RANDOM MIND CLUTTER ::::::FINAL THOUGHTS / COMMENTS OF COMPLETING THE GREAT LOOP OF AMERICA!

STATISTICS:

DAYS ON TRIP                       4/27/16 –  4/25/17    363   (CRUISED 115)

MILES                                    5,555

ENGINE HOURS                    765

DIESEL FUEL CONSUMED   2,297.5 GAL.

STATES VISITED                    17

LOCKS                                      60   PLUS SEVERAL WING DAMS

CASHEWS EATEN                 20 LBS!

BAGS OF ICE                          300  +/-

LIQUOR                                  CAN NOT REMEMBER

BEST MARINA                        BELLE MARINA-  (private facility by invitation only!)

DAYS IN DINGHY                  0     (aka dog house)

 

OTHER THOUGHTS

There were a few boat names that caught our eye.   These two took the top prize for being the most clever!        “O T B” —–   (Over The Bitch)    and    “Hell Froze Over”

The Wild Life encounters were super special.  Many Bald Eagles, especially along the Rivers, as well as thousands of White Pelicans.   All so beautiful.   We will not ever forget the Hump Back Whale encounter in the Raritan Bay at Staten Island.  The Bay is only about 20 – 25 feet deep, but sure enough, there was this whale.   A week or so later it had moved into New York Harbor and was featured on the front page of the New York Times.

A lone coyote was spotted one day along a river bank.  And of course the dolphin who love to play at the bow and ride the wake of the boat.  They have this uncanny ability to roll over to one side and look up at you , all the while they are riding at the bow!   It seems as if they are saying –“hey there human, thanks for the fun ride!”    What a beautiful World we live in.

The Human Life (in some cases, also wild)  encounters –     We felt blessed to meet so many interesting and wonderful individuals  including those making the Great Loop journey, those just cruising around their local waters,  and  those on shore who greeted us at marinas, in shops, restaurants and boat yards all along the waterways.

HANK’S COMMENTS

This is Janet’s blog. She has regularly recorded the events of our trip, documenting our daily activities, places, history, people we’ve met along the way. She’s done a great job with little, if any input from me. She has, however, asked for any comments as she wraps up this blog. Here we go.

This has been an awesome and amazing journey. I didn’t have many expectations when we left Hilton Head late April 2016. I just brought my curiosity along and it was fulfilled. Once out of “home waters” (somewhere around Southport, NC) my head was on a swivel. The little towns of Beaufort (Bo-fort), Belhaven, Coinjock and the “inland marshes” were a nice transition to waters ahead.

The Chesapeake with its rich history, beautiful boats and wonderful food provide enough interest for a lifetime. Too bad we had to move on.

New Jersey will be remembered for a literal “river” of fish between Manasquan and Sandy Hook, about 25 miles. Billions, perhaps trillions, of schooling fish the entire way. Then, as we were approaching Staten Island, NY a whale breaches the water in front of Salt Lick – four times! A sight surpassed only by cruising in front of Lady Liberty.

Then the Hudson, the Erie Canal, and the turn north yet again. Lake St. Clare, Huron and the geographic apex of our voyage, Mackinaw Island, MI. Then south. Friends in Charlevoix Thank you Wig & Vickie). The very different, and not always friendly, waters in Lake Michigan. The people were.

Chicago. Two nights at the Chicago Yacht Club and dinners in town. Very nice! Visit with friends (Thank you Jeff & Charlotte). Then cruising right through the skyscrapers on our departure. Pretty cool!

What a difference in the inland rivers! The “Big Muddy”. Basic, sparse, pretty much on our own. Only a short break in Saint Louis. It’s all good. Then I realize we’re almost in “The South!” An overnight stop and catfish dinner at Bobby’s Fish Camp confirms my chartplotting. A few nights on the hook then, Mobile! Home of some of the best char-grilled oysters you will ever eat at Wentzel’s Oyster House! A culinary discovery at “7 Spice” and another visit with Janet’s friends (How many are there?).

Dog River, Pensacola (more great oysters), Orange Beach (Hello, Lulu, Susie & Butch), Apalachicola (oysters again), Mexico Beach and Carrabelle. Blackwater rivers, cypress trees. We know we’re nearing “home.”

The waters change again as we cross the Gulf.  Steinhatchee, Cedar Key, Tarpon Springs. More seafood country! Onward south, Sarasota (“Thank You” Hal & Sandy), Naples (“Thank You” Jerry & Janet). Then the Keys. Time to kick back even more. Duck Key is special! (Thank you Peter!). The final turn north.

Within hours, we are out of the mangroves and into “civilization”. Miami, Lauderdale, Hollywood and Vero. A visit with the Maces. Always fun!

All of a sudden the realization hits – we’re close to the end! A few days meandering north and we are in St Augustine where we participate in the MTOA rendezvous, see a few old friends and enjoy more good food! (Costa Brava was really good). Then Amelia Island and dinner with my old fraternity brother Reg and wife Melissa. More fun!

As a finale, Janet had given me a couple of nights at Greyfield Inn for my birthday, Greyfield is an old Carnagie property on Cumberland Island, Ga, now a world class B&B. What a fantastic and relaxing ending! (Is it possible get any more relaxed?) A “last” stop at St Simons Island and dinner with one of Janet’s old classmates, another with sister-in-law Jeanne, yet another with Bill & Tina Kirby. Thank you all- great fun!

Before we know it, we are really are home! One night in Savannah and dinner with niece Holly. Then across the Savannah river and into South Carolina! One “last” stop in the New River and an on-board visit from Steve & Connie Bird. Brave adventurers who came out in Freebird to greet us.

Then, we really are here. Home. Hilton Head. 363 days after departure. Bittersweet, but done. I enjoyed every mile.

Those are the “happenings” but this is the real message: Janet has really become a “Captain”. I am so proud of her! Anyone can run a boat on open water. It takes real skill to maneuver in close quarters and dock a 14-ton boat in strong currents. Day after day Janet “nailed it”, every time. Rarely flustered, never “stumped”, zero mishaps. I will cruise with “my anchor” anywhere.

Most importantly, I have not had to spend a single day being towed in the dinghy.

Thanks, Captain!

JANET’S COMMENTS

As we were nearing the end of this trip, one part of me was saying “NO” – not ready for this way of life to stop, and another part of me saying “YES” – ready to close this chapter and move on to other things.  It has been one week now since we completed the Great Loop and I am continuing to have struggles in expressing my feelings.   So hard to find the words to do so.   And for those of you who know me really well,  THAT is a rarity for me to be without words.

I think we both have a great sense of accomplishment for completing this trip without any major incidents, injury to selves or vessel or some other crisis.   For that we are truly blessed.   Seeing the United States of America from the water gives one such an appreciation for what our ancestors accomplished as they paddled off in their dug out canoes to explore the West!!!!   Very brave souls they were.   Our slow cruising speed of about 8 kts, allowed us to really SEE this part of our country.  What a gift the adventure has been.

The following land based friends deserve a huge “shout out” of gratitude and thanks for assistance and help this past year.    Jean Vahey  – for your faithful “condo checks” on a regular basis with detailed reports each time.  Also for housing my car, and then delivering it back in time for our arrival.   You provided a worry  free state for us.  Thank you!     UPS ladies – Barb and Jen- who, altho’ it was their job, were able to to ship off our mail to some of the most remote and out of the way places all along the route.  Thank you both for helping us keep up with life and “bill paying”!     The Harter’s – for warehousing several shipments sent “home” from off the boat,  helping to free up boat space as well as decrease clutter.   Tuesday night Bible study group – for continued prayers for our safe travels.  Wig and Vickie Baumann for shelter and re-supplying Hank’s raspberry jam supply when traveling thru Michigan.     Chuck and Kay Danby — for a delightful dinner at their home during the time we were “tied” to the docks off Lake Michigan due to nasty weather.  Come see us on Hilton Head.   Jerry and Janet Belle – for your grand hospitality.  Best marina, and B & B going!   Love you guys.  The Shevers and the Wandell’s — these two couples get the award for connecting with us more than once!!    They are special.!!!    Thanks for your efforts to make that happen.  To Jeff and Pat Francis for a night on the farm and fresh eggs!

OH MY — I would be remiss for not mentioning my adopted family in the Buffalo area – The Holler family.   Dana and wife Marci for boat rides, and fun!  Dana gets a “TWO visit” high five as we connected again in Florida.  Your including me in a family birthday party, and extending such welcome arms made my stay at the end of the Erie Canal a delight!  Also,  Lisa McCarthy,  thanks for the ride to West Marine for a power cable.  The patriarch , Jim Holler , for a grocery store run, welcoming me to your boat house and your friendship.,    Doug Holler in Illinois who showed up at the wall in Joliet to assist us with tying up!   There will always be a special place in my heart for you ALL!

THE BIG QUESTION – is always – what was your favorite part????    Each section and waterway has its own character and beauty.  From our East Coast waters , into the Hudson River , thru the Erie Canal, the  Great Lakes, Rivers, Gulf, etc…    All are different and deserve respect in their own right!  I liked it ALL – but to answer the question, I would have to say the Erie Canal.  The small towns, the history, the beauty, the knowing that you are traveling along a waterway that was HAND DUG so many years ago, the fun music concerts…..   loved it all.  Secondly,  I was struck by the depth and width of the Hudson River and that Valley!   Very impressive and a lot prettier than expected.  Thirdly,  many areas of the Chesapeake Bay were of great interest.   Oxford, MD and Tangier Island were just a couple of really unique places.   Topping off our adventure with a stop at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Is., GA was a relaxing place to ease into the end of the trip.       OK – so I mentioned more than ONE favorite part.   And I failed  to mention my favorite lighthouse of all time —- MS. LIBERTY!  Tears in my eyes as we cruised passed her the day we entered NY harbor.  My heart is full!

A special note to Hank!        Your M O ( managing owner) expertise, your boat knowledge, your “repair” skills and know how, your patience with me when I couldn’t see a day marker, your teaching ability to help  improve my boat piloting skills…… your humor and joy added so much to this past year’s life we spent on Salt Lick.  Thank you!!!!!

What a blessed person I am.   I am deeply humbled by the majesty of our Country, our citizens, and our God.  Thanks to all of you who have “traveled” along with us via this blog.    Glad to have had you aboard.   Signing off with the sunset of our final night of the trip while anchored on the New River.

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SUNSET ON THE NEW RIVER     4/24/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SALT LICK CROSSES HER WAKE==== THIS PARTY IS OVER!

TUESDAY     APRIL 25, 2017         12:12PM  SALT LICK CROSSES HER WAKE AND THE GREAT LOOP JOURNEY IS COMPLETED!

At 11;40 AM we  cruised into Calibogue Sound with the Harbour Town lighthouse in the distant view.   I tossed out the last “message in a bottle” for niece Meghan and her husband Justin on an outgoing tide.    Before we knew it we were at the point where our trip had begun a year ago on April 27, 2016.   We put Salt Lick at idle speed, took photos, popped the champagne and changed our white AGLCA  (America’s Great Loop Cruising Association) burgee for the GOLD burgee,  indicating we had completed the Loop!

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HELLO HILTON HEAD ISLAND
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CROSSING OUR WAKE —  CHART PLOTTER SHOWING SALT LICK HEADING INTO BROAD CREEK AT THE POINT WHERE WE HAD DEPARTED A YEAR AGO.
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HANK POPPING THE CORK OF THE BUBBLY
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NEEDS NO EXPLANATION!!
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CHANGING OF THE BURGEE
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WHITE ACLCA BURGEE AND MTOA BURGEE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IDLING UP BROAD CREEK

 

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YAY — WE DID IT AND CAN PROUDLY FLY THE GOLD AGLCA BURGEE!!
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OUR CONDO MINUS THE MARINA DOCKS THAT WERE DESTROYED BY HURRICANE MATTHEW!

 

Salt Lick was secured to the dock at Shelter Cover Marina at 1:15PM, April 25, 2017   The  Great Loop adventure has been concluded.

Feeling at a loss for words now —-     final thoughts and comments will be made by both of us in the next day or two.

DRAGGING OUR FEET….

MONDAY APRIL 24, 2017

This morning we met with Ken Youngchild at TMI to go over a short list of repairs for Salt Lick.     That didn’t really take too long.   Two different workers came to check on the boat – the door guy and the varnish guy.   After coffee we shoved off and headed for the New River in SC located behind Daufuskie Island.   This was a very short run miles wise and we went really really slow.   Neither one of us wanting the trip to come to an end.   DRAGGING OUR FEET……

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LARGE FUEL STORAGE TANKS , SAVANNAH, GA.   WE SEE THESE TANKS FROM OUR CONDO BALCONY !!!!    

 

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SHIPS LOG WHERE DOCUMENTATION IS MADE AFTER EACH CRUISE OF SALT LICK!

 

After we anchored in the New River and my “logging” was done – we decided at the spur of the moment to call our friends Connie and Steve Bird to see if they wanted to join us  for burgers on the grill.   THE ONLY FOOD LEFT in the freezer to eat!!!    The winds were howling like crazy and the overcast skies were making the day rather cool — but what the heck — these two are always up for a good time, so into their boat they hopped and headed our way from the May River.   It was a hoot to see them after a year and to bring each other up to date with our life escapades.   After an early dinner they motored off to get back home before dark.

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STEVE AND CONNIE ARRIVING FOR THE RAFT UP AND COOK OUT!                                                         NEW RIVER, BEHIND DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, SC
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WE MADE IT!!!!!!
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OH MY GOSH —- WE ARE ALMOST HOME, SELFIE!!!!!

After the departure of the Birds, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset while anchored out in this lovely river with marshy banks turning green, salt water birds diving or wading for their food and the quiet peacefulness of the tide and wind causing the water to lap on the hull of the boat.   Wonder how life will feel once we are off the boat????

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4/24/2017        SWEET DREAMS SALT LICK – LAST NIGHT OF THE GREAT LOOP ADVENTURE!!!!!!

THE “GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME”:::::

APRIL 24, 2017

TWO DAYS AGO WE REALIZED THAT WE WERE ONLY 100 MILES FROM HOME…….COUNT DOWN TIME.

30 miles here, another 30 or so miles the next day and this morning, we are docked in Thunderbolt, GA, (basically Savannah) and only 45 miles from Hilton Head Island.   Is is beautiful Spring time in the South and a favorite time of the year where our golden marsh grasses begin to turn green.

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THE GREEN GRASS OF HOME………..

Another sign of Spring is the beginning of Shrimp season.  Which I think opened earlier this year.  Usually it is in May.   At least in Georgia, the shrimpers are out plying the waters for those taste morsels.

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GEORGIA SHRIMP BOAT

 

Yesterday, April 23, 2017 we docked at Thunderbolt Marine for the night.   This morning we are meeting with the boat yard service manager, Ken Youngchild, to discuss and get estimates for some minor work that needs to be scheduled.   We look like a small toy boat in a bath tub compared to these monster yachts that are here.

Holly Barrett, Hank’s niece, met us at Tubby’s Tank House for dinner last night.   Good to see her and catch up on what she is doing with her life.   We had walked to the restaurant and after dinner Holly drove us to get a couple of supplies and to re-supply our ice.   Thanks for the lift, Holly.

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HANK AND HOLLY AT TUBBY’S

Remember the childhood song     “99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL”???    I FEEL LIKE THAT THIS MORNING………we have taken one mile down ( or up the coast) and smiled around and now here we are at 45 miles to go, .    Cruise one mile and count it down,,,,,,

We are thinking about anchoring out one last time in the New River BEFORE crossing our wake and getting to Hilton Head.   OH —- and before we leave Thunderbolt,,,,guess we best find a place to “park” this girl for off loading.   The marina at our condo is no longer, thanks to Hurricane Matthew.

 

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA – “BROTHERS” AND FRIENDS……..

APRIL 18, 2017

We docked mid-afternoon, Morningstar Marina, St. Simons Island, GA.   Our cruise from the Greyfield Inn at Cumberland was uneventful.

Jeanne Wolf , sister-in-law, met us for dinner this evening at Coastal Kitchen.   This food establishment is on the premises of the marina, so nice and convenient for us.   Our dinners were very good and we spent a couple of hours catching up on each other’s lives.   Jeanne was a dear heart loaning us her car for the following morning to run a few errands and get supplies.   Thanks Jeanne………

Wed. – 4/19/17 —- a dear childhood friend of mine, Bob Alden,  and his wife, Sally, happened to be on St. Simons with some other couples for a golf week.    WOO HOO    Bob and Sally  met us at the boat for drinks and then we went to dinner at Nazarro – an Italian restaurant.   A great delight to see them.

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DINNER AT NAZARRO WITH THE ALDENS
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ATTORNEY ALDEN QUESTIONING  “UNCOOPERATIVE” WITNESS REGARDING PROPERTY IN WHERE OF ALL PLACES ?????? ———-    UTOPIA!!!!!!!!

 

Sadly we missed seeing WFBA -(World Famous Bird Artist)  – Dan Goad.     Hope to catch up with him when he comes to Hilton Head Island in a couple of weeks for an art show.   BUT

Hank was able to connect with another one of his BROTHERS –  fraternity that is.   Many stories were shared along with the appropriate tonnage of laughter!!!   Bill and Tina Kirby- fun to see you.    During the time that Hank’s oldest brother, Marshall, was in hospice and dying, Bill went to visit Marshall at least once a week – often twice a week.   We thank you so much Bill Kirby.     And we thank you and Tina for taking time during this move into your new home to meet up with us.

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TINA AND BILL KIRBY
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SERIOUS “BROTHERS”    BILL KIRBY AND HANK
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NOT SERIOUS “BROTHERS”       HANK AND BILL K.

APRIL 21 AND 22, 2017        We have cruised and anchored out each night.   First night behind Sapelo Island on the Duplin River, and tonight behind Ossabaw Island on Buckhead Creek.    Fellow Loopers have just arrived via their dinghy!!    Time to play hostess!!!!

 

 

GREYFIELD INN, CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GA.

On Hank Barrett’s bucket list was his desire to stay at the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island.  For his birthday last Nov., his gift from me, was this two night visit at the Greyfield Inn.   Upon arrival we were given our basket lunch which we enjoyed eating outside on the patio.   After that we were taken to our room,,,,up on the fourth floor of this beautiful old home originally owned by Mary Ferguson, and later on by her daughter, Lucy.  One of Lucy’s granddaughters, GoGo Ferguson, lives on the Island in a cottage next to the Inn.   She is known for her artistry in making jewelry from bones and sea shells she finds on Cumberland.   We visited her shop, made purchases, and later the next day Hank was able to meet with her regarding a project he thought she might be able to do.

The history of Cumberland goes way back to the time when Nathaniel Greene was given the Island.   Altho’ he never lived there, due to his death, his wife did live there and later on married the children’s tutor, a Mr. Miller.    One can visit the Greene – Miller cemetery at the far South end of the Island.

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GREENE-MILLER CEMETERY      CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GA

INTERESTING NOTE —– Major/General Henry ” Light-Horse Harry” Lee died on Cumberland Island March 25, 1818!!    His original tombstone is there, but his remains were exhumed and now rest back in his home state of Virginia.   He is the father of  Robert E Lee.   OH how history just comes to life.

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MAJ.GEN. HENRY LEE TOMB STONE, CUMBERLAND ISLAND!
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CREEK VIEW AT THE CEMETERY.

Before arriving at the cemetery, our steel steeds (aka bikes)  took us  past Dungeness, a former Carnegie residence.  BEFORE THAT – at this very site, Nathaniel Greene’s widow constructed a 4 story tabby home.   She called it Dungeness.  The Carnegie mansion that was built later on continued the use of the Dungeness name.   It burned, for the second time, in 1959.  The ruins still stand and are beautiful in their destroyed state.

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DUNGENESS

There are wild horses all over Cumberland Island — on the beaches, in the yard at the Greyfield, along the sides of the roads……They are left to the wild.   They are not fed or cared for…..they just exist as they have done for many many years.    Life continues on as you see below……….

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WILD MARE WITH HER COLT!!                                                                                                                                (GREYFIELD COTTAGE IN BACKGROUND)
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WILD HORSE – CUMBERLAND ISLAND
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OK NOW —- DON’T MOVE AND DON’T MAKE ANY NOISE AND DON’T LOOK AT THOSES PEOPLE!!!!   MAYBE THEY WON’T NOTICE THAT WE ARE HIDING OUT IN THE BIKE BARN!!!

 

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WILD TURKEYS TOO!!!!

The meals are served with family style seating, but food is plated and served individually.   The only menu is for wines, altho’ the chef does provide a wine pairing with each dinner course if you wish o partake.

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HONOR SYSTEM BAR WHERE HANK IS CHECKING OUT THE WINE LIST.

Monday, April 17, 2017 we visited GoGo’s jewelry shop, rode bikes to the beach  ( and enjoyed our picnic lunch )  as well as attempted to ride NORTH to find Plum Orchard, another mansion that has been restored.   The sandy wash-board roads were not fun, so that adventured was aborted!!!

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BEACH
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CUMBERLAND IS. ROAD
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CUMBERLAND ISLAND ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first visit to Cumberland Island was many years ago when Hank and I were doing a beach cleanup with the Clean Coast group out of Savannah.   THAT particular stay was in a tent.   Hank attempted to “fool” me with chocolate on the pillow, slippers at the tent entrance and a “SIGN” reading RITZ CARLTON, CUMBERLAND ISLAND.   This was my first and only time camping.   yep — can say I have done that,,,,,and NO , don’t ever want to do it again.   Seriously suggest one stay at the Greyfield Inn!!   aaaahhhh lovely.

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GREYFIELD INN
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MORNING COFFEE
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SNAPDRAGONS IN THE GREYFIELD GARDEN — WHERE THEY GROW MANY OF THEIR OWN VEGETABLES AS WELL AS SOME FRUITS.    THERE ARE BEES FOR HONEY PRODUCTION.

 

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ANOTHER WILD ONE………
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PLACED IN OUR ROOM UPON ARRIVAL.

As we near the end of this year long adventure, this two night stop on Cumberland Island has been pure bliss and a wonderful way to slowly end the journey.

BUT wait —– stand by for St. Simons fun and adventure…….coming up in the next blog……..

APRIL 13 – 14, 2017

NUMBER OF MILES TRAVELED AT THE END OF MARCH        5,368.5

We departed St. Augustine finally and after one night on the hook, we arrived at Amelia Island Yacht Basin for a couple of nights dockage.   Hank was happy to catch up with an old fraternity brother of his , Reg Wilbanks.   Reg, his wife Melissa, Hank and I then went to Old Fernandina  for dinner.  The “brothers” had a fun time catching up on their lives and reliving those free and easy years at the frat house!    Amazing that they made it into these current maturing years of life!!!

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HANK, MELISSA AND REG WILBANKS — AMELIA ISLAND, FL.

Recently selling his business to one of his son’s, Reggie has such wonderful stories to share regarding his bee business, especially the marketing of the Queen Bees.  Reg was 4th generation to operate the bee business.   His former work travels took him  straight out of Southern Georgia to all points of the Globe!!  With the World concerns about the decreasing bee populations, his life’s work has been a major contribution to mankind.   THANK YOU REG WILBANKS.

Departing late Easter morning, 4/16/17 – we cruised a whole 10 miles to arrive at Cumberland Island, Georgia and the Greyfield Inn.   Altho’ not planned, as we were going up the Cumberland River to the Greyfield dock, their ferry boat, the Lucy R. Ferguson, was also headed that way out of Fernandina.   So we let them get ahead of us, and then followed in their wake to the dock.  Perfect timing.  After a brief house orientation, we got Salt Lick secured, luggage off loaded , etc. and headed to the Inn for our lunch and room assignment.   In order to not make this blog so long……I am going to sign off and dedicate the next blog to our Cumberland Island stay.