Sadly done with the Florida Keys we started out trek northward. We found more gorgeous coastlines, early colonial history, and plenty of tropical drinks along our route!
A tiki bar with old school roots, we stopped in while motoring up from the Keys due to extreme frustrations with traffic. The bar opened in the 60’s offering the people of the area a taste of the pacific with dancers and shows and of course tiki drinks without the cost of actually having to travel to the pacific. Now this place is an 8 themed room behemoth that Danielle and I thoroughly enjoyed, especially since it was happy hour (50% off drinks and appetizers) and it meant a reprieve from what seemed like an eternity of traffic. The drinks, appetizers, and ship-like décor of the bar alone are worth a stop in! They even had water pouring over the windows and a zen garden out back.
The one time to be peanut oil shipping depot and home to a nuclear bunker built for then President of the United States, John F Kennedy (due to the amount of time he spent in Palm Beach) is now a county park with amazing snorkeling right from the beach. Danielle and I spent some time wandering through the restored mangrove hammock (large concentration of mangroves) before getting in the water. As soon as your snorkel hits the water, you’re immersed into an abundance of life and it is stunning. No matter where we were in the water there was coral, seaweed, fish, or invertebrates to be seen. We both spent a couple of hours, snorkeling and trying free diving (only getting about 10 feet under at best) to follow flashy angelfish, vibrant parrotfish, and teensy weensy pufferfish around amongst many other fish. We would love to go back if ever in the area.
This Island has changed hands and has a lot of history just over the last 100 years. Much of it now is owned by the National State Parks, but there are still a good portion of the island that is still privately owned. We prepaid for tickets ($30/person), then decided we’d take our bikes along with us (for an additional $10 a bike) on the 45 minute ferry ride over to Cumberland Island. We decided we’d brave the 7 mile bike ride up to Plum Orchards, a “winter cottage” (see the picture to understand why that’s in quotes) originally owned by Lucy Carnegie (yes, that Carnegie). In Danielle’s opinion, the bike ride. Was. Awful. The roads are filled in by sand taken from the beaches to fill in/prevent erosion which makes for a miserable bike ride. The destination, however, was well worth it. We biked onto the grounds of the Plum Orchards (and there’s no evidence of there ever being a plum orchard here), and were immediately greeted by an open area of big oaks with spanish moss hanging like garland, wild horses grazing in the shade, bright red cardinals fluttering about in the trees, and the stillness of the quiet. Then there’s the extravagant “winter cottage” which we took a tour of, walking through the history of the building and the Carnegie families that lived within the walls for over 50 years. Danielle was about ready to keel over when we reached the ferry to head back to the mainland, but it was an amazing experience.
A colonial era tabby (concrete made with seashells, mostly oyster) fortress built to repel Spanish interludes from Georgia. We found this National Park on Earth Day and sported our “I Love Science” shirts which were acknowledged upon arrival because this National Park is an archeological site. In addition to allowing visitors to come look at the ruins, the park has a partnership with the local middle school, allowing middle school kids to come and help with archeological digging and findings! We thought that was so cool! The area was originally a small community and based on their findings, the National Park employees have been able to uncover stories about most of the houses; what they were used for, who lived in them, etc. Most of the building structures themselves had been taken apart and the materials were used to build other structures, so all that lay left are the foundations of most of the houses. This is an awesome and gorgeous place to take a walk through time and through the large oaks with bunches of Spanish moss swaying in the wind.