Sunday, July 29, 2007


I just arrived home from Jekyll and St. Simon's Island. Though we had a great time, it's good to be home.
While there, we decided to take a ferry to Cumberland Island to hike through the ruins of the Carnegie family estates, also known as Dungeness, built in the mid 1880's. Before you board the boat to go to Cumberland Island (which is larger than Manhattan), you are required to sit through a brief orientation to familiarize you with the rules of the island and the wildlife you may encounter while there. As soon as we arrived on the island and stepped off the boat, we were thrilled to spot a manatee playing in the water by the dock and a large group of wild horses grazing just off the beach. We were fortunate to spot many of the wild horses, a creepy little armadillo playing under some bush, and a long necked wild turkey. However, we were thankful we did not have the misfortune of crossing any of those venomous snakes everyone was warning us about. 
The ruins of the mansions that are still on the island are incredible and it's obvious that the Carnegie family lived the 'finer' life. There was a little church standing that seated about 18 people located on the same property. Back then a minister would come over by boat once a month to hold services. 
I found it interesting that John Kennedy Jr. was married at this homestead on the island and think I remember pictures from that wedding. 
The Carnegie family called this island home for so many years and now all that is left is just the remains - evidence, if you will, of their existence on this beautiful island. I gazed at these remains in wonder and imagined what it must have been like in those days - even tried to imagine myself walking down the steps of the back entrance out to the meticulous gardens. 
The story of this family were all but the perfect picture I had so carefully painted in my mind.

There lives would be described as being filled with discovery, challenges, tragedy, despair, loneliness, joy, and excitement. I guess this could be said about all of our lives whether we live in a mansion on an island or a mid-size home in the Carolinas. And we are leaving remnants everywhere of a 'life lived.' Lucy Carnegie faced many trials. One of which was when her husband died in 1886 leaving her to raise 9 children alone. But, somehow she would always manage to start over again. 
We all have a story, we all have trials. It is what we do with the ruins from the trials that will make the difference. Maybe one day someone will be looking over the ruins of your life - what will they see? Lucy ended up owning 90% of the island after her husband's death. She added on to the Dungeness Mansion and built four additional mansions for her children.
Eventually, the Dungeness estates did come to an end, but while there - what a place to call home! What a life!