In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. It quickly became known as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world” and evolved into a sanctuary for the uber-wealthy who enjoyed their winters on this little paradise while rubbing elbows with other prominent figures. As soon as we arrived, I was immediately drawn to this small and isolated island surrounded by sea, sun, and breathtaking landscaping. As we drove through the historic district to scope out the winter homes of the Rothschild, Goodyear, Vanderbilt, and Morgan families, I was simply transported to another era. Although the club no longer exists and instead has been converted to a five-star resort, and the historic vacation homes have been preserved as museums and landmarks, visitors can easily capture the magnetic energy that still exists on the island.
(left to right: Crane Cottage, home of Richard Teller Crane Jr and Goodyear Cottage, home of Frank Henry Goodyear)
(left to right: Cherokee Cottage built for Shrady Family, The Jekyll Island Club Resort, and Mistletoe Cottage, home of Henry Kirk Porter)
For grub, we headed to Zachry's Riverhouse. The food was delicious but even more so I loved its' secluded location near the marina and how it is tucked into a secret nook protected by massive oaks. The outdoor seating was nice and shady. The irony of the house rules was hard to ignore. Signs were posted everywhere reminding people to keep six feet distance yet parties at the outdoor bar were seated directly near one another. We were initially seated at a table too close to others and requested to move, which they happily did which allowed us to enjoy the view and the vibe while vacationing.
If you ever find yourself wondering what it would be like to be in Salvador Dali's mind then you must make a visit to Driftwood Beach on the northeast end of Jekyll Island. What you will encounter is so surreal and eerily striking you will be forced to think about life and death. You will suddenly be reminded that even in death there is a striking beauty in what is left behind. I couldn't stop snapping pictures. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not take a single shot that successfully captured this enchanting spot on our vast planet. My kids compared the beach to Iceland, which yes, I agreed. Driftwood Beach, like Iceland, is also otherworldly. Simply described, it's a graveyard of trees on the coast that evoked so many feelings in the five of us. Some trees have branches bent over, stretching long as if to clutch the earth and hang on a little bit longer as they took their last breaths. Others were twisted into works of art, sculpted by Mother Nature herself. Many were reaching towards the sun and the sky calling on the heavens. After some time digesting the scene, it occurred to me that there was so much motion left in their stillness, almost as if the hundreds of trees around us just suddenly froze in time waiting to be awakened. I still can't help but relate to the scene, to the trees. Are we frozen in time during this pandemic? Are we waiting for an awakening individually and also as a human race? Can we push ourselves even further than we already have and stretch and twist our minds and souls into ways we would normally avoid? More importantly, I was left asking myself, what can I do while still alive to leave such a beautiful legacy behind when my time is up.
The beach has very large pockets of clay (left picture) buried under the sand. Other than the Dead Sea, I have never been to a beach with so much of this thick mud! The kids loved squishing it and we even molded large chunks into the shape of a head with a face and passed it along playing "hot potato". Good laughs, especially when the head hit the water and splattered us with its' mud guts. We wondered if like the clay in the Dead Sea, this mud had any health properties too. We couldn't find any information on this but we did learn that this clay is actually 40,000 years old from a salt marsh that used to stand where the beach currently is. Pretty cool! Finally, I had to share the photo on the right. If you zoom in and look very closely, you will hopefully see what I saw along the shore. As the waves rolled back to the sea, they left trails that resemble....trees! Do you see the branches? I was amazed by this. It's almost as if the ocean left behind sketches from its' vantage point and etched them into the sand.
Yes, I do believe in miracles and magic. These days I have searched for them with even more eagerness. They are really all around us. To see them, you must not only believe they are there but you need to search for them. Go on a walk, get in your car, get on a plane- whatever you do, just get out and explore. And wear a mask.