>> Thursday, October 18, 2012
Rising at 0500 after an hour long watch at 0100 is the hardest wake-up I have done. I am half-conscious, blindly shoving books, water, and clothes into my backpack. Boat runs to the dock begin at 0530 and a south wind sprays us until even our waterproof clothes are wet.
This is my first experience of Cumberland Island, a preserved barrier island off the Georgia-Florida line. Our goal is to travel to the opposite side of the island to watch the sunrise.
We walk silently in order to fully take in the island. We spread out on the beach about twenty minutes before sunrise; allowing us to collect our thoughts. This time is precious, since it seems as though we are always busy; from boat checks to classes to extremely sought after sleep.
After a morning of rest, we begin our educational day. We tour the Cumberland Island Dungeoness and surrounding properties. They are "perfectly" preserved in their decaying state.
We change gears when the tour concluded, transitioning to a walk through the various habitats on the island. Two hundred yards can cover a wetland, marsh, and sand dunes, all teeming with organisms. Eventually, we reach a beach, incomparable to anything we have visited so far. The sand is softer, the waves bigger, and the trash nonexistent when compared to Sandy Hook. We are given free time and almost everyone uses it to rinse a week's worth of grime off our bodies.
The final event of our day is a barbecue, cooked by the ever-talented Lizzie and Captain Flansburg. We are served hot dogs, burgers, and there are even hand-made veggie burgers. Dinner is quickly followed by dessert; toasting marshmallows over the still burning coals.
With a sudden influx of energy, the group starts an impromptu game of soccer. It is boys versus girls, heating up as feet are stepped on, slide tackles trip opposing players, sunset, and goals are scored. Yet, we continue to play well past our eyes being able to identify the difference between player and ball, playing so we never have to leave the soft, sandy beach.