2022 Visitors to the Golden Isles

Tom and I didn’t get as many visitors to the Golden Isles in 2022 as we have in the past.  Wendy and Ron were going to spend all of January on Amelia Island, close to us, but they had to cancel because of work responsibilities.  John and Jackie were going to come down but John started a new job and their dog got sick.  Steve and Amy were going to visit but Amy is pregnant and due any day now.  The Vargas were going to stop by but they had to make a hurried-up trip back to Ohio and didn’t have time to stop.  In fact, the only visitors who were planning to come that actually made it were Steve and Kathy.

But we had several visitors we weren’t expecting and we had fun with them.  First was Karen Bennett.  Karen and her husband were members of the Brady Lake church back when I was the pastor.  Les has since died, but I would see Karen at Annual Conference.  In January, on one of my days off, I was talking to Ranger Michael on the breezeway of the Visitors Center when a person with a mask on looked at me and said, “Karen?”  It took me a few seconds (because of the mask) but I responded “Karen?”  Then we laughed and hugged.  She was spending a few weeks on the island with her brother and sister-in-law.  It was her first visit to St. Simons.  Karen came back with the rest of her family on that Saturday to see us doing living history and we had more of a chance to talk.  We also took a few pictures.

Karens in the front

A few weeks later I saw that one of my friends was visiting Jekyll Island.  She had posted about it on Facebook.  Beth Anne and Chris Chiles are friends from college that live in South Carolina.  We visited with them when we were working at Kings Mountain.  They were getting in a little beach time between business trips.  I reached out to them and we met at Tortuga Jack’s on Jekyll Island for supper.  We ate on the patio and it was windy and cold, but we enjoyed the surprise visit with them very much.  They didn’t get to visit St. Simons Island, so we hope they will come back again.

Beth Anne and Chris Chiles with us

At the beginning of March I got a text from Marcia Douglas.  She and Phil were heading to Indiana from a NOMADS project in Florida.  They were going to see Nell and Randy Benefield and wanted to know if Tom and I could meet with the four of them.  We worked with Nell and Randy our first two years here at Fort Frederica and they recently bought a house in Statesboro, Georgia.  They have worked with Phil and Marcia on several NOMADS projects.  We all worked together here at Fort Frederica in 2018.  They came to the Fort to check out the changes since 2018, especially the butterfly garden that Phil and Marcia put in.  When Tom and I got off work, we all met at Brogen’s North for supper.  Even though the restaurant was really crowded and noisy, we enjoyed our time with them very much.

Me, Marcia, Nell, Randy, Phil, and Tom

Another unexpected visitor was Tom Marquardt and his wife.  We worked with Tom at Fort Necessity and always enjoyed talking to him.  He retired in February and he and his wife were spending some time in a warmer climate.  He just happened to stop by Fort Frederica and saw Tom in his British soldier outfit, looking remarkably the way he did at Fort Necessity.  The day was very busy and we didn’t get to talk much, but it was fun to see him.

Our last serendipitous visitors were Gail and Keith Lindeman.  We worked with Gail and Keith two years here at Fort Frederica.  The last time was in 2020.  They worked at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge this year and were on their way back to Ohio.  They stopped on St. Simons to visit some friends they made while they were here last year.  While here, they parked their RV in one of the RV volunteer spots here at the park.  We saw them several times over the three days they were here, but only had short conversations each time.

Most of our social time this year was with the other RV volunteers.  We really enjoyed working with the Jennings, the Brumbaughs, and the Verbas.  All of them have departed the park now but we enjoyed several dinners together.  We even got in one night of Phase 10 with the Verbas.  Verbas are planning on coming back next year so we hope to see them again in January.

Meal with Verbas and Brumbaughs

We always enjoy it when we get visitors to the Golden Isles.  It is a wonderful place to spend time during the winter and seeing familiar faces – planned or unplanned – makes it more of a joy.  If you are heading to Florida or coming to Georgia in 2023, be sure to let us know!