Incredible! That’s the one word I can use to describe Ossabaw Island. You may have never heard of this island; it is not something you would typically find promoted on travel sites or groupon get aways J. But I tell you what! Once you go there you are not likely to forget your trip!
I joined the splendid group of volunteers and Georgia Conservancy staff and members for a weekend trip to South Georgia. Of course over the years I have heard much talk about the fabulous the barrier islands in South Georgia but have typically been unavailable to go when the trips were offered. Well this time I was not going to miss it! Many of my friends laughed at me for turning down a trip to Miami in order to go camping! My sister asked if I was alright; I replied absolutely but really wanted to unplug from the city and all the noise and that’s exactly what I did.
We started out on our 4 or so journey on Friday morning, taking a van with other volunteers and members to the Savannah area. Where we drove to the docks outside o Skidaway Island, there we boarded a pontoon boat for our ride over to Ossabaw Island. The ride is about 20-30 minutes, it was an absolutely beautiful day even thou the skies were threatening rain. As we rode the boat over my mind wondered what we would find; I had heard stories of wild hogs and the gators that we on the island. Naturally my mind wondering about what exactly I might find as we approached the island. The captain gave us some quick history of the island and cracked jokes as we rode over. To put your mind at ease there were no wild hogs near our camp sites, just wondering donkeys that followed you around like dogs; especially if you had food in your hands. The hogs were deep in the forest.
Once arriving to the docks of Ossabaw we were greeted by my good friend and outdoor encourager Bryan Schroder from the Georgia Conservancy and a couple of other campers. We all were very excited about what was in store. We loaded up our gear on the back of a pickup and headed to the old house that’s on the island. Once there we were given the lay of the land and what the service trip would entail. Friday night was light and fun as we pitched our tents and prepared food. It was a time to get to know one another and take a quick walking tour of the island. It was fascinating!
As we toured the island, I was in awe of the history of the island. For many of us; me being African-American we don’t know and have not been exposed to the many historical facts about Georgia’s history as it relates to our forefathers. I completely get into this…. The tour was led by Elizabeth she and her husband reside part-time on the island and help to maintain it. It is something she takes great pride in; she knows the history inside and out. She gave us a quick lesson on indigo and how it came to the United States along with how it was used in the days of slavery. As we walked the island we came across old Tabby Houses; these are houses were slaves resided. It was incredible to see that these structures were still standing. Of course they have done some work to preserve them, but the integrity of the structure has been preserved. It was interesting seeing how the Tabby House had a two sided fireplace. Not because it was fashioned but necessary; these structures were like duplexes. Adjourning units that housed anywhere from 2-3 family members and up to 10 or so. These were small one room spaces with one central area to cook and heat the structure. Oddly enough it reminded me of old houses I saw in the town where my mother grew up. History excites me and I wish more people of color would get out and see what Georgia has to offer as it relates to adventure and history.
For me I have become an enthusiast of camping and getting outdoors. “Who would have Thunk It”, me a city girl who typically loves to be in a 5 star hotel or at a resort would be camping; go figure! But I tell you there is nothing like camping under an open sky, the breeze, the stars and the peace! I never thought for one minute that with my busy life in media and entertainment in Atlanta that I would be one to look forward to camping and being outdoors.
On Sunday when we were getting ready to pack it all up; I decided to take a short walk to the dock to have my morning cup of coffee and take in the scenery. While sitting in the calm of the morning I heard a splash or two. I looked over near the marsh and saw what looked like a fin cutting through the water; it was several dolphins. They were feeding in the marsh; stirring up the fish and catching their breakfast. What a beautiful sight to just take in the beauty of the marsh and the calm waters.+
When I tell you I am thankful for my friends at the Georgia Conservancy that would be an understatement. By volunteering with them and getting involved with various projects I have become more sensitive to my immediate community and to how our actions affect our communities. The conservancy is not just involved in the wilderness as you might think, but Urban Planning, Stewardship and much more. Many people ask me how I got involved and this is how…. Visit Georgiaconservancy.org and join us on our next adventure!
I encourage all who reads this to visit http://georgiaconservancy.org/ site and get involved. You will discover another you! Once you do one trip I bet you will be hooked. Join us on our mission to save Georgia’s land and water and have a lil fun while you do it.
Facts about Ossabaw Island-
- Ossabaw is a short 20 minute boat ride from the outskirts of Savannah
- Ossabaw is a 26,000 acre undeveloped barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean
- The Island was generously transferred to the state of Georgia on June 15, 1978 and designated as Georgia’s First Heritage Preserve.
- Ossabaw can only be used for natural, scientific and cultural study, research and education
- That there are wild hogs and gators on the island
- Ossabaw has approximately 13 miles of undeveloped beaches and associated dune communities. These dunes are both non-wood, active, and arrested dunes.
- Ossabaw’s beach consistently has one of the highest annual nesting densities of loggerhead turtles in Georgia.