Most of the members signed up for the Cumberland Island tour but four brave souls decided to camp the night before the outing.... Jan G. had to be coaxed a bit, but she was swayed by the promise of incredible night shots of the ruins.
The reality was Don Dymer, who had never camped in his life, brought a camp stove and a grill along with his new sleeping air mattress and a wagon full of other "stuff". We walked 1/2 mile pulling 3 wagons and 4 bikes to the campsite (yes, the rest of us took too much stuff also). If you have been on an outing with Jan G., you are familiar with her wagon of photo equipment. Add food, tent, sleeping bags, etc., to that load and you get the real picture.
The schedule on arrival day was to set up camp then ride our bikes a couple of miles to the ruins and plot the night photography shots. We were going to light the ruins with flashlights and have winning photos for years. We were going to make all you non-campers suffer at contest time with those stunning images !
We actually looked like we knew what we were doing as we set up camp. Don offered hot tea (yes, he brought a tea kettle) and since it felt like 90 in the shade, we politely declined.
So camp was set and we started down the dirt road to the ruins. What we didn't realize was that the sandy road had recently been plowed and sand added but it hadn't been packed down by traffic (since no cars except tour vans are allowed) and it was like attempting to ride in a sand dune. If you could keep your bike within a recent tire track, you had a chance of getting at least 4 feet before the bike went over and 4 feet felt like a really good run. It was grueling and impossible (although Brian and Don eventually made it to the ruins and returned exhausted) and needless to say, the night photography of the ruins came right off the list of "to do's".
We had a great chef because Don brought and prepared a burger dinner and the breakfast he also planned for the next day was incredible.
The funniest thing? Had to be Don and his blow-up mattress. He used a hand pump that made a "whooshing" sound as air was forced into the bed. He bragged and bragged about how comfy he was going to be and no one else had brought a mattress. I had told Jan G. that we didn't need anything under our sleeping bags, "It will be soft enough sleeping on sand!" I said.
What we discovered is sand can feel just like concrete after 3 minutes so we were awake around 2ish a.m. when we heard the "whooshing" sound and we knew Don's air bed was flat! That sound happened a few more times during the night which gave us the giggles every time we heard it.
We did get a get a few night shots of the oaks and the pier and the next morning we walked to the beach where Brian got a great shell photo he entered in the last contest.
The history available from the tour was interesting. It did allow you to see areas of the island you could never visit otherwise (you certainly don't want to ride a bike). The most interesting thing on the tour was meeting "Miss Carol", who stopped to chat with our driver and lashed on the back of her 4-wheeler was a dead coyote. That animal was in pieces before nightfall, I'm sure. If you don't know about Miss Carol, check out "Untamed: The Wildest Women in America and The Fight for Cumberland Island".