Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gone Camping

Just back from a few wonderful days family camping at Cumberland Island in Georgia, a stunning national park canopied with gnarled live oaks, teeming with wildlife, bordered with sparkling beaches and steeped in history. I've lured you in with a picture of my vacation read, In Hoboken by Christian Bauman (Melville House, 2008), but I will have to confess to not actually getting a lot of reading done. Though the book is off to a very appealing start (aspiring young musicians in 1990's New Jersey, what's not to love?), we were too busy hiking, beachcombing, and trying to outsmart sneaky raccoons (FYI, they can unzip a cooler like nobody's business) to spend much as much time as I might have wished with it.

Like many of the coastal islands here, Cumberland Island was first settled thousands of years ago by indigenous people, and later by a series of Europeans - Spanish missionaries, then the English after Georgia was established as a British colony. Revolutionary war general Nathanael Greene was granted land here, his widow built a mansion named Dungeness. Defensive forts were built and have long since disintegrated. For a time slaves worked to raise crops on the island, later their descendants were employed on the estates of wealthy residents. The Carnegie family built a mansion here (in the same location as the earlier home, also named Dungeness) during the glory days of industrialism; it fell into disuse and disrepair at the end of that heady era and burned to the ground in 1959. The ruins still stand as part of the park - the once-great lawns now feeding wild horses, the crumbling bricks feeding our imaginations. One can imagine the Gatsby-esque parties, the dresses, the illustrious company, and the dramatic decline of an unsustainably lavish way of life.

Wild horses grazing

A once-grand fountain decorates the great lawn

The remaining walls of Dungeness

Most striking in our visit was the incredible natural beauty- the pristine beaches 

and the magical maritime forest.

Where have your travels or wandering imagination taken you this summer? Which books have been your companions?  

Happy trails, and happy reading!


  1. That looks like such a fantastic place to go camping! I can't imagine being in a place with wild horses, I would be thrilled. That book is sounding seriously good, though - I hope you get to finish and share at some point!

    1. Thanks Shannon- it was truly beautiful, and the horses are so fascinating- they are very used to the people and will graze quite close, really remarkable. Will let you know how the book winds up!

  2. Interesting post, Jennifer, and I'm glad you had a nice time! (Reading does fall to the wayside doesn't it, despite plans.) So far this summer has been about castles for me, in conjunction with Peirene Press books.

    1. Thanks, Charlie- castles sound wonderful! Extra lovely that they pair with your reading.

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Thanks for visiting - thoughts welcome.