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.