Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jekyll Island's convention center, driftwood beach

     Jekyll Island was purchased by the State of Georgia after filing condemnation proceedings against the Jekyll Island Club.  The state ended up paying $ 675,000 for the island, a sum that caused great controversy.

     The challenger in the next governor's race made it the core issue of his campaign, calling the Island "Thompson's Folly" after the sitting Governor.  When he won the governorship, he promptly turned around and supported the project.

     A separate entity named "The Jekyll Island - State Park Authority" was formed and granted a 99 year lease on the island.  The charge was four fold - to beautify the island, to make it financially self sustaining, to make it available to the common man, and to make the beautification widely known.  All four have clearly been accomplished.

     Many of the "cottage" owners donated their houses to the state along with the furnishings.  So, in the late 1940;s Jekyll was promoted as the place you could "sleep where the Rockefellers slept."  Rooms rented for $1,50 to $3.00 per night.

     In 1982 the Division of Museums and  Historic Preservation was formed to restore the historic district.  This is the 240 acres (of 5,700 acres total) that was the core of the Jekyll Island club and included a total of 33 historic structures and their contents.

     Bicycle and hiking trails circle the entire perimeter of the island, and many run into the interior.  There are two full golf courses and a number of hotels, and a few years back a small airport was built.  By legislative mandate, sixty five percent of the island must remain undeveloped.

    I love the way the ocean winds "shape" the trees that line the shore.  Usually difficult to photograph, this area is clear enough to give some perspective.

     Many islands have numerous signs that beg visitors to stay off of the dunes.  Here, there are no signs.  Perhaps this is the reason why.

     You cannot walk more than a few feet in the low growth that covers the dunes without picking up a dozen small cacti that are laced with tough barbed needles.  You also pick up numerous sand spurs, making the notion of walking bare-footed or even with sandals a bad idea.  I watched on woman's dog run into the brush, and within ten steps it was hobbling back out whining.  I am sure it took her at least a half hour to pick all of the barbs out.

     One of the attractions of the island is called Driftwood Beach.

     It is a section of hardwood forest that erosion has allowed salt water to intrude upon.  Salt is a bit of a preservative, so the tree, after dying don't decay much more.  It makes for an eerie scene, reminiscent of  Bull Island SC's Bone-yard Beach.

     Each tree has its own unique characteristics.

     It makes a great spot for photographs - it really does look like some weird kind of pre-historic tree cemetery.

     The textures fascinate me.  I could wander and photograph them all day.

     Although much of the island is pristine, there is some new development.  Here  is the Jekyll Island Convention Center.  This is a 128,000 square foot ocean-side facility with a 45,000 square foot ballroom.

    Immediately adjacent to the convention center a new strip of stores is going up, and close-by on both sides two new hotels are going in.

     Strangely, just a half mile down the street a complex of about 150 town-houses sits vacant.  There are do not trespass signs all over - and it sits right on the ocean.  They look to be in good shape - perhaps it is a seasonal thing.

     The shops may provide some relief for the merchants on the beach side of the island.  Currently they are housed in these mobile homes.  Even the post office and a bank have their offices here.

     Jekyll Island is a great place to visit - probably my favorite of the entire state of Georgia.  There is plentiful wildlife and all manner of opportunity to engage in a number of activities or find quiet spots for thoughtful solitude.

     I don't plug businesses, but I did find a pretty good deal.  This is the Day's Inn, and I sat in their lobby late several nights writing these articles.

     I heard people booking rooms for $60 to $80 a night - although some paid upwards of $120.

     Now, this hotel runs right alongside the Atlantic - here is the view from the room where they serve the free breakfast.

     There are two heated pools and a hot tub.  I have not seen any hotel in a similar setting that went for under $250 a night.  If you have the chance and a few days, it might be worth considering.  But if you visit Jekyll, bring bug spray and bicycles.  Your visit will be much more enjoyable.

     One thing I have been remiss in mentioning - in 1910 Briggs and Stratton started making a small open-air vehicle, the predecessor of today's go-carts.  Utilizing a fifth wheel in the back as a drive wheel, they were a huge success on the island.  

     On the island, the golf cart rental firm is called Red Bug Motors, and the golf carts are reminiscent of these days.

     Today's parting shot for some of my Irish friends:

     It seems a perfect shot to post on New Years Eve. . .

EMAIL me if you like, DONATE if you can, Read Today's Meditation if you have time, but whatever you do be sure to Have an Awesome New Year !!


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