Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Chance Encounter

I am the only employee of a local non-profit and therefore, the touchstone for all traffic and inquiries.  A few weeks ago I got an email from someone saying that she would be in town for a conference and that she was going to stay over for an extra day to see the area and wanted to know how she could get to my organization, a botanical park.  She didn't have a car so would have to come by bus or taxi.  I snagged a pdf of the local bus route and emailed it to her.

She replied with a thank you and further elaborated that she was from New Mexico and this was her first trip to Baja Georgia and that she wanted to see some of the natural beauty of the area.  I thought, jeez, this woman wants to see the area badly enough to stay over an extra day and I'm going to put her on a bus through a mile-and-a-half of butt-ugly to reach a destination where there isn't even a bus stop within a quarter of a mile.  Before I knew it, I found myself replying that she couldn't come to Baja Georgia and only see the city and a bus route to the park, as nice as it is, she had to see the Talbot and Amelia islands but she would need a car to do so.  Then, completely out of character, I found myself saying that I would be glad to take her if she could go on Sunday morning.

She was delighted.  The die was cast, and this past Sunday was the rendezvous.

Sunday dawned cool with a thick blanket of fog.  Beautiful in its own right, but certainly not sunny Florida and providing little chance of seeing the ocean on the trip up the coast.  Anyway, I picked her up at her hotel at the appointed time and we struck out.

The drive through the marsh to our first destination, The Kingsley Plantation, was beautiful.  The heavy fog covering the marsh gave it an ethereal feeling.  In conversation along the way I learned that she, Shelly, was a teacher on the Navajo Reservation in northwestern New Mexico.  She spent a good deal of time talking about her kids and taking photographs of the fog-shrouded landscape which is something they seldom see.  She said she always brings back photos of her trips for the kids to enjoy.

The Kingsley Plantation, a national park, was founded in the late 1700's and grew cotton and indigo.  There aren't many plantations in Florida as it was a Spanish colony that didn't allow slavery until 1763 when it fell under British control so, this is a special and unique place.  The state was a notorious haven for run-away slaves who became known as the Black Seminoles.  But that's another story.

The remains and restored slave cabins at the Kingsley Plantation.
A stately Live Oak on Ft. George Island near the plantation.
Leaving the plantation, we headed up the coast towards the Talbot Islands, Big and Little.  Our original plan was to hike the Little Talbot Island trail, one of the most beautiful in the entire state, but Shelly was recovering from a bout of pneumonia and we thought better of it.  So, we stopped at Big Talbot Island and an easy walk to the beach.

The Skeleton Coast of Big Talbot Island State Park.
It's funny how quickly the fog dissipates just a short distance from the beach once you get into the trees.  Gives you an idea of just how much moisture trees can capture.

Determined to find the sun, we continued up to Fernandina Beach for a walk on the beach.

A visit to Ft. Clinch State Park in Fernandina and the sun finally burned through.

Ft. Clinch was one of several coastal forts commissioned by George Washington.  Though it served through all of the wars, except for a brief skirmish during the Civil War, it never saw action.  Its sister fort, Ft. Pulaski in Savannah, saw plenty of action and was the first fort fired upon and destroyed by rifled cannon, forever ending the building of forts for defense.
The fort has been very nicely preserved and restored.  Lots of fun magazines, bunkers and ramparts to explore.

By this time our stomachs were telling us it was time for lunch so we headed into downtown Fernandina and settled on an old seafood restaurant near the waterfront.  It was pretty bad, the oil was burnt and old, but, being from the New Mexico outback where a fish is a picture on the wall, Shelly thought it was fine so that was OK by me.

A quaint cottage in the quaint village of Fernandina Beach.

A good time had by all and I got home in time for a beer and a nap accompanied by my favorite white noise, NASCAR.


  1. Great shots. I'll have to make it down that way one weekend and do some more exploring. Now to find the weekend to make it down from Atlanta.

  2. I was interested to learn that you work for a botanical gardens. I think that's a swell job. Also it was real nice of you to make Shelly's visit so memorable and thanks for the photos for us.

  3. @rumsfeldoffice


  4. Great pictures and you have my wanderlust going again, feel a strong urge to head down to the coast of South Carolina. My wife would flip over that cottage in the last picture.

  5. Josh... little far for a weekend trip from Hotlanta but Savannah is as easy shot.

    Squirrel... thanks for being a gentleman, as always.

    BB... sometime when you have the time spend some time on the Georgia coast south of Savannah. you'll love it.

  6. How come when I go above and beyond the call of duty, I get stuck doing things like taking folks to the ER or Walmart? Not fair!

  7. Great photos. What do you use? The coast has so much to photograph.

  8. Syd, thanks. I use a well-worn Nikon D70. However I use my old F lenses because they're so much better. Adds 50% better resolution. But everything is totally manual.

  9. Mr. C if you pay for my gas down there I will let you take me on the same tour. Hell son you can even buy lunch.

  10. WM... will have to wait until the price of gas comes down. Maybe in the next century?

  11. Your backdrop for this blog and the pictures here are so reminiscent of our Litchfield, Pawleys Island, Georgetown, Charleston area of the SC coast. The backdrop could be my beloved Brookgreen Gardens. The charming cottage looks like Beaufort to me.

    If only, if only there was less ignunce and stoopidity in this state, I could stay in love with it. (Sorry, that rant has been boiling to a head in recent days and slips out of my control too often, now.)

    Beautiful tour, Mr. C. Sounds like you didn't regret the impulse to come to Shelley's aid. A good deed; a good day. Good on ya.

  12. You're in the right ballpark Nance. Tree background from Savannah. Mansion in header Charleston. Cottage... Fernandina Bch. but could easily be Beaufort.

  13. Sheesh! You are a soft touch! Good for you and better for her. Your secret is safe with us. You didn't need to man up with the Nascar and beer at the end.

  14. It's easy to be a soft touch when it's something you would probably do anyway.

  15. I really like the new look. Bravo.


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