To The Gulf

The last several days have been pretty quiet.  We moved west to Torreya State Park for a few days. It was cold! And we had been to that park a few times before so we mostly just stayed inside, so nothing to blog about there.


Torreya State Park

Now we are at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Destin, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. We have been here a few times before too, and it’s one of our favorites. We are very comfortable here and will be here until Saturday morning when we will move a bit further west.


Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

The Gulf of Mexico is a .75 mile walk from the campground. The park does offer a free tram, but we walked this time. And then there is a long boardwalk over the dunes before getting to the beach.


Topsail Park’s Boardwalk

It was cool and clouds are rolling in. Could be rain on the way. There were only a few others on the beach when we were there. We walked for a while and then took the tram back to the campground. The beach goes on forever and the sand is like sugar.


Topsail Beach on the Gulf of Mexico

  • Distance driven to Torreya:  144 miles
  • Distance driven to Topsail:   100 miles
  • Lodging:  Torreya:  $41 (2 nights)
  • Lodging:  Topsail:  $333.04 (7 nights)
  • Gasoline:  $70 @ $2.06 (FL)
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Stephen Foster, Florida

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.  This Florida park, on the Suwannee River, honors one of America’s most influential composers. There is a museum here and a Carillon Tower.


Suwannee River

The park has special events and festivals every month of the year. The Seminole Chikee Village area is a good place for exhibits.


Seminole Area

A 200′ tall 97-bell Carillion Tower is the centerpiece of the park. They said this is the world’s largest tubular bell instrument in number of bells. Bell concerts can be heard four times a day as well as marking every hour.


Stephen Foster Carillon Tower

Inside the tower is an interpretive exhibit showing the history of the tower and its construction in 1957. Also inside are some Stephen Foster exhibits including this 1854 style ball gown that was presented to the Stephen Foster Center in observance of the 100th anniversary of the copyrighting of “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair”.


Jeanie Ball Gown

There are 10 dioramas in the The Stephen Foster Museum and the lower floor of the Carillion. Each one illustrates the words of some of Stephen Foster’s most popular songs. These were all painstakingly created by hand. Fourteen artists spent two years creating the first eight. They really are fabulous, some have animations.


Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

Other dioramas include: “Oh, Susanna,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Old Black Joe,” “Old Folks at Home”, “Camptown Races”, and “Way Down Upon de Swanee Ribber.”


Stephen Foster Museum

December is the Festival of Lights here in the park. Millions of lights are on display every night. The weekends include some special activities and family fun stuff.


Christmas Decorations

Since we are already in the campground we can walk or drive around the loop to see all the lights for no additional fee.


Stephen Foster Museum


Stephen Foster CC State Park, #1

When we first got here two days ago it was 80 degrees and raining so we didn’t get out much and were very thankful for air conditioning! Today was the beautiful day. Just in time, since tomorrow morning we move on.

This was the third time we have been to this park. You can see previous blogs if you just click here.

  • Distance driven since last stop: 112 miles
  • Lodging:  $72.70 (three nights)
  • Gasoline:  $100 @ $2.07 Georgia
  • Gasoline:  $24   @ $2.29  Florida
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A Museum and a Walk

Yesterday, on the way to St. Marys, we stopped to see this submarine on land. It’s a full-sized Navy submarine at the gates to the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.


USS George Bancroft

When we got to St. Marys we visited St. Marys Submarine Museum. From the periscope we could see out to the marina where people were waiting to board the ferry out to Cumberland Island.


Up Periscope!

Lunch was at one of the nice restaurants, then a walk around the pretty little town. When we got back to the campground we went for a hike on one of the trails there. This boardwalk did have some damage in some areas when some trees fell on it during the Hurricane Matthew last month, but we were very careful and enjoyed it anyway.


Bay Boardwalk Trail

About half way along the 1.25 mile trail is this observation tower. Great for bird watchers.


Observation Tower

Today we drove over to St. Simons Island. There was a big arts & crafts show happening there. We enjoyed that and then took one of the narrated trolly tours that took us to various historic spots on the island.


Arts/Crafts Show

And then we spent some time walking around the Pier Village area and Neptune Park. The St. Simon Lighthouse is an operational lighthouse still.


St. Simons Lighthouse

While we were there we saw the big ship leave. This is the one we saw before that was docked at the Georgia Port Authority. Probably unloading new car imports. It is the Asteria Leader, a vehicles carrier currently flying under the flag of Japan.


Asteria Leader

  • Admission:  $10
  • Parking:  free
  • Trolly Tour:  $40
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Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia’s largest, southern most barrier island. This island national park is 18 miles long, beautiful undeveloped beaches, and includes a large wilderness area.  There are no bridges to the island, so the only way to get there is by boat. A ferry departs St. Mary’s GA twice a day, 9:00 and 11:45. You can stay for a few hours or you can bring your tent and stay in one of the primitive campgrounds.


The Cumberland Queen II

We had four hours to explore before the ferry returned to St. Mary’s. We were dropped off at the Visitor Center/Campground Registration building. Bicycles can be rented as well, but we wanted to walk. There are several miles of trails.


Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitor Center

About 150 wild horses inhabit the island, descendants from modern domestic breeds. This is the only heard of feral horses on the Atlantic coast that is not managed. They are on their own here just as any native wildlife.


Feral Horses

Horses have the right of way, and no petting or feeding them. We saw lots of them, they were everywhere.


Feral Horse

We spotted this fella getting a drink from a fresh water pipe by the remains of this old duck pond.


The Duck Pond

Thomas Carnegie, the brother of Andrew Carnegie, began building a mansion here with his wife, Lucy, in 1884. At one time the Carnegie family owned 90% of the island and had built other estates here, a few of which are still standing. The Dungeness mansion was destroyed by fire, possibly arson, in 1959. Now it is preserved by the National Park Service.


Dungeness Ruins

A road turns into a trail and onto a boardwalk on the way to the beach.


Boardwalk to the Beach

Finally, to the Atlantic Ocean. The tide was out and the beach was huge!


Cumberland Island National Seashore


Cumberland Island National Seashore

It was not packed with people, maybe because it was only 65 degrees and cloudy. A few drops of rain fell, but that was it.  After walking the beach for about a mile another boardwalk brought us over the dunes and back into the forest on the way back to the ferry.



The trees here are incredible!



There were armadillos everywhere. They’re so cute!

When we got back to the visitor center we sat in on a presentation about Cumberland Island’s sea turtle monitoring program. This is one of the most important loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas in Georgia.


Cumberland Queen II

Just before we arrived back at St. Mary’s we saw this docked tall ship all in sails. We had seen it earlier, but the sails weren’t up.


Tall Ship

Next to the marina St. Mary’s has one of the most beautiful city parks we have seen.


St. Marys Waterfront Park

  • Ferry: $55.64
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Crooked River & Jekyll Island

We left Skidaway Island State Park by Savannah GA yesterday and moved south to Crooked River State Park. This is another lovely park with large and level spaces for a reasonable price. We’ll be here for a week.


Crooked River State Park, #57

The campground is on the (you guessed it) Crooked River which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not on a beach, but on a steep cliff.


Crooked River State Park

However, there is a trail that will bring you to the water level. We got there just as the sun was setting for a nice sunset picture.


Crooked River State Park

Hello big fella! He was about the size of a basketball.



Today, on the way to Jekyll Island, we passed a Georgia Ports Authority deepwater seaport. There were two ships docked here, and lots and lots of new cars and several auto transport vehicles coming and going with and without cars.


Georgia Ports Authority

So tempting to just drive up there!


So Tempting!

Jekyll Island, a barrier Island on the Atlantic Ocean, is a popular tourist destination. It has great beaches frequented by vacationers, bike trails, a Landmark Historic District, and more.

The north end of of the island is slowly eroding away and has left a tree graveyard. Here are a few of the pictures I took:

Included in the Historic District is the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This is where we had our lunch today.


Jekyll Island Club Hotel

Further down the road from the Historic District is the remains of the Horton House, built from tabby in 1742, and one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state of Georgia. The house was occupied by Major William Horton during the British colonial period.


The Horton House Ruins

  • Admission:  free
  • Parking: $6
  • Lodging:  $184.20 (7 days)
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More Savannah Walking

Saturday morning we went to the Farmers Market at Forsyth Park in Savannah. There were lots of vegetables, oranges, honey, pecans, mushrooms, cheese, and baked goods, jams and pickles.


Farmers Market

We also stopped at the Visitor Center again. This time there Christmas Carolers there. Very nice.


Christmas Carolers

From there we walked back down to River Street and had lunch in one of the restaurants down there. Then we climbed back up one of the sets of old steps (use at your own risk). There is an elevator somewhere for those who would prefer that.


Historic Old Steps

Not far from River Street is The Old Pirates House. Not to be missed when visiting Savannah, this is associated with Savannah’s maritime history and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. Built in 1754. This is now a nice restaurant, and if you are lucky you just might see a pirate while you enjoy your meal.


The Pirate’s House

Today we hiked one of the trails at Skidaway State Park.


Skidaway Island State Park, The Big Ferry Trail

Hurricane Matthew did some damage here the first week in October. The boardwalk to an observation tower was damaged so we could not go there.


Observation Deck

Several trees had been toppled but park workers have cleared the hiking trail.


Hurricane Matthew Damage

The remains of an old still can be seen deep into the woods. In the early 20th century this remote area was a good hideout for moonshiners.


Old Liquor Still

The trail also took us to some old earthworks–mounds built by slaves during the Civil War as part of the defense system against Union Troops.


Civil War Earthworks

This was an interesting old tree, I liked it.


Cool Tree

Tomorrow morning we leave this area and move a bit further south.


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A Savannah Walk

It’s Black Friday. A good day for us to stay away from the shopping centers. We did drive into Savannah just to walk around the parks. We began our walk at Forsyth Park, one of the largest parks in Historic Savannah. Here are some pictures from our walk:


Forsyth Fountain


Confederate Soldier Monument

There are several ways to tour the historic district:


Trolley Tours


Guided Walking Tours


Segway Tours


Carriage Tours

But we walked. After a while we were ready for a break so we found a little coffee shop, named Art’s, for a snack. Inside the shop is this double decker European bus converted to a kitchen and with seating up top. Cool 🙂



Continuing towards downtown we saw the big Christmas tree set up and waiting for tonight’s big lighting ceremony.


Savannah GA

A visit to Leopold’s Ice Cream is a must when visiting Savannah. Their ice cream is homemade in the store, using the original, secret recipes handed down since 1919. And it is delicious! 🙂


Leopold’s Ice Cream

And then we walked back to the car that we had parked by Forsyth Park. Here are a few pictures of the sights along our walk:


Savannah GA


Savannah GA


Savannah GA

It was 80 degrees and humid so we had enough walking for the day and went home.

Posted in Daily Post, Georgia, November | Tagged , | 1 Comment