Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Woodbridge to DC

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
We arrived in Woodbridge yesterday around 5pm and were welcomed by the esteemed Aunt Juanita and Uncle Carlton.  As always, they are the best of hosts, upbeat and interested in everything.  Sandra and Todd came a bit later and we all went to dinner at Carraba's (thank you Carlton).  Today we said our good byes and made the short trip to DC.  Our first stop was The Phillips Collection.  

Duncan Phillips was heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune and use that inheritance to collect more than 3,000 works of modern and contemporary art.  The collection is in Phillips's boyhood home and 2 adjacent properties.  The collection is jaw dropping. As we were touring the special exhibition, Made in America, I kept remarking, "we saw this painting, but which museum?"  Finally, after reading the description of the exhibition, I realized the show had been on the road and we had seen it in Tampa last year.  Oy.  At least I could remember specific paintings if not when and where I saw them.  Add to last year's favorites John Sloan's 6 o'clock Winter, Everett Spruce's Arkansas Landscape, and Whitefield Lovell's beautifully rendered portraits.  

Tonight we ate at Cafe Mozart, a place we have eaten on other visits.  It is German fare.  The evening there was a Viennese woman playing the accordion and singing German/Austrian songs.  She serenaded us with Strauss while she whooped and laughed.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jekyll Island to St Simon Island

Jekyll Island, Driftwood Beach

First thing this morning we went to the Arts Festival.  It was just a showing of a local arts group, nothing memorable.  There was a live band and sunny, warm weather, which made strolling under the towering live oaks all the more lovely.  There is really only one place to eat good food on the island and that is the Jekyll Island Club.  Last night we tried the Driftwood Bistro.  It was really bad.  The wait for a table was 45 minutes.  But then the wait at the table was another 30 minutes.  That would have been okay if the food was good.  But, alas, I have given up on shrimp and grits.  As in the other servings of this dish, I could hardly discern the grits among the sauce that I would describe as a bad b├ęchamel with bad cheese added to it?.?  So, we had our second lunch at the Jekyll Club, and it was as good as the day before.  Plus, the dining room is so beautiful and so reminiscent of fin de siecle (1900).  One expects ladies in long white victorian dresses to enter at any moment.  
This afternoon we drove over to St Simons Island.  It's much more inhabited and developed.  We walked along a public park and beach front with many people playing and dog walking.  After we drove to Fort Frederica Park where the architectural remains of the colonial fort remains.  It was here that Oglethorp built the fort and fought off the Spanish.  
Finally, late afternoon we visited Driftwood Beach which is the most unique and usual beach I've visited.  The pictures don't show the wonder of huge oak trees downed by the sea and aged into drift wood.  It is our belief that the trees didn't actually drift to the island, but have been uprooted and left to age.  Flickr Photos

Friday, March 7, 2014

Jekyll Island, GA

Christy and Wayne with Voodoo, their guide.
Jekyll Island is an island off the coast of Feorgia.  It is one of the Sea Islands and one of the 
Golden Isles of Georgia.  In the late 1800s Jekyll Island was an exclusive winter retreat for America's most elite families, the then 1%.  It was known as the Jekyll Island Club with members such as the Rockefellers, Morgans, Pulitzers, and Goulds.  By WWII the island was mostly abandoned and in ruin.  An interesting fact is the plan to create the Federal Reserve Act was formed in secret meetings on Jekyll before being presented to Congress.

It is a beautiful island surrounded by miles of salt marsh the views of which reminded me of the vast plains of Kansas. Magnolias, huge, ancient live oak, palmettos and scrub oak dominate.  We took a 90 minute carriage tour to see and learn about the development of the island, it's abandonment and finally its restoration and state ownership. Flickr Photos

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Dixie's Custom Framing
The Inn at Folkston is the nicest b&b we have ever stayed in.  Our room is large with a sitting area facing a fireplace.  The owners, Ted and Alise, are very kind, gentle and gracious.  Ted is retired from the railroad.  He served us a very southern breakfast of grits, biscuits, bacon and eggs.  It poured rain all day; we did not take the boat tour.  Instead, we drove to the west side of the park looking for the head waters of the Suwannee River.  This side of the park is operated by the state and offers mostly camping.  The geography was fascinating, though, with tall, tall and thin, thin long leaf pine.  
We had lunch at Dixie's Custom Framing. (I know.  Go figure).  Dixie was very friendly and talked a lot about the park, past fires and best places to visit.  She also made a mean chicken and grits soup.  re:  dining options in Folkston.  There are none.  Our host recommended the Okefenokee Restaurant as the only place in town other than fast food.  Well, we went there last night and left our full plates on the table.  Believe me, I know cafeteria food.  Not only did I grow up in a community that had at least 5 or 6 of them, I ate school lunches for 35 years.  The Okefenokee Restaurant was the worst.  The cat fish was whole (head, tail and fins) and fried to a dark brown.  There were no hush puppies, black eyed peas, green beans, shrimp or corn bread.  AND, no pies.  Really?  Really?  So tonight we returned to Jaylen's BBQ and got a rack.  They had a great smoky flavor but were big and too tough for me.  Wayne ate the whole thing.  A few pics at flickr.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Folkston, GA and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Okefenokee National Refuge Board Walk on Chesser Island

After arriving in Folkston, we had to get the winter travel bag out.  It is 43 here, and we plan to take a boat tour of the Swamp tomorrow.  The town is a typical small southern town with turn of the century architecture.  Buildings have been reinvented from banks to restaurants, dress shops to antique stores.  Eating options seem limited to cafeteria style servings.  We did find Jaylen's BBQ within 5 minutes of entering town, and later found it to be listed #1 in Trip Advisor.  
We took a drive to the Swamp and toured the Chesser Island area in the car.  There was a 3/4 mile boardwalk into the Swamp which gave me a look at black water, a thing I was most curious about.  The water looks like a black mirror that reflects all the surroundings.  I took ineffective pictures hoping to capture the magic. But, alas, they have a strange green tinge. A portion of the area was burned; a natural and beneficial event that occurs regularly. We saw neither Pogo Possum or Albert Alligator.
It seems Folkston is also a destination for train buffs. The Folkston Funnel is a double track which serves as the main artery for railroad traffic into and out of Florida.  Apparently one can view up to 41 trains from different railroads carrying a variety of goods.  There were people standing near the tracks photographing passing trains (there is one every 1/2 hour).
The Inn at Folkston was a pleasant find.  We have a room with a sitting area and fireplace, which is very welcome on this chilly evening.  
See a few pictures of the Refuge at flickr.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cedar Key

Seahorse Island, Florida
What a difference a day makes.  We were correct in wanting to stay in Fort Myers.  While it was 80 there, It is blustery, cloudy and a bit cool (60s) here in Cedar Key, the 2nd oldest town in Florida.  Cedar Key is a town of 700 located in the Cedar Keys.  At its hey day Cedar Key was the home to Faber and Eagle pencils production.  The once abundant cedar trees that were felled to produce all those #2 pencils are now gone as is the industry. Today clam farming is the predominant mainstay.  We sampled them at every meal with every recipe you can imagine.  They are delicious.  Unlike the regulations in Mass that prevent anything under 1.5" from being harvested, these little babies are the size of a ping pong ball.   Cedar Key is funky and not at all like Anna Maria.  Here was one of the best artists' coop we've visited.  We bought a beautiful turned wooded bowl by Richard Levine. The people we have met seem to be here strictly to experience the geography, bird watch, fish, etc.  I keep expecting to see Jack Sparrow pop up.  This afternoon we took a 2 hour boat tour to the outlying keys where they are bird nesting sanctuaries. The entire area is low, low, low with depths of 4' at high tide.   The dolphins were friendly and played in the wake of our boat.  Check out the photos and video on flickr

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Go Sox!

JetBlue Park, Fort Myers, FL
Fort Myers presented us with the best of weather.  We explored downtown and ate at Firestone Grill, which was once a fish processing plant.  There is a roof bar that offers beautiful and expansive views of the Caloosahatchee River.  The next day we stopped first at the 6 Mile Cypress Slough park before heading to JetBlue Park to see the Red Sox play the Orioles.  Without complaint from us, the 80 degree sun baked us and soothed our spirits.  The Red Sox were just as kind with a 5-1 win.  It was fun to watch Pedroia and Big Papi up close.  It's soooo nice here.  We don't want to go home!   Flickr photos.