Monday, August 26, 2013

Amelia & Cumberland Island Vacation

I mentioned last week how we had just gotten home from a family vacation .  Well, let me explain how we ended up on Amelia Island, first...

We had been planning a vacation with our very good friends for a while.  Since he is also in the Air Force, it was kind of a long shot to get all of our schedules to line up.  Well, it looked like everything was a go! So we were going to all meet in Charleston at his parent's home.  Shortly before the trip, they found out they would be going to England (thanks, Air Force!) So, Bryan and I scrambled to come up with an alternate vacation plan for just the four of us.  In order to save money, I was looking at any military base on the East coast that we could stay.  I found one called King's Bay which is a Naval Submarine Base.  I knew nothing of the area or what was around it but I knew a beach was close and that was really all we needed.  Then, I found a Hampton Inn for $5 more a night which would provide a free hot breakfast.  To us, the logical choice was to "jump ship" with the Naval Base and go to a Hampton.

The day after I booked our hotel room, I decided to see if there was any good food or things to do near the hotel besides the beach (our biggest selling point)!  That's when I realized we were going to an Island!  hah, really?!  And it's called Amelia Island?  Well, that's a cute name!  AND Southern Living Magazine rated it as The Best Small-Town Getaway!?!

Well, after visiting, we can truly agree that it was a perfect place to vacation.

It is very rich in history... It is claimed that 8 flags have flown over Amelia Island: French, Spanish, British, Patriot, Green Cross, Mexican, Confederate, and United States.  A must-see park is Fort Clinch State Park.  No battles were ever fought here, but it was occupied by soldiers during the Spanish-American War as well as the Civil War.  It was a very entertaining piece of history to visit.  The architecture and masonry alone was well worth the visit!

Fort Clinch

Also on Amelia Island was a little gem of a place called Timoti's Seafood Shak.  This place kept in step with the rest of the island with it not being pretentious.  But just because they didn't have their noses stuck up in the air, didn't mean they didn't have a gourmet taste with exceptional ingredients.  Basically anywhere we go, we always share our meals in order to try as much as possible.  We ordered fish tacos-- which was made with locally caught fish.  That day, they had red snapper. (so, so, so delicious!) We also ordered a blackened shrimp basket.  It was THE BEST shrimp I think I've ever had!  They had indoor & outdoor seating, and you pick up your food when it's ready.  They save all the fancy stuff for the food itself because they had picnic table seating outside with rolls of paper towels.  The food is even all served in baskets.  That was the tastiest food I've ever had served in a basket!  Our only regret was not taking the time to re-visit this restaurant.  Please, Timtoi's.... Open a location in Ohio!

Another day was spent going to Cumberland Island National Seashore.  It was a 35 minute drive from our hotel where we drove back into Georgia near the Navy Base that we almost stayed at.  In order to get to the Island, we had to take a ferry which was coordinated with the National Parks Services.  There were about 30 people on the island while we were there so it was a very secluded experience.

Cumberland Island is an all day drip.  The ferry drops you off in the morning and doesn't return until late afternoon so we had to come prepared with plenty of water, food, and even shelter since we were planning on spending quite a bit of time on the beach.  We started off by heading south on the island to go see the Dungeness Ruins (top left photo).  This was a 59 room, Queen Anne Style Mansion that the Carnegie's built and occupied until 1925.  At one point, the Carnegie's owned 90% of the Island.  The National Park's acquired the ruins and the rest of the island in 1972.

After visiting the ruins, we headed east to the beach where we had to pass through sand dunes and the "desert" of the Island.  It was well worth it.  We had the beach to ourselves and spent the remainder of our time swimming, eating, & resting.  Bryan and I even shared a bottle of wine :)

On our hike back from the beach to get back to the ferry, we went through more forest (bottom right).  It was amazing to see one small barrier island that had so many different ecosystems.

I'll be back tomorrow with our favorite little tip for saving some time and money while on vacation.  I'll give you a hint:  It includes a crockpot!


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