Everyone's wired these days: my husband works from his laptop, my daughter texts from her cell phone–while listening to her i-pod, I use Facebook to stay current with my friends and my 89-year-old mother sends e-mail. Goodness! Sometimes we need to disconnect.
The National Park Service runs a ferry from the wharf of St Marys to Cumberland Island. The barrier island, whose domain name ought to be www.wilderness beach, lets you become the browser on her shores. Search for wild horses, shells, loggerhead turtles and historic mansions. On Cumberland, bikes are the high-speed mode of transportation.
You must obtain a permit to camp overnight, or else you'll have to return home. Some prefer to stay at the only hotel, the elegant Greyfield Inn. The lodge requires a two-night stay and provides guests with a private water taxi.
St Marys is just 20 minutes north of the Jacksonville airport making it easy to reach the quaint seaside village. I felt like I'd stepped back to pre-computer days when the pace was slower and somehow more personal.
In St Marys colorful cottages line tree-shaded streets, yards are nicely kept, and people ride around in golf carts, for heaven sakes. Meander her sidewalks and you'll find Market on the Square- the general store, the Riverside Cafe which serves breakfast all-day, a cigar company, bait shop, bookstore, gift shops and a saloon.
Of course the most relaxing way to spend the day on Cumberland
is to plan a full weekend retreat. Spend a night in one of many St Marys B & B's, such as the Goodbread House, a Victorian style inn. Mardja, the proprietor, serves a scrumptious breakfast in time to catch the 9 AM ferry. But if you must, Goodbread's offers free WiFi!
Another connection to and from St Marys links with Fernandina. The new Cumberland Sound Ferry transports people while they listen to an ecosystem narrative and cross into beautiful Georgia low-country. Sometimes passengers get lucky and spot a submarine from Kings Bay Naval Base.
Save a day this summer and drive to St Mary, then access Cumberland Island. It is definitely the place to shut-down.
This article appeared in the July 2009 edition of The Mandarin Newsline.