Jekyll Island Visit

June 21-23, 2011

This seems to capture the relaxed atmosphere of Jekyll Island - sea oats on the dunes just after sunrise just across from our motel. We drove down with Shirley when she came to visit from Little Rock.

We drove by the artistic Hwy 17 bridge as we approached the causeway to Jekyll Island. It was a total of 325 miles from our house to our motel on the ocean side.

We lost no time in getting over to the wide, flat beach that was just across the road from us. Brenda and Shirley (in distance) walk on the beach. Rod was keen on photographing the oystercatchers that came flying along, dipping their beaks in the shallow water. Brenda and Shirley enjoyed visiting and generally clowning around near the beach.

We kept going back to walk on the beach until evening when the light was turing blue and the wet beach acted like a mirror. Rod was still chasing oystercatchers.

Wednesday, June 22

We got up early took coffee and bagels out to the beach for breakfast on the beach to see the sunrise. It was cloudy and hazy with smoke, so we didn't see the sun until it was this distance above the horizon. Still, it was nice to start the day on the beach.

It was interesting to watch the life around the beach. I liked watching the herring gulls, bottom left in the photo above. You always see them looking for food, and seldom see them catching any, but at bottom right above, the gull is swallowing a small fish he has caught. At top left is a dolphin - we saw several playing around, and Brenda and Shirley saw about ten in a pod with a mother and baby playing around close to shore. At top right above, a quartet of pelicans comes flying by. They are in the haze of smoke from a large forest fire near the Okeefenokee.

While Brenda and Shirley spent time on the beach, I drove the 20 miles of main perimeter roads around the island. I found that the historic district was very well preserved and the access to it very well designed, so I took them back there in the early afternoon.

This is a map of the part of the historic district that we visited.

The well-preserved collection of houses, etc. were described as a "reflection on a gilded era" when millionaire businessmen used this island as a private winter resort. This is one of the houses on the river side, the Mistletoe House.

The street parallel to the river was lined with huge old liveoak trees hung with spanish moss. This is across from the Mistletoe House, and we were on our way to the Goodyear Cottage to see the art collection there.

The liveoak limbs stretch all the way across the road near the Goodyear Cottage, appearing as a tunnel when you look down the road.

This is the back of the Goodyear Cottage, which houses the art gallery and a pottery workshop in the basement. It hardly fits my idea of the word "cottage", but those were pretensious times.

We enjoyed the pottery display. The turtle theme was understandably very popular here.

There were nice pieces of etched glass on display.

We walked behind the front row of houses back toward the Jekyll Island Hotel. This house is called Indian Mound.

This is a collection of luxury apartments called Sans Souci. There was a descriptive panel of past residents titled "Men of Means", Among those having apartments were J. P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, and Henry B. Hyde along with a series of other millionaires of American business.

This is Moss Cottage, to complete the set of houses on the river drive south of the Jekyll Island Club.

We made a brief trip to the turtle center, and the most impressive thing there was the giant fossil sea turtle they had flying over the exhibit area.

On the information panel about the giant fossil it was described as a cast replica of the largest known and most complete fossil of Archelon ischyros giant sea turtle. It was discovered and excavated from southwestern South Dakota grasslands in the mid 1970s. It suggested a date in the Cretaceous Period about 74 million years ago. It is presumed to have been a resident of a large inland sea at that time. The shell is 7 feet long and the projected weight of the living animal is projected at 11,300 lbs.

On our way to the pier, we swung by the Chapel.

The last and largest of the millionaires' homes we visited was the Crane House. We had seen comments about the number and luxury of the bathrooms in this mansion since Crane made his millions with bathroom and plumbing fixtures.

On our path to the pier is this incredibly large liveoak tree. I don't think I've seen its equal.

Brenda, Rod and Shirley had a nice dinner at the pier, Latitude 31 Restaurant, and used it as an occasion to celebrate the 49th wedding anniversary of Rod and Brenda.

Our view from our dinner table at the Latitude 31 was the lush interface between the grasslands of Jekyll Island and the river between the island and the mainland.

We stayed around on the pier in the cool temperature and pleasant breeze. We watched the birds and watched a dolphin tour leave from the dock.

We had a good time on the Jekyll Island Pier, and the lush grassland made a good background for photos.

We had Shirley as photographer, and this seemed like a good place for a 49th anniversary photo.

As we stood on the pier, enjoying the breeze, this roseate spoonbill flew in to the tidal area close to us. I went to the car and got the long lens, and fortunately he hung around long enough for me to get a few pictures.

I enjoyed watching the spoonbill poke around in the tidal shallows, looking for supper.

It was a reverie to watch the beautiful creature in its natural habitat. Finally, he had enough of this area and took flight.

One of the most interesting things on the beach to me was watching the oystercatchers who would come flying low along the line where the waves ended on the beach. We enjoyed watching their cousins in Wales many years ago.

They flew at a surprisingly high speed, tracking the line where the waves reach produced turbulence right at the sand.

The bottom of their beak hinged downward and they drug it in the water to catch whatever it was they were hunting - oysters I guess. These were shot a little after 8pm so the light was beginning to fade. They were shot at iso6400 with speed 1/800s at about f22-f25 and 400mm.

I know that this is probably enough about oystercatchers, but I found this shot to be particularly pleasing. It shows the oystercatcher in his element, smoothly cruising above the waves.

Thursday, June 23

"This is the day the Lord hath made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Psalm 118:24

We were down at the beach for our seaoats sunrise again. Close by was this prayer group, which had been a regular sight this week since SuperWOW has brought youth from churches all over the state and perhaps beyond. The island is covered with church vans and buses.

I kind of think of all creation having it's morning song of praise. That idea was brought back to my mind by seeing two blackbirds not 20 feet from the prayer group, loudly voicing their morning song.

We packed up our belongings at our beachfront lodgings and headed over to the museum with plans to go from there to the sea turtle center.

On the way into the museum, Rod spotted this writing spider which is different from the type we get in the Atlanta area. So as a committed small-game hunter, he had to have a picture of it.

We learned a lot of history about Jekyll Island from the museum, and then headed over to the Turtle Center again.

Besides being a good educational site for school children, they operate a quite sophisticated hospital for injured or ill turtles. The turtle shown above had a major injury to its shell from an impact with a boat propeller. We heard that scenario several times while we were there. They have a kind of putty they use to patch the turtle shells, and it has an antibiotic effect as well.

Continuing the emphasis on the slightly weird, we found this orange-headed lizard on a tree outside the turtle hospital. I don't believe I have seen one like it.

We had lunch on Jekyll and left the island a little after noon to drive to St. Simon. We found it densely developed down to the beach, and this public beach was really covered up with people.

We drove around until we found the gleaming white lighthouse, the thing we had heard most about at St. Simon. It was associated with a nice museum and bookstore, and the entire area was well developed as a public waterfront area.

I walked out on the nice public pier, which had a lot of people fishing. What I liked best was an encounter with an old pelican.

This old timer showed every evidence of long experience. When a young boy tried to poke at him, he pecked at him and hissed.
Finally he had had enough and lifted off to move away from the hassle.
Probably this was his favorite spot, with all the fishermen and bait and such, so he didn't move very far.

If you ever need to know how to recognize a mad pelican, look at the image to the left. That is just after he pecked at the boy and just before he flew. Note that his brown neck feathers are all erect - his hackles are all raised and he is ready to peck someone!

I had never been to St. Simon, and it had been many years for Brenda. I was glad to have seen it, but it was very hot and very crowded on this particular day, and we decided to launch out back to the Atlanta area. Jekyll had definitely been less crowded and more laid-back.


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