- Fort Clinch has great bathhouse and restroom facilities
- The fort doesn’t take long to tour but is nice to see
- Cumberland Island is very close. If you’re an experienced yaker and want to make the paddle contact me and I’ll give you more info.
- Fernandina Beach is a neat little town but a bit expensive. If you can stay there, do it.
The plan: 12 straight days camping in four different parks with both boys. I was even nervous about it. I hadn’t camped that long before and the boys had only camped once-ever! I’ll make a few post in the coming weeks covering the whole trip from start to finish in the order it all happened. Our first stop was Amelia Island.
With my truck loaded down full of camping gear plus more we left Pensacola and headed east. What should’ve been a six hour drive took a bit longer because of pit stops along the way. We made it before sunset however and set up camp in time to watch the sun go down over the Cumberland Sound.
Our campsite, as with all of them on this trip, had electricity and water. Our tent is a Bushnell 18×11 instant cabin with a 5000 BTU window unit keeping us cool at night. It has three rooms. The boys share a bed on one side, Lindsay and I on the other and a common area in the middle with a table, luggage and various other things. Lindsay strung up Christmas lights and Chinese lanterns and it really did look good in there. Maybe I’ll do a video on the tent set up one day.
Ft Clinch State Park has two campgrounds. One on the Atlantic Ocean side looked awful because there was no shade. The other, the one we were on, is on the Amelia River side and has plenty of shade and really nice bathhouse and restroom facilities. My biggest compliant about the campground itself is the gravel roads kick up a lot of dust. That got old and dirty fast. Oh, and no WiFi.
The park itself is nice with mossy oaks everywhere, plenty of fishing spots, a good beach area and of course Fort Clinch. Our first full day we spent most of our time in the park. We toured the fort early before it was deadly hot and too crowded. Fort Clinch is in great shape and I don’t think it saw much war during its active life. We stayed there about an hour and a half. The views form the top of the fort are nice. This is where I saw how close Cumberland Island is to Amelia. I knew they were next to each other but now I see it’s within kayaking distance. I smiled. (If you don’t know about Cumberland Island look it up! You’ll want to go.)
That afternoon we went to the beach on the Atlantic side. We’re used to Gulf Coast beaches with sugary white sand and emerald green to clear water. So, the brown Atlantic wasn’t impressive but it was a beach and the water was clearer there than at any other stop on our trip.
The next morning I woke up before the sun rose and launched my kayak into the Cumberland Sound. I had my sights set on the Dungeness Ruins. Dungeness was a huge mansion used as a getaway for the elite a long time ago. Think of names like Carnegie. Anyway, it burned down years ago but the ruins are there to see. The paddle wasn’t too bad but my GPS didn’t update like it should and I paddled probably close to a mile farther than I had to. When it did update, I paddled back and found a spot to go ashore. I followed a trail that led to an old run down building. Surely this wasn’t it! But then I saw in the distance about 200 yards away something that was much more than I ever expected. That was a house??? It. Is. Huge. I walked up and pretty much marveled at the structure in front of me. How could someone be so wealthy to have this as a getaway house? Dungeness is amazing to see.
Cumberland’s also known for having wild horses. I didn’t see any but their stinking evidence is everywhere. I did see deer, lots or raccoons and I think some turkey. They offer a phone tour where you call a number to hear what the site is all about so I did that. I put it on speaker and listened while taking pictures. Just then, “you phone will update now.” Thanks T Mobile! I just sat in the shade under a tree for 20 minutes while my phone did a massive update. When it was done I took a few more pictures and headed back to Amelia Island. I had the whole place to myself when I was there. That was really nice. One the way back I passed the Cumberland Queen heading toward the island. That’s the ferry that takes most people to the island. It was loaded down with sightseers and made me proud of the work I put in to get there.
Later that day we went to downtown Fernandina Beach for lunch. Fernandina Beach is a very nice historic town but it was so hot we didn’t hang out long. If you like Fairhope, Al you’d like Fernandina and vice versa. Similar vibes but Fernandina has more bars.
Since that auto update at Cumberland my phone hadn’t been acting right so we drove to Jacksonville to the nearest T Mobile to file a warranty claim. After that the sun had gone down so we went back downtown and it really came alive at night. They have plenty of bars and restaurants to have a great time if you don’t have a two and seven year old with you. We still had fun eating ice cream and exploring the little town though. That was our last night. The next day we’d pack up and move on to Jekyll.