Every time Tom and I start working at a National Park site, I feel like singing “Back in the saddle again” (the Gene Autry version, not the Aerosmith version). The title is the only part of the song appropriate to how I feel, but I can sing that one line over an over with lots of “la, la, la, la” for the other words. “Back in the Saddle” feels especially appropriate as we start our fifth season at Fort Frederica National Monument.
As we were going through our orientation on Sunday, quite a bit of it was familiar. In fact, some of the things that we thought would be different were delayed by Covid and are the same as they were. The Visitors Center was supposed to be updated by this point, but, instead, looks just as it did when we left in June of 2020. The ruins in the town look exactly the same. The spanish moss is the same and the live oaks are still huge and gorgeous.
The staff, however, are completely different. All of the Administrative staff now work down at Cumberland Island National Seashore so we will rarely see them. We have two new Interpretive rangers, Sarah and Bob, who are here full-time. Of the RV volunteers, four of us are returnees and four are new. We are glad that Denise and Bob Verba are back for their sixth season of volunteering at Fort Frederica. They are great board game players and a lot of fun to hang around with.
We are in a new spot in the Volunteer Village. Our previous four stays we were close to the maintenance building. This time we are closer to the path that leads to the Visitors Center. When we were walking home on Sunday, tired from our busy day at work, Tom mentioned how good it was to be closer to the Visitors Center. It is only about 30 feet, but it was a fun thing for him to say. We are also in a new “house” for Fort Frederica. Hopefully, we have worked out some of the kinks of living in our newish motorhome.
Eventually we will be back in the saddle with our living history. Tom couldn’t wait to get his British soldier uniform. I know Tom is planning on doing living history this weekend, although I would prefer to wait one more week until we get the Jennings trained. Living history is more fun when there are a bunch of us out working together. It looks more like a village.
Our first day of work was Sunday, January 2, and it was very busy. We had 300 guests with a lot of the island residents bringing family who were visiting for the holidays. There were four of us working and we were all talking to visitors most of the day. Having to answer questions brought back all the stuff that we are supposed to know about this place. Fortunately we had reviewed some of it on our drive to Georgia and didn’t have any questions we couldn’t answer.
Over the last few days, we learned the Covid restrictions that are in place for Fort Frederica. Masks inside the buildings but none required on the grounds unless you are in a group of more than 45. 45 feels like an arbitrary number but we rarely have groups that large, so we won’t have to worry about it much. We have certain cleaning assignments each day and are supposed to sanitize all surfaces three times a day.
The best part of being back at Fort Frederica is the wonderful winter weather. On Sunday it was brilliantly sunny and 82 degrees. Sunday night we had a storm front move through and Monday was cooler but the high was still 58 with lots of sunshine. I can take that in January. The sand gnats were out good on Sunday and Tom has already had his first tick of the season. But there is always something. Otherwise everyone would want to live here.
Tomorrow we are going to the beach. The high is supposed to be 68 with some breeze and clouds, so it won’t be a great day for sitting on the beach. But we don’t sit much anyway. We prefer walking along the beach, enjoying the waves and checking out the beautiful houses behind the sand dunes.
Tom and I are back in the saddle again, working at Fort Frederica. We will be here into April if you want to come visit!