February 22, 2016

Driftwood Beach

The weather has started looking up in Tennessee, and I'm beginning to think the groundhog may have been correct in his prediction for an early spring. The forecast is remaining steady with nearly warm temperatures, and with every new day I feel like the snow and slush are becoming things of a winter past. And as much as I can feel my soul stretching its legs after hibernation, the morning chirps of birds are only reminding me more of how much I miss my south Georgia home.

I'll never say that I've taken my hometown for granted. Every morning when I would drive across the causeway on my way to school, I'd thank God for allowing me to witness the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean. And every winter when we were gifted with a 70 degree day, I'd look to the sky knowing I was blessed as my toes sunk into the sandy beach. Even now, I feel pride whenever I'm asked "where are you from" by a stranger.

With Christmas falling on a weekend a few months ago, I was able to catch a last minute flight to my little nook along the East Coast to be with family. And to top it off, I was able to drink a Christmas-day mimosa while enjoying a sunny 86 degrees. As my social media was blowing up with those feeling disappointed by a lack of a white Christmas, I realized I was born to live in a place where the only season that exists is summer and the idea of layering only refers to the sunscreen I need to reapply every few hours.

To make the most of my holiday at home, I knew I couldn't return to landlocked Knoxville without dipping my toes in some salt water. Before heading to lunch at one of my favorite local restaurants, my mom and I ventured to Jekyll Island to take a walk down Driftwood Beach. The beach resembles a graveyard, and it's certainly a site to see if you ever find yourself driving along Georgia's stretch of I-95. All the time, people ask, "What causes this?" referring to the trees that seem as if they were blown over and hung out to dry. Driftwood Beach is a picturesque example of erosion - the sand from the north end of Jekyll being taken by the current and then being deposited on the south end. It's time standing still. Driftwood Beach is located along the north end of Jekyll, so after you pay the toll to get on the island, hang a left at the roundabout and drive along until you start seeing entry paths.

The other great thing about Driftwood Beach and Jekyll Island in general: it's much quieter than its friend across the sound - St Simons Island. St Simons is the place to be during the summer months with tourists flocking in from all over. There's plenty of beach for everyone, and there's enough to do outside of sandcastles that St Simons, which is referred to simply as "the island" by locals, is the main base camp for visitors to the Golden Isles. But if you're like me and enjoy some peace and quiet, Driftwood Beach is much more secluded. As I've gotten older and my visits home have gotten less and less frequent, I find myself drawn more to the tranquility of Driftwood Beach rather than the family-friendly vibe of East Beach on the island.

However, I must note that Jekyll Island has seen more and more development in recent years. The convention center has had a complete makeover; a shopping center has been built at the entrance; and more beachfront condos are being erected as we speak. I'm sure Jekyll will be added to more itineraries summer after summer, but I'm confident that it will never become quite as bustling as the island.

*Jekyll Island is part of the Golden Isles of Georgia - 1 of a thousand places to see before you die.

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