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I’ve been blogging since 2006 but started this particular site as a way to memorialize my young kids’ childhood–their birthdays, the trips we take, and the adventures we’re able to share, since I’ve heard it goes by rather quickly. In fact, just a few days ago, a guy I’ve known nearly all my life–who’s only a couple years older than I am–had a heart attack and died. There were no warning signs. He just stopped being alive one day and left a couple children, a fiance, two still-married…
For our 11th anniversary, we flew to Jacksonville on Veterans Day, took a shuttle to a ferry at Fernandina Beach, and then disembarked at Cumberland Island for a quarter mile walk along a sandy road to the Greyfield Inn, our home for the weekend. We grabbed a pair of bikes and road a couple miles to the Dungeness Ruins, ate a picnic lunch, and saw some wild horses, armadillos, and turkeys.
But mostly, we just stood still, looking and listening.
I’d never been to Cumberland Island before. I guess I was expecting a less inhabited version of St. Simons, Jekyll, or Amelia, but it was completely different. No paved roads, condos, traffic lights, or commercial signs. No traffic noises. In fact, there was hardly any sound at all. It was the most peaceful location I’ve ever visited.
After our bike ride and watching the sun set, we cleaned up and went downstairs for dinner and shared a meal with an attorney from south Georgia whose wife was turning 40 and wanted to spend the weekend where they’d spent her 30th, and a couple from Jacksonville who came up just for dinner on their anniversary. The food and wine pairings were as perfect as I can remember having anywhere.
The next morning, we had a large breakfast before climbing into the back of a truck for a tour of the beach, the woods, and the little church where JFK Jr. got married.
After a picnic lunch, we hopped back onto the back of the truck and toured Plum Orchard, where Lucy Carnegie’s granddaughter (Lucy Ferguson) lived for a time, and we marveled at her wallpaper choices.
After the return trip, we had an oyster roast, which is by far the best way to eat oysters, I’m now convinced.
An hour later, it was cocktail hour, which I interpreted as “Very High End Bourbon Hour,” before another wonderful dinner, this time spent with the former CEO of Hunter Fans (the realization of which caused me to inform him just how many of of his fans are in my and my parents’ house; he was both pleased and astounded).
The next morning meant another large and delicious breakfast before we walked around the hotel grounds and meandered down to the dock where the ferry took us back to the mainland.
A weekend at the Greyfield Inn is a ferry to a simpler, quieter time. Cellphones aren’t allowed (and barely have coverage anyway), and everyone there is celebrating something special. I don’t remember what it costs, but it ain’t cheap. However, lodging includes the ferry there and back, gourmet meals, and use of kayaks, bikes, and other outdoor and indoor equipment during the stay, in addition to guided tours around the island. The service is impeccable. The experience is “grown up” in every sense of the word, and given our attendance immediately after the most antagonistic and adolescent national election in memory, the trip could not have come at a better time.
I can’t wait to go back.
I love October. We get dropping temperatures (most years), a trip to Saint Simons Island for my annual conference, and Halloween. Some years, we take an additional work-related trip, but this year, the military interfered with that plan.
This year, we took our newish electric car to SSI. It took longer, but we enjoyed our charging stops along the way in Macon and Savannah. Just before we left, I slapped on a license plate from 1985 and took what may be my favorite picture ever:
Once we arrived, we spent a few days at the beach, and on Saturday, as is custom, we went to Gnat’s Landing to have lunch and watch the Alabama football game. Just before we walked in, we paused for the 5th consecutive “kids on a dog” photo:
Previous years’ “kids on the dog” photos can be found here.
The following weekend, my bride was out of town, but I scored last minute tickets to Adele and took our 10-year-old to her first concert. We loved it. I’ve seen Beyonce, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Heart, Joan Jett, and many other male and female performers this year, but I enjoyed this show the most from the female group!
October concluded with Halloween. The past several years, we’ve dressed as a family. This year, after they saw England, Scotland, and Jamestown this summer, the children wanted to dress in a Revolutionary War theme, so here we are —
George and Martha, Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, and a dreaded Readcoat!
We took our first electric roadtrip as a family last weekend, as the children got Columbus Day (and the preceding Friday + the following Tuesday) off. We headed to Guntersville, Alabama on Saturday, where my parents live by the state park.
But first, we stopped at a Nissan dealer in Rome to fill up on electricity and then headed northwest to Scottsboro, where airports’ unclaimed baggage is sold in a giant superstore.
The children got sunglasses and watches; the Mrs got jewelry; I got impatient to get some BBQ across the street.
After we had our BBQ, we headed to Guntersville just in time to watch the Alabama game with my folks (also UA alumni). The next morning after church, my dad joined our crew to head up to Huntsville’s Botanical Garden, meeting my friend Jim Bob (whom I’ve known since 9th grade) and his family for the tour. We loved it. It was decorated for the fall with a Scarecrow Trail, Sorghum maze, and lots of things for children to crawl on or climb.
Then we parked by a Whole Foods to charge up again, using the hour or so for some shopping at a sale at Mountain High and having sushi at a new restaurant called Maki Fresh.
The next morning, Jim Bob’s family went with ours to explore Cathedral Caverns. Led by our guide, “Rooster,” we explored the biggest and best cave I’ve ever visited (and I spent a good bit of time in caves as a child in middle Tennessee).
We were glad Rooster carried a flashlight, because just as we concluded the tour and were as far from the entrance (and daylight) as we could possibly be, the power went out in the entire state park (and surrounding town).
We then returned to my parents’ house for a BBQ lunch. I got a picture of Jim Bob’s children with mine just before they headed home to Birmingham.
The next morning, we went to the city harbor, where replicas of the Nina (the most historically accurate Columbus replica ship ever built) and the Pinta ships were available for touring.
We followed a school field trip’s tour to learn about how the ships were built of wood and iron, using only hand tools, and how they decided not to build the Santa Maria, because it was much larger than the other two, so it couldn’t have made it up through the rivers that the other two are using for its 11-month tour (and the original didn’t make it back from the New World anyway, as it got stuck on a coral reef and had to be taken apart and turned into a fort).
Then we packed the car and headed up to the Chattanooga airport to use the super charger and headed south down I-75 toward Atlanta, stopping for Mexican food in Cartersville.
Our first electric road trip was a success! It was a little scary on Sunday night when we got back from the trip to/from Huntsville with 6 people in the car, as the projected mileage was not as good as the actual mileage, and there are no high speed chargers in Guntersville (or even Huntsville). I was worried about the next day’s trip and then heading home the day after that. All we had nearby was my folks’ 110v plug next to their garage, which provided a whopping 3 miles/hour of charge. I looked for RV campgrounds and found one rather close by at the state park we could use, but instead, we took my mom’s car to the caverns on Columbus Day, allowing over 36 hours of continuous charging before heading home (by way of Chattanooga) on Tuesday. That said, I enjoy the challenge. I like knowing we have set stops to relax, eat, shop, or exercise a bit. And, not having to pay for gas or use nasty gas station restrooms is pretty nice.
Our next excursion is next week, when he head a bit farther away, to Saint Simons Island, and then there’s talk of trying to head out west between Christmas and New Year’s (as in, way out west…to the Grand Canyon and back!). That will require significantly more planning, but I believe we’re up for it. And is there a better way to see the American West than by following Route 66 and/or the interstate? No way.