Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jekyll Island

For this years family trip we traveled to the South and visited Georgia and South Carolina. I have never been anywhere in the South before and was so ecstatic to finally experience it. I had no idea what to expect but it was far more beautiful then anything I ever would have imagined. We began our wonderful adventure by flying to Jacksonville Florida where a driver met us and drove us to the enchanted fairyland also known as Jekyll Island in Georgia. I was absolutely amazed by the Spanish Moss dripping from all the branches of the thick, aged trees. When we pulled up to our hotel, The Jekyll Island Club Hotel, I felt like a southern bell princess arriving at her castle. It was stunning, my breath was taken away. I especially loved all the rows of rocking chairs that lined the front porch, they made it have such a welcoming and laid back feeling. Words can't explain how beautiful and truly enchanting this place is, I felt like I had left the USA and had gone to some dreamland.

After we had checked in and freshened up a bit, we walked a few feet to the waters edge and had dinner on the wharf at the restaurant Latitude 31. It has windows all along the walls thus giving us a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the water. Bethy and I decided to get three tapas and share them, thus we gotto try many of their delectable delights. We had crab cakes with a yummy dill sauce, chicken wantons, and a tuna and mango medley over crackers they were all so good, and I never ever eat sea food but I figured I should probably indulge in these southern dishes. After dinner we took a pleasant stroll around the gardens and enjoyed the exquisite sunset. The temperature was absolutely perfect but the humidity had done a number on my hair as well as Bethany's, the natural curl, that we try so hard to tame and conceal, could no longer be controlled, we knew it would happen so we didn't even attempt to fight it. We explored everythingt he wonderful gardens, grounds and water front had to offer. It is definitely a photographers paradise.

These are a couple pictures of the main lounge of the hotel that we would pass and the elegant staircase we would climb to reach our lovely rooms. They had pictures of how the hotel looked when it was first built 1888 as a club house for a hunting club for wealthy northerners, this club quickly hatched into the most exclusive social club in the United States. If it's history interests you visit their website by clicking here, it really is fascinating, in my room there was a picture of the first transcontinental telephone call placed by AT&T president, Theodore Vail on January 25, 1915 that took place in the hotel. Because of the concentration of internationally prominent business leaders, the Jekyll Island Club was the scene of some important historical events which was so neat to learn about.

This is the sweet quaint courtyard we would pass to get to our rooms from the front porch, my room also had a view overlooking its lush gardens. The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast in the grand dinning room, it is painted the most pleasing shade of peach, and was decorated in a neoclassical style with majestic fluted ionic columns. I had pecan pancakes topped with some of Georgia's famous peach compote, it was lip smackin' good. I also indulged in some deluxe hot chocolate that was perfectly blended.

The whole day was ours to do as we pleased. We began by going shopping at the hotels gift shops. We of course all found something nice in the jewelry store, well at least the ladies did. I got this gorgeous oval, sparkly vintage type ring, I absolutely love it! Then mom went back to the hotel to sip a coke and read her novel while relaxing in a rocking chair, Reece headed to the golf course to play a round of 18 holes and the rest of us went on the most amazing biking adventure. We rented bikes from the hotel that came complete with baskets and dainty tinkling bells, I loved it. We set off on a trail that went around the whole island. I felt like I was Elizabeth Swan biking through the Jungles of the Caribbean. Everywhere you looked it was a photo shoot opportunity.

We stopped for a little while to look at the map and take some photographs and then all of a sudden we had a new little buddy join our party! It was a small raccoon that was unnaturally friendly, it came right on up to us! If raccoons didn't have the reputation of being ferociously mean, as well as little germ carriers, you all know I would have been petting it the minute I saw it. Since we couldn't pet it, Bethy and I of course followed it around for an unnecessarily long amount of time taking pictures of it's every move, honestly how could you resist that sweet little face. Finally dad called us back to our bikes and we got back on the road. Our next little side adventure was visiting a tree graveyard, honestly this beach looked like the place were trees go to die (kind of like where the whales go to die in the movie Island On Top of The World.) There were massive white tree trunks and intricate roots systems strewn across the beach. We stumbled upon it by accident and it was so unique and very impressive. None of my pictures capture the desolate yet quiet feeling of this place or the decaying beauty and grandeur of the trees.

We found this little guy buried in the sand, we thought he was dead, but just to make sure we poked him with a stick. His little eyes popped out of the sand and he ran away at a creepily fast pace, Bethy made the very correct observation that crabs are like the spiders of the sea. We of course were creeped and grossed out but yet again we followed him to take even more pictures of him, (we have this crazy obsession with wild life, it might be unhealthy how much we are attracted to animals.) I think he looks super grumpy and it makes me giggle when I look at his picture.

When we arrived back at the hotel there was a croquet tournament going on, and it was quite the sight to see. Everyone was dressed in their country club white attire and were playing jolly good games of croquet. I thought this man was doing a very good job at demonstrating the proper stance one should have while taking a shot in a game of croquet. At this point we were super sweaty and extremely hot, we couldn't change into our swimsuits fast enough! Before we got into the beautiful blue water of the pool we refreshed our parched mouths with pina coladas from the poolside bar, oh they tasted divine! That night we had the opening reception for our Tuak tour, so we met our amazing tour guide Andrea and bus driver Ray and the fellow travelers we would be spending the next eight days getting to know and enjoying the sights with. We had a splendid four course dinner in the beautiful grand dining room, we sat next to a couple from San Fransisco named George and Sheila, they were simply delightful to chat with.

The next day we jumped aboard a bright red trolley and took a tour of the beautiful island and the charming cottages of the rich and famous of yesteryear. The first thing we saw was a rodent of unusual size emerge from the bushes and dash across the lawn! EEE!! Ok so it was actually an armadillo that was just waking up for the day, I have never seen an armadillo in the wild, it was a funny little creature, I thought he honestly looked like a ROUS as seen in the Princess Bride.

This church had the most exquisitely gorgeous stained glass windows I have ever seen, and believe me I have seen lots and lots of stained glass windows! I shake my fist at the concept of not being able to take pictures inside buildings!!! So I didn't get to document their beauty! boo! I am sure I will get over it one day. Louis Comfort Tiffany helped make these stunning windows, his signature is even on one of them! My favorite was one of the nativity scene, it was full of so much symbolism, that's the type of stuff that makes us art history nerds so happy! The colors were so vivid and fabulous and so rich and saturated! The morning sun was shinning right through it making it glow.

Moss Cottage

Goodyear Cottage

Between 1888 and 1928 the wealthy northern families built their winter homes, or "cottages" as they were called, designed to house entire families with staff. Hardly cottages, they exemplified Victorian tastes in architecture. Two of these have been restored and are part of the Jekyll Island Club's historic accommodations. These are some of the examples of the cottages that we saw as we drove around the grounds. With the advent of the first "season" on Jekyll, the elite club members gathered their families and boarded their yachts, all with expectations for having a grandiose time. Morning hunting trips, lawn parties, carriage rides, leisurely afternoons on the beach...the likes of the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers passed their summer days in a state of lavish splendor on their Southern playground.

This is the Indian Mound Cottage, this is one of the two that we got to tour inside, once again dang the evil rule of "No Photographs Inside"! They were so charming inside I wish I had some pictures to show you, but I guess you can imagine by just seeing the outside how great the insides were!

After our lovely trolley tour we had to say goodbye to our blissful paradise on Jekyll Island and start our journey to Savannah. We stopped for lunch on St. Simons Island, we ate at the Mullet Bay restaurant. We sat our on the big wrap around balcony and enjoyed a lunch of sea food delights. I got coconut shrimp with a sweet pineapple dipping sauce and a side sweet potato fries, my all time favorite! Then we had an hour to enjoy the small little shops. Mom bought be a pair of coral colored dangly earrings that look moorish inspired, I loved them! They will be featured in pictures to come. I saw these jar lights in one of the stores and I thought they were so captivating that I took a picture so as to remember this awesome idea to use in a future backyard BBQ or something I will host one day. The last picture was of the St. Simon lighthouse.