Shelling Sapelo Island

If you come to Eagle Island with your own boat, Captain Andy Hill will spend a few hours with you, orienting you to the creeks and waterways so you can comfortably command your watercraft to all the places you might want to  go – or you can rent his boat and services and let him act as your guide.  Eagle Island would be the perfect place to arrive by boat, and you can stay the entire time without seeing a single other person. You can even order your groceries at the mainland’s local supermarket and Captain Andy will ensure that your kitchen is stocked and ready for your arrival.  You don’t have to leave the island, or the waterways, the entire time.

You’re snuggled in the back barrier islands – privately owned – interconnected by creeks and rivers and the intracoastal waterway and finally, the Atlantic. So  you can boat (or be taken!)  out to Sapelo Island, and enjoy a long, windswept beach all to yourself, and I mean all to yourself.  One could walk naked at the shoreline at high noon and not worry about being seen by another human being unless you brought one along.  William and Kate really ought to consider a trip to Eagle Island; they could live in anonymity and while I’m sure Captain Andy has hosted well-known individuals, he isn’t going to kiss and tell.

Sapelo Island is remote, pristine, and only accessible by a ferry if you’re coming to visit as part of the ‘general public’.

If you’re arriving via boat – either yours, or Captain Andy’s, you’ll have access to his truck so you can drive around Sapelo and out to its beach.  There’s a lot to see of the island, apart from the beach, but a as beachlifer, this is what made my day.

Eagle Island guests all know about Sapelo and its treasures: the natural marine forest, Hog Hammock and the 47 permanent residents of the Geechee culture, the white-sand, windswept beach with conch shell, sand dollars, and driftwood lying on the sand.  Show me a beach lover who isn’t enchanted by such treasures.

Andy gave us each a pail for shelling and some of us were more dogged in our pursuit of shell than others were.  It doesn’t take long to find a few, but for those of us who can’t stop with just one or two, you can walk a long, long way down the beach and back and fill that pail to overflowing with conchs and sand dollars that we just don’t have on my own neighborhood beach.  When I saw that Andy had returned with a pailful of beauties I set out again, determined to walk beyond where his footsteps ended in the sand, and that’s exactly what I did.  I kept walking and walking and for some reason I set the pail down, thinking, “I won’t go much farther, and I just carry back a few more in my hands.”

Well, a few more became a pile more and so I left those in a mound on the sand,  and kept walking.  I should have realized I could never carry so many shells without the pail, which by now was … a quarter mile behind me?

What did I do?  I couldn’t just leave those beautiful conch shells lying in the sand; my heart was racing for the excitement of finding them all.  I was wearing a tankini.  And, like I said…there weren’t any other human beings out there, except for my group who were so far beyond where I’d set the pail down… so… I removed that tankini top and made a carrying sack for my shells and still they were spilling out and I was holding that thing like a baby!  Crazy.   I made my way back to the mound I’d abandoned earlier and had to work those shells into my ‘tankini-sack’ and finally reached that half-full blue pail, where I gratefully deposited by bounty.  I tied my top back on and trod waaay back to where the others where gathering their stuff up to leave: perfect timing.  And no one was any the wiser.  Jeannie got her shells, and now they’re lining my deck and in my outside shower: so lovely.  And, a lovely memory – my solitary afternoon wandering a deserted beach dotted with magical shells.

Cleaning my shells before coming home from Eagle Island.


Macro Monday Fire and Shells

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the swing of Macro Monday and I’ve missed it.  I love zeroing in on detail and seeing what the camera renders.  Last week, I was visiting Eagle Island and I was drawn to the lovely citronella candles and their wicks with flames…and of course, the sand dollars I collected on Sapelo Island. Our Eagle Island host Andy Hill took us there by boat and  we spent a delightful afternoon wandering the deserted beach and collecting pails full of sand dollars and conch shells.

What is this thing?  Anyway, I thought it was cool…like a ‘sea necklace’.

The end.

Outdoor Showering…

… is the best.

Living at the beach in Florida, an outdoor shower is a luxury/necessity for me. I love the beach but eschew beach sand in my home, so I’ve set up a pretty nice outdoor shower environment on our side deck. Last year we expanded it, too, because my husband knew how much I enjoyed showering under the stars even if I hadn’t been to the beach. I love it.

My three-day retreat at Eagle Island was a sensual delight.  Now don’t get all freaked out, y’all who don’t really know what the word sensual means.  Eagle Island was a delight to my senses. Visually: gorgeous.  Accommodations: luxurious, comfortable. Cuisine: perfection (someone else cooked. We had Low Country Boil; oysters and shrimp; seafood pasta and pecan crusted chicken breast. All I had to do was sit and dine). Mood: relaxed, and friendships formed.  Experiences: both active and languid.  Sunshine. Water. Trees. Sand. Shells. All the things that excite me.

With all the indoor/outdoor amenities, of course the lodge home would have an outdoor shower, which I rhapsodized over in a previous post.  I took 50% of my showers in that shower.  Awesome.

It was like a screened in cabin, and tucked under the expansive stairway leading from the ground level to the upper living area.  One could wander past and not even notice it.

It has a screened-porchlike door with a latch hook to lock it from the inside – not that anyone would barge in on you.  The interior was very roomy and two generous shower heads were set parallel, overtop, and a fieldstone floor.  I was utterly captivated.  Showering there, particularly in the dark of night, was one of my favorite things to do.

That fantastic outdoor shower: day and night, below.

It was charmingly decorated in found object style, and I plan to steal a few ideas to decorate my own outside shower.  Shells, and more shells!There’s really no excuse to miss the outdoor shower experience when you go to Eagle Island.  Every guest is given her own cozy robe to use during her stay, so there’s no worry of dashing from shower to room with but a towel wrapped around you.  Your thick towels stay nice and dry on the hooks inside.  There’s even specially made Eagle Island  liquid soap, shampoo, and conditioner on hand (as there is in each of the lodge home’s bathrooms) for guests; nothing is overlooked.  

Take it from me, the outdoor showering aficionado: this was a killer shower set-up. I loved ever minute under the rainwater shower head, patting myself dry with a clean, thick towel, and letting the moisturizer sink into my skin while the cool spring breeze dried me off.  A refreshing and sensual way to start or end a day.  It was a girls’ getaway weekend so my shower was Just for Jeannie.  But if it’s a romantic getaway you have in mind for Eagle Island, this outdoor shower is definitely designed to accommodate two.

There is even a sink and mirror for your convenience!  Clearly, I’m enchanted, and wish I had a setup like this at my house.  While my own is much more basic, it’s still pretty great to be able to shower under the stars whenever I feel like it.

And there you have it.  Your tour of Eagle Island’s outdoor shower.  If you’re a guest here and don’t take advantage of this, you’re missing out.  Don’t let that happen!

Kayaking Mayhall Creek

Ever heard of the Mayhall Creek?

Neither had I, until I arrived at, Eagle Island.  Day two was our ‘hanging out’ day, which we did, so languorously, until our  guide Danny  Grissette of  Altamaha Coastal Tours arrived with the kayaks.  

How great to have a guide to get us all situated, and encouraging the reluctant among us (not me!).  One of our group was hesitant, unwilling to commit even while she was walking down the sloping dock to the water, saying, “I’m not sure,” while the rest of us  piled (ungracefully) into our kayaks. (Is getting into a kayak ever graceful?)  Reluctant Girl eventually did consent to riding the tandem kayak with Danny, our affable and most capable kayak guide.

Even Tami, the consummate city girl among us was game, outfitted in her cute swimsuit and signature PINK sunglasses.  All was well with her, looking fine in the yellow kayak that I kind of wanted for myself (yellow being my signature color;  ask anyone!).

Once she started paddling though, it got a little challenging. Tami circled the dock, and then heard me yell excitedly that I spotted a baby alligator.  I turned  back toward her only to see her making a beeline for the dock, saying, “No thanks.”  She was done. Well, that’s okay… now she can say she kayaked.  For about three minutes. But who’s counting?!

Mayhall Creek from my kayak

The conditions on the Mayhall Creek were somewhat challenging for me – the occasional kayaker.  The tide was coming in, the current was against us, and the wind was blowing in our faces.  I’m always last in any kayak group no matter how hard I try to keep up.  But I don’t mind; still, today was a workout on the outbound journey.  I wouldn’t have missed it for anything though.  I wasn’t coming out to a private island nestled within the salt marshes of the Georgia coast and passing up the chance to kayak there, particularly with a guide who did all the hard work of hauling the kayaks to and fro and ensuring the newbies were safe and comfortable.  He showed me how to use the rudder which helped a lot, as I was flailing from one side of the creek to the other!  Still, our group made it from Eagle Island to the mouth of the Darien River which was about a mile and a half each way – huzzah!  My last outing on a kayak was a put in point at Amelia Island all the way out to the Nassau Sound – a round trip journey of seven miles! Yowza; I was proud of that one.

Here’s our group:

Kayaking was fun. Tami, girl, you gotta give it another try!

Eagle Island: Our First Day

Meeting other travel and destination writers, and being ferried  out to Eagle Island by  the owner, our host (and yours, if you come, too) Andy Hill made for a lovely day. We’re a group of seven, all from different backgrounds and media, getting to know one another…and just relaxing in this most relaxing of venues. It’s has been a splendid day.

As afternoon melded into evening, Andy and his staff of two prepared a delicious low country boil while I took a walk down the path to the dock, as the citronella lanterns were lit to keep any pesky insects from bothering us.

I wandered with my camera for a bit, zeroing in on the macro, and particularly entranced with the flame.  The spacious and thoughtfully appointed house with its generous screened porches on both upper and lower levels was golden in the fading daylight.

To make the whole experience even better, someone else was preparing dinner.

Our gracious host, Andy Hill finishes up the Low Country Boil, replete with local Georgia shrimp from the Boone* family shrimpers, three generations of them providing fresh shrimp to families and restaurants all over the region, and other traditional ingredients that makes this dish so favored in the South.

The writers all gathered from their spaces in the house – some of us on laptops, others, resting, or reading – on the screened porch to enjoy a meal together and hear more from Andy Hill about his love for his several back barrier islands.

What a secret, hidden treasure Eagle Island is.

At end the day, I luxuriated in the best outdoor shower I’ve ever seen.  If you know me, you know I love my outdoor showers. This one was like a small, screened cabin, spacious enough for two shower heads attached to the ceiling, and several hooks for towels and robes and clothing in no danger of getting wet; a fieldstone floor, and a wooden bench for sitting, if you cared to.  And that is how I ended this day.  Showering by the light of the stars with nothing but the singing of the frogs to keep me company.

This is how Jeannie goes camping.  From the outdoor shower, to a comfy bed with clean sheets.

*more about Boone shrimper and the development of the TED (turtle excluding devices) later. We were lucky to meet the grandson of the inventor of this net, who helped prepare our delicious meal tonight.

Visiting Eagle Island

Have you heard of Eagle Island?

I hadn’t, not until I was invited by local public relations woman Leigh Cort of Leigh Cort Publicity in Ponte Vedra Beach to join her and five other journalists and bloggers on a media trip to spend three days and nights here.  Eagle Island is a back barrier private island off the coast of Georgia, north of St. Simon’s Island.  Touted as a ‘girls getaway’ for us writers, I was thrilled to be among those invited.  My new friends are Linda Erbele, who writes for Georgia Crossings, Motel.com, her own website , and is also editor of Georgia Trend Daily; Tami Reed of Talking With Tami, Rolling Out, and Kontrol Magazine; K.K. Synder of Southwest Georgia Living; and Jan Schroder, the Managing Editor of Travelgirl Magazine and her blog, Girls on the Go; and Jeyme Colodne of Best Self Atlanta Magazine.

Eagle Island is privately owned by Andy Hill, who has several small islands here, and is only developed to the extend that it allows guests to fully experience the quiet of a small island, in its natural condition save for the most comfortable home,  nestled among the Georgia coast’s barrier islands.  

Today, we all met in Darien, Georgia and were transported by Captain Andy, who acts as guide and concierge, with all our necessities to this luxurious home that is built with respect for the environment.

The home is outfitted with every amenity a guest could want, and the grounds are eco-groomed for walking pleasure.  Andy Hill has a deep love for nature, and serving his guests so they are comfortable, and free to explore the salt marshes, fish, go crabbing, kayaking, snoozing on the hammock or sleeping on the outdoor, hanging bed.  It’s two stories, each with wraparound screened porches.  The outdoor kitchen, pond, and fire pit, with pine-needled paths inviting you to walk about and take in the scenery which is … dead quiet.  More about all of that, later.

I’ll leave you with that for now,  as my new friends are getting acquainted around the large kitchen table while I’m here, blogging.  Watch for updates on our adventures, and lots of photos.  This is a lovely location, just an hour and a half from Jacksonville, four hours from Atlanta, and is easily accessible via air service to Brunswick, Georgia.  Then, of course, a short boat ride to Eagle Island.  Think:  complete and utter privacy.

So long for now!

Back to the Beach

I’m a fan of beaches in general; always have been. Now that I’m able to walk to a beautiful Florida beach right in my own neighborhood, I still have to pinch myself that it’s all worked out this way, even after eleven years of calling ‘the beach’ my home.

For years my sister has made her life in California and I loved visiting her there. I loved the coast, and the mountains, and the fact that she lived in such a gorgeous geographical location with a lovely climate. I’d truly hate to leave there when my time was up, to return to my home in the often-dreary midwest; at least for so many months of the year.

Now when I come home from any vacation, I don’t feel that pang of longing to live somewhere else.  I do live somewhere else. I live in Florida, of all places, and right at the coastline, too!  Oh, how fortunate I feel about that.  I love our climate – I’ve adjusted to the summer weather – and the winters here are sublime.  I love being able to come home to this:

To walk from my house, to the sand, with a chair, towel, book, and drink, and spend a couple of hours.  Like I did, yesterday.  It was a picture-perfect day.  To make my point, behold this:

Neighborhood surfer, coming in from a short, late afternoon session.

Yes, that’s a jellyfish in the foreground, left picture.  No worries.

Surfing is a sport that people can and do enjoy at all ages.  Living near the beach, if the waves are good, you can dash in for a bit, or longer.  There’s a tide clock at the center of town, but surfers follow the rhythms of the tide and swell in their own ways.  The clock is charming; an old-fashioned lamppost style that stands in the middle of the ‘five-way stop’ that residents of Atlantic Beach all know well.

On this Florida beach, unlike the beaches in Malibu, for instance, we only have to wear wet suits in the winter time.  They are still wearing wet suits in the Pacific; in Florida, our waters warm up early and stay warm for several months.

This was an ideal beach weekend, and there’ll be many more to follow.  The ocean air smells like home, now, and even when I was on the west coast, the salty beach air evoked a visceral home sort of feeling in me.

It seems that everyone was on our Florida beach this weekend, and I’m guessing the scene was similar all around our state.   Even at 6:00pm, I saw people still arriving, not wanting the last of the weekend to slip away,  while some were beginning to depart. Judging from these photos, though, it looks like a lot of people were having a good time, and weren’t planning to leave anytime soon!

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.  I had the telephoto on and just pointed outward to sea.  Imagine my grin when I brought this sweet image up on the laptop.  How could I leave this one out?  It was the green/blue water that drew my lens.  It was the surprise between the waves that conspired to make this one a keeper.

Barkworld

She was ours, for twenty minutes of our lives. Soft, cuddly, curious, playful, affectionate.

We knew before going into the ‘hugging room’ that we couldn’t take her home; I knew it would be hard to hold her, and leave without her.

I’d never thought of an Alaskan Siberian Husky before playing with her…now, I’d have one in a minute.
If I was ready for a dog in our lives. Which I’m not.

But, oh. How we loved on her for twenty minutes. We did her a favor, I told my daughter. The puppy was desperate to play with the pups in the adjoining kennel. They were tussling about together, having a good old time, and the Husky pup was barking excitedly, trying to get to them through the glass separator to join in the fun. I wondered if she’d be a barker, but when she came into the room with us it was clear that her temperament was quite perfect. Part playful and inquisitive, and also eager for a snuggle, nuzzling my daughter’s neck. It was quite touching. We returned her to her space, tuckered out. No longer straining to get to the puppies next to her, she drank some water, while lying down. She is just a baby, after all.

It was a good thing we are in California still. Had we met this precious pup at home in Florida, it’s possible I’d have thrown caution to the wind, run the Visa for $1,300, and brought this Husky home for Easter.

Someone will find this puppy as enchanting as we did. I hope that someone treats her well.

West Coastlife: Mountains and Horses

A definite must on this trip was a trail ride in the mountains where we might could see the ocean, too.  (Might could…I’d never heard anyone say that until a couple of years ago, and since then, I’ve heard it more than once.  Couldn’t resist.)

Googled ‘horseback riding’ for the area and found the perfect spot for us.  Park Place Stable in Malibu.  A short drive from home, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains at Malibu, the website pictured exactly what I was looking for and it didn’t disappoint.  The owner, Joy, was friendly and chatted it up with me as we got settled with the signing of forms, trying on of helmets, and getting the horses ready for us.

I watched a horse being groomed; mane  had been given a snappy trim, and was getting his hooves cleaned, so I commented about him getting a pedicure.  That’s when Joy told us that this horse, Cornelius, would be filmed for a Millionaire Matchmaker (a horseback riding date for the couple) episode the following day, along with Fjona, another of their horses.  So we had a fun time talking about that for a bit. I probably knew more about this (vapid) show than she did, which made me like her even more.

Our guide, Chantal, a lovely and natural horsewoman, handled the four of us with practiced ease.  Soon we were saddled and off we went, me bringing up the rear (a kind of important position,  *ahem*) of the group. She wore black and white riding clothes, casually melding the English and Western styles, long-legged and lithe. She spoke with a charming French-sounding accent, and led us to the most lovely spots for viewing and picture-taking.

My daughter who loves horses was the impetus for the ride, and I’m glad of it.  It was a beautiful way to connect with the outdoors, being on horseback in the hills, and yes, we did see the Pacific from one vantage point.  Ah, gorgeous. The mountains were verdant and blooming, the air was breezy, and the sun was shining.  At about 68 degrees there, it was perfect.

And our horses!  Wonderful temperaments, each of them; we all petted and cuddled them afterwards. My daughter rode Cornelius and my sister, Fiona – the two horses tapped for ‘Millionaire’ program, while my nephew took Buddy and I rode Lauren.  I loved Lauren by the end of that ride, and we all posed with the horses once they’d had their water and were resting. I guess horses can sleep standing up. Fiona couldn’t keep her eyes open, darling girl.

It was great, being outside, with the horses, and exploring new places. Next time, we’ll go for the three hour ride. Goodbye, Lauren. I’ll watch for the others on TV and remember, you were ours, if only for an hour.

West Coastlife

Atlantic Beachlife is on the road this week, kicking it Pacific-style.

On the Pacific Coast Highway, watching the surfers line up in the water, wearing wetsuits and catching waves, inhaling that sweet salty air, pungent, and redolent of Atlantic beachlife, we ascended from the beach to the hills overlooking the water. You can’t do that at home. Drive up from the coast; and I do love the mountains. Every place has its charms.

The Getty Villa in Malibu was our first stop, the gorgeous educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.  Since I took my daughter out of school for two days to visit California, we had to add some culture to itinerary!

It was worth it; a place one can visit for a day, or a couple of hours; some students we ran into later in the day said they always get extra credit from teachers when they visit The Getty, so I’ll have to make sure her teachers at St. Paul’s  know this!  (Do you think they read my blog?)

Afterwards, we made way to the shops at the Third Street Promenade.  It’s a fun place to shop and stroll about; really just a mall, but it has a good vibe going, on the street.

It was my daughter’s first time, and she had a little money in her wallet for vacation shopping. We had to compensate for the “field trip” at The Getty and Third Street is always a reliable shopping venue that feels different than home.

What was even better about shopping the Third Street Promenade was realizing that I really do have all I need from my hometown, local shops.  The shops and boutiques that are situated in charming storefronts in my neighborhood, and owned by my friends and neighbors; not corporate retail conglomerates.  It was totally fun poking in and out of shops I’d only ever read about in magazines, like H & M and Kitson.  But at the end of it all, I knew: I have everything I need and want right at home.

And if I really did care to buy this book,  our local, independent bookseller could order it for me  at the same cost.

If you live in a town with locally owned and operated shops, support them.  They make your community special.  Malls have their place, but you can’t beat the hometown storefront way of life.  Ours are every bit as cutting edge as the big name stores in L.A.