The Jekyll Island Turtle Gram Blog

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Aug 14, 2017

Sculptured by the Wind

Avast ye Jekyll Island Pirates!

Jekyll Island is big on conservation, and one of the best reasons to visit the island is to immerse yourself in the outdoors. You got your sun, surf, sea, and sand, sure. But don't forget the maritime forests - and Jekyll Island's live oaks.

The Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is Georgia's state tree, and is an amazing arboreal specimen. You can't miss them on Jekyll Island. They're the big, rough-barked trees with the limbs that explode out in all directions, making the tree resemble a giant octopus. Some of the older specimens have limbs that are so long and heavy they touch the ground, where visitors can't resist the urge to sit on them, relax and pose for photos.

Close to the coast, even these big guys are subject to the affects of prevailing winds off the ocean. You'll find them bending to landward, their canopies stretching towards the island interior, limbs and trunk twisted and curled like the body of an old man weighed down by years. They've been sculpted by the wind.

You'll see other trees, pines and palms in particular, that bend to the will of the sea wind. Environment affects behavior, and after awhile the trees will grow as the wind dictates.

Next time you visit Jekyll (and I hope it's for the upcoming Shrimp & Grits Festival), take time to savor the sight of those ancient live oaks, forever bending to the wind. And take a gander at the Plantation Oak, the largest live oak on the island. You can find it behind the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

Till we meet on the sands of Jekyll Island - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. See you on the beach, James. And bring a kite!

Aug 06, 2017

Delectable Fudge

Ahoy, Jekyll Island Adventurers!

When I was a kid, every once in a while I'd come home from school, bop into the house, and stop short to the delectable aroma of decadent chocolate!

Mom was making fudge.

Mmmmmmmm, fudge . A candy fit for a king. Or a kid. Makes my mouth water to think of it.

Mom's recipe was the best, but Jekyll Island shops sport some pretty good candy. I usually pick up a half-pound or so within a few days of arriving at the island.

Fudge needs to be savored slowly (if possible). It's a rich candy, and if you're up for a sugar rush, fudge will provide! But for some reason, no matter how slow I try to eat it, the stuff disappears within a day or so.

I think my family finds my stash.

Whatever - it's a great excuse to go out and buy some more. And while you're at it, lay in a large supply. You'll need to replace all those calories you burn riding bikes, playing golf and tennis, swimming and playing beach games!

You can get your fudge fix at the Jekyll Market or the Club Cafe. Or (my preference) from the Island Sweets Shoppe.

Just hope they're not sold out. Cause then, the only thing you could say would be, "Fudge!"

Until you get YOUR share of that rich chocolaty treat - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - meet you on the beach, James!

Jul 25, 2017

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

Avast, Jekyll Island Adventurers!

You've heard of the "snow birds", known for fleeing freezing northern climes for the sultry warmth of Florida? I'd like to introduce you to a bird who did the opposite, and left Florida for the Golden Isle coasts of Georgia.

Say hello to the Wood Stork.

The Wood Stork is striking in appearance. Large and leggy, its mostly white but with black wing tips and tail. Maybe not the loveliest of birds, however, cause its head and neck are featherless, sporting only grey, wrinkled skin - a face only a mother could love!

But the Wood Stork is the "comeback kid" of the avian world. Years of land development and "reclaiming" marsh, swamp and wetlands decimated Florida's Wood Stork population, and for a long time it claimed a prime spot on the endangered species list. But a funny thing happened. The Wood Stork packed its bags and moved north, where it began a long road to species recovery in Georgia and South Carolina.

Since then, Wood Stork populations have steadily increased, enough to move it from the endangered list. Now it's designated as a threatened species.

The bird's habitat is coastal wetlands and estuaries. On Jekyll Island, you can see them from the Marsh Trail, resting (roosting?) in trees within the marsh, where they can be close to water and their fishy prey.

You might also see these majestic birds walking on the beach on St. Andrew's Point, roosting in the rookery behind the old Amphitheater, or on the golf courses, wading in the shallows of the pond hazards (and dodging my errant drives).

While not the loveliest of birds, the Wood Stork is still quite photogenic. They're not especially camera shy, either. Move slow and easy and you can creep fairly close without raising an alarm. And score a fantastic photo.

Kids will love this bird. After all, one of these storks may have delivered them!

So remember. As you look for these birds, be sure to bring the youngsters, your camera, and...breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - see you on the Marsh Trail, James!

Jul 19, 2017

Ospreys: Fishing on the Wing

Ahoy, Jekyll Island buccaneers!

If you've ever witnessed an osprey catch a fish, you've been blessed. Martha and I experienced this very thing while on one of the fishing docks at Rixen Pond. Saw a flash of white from the corner of my eye, looked over just in time to see this beautiful raptor hit the water with talons outstretched. Then, wings beating the air, ascend with its prize, a huge mullet.

Ospreys are cool birds. Smaller than an eagle, these are fisher-birds, subsisting on a "seafood" diet.

You can find ospreys along almost any body of water, from lakes to rivers to ponds, estuaries, even coral reefs.

They've adapted to humans pretty well. We have mating pairs here in Hall County. One pair I know of nests each season on trusses over a bridge. Contractors working on this bridge weren't allowed to start construction until the ospreys had vacated the nest. Now they're widening the road and installing another bridge, and the ospreys returned, and are still nesting on the first bridge, right beside all that ongoing, noisy construction.

Ospreys are mostly brown on top, with white undersides. They form a distinctive "M" shape in flight.

On Jekyll Island, you may spot them nesting in trees at the edge of Rixen Pond, or beside golf course ponds, or wheeling around over bodies of water, seeking their next meal.

So keep a look out for ospreys on your next trip to Jekyll. Who knows? Maybe they'll share their sushi with you!

Till we meet on the sands of Jekyll Island - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - see you on the beach, James!

Jul 11, 2017

Beach Eats - Get In My Belly!

Yarrr, Jekyll Island Pirates!

If you're anything like me, your Jekyll Island family adventures are filled with activities. Swimming, wrestling kids in the surf, biking, tennis, golf, long walks with your significant other...you get the picture. All this calorie burning deserves to be rewarded - with food!

What are some of your favorite Jekyll Island family vacation/beach foods? Here's some of mine:

  • Shrimp. Cooked every way imaginable. With grits or without, this little pink crustacean is a delight to snarf down on. Boiled, steamed, fried, grilled...you name it, shrimp tops the list as my fav beach food. Grab some at almost any Jekyll Island restaurant. I prefer dining at the Rah Bar, where I can catch a beautiful Golden Isles sunset. Can't get much fresher than wild Georgia shrimp fresh off the boat - unless you eat it on the boat.
  • Oysters. Perfect when paired with shrimp at the above mentioned Rah Bar. I eat em steamed on a cracker with cocktail or various sauces.
  • Fresh fish. In every form. I recommend the Mahi sandwich at Zachry's Riverhouse, at the Jekyll Harbor Marina.
  • A big, cold salad. Sometimes there's nothing better on a hot afternoon than chomping down on a fresh salad chock full of crisp, cool lettuce, carrots, cukes, tomatoes, cheese, and creamy dressing. Top with shrimp? Why, yessss! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. You can get a dang good one at the Club Cafe.
  • Key Lime Pie. Couldn't leave KLP out, now could I? The perfect compliment to a perfect lunch or dinner. Or, heck, do like me, hop in the car, and head out for a decadent slice of the Islands whenever the urge strikes you!
Those are just a few of the foods I like to dive into when on the island. Now all this talk of eating has made me hungry!

Until we sit down together for a shrimp and oyster feast at the Rah Bar...breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - Get the shrimp to boiling, James, I'll meet you on the beach!

Jul 06, 2017

Loosy Goosie Potpourri

Ahoy Jekyll Islanders!

No particular subject today, just following the wake of my thoughts wherever they might sail.

  • Salivating for shrimp and grits? Jekyll Island's premier festival is just around the corner. The crustaceans come to a boil Sept. 15-17, so bring your appetites - along with deeper pockets. Cause it'll cost you a ten spot to get on the island during the 3 days of the festival. Increased fee applies to the Lighting of the Tree during Christmas, also.
  • Here's your chance to help a lady out. Consuela Brown lost a very special necklace in a Driftwood Beach parking lot (the exact lot wasn't specified). The necklace has tremendous sentimental value, as it contains a lock of hair from her 10 year old daughter, who passed away in 2013. If you happen to find it, you can contact Ms. Brown at (912)531-5091, or get in touch through her Facebook page.
  • Pirates are creative sorts, and never is their wacky artistic bent displayed better than on the hulls of their boats. We're talking boat names, matie! Sailors are always noticing boat names. Like "Knotical" or "Moby Deck" or "Dirty Dawg". What are some of your favorites? Sail over to our Facebook page at http://bit.ly/2pzNdtH and add your contribution to boat name lore!
  • Tomorrow I'm baking key lime pies, for my family (throw money, fam!), and our pastor and her husband. Then when Martha gets off work we're heading to the annual Beach Bash here in Gainesville. The city trucks in a few tons of sand, sets up a beach themed ambience, and brings out the bands. This year it's Son's of Sailors, a Buffett tribute band. Wonder how many Buffett themed bands are out there? In just our area there's Sons of Sailors, Land Sharks, and A-1-A.
  • What's your Jekyll Island wildlife close encounter story? We have a few. The most interesting was when we were accosted by a buck in heat on the Glory boardwalk. But that's a story for another Turtle Gram post. :)

Until we meet at Shrimp and Grits - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - See you on the beach, James. Keep the faith.

Jun 30, 2017

Upcoming Events, Festivals, Celebrations on Jekyll Island

Upcoming events and celebrations for family fun on Jekyll Island

Continue reading "Upcoming Events, Festivals, Celebrations on Jekyll Island"

Jun 28, 2017

Go For a Walk - A Turtle Walk

Shiver me timbers, Jekyll Islanders!

On Jekyll Island, if you like to walk, you can get your groove on. Slip on your walking shoes (hiking boots or ruby slippers not needed!) and take off for a slow paced, by foot power, adventure.

Enjoy these walks and more on your next trip to an island paradise, Jekyll Island!

Until we meet on the trails of Jekyll - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - see you on St. Andrews Point, James.

Jun 21, 2017

Summer High!

Avast, Jekyll Island Pirates!

It be the summer solstice, that magical time when day length equals night length. Tomorrow, we'll be on the downhill slide towards winter, but there are plenty of sunny summer days still to enjoy on Jekyll Island and the Golden Isles of Georgia.

Make the most of it, kiddies, cause summer don't last forever! :(

So ban all thoughts of winter to the back of your mind, jump in the old rag top, turn up Jimmy Buffett, and head to Jekyll for some "sun filled" Adventure!

These are just some of the fun experiences you can enjoy on Georgia's jewel, Jekyll Island!

As for this old pirate, I'll see you in September, at the Shrimp and Grits Festival.

Until then - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - see you on Driftwood Beach, James. Time for a shrimp boil!

Jun 20, 2017

It's Party Time at Summer Waves!

Shiver me timbers, Jekyll Island Buccaneers!

It's PARTY TIME at Summer Waves Water Park! Come help them celebrate their 30th year birthday. Fireworks, movies and more!

Nough said - Rick

Continue reading "It's Party Time at Summer Waves!"

Jun 11, 2017

Beach Reads

Hello Jekyll Islanders!

Show of hands. Who likes to read on vacation? Me, for one. But I rarely read on the beach. Too hot, too much glare.

When I relax with a good book on Jekyll Island these days, it's usually in one of several places:

Truthfully, I can read just about anywhere. I take a book everywhere I go, especially where I know I'll have to wait for something, like a doctor's office, while I'm having my car serviced, or in line at the post office or to vote.

I mostly read fiction, but sometimes a good non-fiction book will catch my eye. My tastes turn to gardening, biographies, and science. And (since I write paranormal thrillers, the weird, and whatever I happen to be researching at the moment.

My fiction reading revolves around thrillers, horror, sci fi, fantasy - you can see how my wind blows! :)

I prefer reading real books, but have a Nook I keep loaded up with ebooks.

A few great books I've read recently:

  • The Troop (horror)
  • Southern Son - The Story of Doc Holiday (historical fiction trilogy)
  • Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast
  • American Gods (fantasy, I think. It kind of defies being pigeonholed into one genre).

Some of my favorite fiction authors:

  • Louis L'Amour (my author mentor)
  • John Sandford
  • Lee Child
  • C.J.Box
  • Randy Wayne White
  • F. Paul Wilson
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Robert McCammon
  • Jonathan Maberry
  • and too many more to mention.

How about you? What's your favorite beach reads, and how do you prefer your reading material, in electronic or dead tree format?

Whether you read to learn or for fun - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - I'll meet you on the shaded veranda at the JI Hotel, James - and bring a book!

Jun 10, 2017

Time to Get Crabby

Ahoy, Pirates!

If you're like me, buccaneering on Jekyll Island can work up an appetite (especially if you have a spouse and kids egging you on). There are lots of great restaurants on the island glad to fill your belly - for a price. But have you ever thought of catching your own supper?

I'm talking crabbing, a great Jekyll Island Family Adventure that kids will love. Catch a mess of crabs, and cook up a crab feast. All for pennies compared to what you'd pay in a sea food restaurant.

So grab a crab ring and catch - then eat - your limit. You can start with these recipes.

Till we sit down and shuck crabs together on the island, breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. Save some claws for me, James.

Jun 07, 2017

Have a Shell of a Good Time, Times 2!

Avast, Jekyll Island Maties!

It's a great time to visit Jekyll Island. Lots of kid-friendly scheduled events going on in June.

One don't miss activity: The Georgia Sea Turtle Center's 10th Birthday Party! Kids will love seeing the turtles, and "shell-abrating" with Scute and friends. And while your there, schedule a Turtle Walk.

But how about an unscheduled adventure, one that kids of all ages can enjoy? Sea shell hunting.

Doesn't cost a thing, and can serve as a learning experience as well as a fun family adventure.

Head over to the southern end of the island for some good hunting. The morning after off-shore storms are best, when wind and wave action has washed fine shell specimens onto the beach.

What can you find? Look for

  • Whelks
  • Olives
  • Coquinas
  • Sand Dollars
  • and many more!

Shells are great to collect and display, or use in crafts. So on your upcoming Jekyll Island Family Adventure (and you ARE coming to the island soon, right?), hit the beaches, kids in tow, and hunt up that perfect seashell.

Until I see you shelling on the beach - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - See you on the sand, James.

May 30, 2017

Snapshots

Hi, there, JI Buccaneers!

We're settling into post-vacation life (blah!), and Martha asked me what my favorite time was on the island this trip.

Didn't really have a favorite experience. They were ALL good. Even the steel teeth didn't bother us much.

Sometimes I'll take a reflection break from work, lean back in my Captain's chair, close my eyes and let the memories flow.

  • Gators. Saw at least a dozen this year, by far the most we've ever seen in on trip. One might have gone 10'. And every size in between. Look for gators in the pond beside the trail from the Historic District to Flash Foods, and the pond behind the old amphitheater. Horton Pond is a great place to see them, and has an observation platform. And the golf course ponds, of course.
  • Revitalization. Still lots of building going on, with the new Cottages going up (check them out when you get there), and renovation on the JI Wharf.
  • Sunsets. Lots of photo ops from St. Andrews Point, or from the promenade walk beside the Intra-coastal Waterway, behind the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. For sunrises, hit Driftwood Beach.
  • Eats. Had a fantastic mahi sandwich at Zachry's River House. My mouth waters to think of it.
  • Vegging Out. Relaxing in our favorite wicker rockers on the JI Club Hotel veranda, reveling in sweet tea, shade and soft, cool breezes.
  • Wildlife. You can relish close encounters with our furry, scaly, or feathered friends just about anywhere and anytime. One of the best viewing spots is the Glory Boardwalk. Saw deer, song birds, and marsh hares here, just about every day.

If you have a trip Jekyll coming up, it's turtle nesting season. Book a turtle walk courtesy of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and visit with some scaly friends.

We'd be glad to hear about your adventures on our Facebook page.

Until we meet in the Marshes of Glenn, breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - Save a mahi sandwich for me, James.

May 18, 2017

Sometimes You Yearn...

Hi, JI folks!

One of my goals for our latest trip to the island was to pig out on steamed oysters and shrimp at the Rah Bar.

Best laid plans and all that...

It was closed for renovation. In fact, the whole Wharf was being renovated, including Latitude 31, a Jekyll restaurant icon.

I wandered forlornly along the Wharf, wondering if Latitude 31 would return, or if some other restaurant would be there when we came back.

And I felt a bite of melancholy, cause things change.

Revitalization has altered the face of the Jekyll Island we knew when our boys were hatchlings scampering over the beach. Some things needed to be improved, I guess. That was the official line, anyway. And that new Convention Center, coupled with the Westin, the Beach Village Shopping Center, and the other improvements, have brought an increase in tourism and improved JI's bottom line.

But, waxing nostalgic, here are a few "old friends" I miss:

  • the JP Morgan Historic Tennis Court - it was renovated into a temporary convention center while the new one was being built. We played many a game under that roof. It's now the Morgan Center, meeting space for the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
  • The Amphitheater - almost completely gone now, in the process, it seems, of being torn down. Our boys grew up mesmerized by the plays put on there by Valdosta State college thespians. Don't know what will happen there.
  • Beachview Shopping Center - that old fashioned strip center holds a special place in our heart. Lift a toast to IGA, the JI Pharmacy, Zachry's, and other shops (some of which have a new life at the Beach Village).
  • Buccaneer, Comfort Inn, and other old hotels. Spent many a week at those places. Now guests can experience the new Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Westin, and more coming - IF they can afford it.

We'll always love our island - but sometimes it's good to reminisce. After all, we grew roots here. And they're sandy!

Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - see you on the sand, James 'ol pal.

May 16, 2017

Smart as a...Dolphin!

Avast, ye Jekyll Island Pirates!

I figure myself fairly (slightly?) intelligent, but there's another mammal out there that just might have me beat - the bottlenose dolphin.

Some people believe that these animals possess an intellect comparable to a humans. I wouldn't know, cause I've never had a conversation with one. But I did experience a dolphin encounter that was kind of cool.

Keith Wilson and I were surveying on Kiawah Island one muggy hot week, and came upon an old plantation style house that was slowly crumbling back into the loam. We kind of "accidentally" crossed (jumped?) a locked fence and wandered around the grounds. As my grandmother would have said if she'd seen us do it (just before pinching our ear off), "What are you two plundering around that old house for?"

Anyway. We made our way through the weeds to the back yard, which to our surprise wasn't very wide, because a tidal creek ran along the back.

We were standing on the bank talking when a commotion downstream caught our attention. Lo and behold, a mass of fish was boiling its way towards us. We were surprised to see two dolphins guiding the fish up the narrow waterway like a pair of border collies herding sheep. Just before they reached a sandbar opposite us, they sped up and forced about a dozen fish to beach themselves. Then the dolphins SLID UP ON THE SHORE, snarfing down fish like it was a Southern fish fry.

Since then I've heard of dolphins doing that and more, working in teams to catch their supper.

Next time you're on Jekyll Island, say hello to a friendly dolphin. He might just understand you - and invite you out to eat!

Until I see you chasing fish up on the beach at Jekyll Island, breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - Save a swim with the dolphins for me, James.

May 14, 2017

Most Recent Trip a Blast!

Ahoy, Jekyll Islanders!

Our latest trip to Jekyll was a rollicking success. The weather, so finicky on our last sojourn, was perfect. And no rain!

This trip, with both Martha and I recovering from medical issues, we played no tennis. A bummer. But we did get to see our friend Pete Poole, retired tennis pro at the tennis center, and catch up. Pete's a Jekyll Island icon, and tennis without seeing his smiling face behind the counter is just not the same. :(

A rundown of what we did while pirating around the island:

This post is getting long, so enough for now. Lots going on with Jekyll Island Family Adventures that you'll hear about later. Come see us on our Facebook page at http://bit.ly/2pzNdtH.

Next trip: Shrimp and Grits in September!

Until I see you on the beach, breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

PS - save a shady spot on the beach for me, James.

Apr 26, 2017

FINALLY! Jekyll Island Time!

Ahoy, Jekyll Island Pirates!

It seems like ages since I last posted. Martha's surgery recovery has dragged on, and she's experienced one setback after another. And I've been plagued by hip and knee problems that required physical therapy. But now, thank God, we've turned the corner and are on the mend (knock on drift wood). And, finally, our Jekyll Island time has come around. We'll be off to the islands in about a week.

And it couldn't have come sooner. I was experiencing surf and sand withdrawal symptoms.

Aging is not for daisies. On this trip, we'll probably limit our tennis to a few games of mini-tennis (thankfully on clay courts), IF the courts have recovered from the recent hurricane damage. Bike riding may be out, too. We may be limited to long, leisurely walks on the beach, snarfing down seafood, and swigging margaritas - but who's complaining?

So this trip may be more of a "therapy cruise" than past trips. We'll take it easy, visit friends, listen to Eddie Pickett and the Wharf Ratz. I plan on taking lots of pictures to add to the website. And generally relaxing and recharging our depleted batteries.

Hopefully, we'll see you there, too. Recharging your own batteries while enjoying the ambience of Jekyll Island.

Until then - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

'Nough said - Rick

PS - Save a beach chair for me, James.

Jan 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

Avast, Jekyll Island Pirates!

Shiver me timbers, it be a newly born year! Hope you upheld the pirate honor and handled your grog with no problems. If not, there's always next year to party down (or next weekend, if that's the way yer rudder steers ye!).

Now that the holidays are astern, what's on the horizon for Jekyll Island? Well, check out our Event Spotlight and find out, maties!

I'll give you one hint - Island Treasures! Jekyll Island's family fun treasure hunt returns for another year, from January 1 through February 28. Bring your parrot and sniff out an artist-rendered "antique" glass fishing net globe. If you don't know what that is, you can learn all about it here.

So set your sails on a beam reach and head to the islands!

Until I see you searching the sands for YOUR island treasure - breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - See you on the sand, James. Save a glass fishing globe for me.

Nov 30, 2016

Join the Christmas Festivities in December

Ahoy, Jekyll Island Pirates!

Doff your eye patch and don your red cap and get thee over to Jekyll Island in December if you know what's good for you! There's more Christmas activities and events that month than you can shake a candy cane at!

See below for details!

Until we skate by the beach together on Jekyll Island...breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Nough said - Rick

P.S. - Okay, James, break out the skates...