One of our first big detours was a bit more planned than most, but you must forgive us as it was our first trip to Cumberland Island National Seashore. We really didn’t know much about the island other than it was suppose to be a Georgia treasure and it was. So we did have to make camping reservations in advance and that was literally months in advance in 1988 and has become 6 months in advance now, because that’s as far in advance as they will take them. We also had to book our passage aboard the Cumberland Queen. Lisa and I stayed at Sea Camp. It was not designated as Wilderness because you could walk a mile to some out door, cold water showers and there was fresh water there as well. This was a trip with no children, lots of wildlife and a good amount of relaxation. Lisa claimed to never have truly seen a falling star until Cumberland. We were standing on a boardwalk over the dunes watching the night sky and that’s when it happened. Not just a simple streak but one of those that skids across the sky leaving a wide bright mark. She literally shouted in joy and it sealed her love for the Island. You see Lisa is not a big fan of Snakes or things that go bump in the night, like a gang of raccoons rustling up some goodies. And you can bet we saw both along with bugs and wild boar all rolled into a steamy no bath zone of just plain hot! The thing is all that was wrapped in beautiful live oaks that cradled you every night in a light ocean breeze as you fell asleep to chirping of crickets. Those nasty critters lived along with sublime sunrises and empty beaches sprinkled with horses. These sights over paid for the trouble. In the movie Jeremiah Johnson, Will Geer as Bear Claw asked Jeremiah, “Were it worth the trouble?” Jeremiah thoughtfully answered, “What trouble?”
We just didn’t notice the trouble.
The next year we went back to Cumberland and we brought with us 3 of our couple friends. Whoops, just remembered something…….. I’ve lied to you. I implied no rules on these little adventures of ours. We (the guys) did make some rules on this trip. They went something like this… Look, lets not get all weird on this trip. If you want to go do something with another couple, do it. If you and your wife want to have some alone time, do it. You don’t have to check in with anybody. Lets not get hurt feelings and lets not hurt anyone’s. Just do and don’t worry. We even took different cars in case some one had to go home in an emergency so as not to impact the other’s trip. Maybe a little overboard, but the spirit of it was to enjoy YOUR visit to Cumberland as a couple and have friends along.
I believe there is something magical about Cumberland Island for each person that visits. For me it was a sense of history, as you could search for fossilized shark teeth in the dredge rubble or walk among the ruined castles of men. To me there is always something reassuring about nature taking back what it once had. And with the Carnigie’s Dungeness in ruins it gives me pause to contemplate the folly of humans, the power of nature and other subjects I normally leave alone for lack of time or energy. Camping on Cumberland, you have both. Lisa connected with nature with a childlike wonder and took every chance she could to be near the ocean. I don’t know what she was thinking as we strolled along the beach, unless she volunteered a tidbit, but sometimes it’s nice to silently share the act of thinking. Cumberland had that effect, it was like going to a charming old chapel. You were obliged to be quiet, but you couldn’t keep from turning your head side to side to see what was in every nook. I was looking at a picture of us on the ferry headed for the mainland at the end of our trip and we had looks on our faces that ran the gambit from grins to grimaces. I don’t know if some of us were sad, in deep thought, filled with dread at reentering the regular world or just plain tired. I do know Lisa and I had an experience that we bring up occasionally like someone would a favorite book, to re-live, re-read and remember good times and good friends.