Our time on St. Simons Island has been surprisingly social. When we signed on at Fort Frederica a year ago, we never dreamed we would spend so much time socializing while on the island. More people visited us on St. Simons that at all of our previous parks combined!
First, Mom and Dad rented a cottage for February. It was great getting to explore the area with them. Then, Bill and Barbara stopped by for a day and Wendy and Ronn joined us for an afternoon and for dinner.
In addition, several other people stopped by for very quick visits. Jim and Judy Huffman, members of my mom and dad’s church, met us at Fort Frederica for a tour. I used to babysit Jim and Judy’s four boys when I was in High School.
When we were in Americus, we got a text from Kelly Eckard that she and the girls were driving down to Jacksonville to visit her brother. Would there be a chance to get together? We arranged our schedule to get back to Brunswick at the same time they arrived there and shared a fun dinner at the Copper Pig, just off I-95. It was a good break for them before their final leg and Tom and I loved seeing them and getting caught up. Jaden, Natalie, and McKenna had a blast feeding the alligators.
Our final visitor was Gene Spade who suddenly showed up one afternoon while we were working. He was on his way to hunt pythons in the Everglades (yes, Gene is that kind of crazy guy) and just thought he would say hi. I was just finishing a tour when I realized that some strange man was stalking me. Turns out it was Gene! Tom gave him a tour of Fort Frederica and our RV site, then Gene moved on. A flash visit and a nice surprise.
Tom and I got interviewed for a Jacksonville newspaper article. Turned out the reporter was Mark Woods, author of “Lassoing the Sun” which I reviewed in February. He looks just like the picture I used in my review! We really enjoyed talking to him and wished we had more time with him. In a follow-up e-mail he invited us to meet him for lunch, so that is something to look forward to next year.
In addition to our visitors, we have also had a great time with the other volunteers and rangers here. We ate out several times with volunteers and had two potluck picnics by the maintenance building where we are all parked. We really enjoyed the other volunteers here – volunteers at national parks are so interesting and eager to learn. Obviously, we have a lot in common with them!
We spent a couple of evenings with Ranger Caitlyn and her boyfriend Luke. Caitlyn is a seasonal ranger here at Fort Frederica so she doesn’t have the established social network that the other rangers have. We included them in our volunteer dinners, but Tom and I also went out to eat with them a couple of times and played some board games. On our last day at Fort Frederica, we went on a bike ride with Caitlyn.
St. Simons was a surprisingly social place to be – and we loved every minute of it. Notice that we will be back at St. Simons next year – January through April – and hope to see even more of our friends and family. We are just off the I-95 interstate, so we are convenient for all those Florida snowbirds flying by. Here’s hoping we can break this year’s record with even more visitors next year!