammock. Hog Hammock is the island’s privately owned African-American community with some of the residents tracing their ancestry on Sapelo Island back to the early 19th century.
The island has had various owners over the years, most recently by Robert J. Reynolds, of the tobacco-fame Reynolds. The mansion he built is still there and is now open for lodging and tours. On the day we were there, a private group had booked the facility so we couldn’t get inside but as a very acceptable alternative, Fred took us to visit both the lighthouse and the beach. The lighthouse isn’t normally open for tours, but, hey - we had the island manager with us. Fred not only opened it up but gave a mini-tour at the top. The views all around were fabulous.
A few other interesting factoids about the island: because the population is typically around 50 in the winter and 70 in the summer, those folks living there have to be jacks-of-all-trades. Our ferry captain, a DNR employee, was also a tree surgeon, a mortician, and during our tour, we spotted him herding goats around his home – what an unusual combination of jobs he has!
We also heard about the feral cattle on the island – they cause lots of property destruction as they roam around. Periodically, their numbers have to be thinned. Fred told us that on those days, he sees folks he never sees the rest of the time – lots of beer flowing, lots of knives and sawzalls as the meat is shared amongst the participants.
Visitors to Sapelo Island are encouraged to bring snacks and beverages – we did have a restroom stop and later on, a stop at the one and only store on the island with limited supplies. This trip is well worth it but check with the visitor center in Darien for the tour schedule. The DNR tours are only offered on certain days but a private company on Sapelo Island also offers tours. Some of our fellow ferry passengers were met at the island dock by their tour van.
Time to head back up to Camp Carr but we couldn’t pass up another visit to our favorite fried shrimp place, B & J’s in Darien. We parked the motor home in a former car dealership and walked over and enjoyed another wonderful meal there. If you’re traveling on I-95 near Darien and you’ve got a craving for fried shrimp, B & J’s is just a few miles from the exit on US Hwy 17 – you’ll be glad you did.
And so ends not just another month but another year. December is memorable also because it was on the 21st in 2003 that we first hit the road - a very fast and fun-filled eight years ago!
Coming up: Routine medical appointments in Rincon; some final warranty work on the motor home back at the dealership in Jacksonville; a short stay in Tamarac before we head over to Palmdale through the end of March.