Cumberland Island, GA

22 May


Day 15, Part 1

So after garnering my second speeding ticket and shedding a few tears, we arrived in St. Mary’s, GA late at night, exhausted and a bit crabby (although that may have been just me).  Saint Mary’s was less of a “stop” on our trip and more of a place to rest our heads for the night before catching the ferry the next morning to Cumberland Island. Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. The island also has a rich history as it was home to early natives,  missionaries, enslaved Africans and African-Americans and Wealthy Industrialists throughout the years. It’s covered in gorgeous maritime forests, undeveloped beaches, marshes, ruins (of the Dungeness Mansion) and wild horses…yes wild horses! Clearly the whole wild horse thing was a draw for me.

After getting a good nights sleep at our hotel we ate a sad complimentary breakfast (one of the joys of a road trip) and grabbed Subway sandwiches (another joy of road trips) to eat for lunch while on the island. We boarded the Cumberland ferry for a quick 45 minute ride to the island. The ferry also happened to be filled with a massive amount of cute 10 year olds on a school field trip. The were all SO excited to be on a boat headed to an island! Every animal, wave, landmass, tree and fellow boat we passed was more exciting than the next. It was actually rather sweet (I was even daydreaming about doing such activities with my future kids) until one kid yelled down to a smaller boat below- “suck it!” in the loudest voice he could muster. I slumped down in my seat embarrassed to be sitting next to him (in that moment I stopped daydreaming about doing these activities with my future children).

After our lively boat ride, we were officially on Cumberland Island and also officially the only people wearing dresses and flip-flops instead of hiking boots and fanny packs. I was starting to regret my clothing decision as we set off alone into the lush green wooded path of trees on a one mile walk in search of the Dungeness Mansion ruins…oh, and wild horses! Although now I was starting to wonder about the probability of actually seeing one. I mean, usually wild things hate to be contained (welcome to my early 20’s)…that’s why we call them wild, right? As we weeded through the plants, I couldn’t help but read the “animals to watch out for” section of our welcome packet and was surprised to learn that both rattlesnakes and alligators were present on the island. As I continued walking down the lush path I thought, Why am I always reading such things much too late? I must change this moving into my 30th year on earth.

I was just about to start having a panic attack about where I was stepping when we came out on a beautiful, empty beach with cream-colored sand and seashells. It was like being in some foreign film or something. I felt like we were the only people in the world. We climbed down the rocks to stick our toes in the sand and play around for a bit.

(bottom three photos by One Part Gypsy)

Then as we set back down the path towards the ruins, it happened…we turned a corner and voila, we were in a huge open field with a sea of wild horses in front of us!! I almost died. I could not believe what I was seeing. I approached them as quietly as I possibly could, frightened I would startle them and they would flee. But the closer I got to them, the more I realized that they could care less about us. The didn’t even flinch! They just kept eating their grass and swinging their tails. They were so very delicate and sweet. The wild horses against the backdrop of the mansion’s ruins was breathtaking. I honestly felt like I had been dropped in a movie and was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience and gratitude for it all.


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18 Responses to “Cumberland Island, GA”

  1. bumblelady May 22, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    How COOL!!! Love the Spanish Moss in the trees. Even though it’s a parasite, it’s probably one of the most romantic things about the deep South and one of my favorite things to see.

    • katemcclafferty May 22, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      Agreed!! I try to ignore it’s a parasite as well because it’s so gorgeous:)!

  2. cravesadventure May 22, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Loving your post and photos – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Day:)

  3. Hattie Wilcox May 22, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Hey travelers, thanks for the inside info on Cumberland. It’s on my list of future destinations. Would you mind telling me what state you were driving in when you were ticketed? It’s a dumb state that gives tickets to out-of-staters in tourist season. (That will not happen to you in Hawaii. If you get pulled over there, as soon as you produce your out-of-state license you will get a warning, not a ticket, as long as no one is rude.) It’s a good thing for travelers to know in which states they must be especially careful so they don’t get ticketed.

    • katemcclafferty May 22, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      That’s good to know! I got pulled over and ticketed in both New Mexico and Georgia. Oh and you must make it to Cumberland Island…it really is amazing.

      • Hattie Wilcox May 22, 2012 at 9:55 am #

        Thanks, Kate. You probably know that John Kennedy Jr. was married on Cumberland Island. That tells you how private it can be. Let us know if you stop in the lovely hotel. Can’t remember the name, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only overnight accommodation.

  4. Campbell Whitman May 22, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Ha, I first saw this in my email and thought it said “Cucumber Island” I thought that must be wrong or I would have gone there by now….I LOVE cucumbers! Then I said to myself in my head this must be wrong and of course reread it and realized I was just hungry waiting for our dinner to finish cooking already. I love all your blogs but this trip you 2 are doing is so very interesting because you get to read about it and learn from another persons perspective! Your writing has really gotten more exciting to read and I am really loving it!

    • katemcclafferty May 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      That’s hysterical! Cucumber Island! I happen to love cucumbers too so that sounds pretty great to me as well. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog!! I appreciate it:)

  5. Cassy May 22, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Yee!! Wild Ponies! That would definitely be the highlight of my life! Looks absolutely amazing! =)

  6. whitt88 May 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Dreamy post — takes us flying thru a few moments of your happy life. Loved the pictures and got wrapped up in the story. Really appreciated seeing this. Oh the wild horses…..

  7. M. M May 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Wow. Have been looking forward to hearing about the Island and your trip from sea to shining sea. Fantastic, beautiful, poetic!!!!

  8. Suzanne May 23, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Woah! I love that creepy forest.. And what a story! It was feeling very “Lord of the Flies” for a while there so I’m glad you pulled out of it okay. 🙂

  9. rich May 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    i’ve been to st. simon’s island and…damn…another island close by on which i spent my honeymoon, about 20 something years ago. crap. it’s an island that…i mean…son of a…grrrr.


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