19 August 2009

Cumberland Island's Disney World Part I

Cumberland Island wasn't all serious and mystical and spiritual. Some crazy funny stuff happened, too.

It's stupid that I didn't get a photo of an armadillo. These things are everywhere, and they have no fear of the humans on the island. If you have seen any of the photos or researched the Isle after reading all my posts, you will know that the only cleared areas in the Oak Hammock are the actual campsites, the few trails, the Ranger Station/boat dock and at the bathroom area. Otherwise, under the hammock it is all palmettos with gigantic Live Oaks covered in Spanish Moss. Seeing under or through the palmettos was impossible because of their thickness.

When we arrived at the Island, the normal person who gives orientation to the campers had gone on vacation herself, so we had the middle aged, grim, disillusioned, I've-been-working-for-the-park-service-too-long-and-seen-to-much-shit-and-stupid-tourists Ranger. One thing that he kept reiterating was the Cumberland Island is a wilderness area, not Disney World, and that we all had to be very aware and serious about the dangers on the island which he went on and on about for so long that we barely had enough time to secure camp before a torrential downpour (and tornado which we found out later had touched down on the north end of the Island).

With thunder grumbling, we made our way to the campsite and secured camp. We then had to walk back to the Ranger Station, return the carts that we used to haul all our stuff in on and rush back to camp (a mile and a half with all three trips there, back and there). By the time we returned to camp, the rain had started to fall in huge drops and lighting and thunder crashed all around us. With no other place to go (like a gift shop or restaurant) most of the group, except for me, went into their tents. I was stupid enough to let myself get caught out in the worst storm the Island had seen all season, if not longer.

After 45 minutes in the grueling rain and wind watching a river of water flow through the campsite (my shoes nearly floated away and the bottom of the tent, I'm told, felt like a big water bed), the storm abided and left a new calm in the forest, Sea Camp and especially number 13.

It wasn't long before the first armadillo showed up. It didn't really show up, it just sort of sauntered out of the bushes keeping its nose to the ground pushing things along looking for grubs. We all freaked out, and we didn't go too close because our ears still rang with the Ranger's substantial fear lecture. By that night though, all fear of the armadillos had subsided leaving a calm like the earlier storm.

That night, an armadillo came right into camp just shuffling along. They don't seem to eat human food, but maybe he was attracted to the campfire. SB got one of the beer boxes that had partially disintegrated in the storm (because we let the beer sit out in the rain...hell, it was cans, nothing could hurt it) and tried to use it to shoo the creature back to the thicket of the palmettos. Well, that little guy wasn't havin' it. It didn't care. It went around minding its own business not hissing or freaking out or anything.

SB kept trying to shoo it when his six year old son screamed out at the top of his lungs (which comes out VERY loud in a quiet forest with no city sounds or buildings around to muffle the noise), "STOP! STOP! DON'T HURT THE WILDLIFE!!! YOU"RE HURTING IT! STOP!"

We all cringed. We knew the neighbors a few sites down heard his bellow. SB wasn't hurting the wildlife at all. He wasn't even touching it. He was very cautiously shooing it with a very soggy beer carton. We very loudly replied so everyone around could hear, "He's not hurting it. He's not hurting anything. He's just shooing it," trying to explain to the boy and the neighbors that we were not throwing things or taking knives to the to the little beast.

There is also quiet hour at Sea Camp, and, well, at any campground across America. At night, every little sound carries far distances. We had no idea what time it was. It was dark and that's all we knew.

We might of got a little stink eye from our neighbors the next day.

As I laid down with Blue to sleep for the night, my scared son felt extreme worry and fear about the wild horses and the raccoons both of which the ranger had gone on and on about for what seemed an hour. Blue repeated what the ranger said almost verbatim. It took me at least half an hour to change the direction of his mind by getting him to think about the funny armadillos. Finally, he drifted off to sleep.

So, by this point, yes, we definitely had to agree with the Ranger that Cumberland Island was NOT Disney World.

To be continued...


  1. This sounds like an awesome place to camp.

  2. i soooooo wish we had a photo of that fear monger... we could post it and draw trash 'stashes on it and such...

    when we making your net/wedding/dead sea animals project? i think this weekend, and also jelly.