Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

The surreal ride in:

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If you zoom in, you can see an aerial shot of the ruins of the Sugar Beach Resort & Golf Club:

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Our home base was the Carriearl Boutique Hotel, the former home of Earl Blackwell (founder of Celebrity Service, see: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/04/obituaries/earl-blackwell-85-a-promoter-of-celebrities-and-their-events.html), which could not have been more pleasant. Angie and Marty are gracious hosts and we loved our getaway.

One of the songs I always hear when I am traveling is Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” I have it on my phone, and it is one of a few songs that I use as triggers to switch my mind into relax mode. It came over the Sirius XM station twice while we were at the Carriearl and I took that to be very appropriate for our venue – both the hotel itself and the island. I guess what I mean by that is the song always invokes a sense of timelessness. Read: “I have momentarily stepped away from my desk right now into Carriearl Land.”

What am I always saying I want? To be somewhere else, of course. And for a moment, I was.

There is a James Altucher quote that I thoroughly believe in and it is: “Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.” You can disappear here. There will be Wi-Fi if you want it, but you can disappear otherwise. There are only 3 rooms for rent at the Carriearl, so you will be enjoying all of the amenities (including a golf cart you can take out to the caves and the ruins for two hours) with very few other people.

Partial shot of bar/restaurant for all your drinking and (blue crab ravioli with vodka cream sauce) eating needs:

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Pool views, view from the beach, and the beach in front of the Carriearl:

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Note the hammock:

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Exploring the ruins of the Sugar Beach Resort and Golf Club:

When I first heard there were ruins here, of course I was fixated on it until I was able to wander through. If you zoom in on the aerial photo linked above, you can tell just how sprawling these grounds are. We were only able to access just a small part of the remains, because we went in bathing suits and sandals.

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To gain entry, we shimmied across this wall on the left. One foot in front of the other, and don’t look down or think about it too much (these are good rules for life, by the way).

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Haint blue ceiling:

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Surveying the land:

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View of the ruins from the beach:

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Exploring the Caves at Sugar Beach:

High tide, looking down from a rock we climbed:

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Low tide, preparing to make a swim for it:

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Besides exploring the ruins, enjoying the peaceful luxury of the Carriearl and the beach, I have two other favorite memories from the island. Those are going to the marina and watching locals make conch fritters right on the dock, and discarding the shells:

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and meeting two sweet ladies who worked at the small deli at the airport. There was a small thunderstorm we were waiting out before we could takeoff. The younger lady engaged me in conversation by asking me where I was from. She said: “Oh, I just love Atlanta. I love Golden Corral.” The older lady, perhaps even her grandmother, chimed in on that one. “Oh yes, I love Golden Corral. I always get so mad when I fill up on soup and salad.”

I looked at them and raised my left hand. They could tell I was about to testify and impart some great piece of wisdom, perhaps something that had been passed down to me from my ancestors. They were absolutely correct. Like my father told me, and his mother who went before him told him, I gave them everything I had. “Ladies, when you go to the Golden Corral, you have to start at the hot bar.”

They howled at me. And I joined in, three of us shaking with laughter, united in our venture to come out ahead when partaking in a buffet.

Further reading:

http://www.carriearl.com/

http://www.greatharbourcay.com/WebPages/history.htm

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Investigating Lost Things: Midway Church and Cemetery – Midway, GA

On our way home from St. Simons Island yesterday, we took a detour through Midway, Georgia. The first time I had ever heard of this place was from Chris Wangler’s 2006 book, Ghost Stories of Georgia. By complete happenstance, we met the last tour group of the day at the Midway Museum and were able to join in.

I loved the original civil war-era clothes that were on display upstairs.

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Also, check out the original key to the 1792 Midway Church:

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You can’t tell by looking at this photo, but the key is huge! The tour guide used one that was very similar to let us in the church later.

Midway Church

According to the museum’s brochure, the exterior of the church was painted red in 1792, and the floors were painted in black and white diamond patterns. The present day appearance of the church dates to 1849. For six weeks during the Civil War, General Judson Kilpatrick used the church as a slaughterhouse and the church was abandoned after this.

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The pews have their own little swinging doors for entry, and we were told that they used to be sectioned off for subscribers.

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View from balcony of pulpit:

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Upstairs view of right side of balcony area:

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I expected the church to have some sort of feeling or smell to it, but instead the place just felt empty. Not cheerful or peaceful or even sad, or anything whatsoever. Completely devoid of emotion.

Midway Cemetery

Mr. Wangler recounts two haunting tales about the Midway Cemetery in his book. The first story involves two young people who allegedly involved themselves in an illicit affair and had a habit of meeting in secret in the cemetery. Sylvia Brown was a blond seventeen year old, and Anthony was one of her father’s slaves. When Sylvia’s father got news of the affair, he had Anthony murdered. The story is that Sylvia found his body hanging from the tree in the cemetery where they used to rendezvous and slit her own throat right there at the scene.  Visitors report shadow figures underneath the tree.

View of the church from inside the cemetery:

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The second legend is that of the crack in the north wall of the cemetery. The wall was built in 1813 by slave labor. Two of the men had been arguing all day and had fallen behind with the day’s construction. The master made the two stay late and finish the job and one wound up murdering the other and hiding him beneath the wall. The next day he claimed his partner had run away. The wall that remained covering his crime was reported to crumble at an unexplainably fast pace. One day, the master ordered the wall torn down so it could be rebuilt from scratch. The remains were discovered, and the wall was rebuilt. But the crack continues to this day even though the wall was rebuilt.

Info display inside the cemetery:

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My photo of the wall:

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The cemetery felt to me exactly as the church felt – empty. It could be that the harsh south Georgia heat is stifling my radar. But, Bonaventure in Savannah has always felt very peaceful and serene to me, and I have made plenty of summer visits inside the walls of Bonaventure (I don’t mean to imply that Bonaventure is haunted, just that it does make me feel a positive energy at least).

I look forward to a visit in October, to hear some legends on the Halloween tour. The story about the crack in the brick wall is well-embraced in Midway.

Further reading:

http://coastalcourier.com/archives/61008/

http://coastalcourier.com/archives/37420/

http://coastalcourier.com/archives/3526/

http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/midwaycemetery.html

http://www.themidwaymuseum.org/index.html

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Night Landing. Savannah International. Gorgeous.

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Kicking off a Saturday – Tybee Island, GA

On the way to Tybee Island, there is a great multipurpose trail close to Fort Pulaski. The McQueen Island Rails to Trails park area gives a good six miles worth of exercise options. We took advantage of it early one Saturday and saw more wildlife than people. Once again, I saw a great raccoon that eluded my photography skills. He was waddling (much like me after eating redneck nachos at Wiley’s), and by all accounts appeared to be living quite lavishly out on the island.  This is what the trail looks like to the west of Pulaski.

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I hear that the trail used to go on past what is now a witch’s curse sign:

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I was going to cross it, but Bob said he didn’t think we should test the witches in the heart of voodoo country. I agreed.

Bicycle parking:

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When you get to the end, there is nothing to do. You just rest a minute and breathe and take in the scenery. It’s funny, because, before I lived here I used to think that the salt marshes smelled funny (or even sort of bad). Now I love that smell.

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You just stand out here and look at nature and think maybe this is the type of place where maybe the worst thing that could happen is somebody in the Deen family burns dinner or when Comcast lets their cable go out in a storm. This is the type of place where you stand in front of a witch’s curse sign and watch the ships roll out of port.

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And you just stand there until they pass you.

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They didn’t come out in the picture, but there were several dolphins out there. They were close enough that we could hear them exhaling. I did capture a magnificent turtle and a crab.

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Tybee Island and Wilmington Island. Places for people who don’t really want to have real problems. And I mean that in a good way.

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Investigating Lost Things – IBM’s “Think” Notepad

Saturday got hijacked by an errand involving someone else’s airplane, and Bob and I found ourselves with time to kill in Swainsboro, Georgia. While walking through one of the antique stores downtown, we came across this old notepad:

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Before IBM invented the ThinkPad notebook computer, there was this. In 1914, Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM created the motto:  “Think!” You can read all about it here:   http://www.osnews.com/story/22274/The_History_of_the_ThinkPad_Name/

The small pad was completely full of notes, some meaningless and indecipherable, others downright striking. I had found myself a real life mystery, and I was fully prepared to launch an official INVESTIGATION INTO LOST THINGS and analyze the book and profile the writer. I know that just because I found the pad in Georgia does not a southerner make the author. But I know she was southern, and also a woman. For one thing, look at her invite list to her sewing circle. “Mama” is first on her list.

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There were grocery lists (highly doubtful that a man would have kept a grocery list back then), daily tallies of funds spent while traveling (Wednesday breakfast $0.62, lunch $0.87) and even a list of things to pack for a trip. Like all women, she was very concerned with finding just the thing for the pool.

She possibly was taking notes at a meeting when she wrote this note:

freedom is never secure

“Freedom is never secure.” “Citizenship:  Women too busy themselves training children to be good citizens in home, church, community, state, nation, etc.” There are a few entries about 4-H and some activities along the same vein that made me wonder if she was a teacher.

And then, the most profound note of the whole collection:

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“Life has a tremendous secret. Search out your secret. Learn to do what you love to do – search out a way to use it.”

Who was this woman? She had a few pages of names and addresses contained in the notepad. There was even some mention of a woman who lived in “the red brick building, Atlanta.”

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And then, in the middle of the book, appeared a name.

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Mildred Craig, I found your notebook. Maybe it isn’t her. It is just a name, after all. But there is no contact information written in to correspond with the name like the other entries have. Also, it is human nature to scrawl out your own name somewhere in your book. Maybe it is ego or vanity, but we like to see our own names in print. It feels good to us.

There was a Mildred Craig in the 1940 census in Atlanta. She was twenty-one at the time, married to William Craig, and had a one year old son named John http://www.ancestry.com/1940-census/usa/Georgia/Mildred-Craig_1vwpnr.

The SSI Death index has the following listings for Mildred Craigs born in 1919.

MILDRED W CRAIG
Jun 30, 1919
Mar 11, 1997
Last residence: 39648 (McComb, Pike, MS )
MILDRED M. CRAIG
Dec 31, 1919
Jul 02, 2005
Last residence: 49057 (Hartford, Van Buren, MI )
MILDRED B. CRAIG
Nov 13, 1919
Jan 28, 2006
Last residence: 47362 (New Castle, Henry, IN )
MILDRED CRAIG
May 16, 1919
Apr 01, 1987
Last residence: 41015 (Latonia, Kenton, KY )
MILDRED B CRAIG
Jan 21, 1919
Jul 06, 2003
Last residence: 45233 (Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH )
MILDRED B CRAIG
Feb 28, 1919
Dec 24, 1996

The very first one is the closest match (see http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=craig&GSfn=mildred&GSby=1919&GSbyrel=in&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=20745907&df=all&), although to believe it is the same woman you have to assume that the one year old son died, and that she graduated from college and moved to Atlanta in 1940. Also, the gravestone gives the marriage date of 1944, so that doesn’t quite match either. She continues to elude me.

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One Perfect Day – Biking Jekyll Island, GA

On our last Do What You Want Saturday, we found ourselves in the car headed for Jekyll Island. We were purely interested in taking advantage of the twenty miles or so of bike paths. This is my favorite place to ride so far!

You will see everything – marshland, beaches, shaded forests, the golf course, and even Millionaire’s Row, the Historic Village, and the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

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The Jekyll Island Club Hotel is quite the place. From their website:  “Our historic Georgia Club was described in the February 1904 issue of Munsey’s Magazine as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.” Its impressive members included such luminaries as J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and other recognizable names on the roster were Macy, Goodyear, and Gould.” The reason this stuck out to me is because I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon last weekend and on page 16 he describes one of his main characters as “He knew them all – Gould, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor – and he said there wasn’t one he’d care to meet again in the hereafter.” That line just killed me.

Moving on…

I had not seen the island in twenty-five years, when my grandparents took me and my cousin to stay in a condo at Villas by the Sea. I am pleased to report that it was just as I remembered it (in a good way). Driftwood Beach is not as good as Cabretta on Sapelo. But, the Villas did have a nice private boardwalk to rest awhile, and I got to see a wrinkly, swirly, old (assumingly) tree. Not pictured was a set of stairs leading directly into the sea. It was high tide, and of course the stairs normally just lead onto the beach, but when I saw them it was a stairway leading down into the sea. We stood as far down as we could until a wave pummeled us. One day I will write a great American novel and the characters will be: God as a child who is scared of the rain, people who decide to disappear from this terrible world by walking down stairs into the sea (they aren’t suicides – der, this is a gateway), and the princess who has been reincarnated and trapped in a middle class working life as penance for her previous sins. But I digress.

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On the way back from the beach through the property at the Villas, walking in the great shade cast over me by giant and looming oak trees covered in Spanish moss, there was a slight change in the wind. The whisper wasn’t audible, it was more of a heart sound. It came to me in the form of my eight-year gone grandfather’s voice. The sound told me I was going to be okay, and it caused instant joyful and peaceful tears.

We passed the airport and stopped to watch a family load themselves into a 1966 Cessna 310 that was painted eggshell blue and looked like it should be set on a permanent loop of “Wouldn’t it be Nice,” and if you were flying it, you wouldn’t even care if it was. I tried to get an ice cream in one of the fancy shops close to the hotel. The lady lured me in because she was so audacious she put a sign outside her shop that read “Ice cream.” After I walked all the way in there, I found that the woman was nothing but a damned liar. She was selling frozen novelty items, NOT ice cream, and if you don’t know the difference there’s nothing I can do to help you. Four miles back up the road to the Dairy Queen where at least they actually sell ice cream, and I was happy.

Eating ice cream under the sun. Listening to the heart sound.

 

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One Perfect Day – Omaha

Omaha was a cool little city. The day began with a walk across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Heartland of America Park into Iowa.

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At the bottom of the hill, we stumbled upon a bike rental kiosk. I wish they had these everywhere! Why is this the first time I have ever seen this?!

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Challenge accepted, and we saw a good four miles of Iowa on our rented bikes. After a coffee fuel up, we strolled through the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which was featuring Mary Mattingly’s Flock House Project:  Omaha, as shown below:

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According to her brochure, she is using the center as an active research lab for the “future of urban space.” It very well could be that I just don’t get it, but what this looked like to me was the glorification of tent living and homeless/transient communes. I’m not a fan of that. I don’t believe that we as a society should accept the idea that an alternative healthy living arrangement is to give up our normal-sized homes and downgrade to 300 square foot apartments or tents. Recently, there has been some sort of weird trend that it is somehow cool to live in a shed in a random parking lot. I am here to tell you that that is NOT cool.

Another thing I didn’t get was Miki Baird’s The Chronicles:

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It’s a pile of shredded paper that she compiled from the junk mail sent to her father. This is supposed to be some kind of statement about waste. Maybe I am desensitized to the vast amounts of paper waste since I have worked in litigation for so long. Now, to be fair, I did look up her website, and I do like what she is doing with the zippers:  http://www.mikibaird.com/zip/zip01.html

After taking in all this controversial art I was in need of something that I could stare at without having to wonder what it meant about the state of the world.

Luckily, the Joslyn Art Museum had a Chihuly installation, so I was able to vegetate for a few minutes. I smiled and soothed myself, muttering “You’re pretty,” to the installation:

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The Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall is a beautiful urban space. Who doesn’t love a pair of giant slides smack dab in the middle of the park? The best thing about the slides is that I happened upon them by surprise. I walked up a short set of stairs, thinking I was entering a small bridge or something to take me down the hill. When lo and behold, there was an impromptu chance at some free fun. By this time, I’m thinking to myself that Omaha is some sort of heaven as far as parks go, with little golden nuggets popping up all over the place. Bicycles and slides for all!

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I loved the Old Market area downtown. The city has done a fantastic job with preserving the old railroad warehouses, and this was a bustling center of galleries, shops, and restaurants. Omaha, Nebraska. Who knew you were so awesome?

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http://www.visitomaha.com/things-to-do/attractions/#.U1qkemdOXIU

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