Changing gears, we've been home for a few weeks and looking at probably the last of our 2019 getaways. Always one of our favorite short-haul locations is Jekyll Island. Weather conditions looked pretty good as the departure date approached, and we were very excited. A bit of a tradition now is stopping in Brunswick for lunch at Marshside Grill, and not thinking very clearly, we waited until after noon - on a Sunday, and learned that everyone else in Brunswick thought this was a great idea, too. After lunch, we headed to Jekyll and made a quick tour of the north end of the island as we headed to our hotel to check in. We did stop on the way to see the now famous ship that overturned in the channel entrance (photo later) as well as one of our favorite shooting locations - Driftwood Beach. It's a little disappointing to see the condition of the beach and the effects of ongoing erosion. The combination of more trees being down and the apparent effects of high tides has caused the beach area to be much smaller than it used to be, and piles of trees congregated together makes for a very cluttered look. It's harder to isolate some of the more striking compositions. But deterred we were not, so we went to the hotel, checked in, and made plans for the remainder of the trip.Read more of the story...
No images from the prior evenings outing to the area around the Jekyll Island Club which sits on the west side of this very small island and looks out over Fancy Creek. We did see the beginnings of the rather elaborate Christmas lighting displays planned at the Jekyll Island Club as well as one on of the roads that runs from east to west that had the Twelve Days of Christmas nicely illustrated in lights - that we learned would not likely be lit while we were there. After the sun had fully set and we ran out of things to see, we headed back to the hotel and planned our evening meal. Early the next morning, we found ourselves alone on Driftwood Beach, looking at the more artistic trees/compositions, and waiting for the morning light. While waiting we spent a little time shooting one of the trees and took advantage of the very low light to do a little light painting, selectively illuminating branches of the tree with a flashlight against the moving clouds and sky which was beginning to brighten. Although we waited until the sun was fully up (a mistake we made on the last trip was to leave 5 minutes too early) to make the call (and we did get several more shots) Image 1-1 is the only gallery contribution to this session. After breakfast we headed to the Holiday Inn Resort which is directly across the street to get a coffee and enjoy the view of the ocean from their balcony - now our new favorite place on Jekyll to get espresso drinks. Afterwards we started down the island to check out some of the other shooting locations to see how things look and incorporate the results into the plan. When we reached Tortuga Jack's, we noticed a great number of birds nearly blackening the sky and just had to pull in. We walked down the boardwalk a ways with camera in hand and couldn't believe the number of swallows in the air or the patterns of their flight. They occasionally returned to the scrub trees seen in the foreground where they landed and remained for several seconds, only to take flight again, We talked to some people who had been there for some time watching the spectacle and took several shots (Image 1-2), as well as a video, of their displayed behavior. Their flight patterns did not rise to the level of some of the more dramatic starling murmurations we have seen pictures of, but it was still very dramatic.
As is often the case, we choose one of the days we are at Jekyll to go over to St. Simons Island - an adjacent barrier island that is a bit more populous and has a nice lighthouse to boot. It was a very nice, clear day; and we started at the fishing pier, then lunched, followed by a short visit to the Welcome Center. Afterwards we headed to the St. Simons Lighthouse with the intent to tour the inside - something we had not done during prior visits. The lighthouse is a real treasure, completely restored, and has a great museum and visitor center in addition to a docent at the lighthouse who gave a very detailed overview of the lighthouse's history. It's always interesting to see how Spartan living conditions were in the day and to see an entire home and working area that collectively is hardly larger than a single room in some newer homes. Images 1-3 and 1-4 are two of the upstairs rooms - the parlor and kitchen, respectively. We did elect to make the climb to the top and walk around the platform just below the Fresnel lens (which is not open to the public) to take in the view. While there, I was able to put the camera on the tripod, make all of the settings (including the 10-second timer) and hold it above my head to get a shot of the lens. Although Image 1-5 was not my first attempt, I wasn't too disappointed with the results of this rather crude capture method. Image 1-6 is one of my favorites from the exterior shots we took of the lighthouse and was at the end of our visit there when some nice clouds finally started to show up. We had planned to visit Christ's Church which is out toward the north end of the island; but when we arrived, we were both disappointed (Mimi more so, I think) to see that it was closed due to grounds maintenance. This was our second trip out probably the busiest road on St. Simons to visit the church - strike two. We thought about coming back another day; but it is a bit of a hike to get there from Jekyll, and there was a major golf tournament that weekend so we decided to leave it for a future visit.
Back on Jekyll Island we made our way around the north end again and stopped on the way to the beach to watch/photograph some birds. Image 1-7 is a shot of several ibis feeding at and continuing to gather on a small pond as the tide was going out. When we reached one end of Driftwood Beach, we had a really nice view of the M/V Golden Ray capsized in the channel (Image 1-8). We saw and took a few shots of the ship from St. Simon (which can be seen in the background), but this one with the differently colored bottom is probably the most illustrative. They are still saying it may take up to two years to completely remove the ship and a final decision as to the method has not yet been determined. Someone said they were considering a coffer dam around the entire vessel - a wildly interesting concept. Images 1-9 and 1-10 are from our second night when we decided to try Driftwood Beach rather than go to the western side of the island. Although the colors are rather subtle, I like them; but I suspect the majesty of the west-looking sunset would have been spectacular, too. The next morning we were treated to a pretty nice sunrise (Images 1-11 and 12); and while I probably should have looked at some different compositions (and actually did make several other shots), I think it is interesting to see nearly identical compositions looking very different between sunset and sunrise. It would have been nice to have a few of the clouds from the prior evening - but I'll take it.
Later that day we went for a long walk on the beach heading south on the Atlantic side of the island. We found either more of the swallows or the same swallows had moved to that part of the island, exhibiting the same patterns (Image 1-13). It was pretty breezy and we took advantage of this when walking back to our entry point to photograph some shore birds that chose to fly directly at or near us when we walked down the beach looking for shells (which were nearly nonexistent on this trip) (Images 1-14 thru 1-16). We saw lots of gulls, as well as terns and some skimmers. Our last image from the beach walk was a very small ghost crab (Image 1-17), which are typically quite reclusive. We've seen only a couple of these before and it was the smallest - probably measuring only about 1 inch across the back. No crab legs for dinner tonight! The last image in this group and the last we'll show from the Jekyll trip was of The Horton House (Image 1-18), one of the oldest plantation houses as well as being one of the oldest houses in Georgia constructed using tabby, a mix of usually sand (or gravel) and oyster shells. It is in remarkably good shape for having been rebuilt in 1743, following the destruction of the original house by the Spanish in an attack. That's all for now!