Sunday, the 24th, was supposed to be a decent day weather wise so we decided we would revisit one of the other barrier islands, St. Simons Island. At 18 square miles in size, it is the largest of the Golden Isles.
To get there we had to cross over the Sydney Lanier Bridge, the tallest cable suspension bridge in Georgia. According to the Golden Isles website, “this beautiful structure is 7,780 feet long and 486 feet tall. It contains 95,283 cubic yards of concrete and 14,810,095 pounds of reinforcing steel. The current bridge was built as a replacement to the original lift bridge which was struck by ships twice. It was named for Georgian poet Sidney Lanier who wrote the poem Marshes of Glynn, about the beautiful marshes that surround the area.” Probably, like us, people speed along the causeway unaware that the marshes have been immortalized in his poem. Glynn, by the way, is one of the original eight counties in Georgia, and named after John Glynn, a member of the British House of Commons who defended the cause of the American Colonies before the American Revolution.
Following Route 17 for a short distance, we would eventually exit onto the F.J. Torras Causeway. This is the only roadway where I’ve seen Terrapin Crossing signs and cutouts in the barriers dividing the 4 lane highway which allow them to cross from one side of the roadway to the other. Have yet to see an actual terrapin crossing though – guess they can read the signs and know they are only supposed to cross May-July!
We made our way to Palmer’s Village Cafe to have breakfast. Last time we were here, we ate at the 4th of May Cafe which was very good but we decided to try some place new. Since it was late morning and the place is fairly small, there was a wait of about 15 minutes but it was well worth it.
Not your typical bacon and eggs kind of place (although they do have them if you want). It was more than breakfast – more like brunch! Rob had the Hooch Omelet (wonder how they came up with that name) with spicy tomatoes, provolone & cheddar, sausage, and garnished with fried onions while I had the special – pan grilled salmon served on a bed of argula with baby carrots and topped with a poached egg. Delish! Good enough for dinner!
After breakfast we walked down towards the water and out on the pier. Temp was in the 50’s (warm to us Northerners) but felt colder because of the strong wind, although that was mostly cancelled out by the clear skies and full on solar warmth.
After about an hour, we left, heading for the Ft. Frederica National Monument, another place we had visited previously. The fort was built by Oglethorpe in 1736 to protect the southern boundary of his new colony from the Spanish. Until 1749 the fort and its regimental garrison were the hub of British military operations along the Georgia frontier. When the Spanish troops sought to capture St. Simons Island in 1742, Oglethorpe’s men won a decisive victory in what is now called the Battle of Bloody Marsh causing the Spanish to retreat and confirming that Georgia was a British territory. It ironic that this battle had far fewer casualties than the legendary title implies. The town declined after the fort’s regiment disbanded in 1749.
There is a $3 entrance charge but if you have a Senior National Park Pass the fee is waived. In the Visitor Center, an interesting 15 minute film is shown depicting the history of the fort, the reenactment of the Bloody Marsh conflict as well as the archeological dig which has provided a glimpse of the fort and lives of the people there. Following the film we walked around the grounds, enjoying the displays of the artifacts and seeing the ruins. It was a beautiful day!
At the remains of the fort near the waterfront, we started talking to a couple, Brian and Theresa, originally from England but now living in VA. It turns out they were boaters, cruising in their power boat, a Kadey Krogen 42′ trawler. Kind of coincidental that the last time we were in FL and we were considering upgrading our boat, we had looked at several 42′ Kadey’s. We are partial to this raised pilothouse design.
What was even more coincidental was that they mentioned they had been in contact with some friends who left from RI heading south in their sailboat several days ago. When we asked where in RI, they couldn’t remember but they said that they had a homemade catamaran. Whoa! I immediately asked if the name of the boat was Peace. It was. Such a small world – Peace is owned by a couple from England who moor in East Greenwich Cove, RI every summer. East Greenwich Yacht Club (also in East Greenwich Cove) is where we have had a slip for our boat for years. We’ve never met them, only waved at them, but several of our friends from the club know them.
Hmmm, pure coincidence? Or is this evidence of six degrees of separation which, according to Wikipedia is “the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world”? Or is this perhaps serendipity? Whatever it is, it proves what a small world it is sometimes!
After talking with them for awhile (hope you guys got your battery issues sorted out!), we continued our walk around the grounds. If you are ever in the area this park is definitely a must see!
From there, we drove around some more, eventually touring the Avenue of the Oaks where there is a magnificent double row of 160 year old live oaks. Anna Page King, who inherited Retreat Plantation in 1826, planted the famous Avenue of the Oaks. It is said that Anna grew such an abundance of flowers at Retreat Plantation that sailors nearing St. Simon’s Island could smell the flowers’ fragrance before they saw the Island shores.
Once the entrance to Retreat Plantation, the Avenue of the Oaks is now the grand entrance to the Sea Island Golf Club. Just as a point of interest, live oaks are known for their enormous size and vast networks of twisting, winding limb and are so named because their deep green leaves retain their color throughout the year.
In the early days, St. Simons Island supported a thriving lumber industry. Oak timbers, cut from Cannons Point, were used in 1794 to build the U. S. frigate Constitution, named Old Ironsides. In 1874, timbers from the island were also cut for use in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. While many trees in this area are older, legend holds that the average life span of a live oak is 300 years.