Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #11

Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon.
John Krakauer

Sunday, March 24, 2019: Departing MacDill Air Force Base at 0913 under sunny skies and a temperature of 66 degrees. Hauled the camper back up The Selman Expressway to I-75 and pointed the rig North. We soon found US-301 which took us to I-10. Then, we turned toward the East until intersecting I-95 which we took North crossing the Georgia state line at 1448 hours.

Fortunately, my alert and stalwart traveling companion was keeping track of the sights along the way, as well as watching for our next exit.

Umm, never mind! However, fortunately my alert and stalwart traveling companion completed her biological experiment in determining if her eyelids were transparent in time to alert me of a stoplight looming ahead. And a good thing she did, as I had blown through dozens of stoplights during her outage!

With Kit’s help, I found the appropriate exit and pulled into King’s Bay Submarine Base a short time later.

I guess if Army bases can display tanks and the Air Force their planes, then a Navy base can feature a submarine surfacing from the netherworld! After passing through security, where our camper was thoroughly inspected, we found our way to the Eagle Hammock RV Park…

…and set up in an overflow site for the next four days.

This is our first stay at this RV Park, consistently rated as the top Military Campground on the East Coast. In addition to nice level concrete pads, the park is situated on a beautiful lake.

However, our overflow spot is in the Low Rent District where we park on grass next to a numbered site and tap into their electric and water supply. Oh, and the lake can’t be seen without a 5-minute walk to the fancy spots. However, no complaints as and this is a very popular RV Park and we were fortunate to get in at the last moment!

Monday, March 25 through Wednesday, March 27, 2019-King’s Bay, Georgia: On day one, Kit and I were up early with excited anticipation of our upcoming visit with some long time Maine friends who spend the winter on Saint Simon’s Island which is located an hour north of King’s Bay. Heading out via back roads and over the Sidney Lanier Bridge which crosses the Brunswick River and gives us access to Saint Simon’s Island.

This 7,779-foot-long cable-stayed bridge rises 185 feet above the river and was completed in 2003 to replace the earlier bridge that had been damaged by oceangoing ships unsuccessfully navigating the narrow passage.

Arriving on the island, Kit and I were treated to a beautiful oasis of tree lined streets…

…where residents, snowbird’s and vacationers alike use human powered transportation…

…as much as motor vehicles.

Saint Simon’s boosts a year-round population of 12,743 folks which grows to over 16,000 during the winter months as northern citizens migrate to the many seasonal homes on the island. During its early years, Saint Simon’s Island was covered in cotton plantations alongside groves of sturdy Live Oak trees, which due to the coastal breezes, grew in perfect shapes for utilization in constructing wooden ship’s hulls…including the USS Constitution, the worlds oldest commissioned Navy ship still afloat.

Yes, Saint Simon’s is a beautiful coastal island worthy of exploration, but what brought Kit and I out here where these two fine folks…

…and their faithful pup, Augie.

Tony, a retired Navy fellow, and I worked at the same company during our post military careers. He and his lovely wife Diane have become good friends within a convivial LM Retiree group that enjoys socializing…generally around dinning out!

Tony and Diane spend their winter in a nice condo…

…overlooking a pristine saltmarsh…

…and within a short walk to the Atlantic Ocean…what could be better?

We were fondly greeted and given a tour of their three-story condo followed by coffee and morning pastries in their bright and airy living room. Then Tony and Diane serving as our knowledgeable tour guides, loaded Kit and I into their car and we headed for nearby Jekyll Island.

One of the four Golden Isles of Georgia, Jekyll is owned by the State of Georgia. The humid subtropical barrier island is seven miles long and only one and a half miles at its widest point. Its west shore is primarily tidal marsh, but to its east lies seven miles of beach accessible by crossing one of the many dune boardwalks…

…which lead to wide, smooth, hard packed sand.

Following a nice walk on the beach, we enjoyed a homemade picnic lunch sitting at one of the shaded tables located on a large pavilion overlooking the ocean.

Next stop on our tour was the famed Driftwood Beach.

Technically not driftwood, but rather the bones of formerly vibrant shoreline trees that perished due to their supporting soil being washed away during storms. Driftwood Beach has become a popular spot for young, and not so young, lovers to have their pictures taken.

After enjoying Driftwood Beach, it was on to the renowned Jekyll Island Historic District, home of the iconic Jekyll Island Club.

Constructed in 1886 as a winter retreat for 100 carefully chosen American families whom each paid $600.00 dollars, or $18,273.00 in today’s dollars, to become members.

In its heyday, the club’s limit of 100 memberships provided the very select, and very wealthy, a sanctuary from the more common folks cluttering the island to the north.

Leaving the historic district, our next stop on the tour was Fort Frederica National Monument.

This early colonial fort was built in 1736 by the army of British South Carolina in the “Debatable Lands” area to protect against attack from invaders of Spanish Florida.

Photo from NPS

The ruins were a bit of a walk away, and it was getting late, so we decided on a quick tour of the visitor’s center which featured a small but nice museum detailing the history of the fort and adjacent village that grew up around it.

Leaving the National Monument, we returned to Saint Simon’s Island where Kit and I were treated to a nice driving tour of Tony and Diane’s winter hometown…and what a beautiful place it is!

A return to our host’s condo involved more visiting and reminiscing over cheese, crackers and wine on their backyard lanai.

Now what would a Bill and Kit Adventure with old friends be without dining out? In this case a drive into the village of Saint Simons Island led us to a popular seafood restaurant called Iguanas!

Where their specialty wasn’t Iguana meat, although I would have ordered it had it been on the menu, but what a surprise…Fried Shrimp!

And yes…it was as good as it looks, especially with the great company we had dining with us!

Well, all good things must come to an end, and as the sun set over Sidney Lanier bridge to the west…

…we bid our friends farewell for now!

Thanks Tony and Diane for showing Kit and I your little corner of paradise…

…we had a blast!

Our temporary home in King’s Bay, Georgia is also the East Coast base for the US Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Submarines.

US Navy Photo

The base was established in 1976 on a former decommissioned US Army post. The facility was quickly enlarged and improved to house the fleet of FBM Submarines following their ouster from the American Naval Base in Rota Spain.

As in many military bases since the unprovoked attack of America on September 11th, 2001, King’s bay is a base within a base…meaning the militarily operational portion of the base is protected by fences and armed guards restricting access. However, the more common areas are open to anyone with a military ID and usually feature the shopping areas, barracks, dining halls, recreation fields, movie and bowling facilities, and the RV Parks. And there are usually static displays of the particular bases military hardware such as these Fleet Ballistic Missiles.

The Polaris, Poseidon, and newer Trident weapons displayed are one leg of the strategic deterrent system protecting the US Mainland from attack. Fortunately, these weapons have never been fired in anger, and hopefully never will.

And just outside the sub base lies the quaint little village of Saint Mary’s.

While Kit explored the small downtown areas retail opportunities, I made a beeline for the waterfront where I discovered a small but very well curated submarine museum.

And also discovered that Keith, the museums Executive Director, is a retired Submarine Qualified Navy Chief…

… who underwent similar Navy technical training that I had. He was enthusiastic about his position and very knowledgeable about the US Navy’s Silent Service and the many artifacts his museum has on display.

The museum also featured a Submarine Control Station with an operational Periscope…

…that seemed very realistic to the eye of this retired surface ship sailor.

When Keith heard about my brother Dewey’s submarine service, he looked for a ballcap adorned with the emblem of Dewey’s submarine the USS Tecumseh and gave it to me for him!

Reconnecting with Kit, we walked through the town’s pretty waterfront park…

…to the local seafood joint at Lang’s Marina…

…where Kit and I enjoyed an excellent meal of Tofu on a bed of Kale and fresh Bean Sprouts! Unfortunately, I failed to get a photo of this sumptuous plate, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Well, tomorrow Kit and I once again hit the road. We both thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Southeast Georgia and vow to return for more exploration on a future Excellent Adventure trip. So, as the sun sets over the trees surrounding our campsite…

…we bid you all a pleasant goodnight!

Kit’s Bit’s: Southeast Georgia has been on our list of places to visit for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially our delightful day with Tony & Diane. They graciously set aside an entire day to show us their winter home. What a delightful day! Also, we thoroughly enjoyed Augie, their beautiful dog. Our tour of Jekyll Island and St. Simon’s Island was wonderful. Such a beautiful place with many interesting sights. Many thanks to both of you. We also enjoyed visiting Saint Mary’s, GA. The downtown area had a lot of construction going on; however, we were able to navigate our way around it. We thoroughly enjoyed the Town Park, which is right on the water and a perfect place to rest for a while after touring most of the day.