Southern USA 2013: Day 6 - Jekyll Island


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Southern USA 2013: [Day 1: Atlanta] [Day 2: Atlanta] [Day 3: Orlando] [Day 4: KSC] [Day 5: Wellington] [Day 6: Jekyll Island] [Day 7: Chapel Hill] [Day 8: Raleigh] [Day 9: West Virginia]

Thursday, July 4, 2013: Happy Fourth of July! We started out bright and early by checking out of our hotel in Titusville then driving to Canaveral National Seashore.
Just past the bridge from Titusville, we stopped to admire some of the residents of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, including this roseate spoonbill ...
... and this tricolored heron.
We drove through lush scenery for almost 20 minutes ...
... headed to Haulover Canal, which is touted as a manatee viewing area. There were no manatees and the bridge was closed, so instead of lingering awhile and then heading north from here, we had to immediately backtrack south to Titusville again.
So, we're driving and Tom notices something on the road up ahead. What can it be?
It's a gator!! The dude on the motorcycle heading toward us just kept on coming without pausing, ...
... but we pulled over to watch him head down the bank ...
... and into the water, ...
... where he made himself comfortable.
That excitement behind us, we enjoyed the remaining scenery ...
... and crossed the bridge over the Indian River to Titusville again before heading north.
What are these beautiful trees? And why won't they grow in Indiana?
This bridge told us that we had reached Jacksonville, which meant it was time to meet Debbie's fourth-cousin Tony.
Having known each other only via email and Facebook, we met first time in person over lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. Debbie had brought a low-tech diagram of how they were related, and Tony had brought a high-tech diagram of the same information. We also brought along some lefse and some family history for Tony, knowing that he'd appreciate both.
We had a wonderful visit and the time flew by too quickly.
We continued north after lunch and encountered the beautiful bridge north of Jacksonville that Tony had told us we'd see.
We crossed the border of Georgia again ... blah, blah, blah ... Georgia on your mind ... blah, blah, blah ... Olympics ...
... and reached the welcome sign for Jekyll Island exactly an hour after leaving Jacksonville.
Welcome, indeed!
We weren't quite at Jekyll Island yet. We had a 10-minute stretch of road ahead of us marked with Terrapin Crossing signs. We learned quickly that terrapin meant turtle.
The mix of ocean and land around us told us that we were currently at low tide. Probably.
There it is -- Jekyll Island! It's a state park so we paid a fee to enter the grounds.
We drove to our hotel, the shiny new Hampton Inn and Suites, which was surrounded by large trees draped in Spanish moss ...
... just like this, except that this was taken in town right next to ...
... the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
We paid the entrance fee and walked around the very well-done exhibits.
We learned a lot about terrapins ...
... and we got to see the examination room where injured turtles are treated.
The Sea Turtle Hospital is in an adjacent building and it contains ...
... small pools for recovering turtles. Some have a pool to their own, and others share.
And some little guys are tiny enough to just share a tub. Since our Claire loves turtles, we stopped in the gift shop and bought her some turtle socks and a souvenir street sign with her name (and turtles!) on it.
After that, we drove around town (what little there is of it) and then finally found some parking by the beach, where the town was gearing up for the big celebration later on. There were families everywhere along the park having picnics and cleaning up after a day spent on the beach, ...
... which was just on the other side of the coastal dunes. Flat Orchy got his photo taken here.
We made our way to Fins on the Beach, which is one of the few restaurants we could find on the island. We had some tasty fritters, which come with every meal, plus a wild Georgia shrimp basket and a blackened fish sandwich.
We had a very nice room on the top floor of the hotel that was quiet and far away from the pool. The scenery was pleasant but the trees and dunes blocked any view of the ocean from anywhere in the hotel.
Fortunately, there was a beautiful wooden path to the ocean.
The woods on either side of the path consisted of these cool-looking trees.
Don't look too closely at the trees, though, because the longer you look, the more spider webs you see.
Ocean!
Birds!
Deer! Deer? Yes, gentle reader. We didn't expect to see them, but there they were, happily grazing on the dune plants.
Once on the beach, we got a shot of the wooden path, which is where we ended up later to watch the fireworks.
We dropped our towels on the beach and jumped in the water.
The water temperature was surprisingly warmer than it had been in Florida, but the water was much darker brown. We had lots of fun splashing in the water and charging the waves.
We returned to our room (the upper far left balcony in this photo), cleaned up, and then headed out again. We attempted to get some ice cream at the Dairy Queen, but since it is one of the few restaurants in town, the place was packed and we gave up. Fortunately, our hotel had a small grocery that just happened to have Drumstick ice cream cones.
As darkness fell, we went back to the beach and joined the people who had gathered to watch the fireworks.
The display was launched from the beach deck where we had been earlier in the day, which was north of where we were.
Boom!
Boom! Boom!
Boom in an S formation!

From our vantage point, we could see fireworks displays further up the coast, including on St. Simons Island. Happy Birthday, America!

Day 7 >


Southern USA 2013: [Day 1: Atlanta] [Day 2: Atlanta] [Day 3: Orlando] [Day 4: KSC] [Day 5: Wellington] [Day 6: Jekyll Island] [Day 7: Chapel Hill] [Day 8: Raleigh] [Day 9: West Virginia]

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