11603
Florida
Amelia and Cumberland Islands and the Okefenokee Swamp
Alongside naturalists, discover the idyllic landscapes and unique wildlife of the Cumberland Islands and Okefenokee Swamp. Plus, visit historic towns and learn about Civil War history.
Rating (4.87)
Program No. 11603RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,149
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Fernandina Beach, Florida
D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Check-in from 4:00 pm.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the conference room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll enjoy a catered buffet meal. Coffee, tea and water are included. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Cumberland Island Full Day Field Trip
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: All-terrain, non-motorized beach wheelchairs are available upon request at either dock. Most locations and activities during the day are wheelchair accessible. Walking about 4 miles on easy terrain and sand. If you wish, you may choose to take the shorter 2 mile hike instead. Getting on/off a boat; the ride is about 1 hour. Be sure to bring a water bottle and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast buffet served daily with fresh fruit, eggs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, baked goods and breakfast meats with coffee, tea, fruit juice and water.

Morning: In preparation for our trip to Cumberland Island, we will sit back, relax and watch a breathtaking video introducing us to this beautiful and enchanting Island. We will then transfer via motorcoach to St. Mary's where we will board the ferry for the ride to Cumberland Island, the state's southernmost and largest barrier island. We may even see dolphins and other wildlife on the way! Upon arrival, we will set out on an expert led hike through this unique wildlife haven and to the ruins of the Dungeness Mansion. On our walk in the southern area of the island, we will see a wide variety of habitats including salt-water marshes, mud flats, tidal creeks, maritime oak forests, large sand dunes, inter-dune meadows, and expansive pristine beaches.

Lunch: On the ferry ride over to Cumberland that leaves at 11:45 am, we’ll enjoy our boxed lunch so that we can leave our trash on the ferry and not have to carry it in our back pack the rest of the day. Bring any snacks you may want for the rest of the time on Cumberland because there are no stores or places to make purchases.

Afternoon: Continue Cumberland Island field trip. We’ll board the ferry at 4:45 pm for our return trip to Fernandina via St. Mary’s dock.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Amelia Island History, Field Trip, Ft Clinch, Island Ecology
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: History in the classroom. Trolley field trip around Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island getting on and off the trolley at select points of interest. Visit to Fort Clinch after lunch. Fort Clinch was built for war, not for safety! Stairs are steep and narrow, railings are absent, and walkways are uneven with many trip hazards. Walls are dangerous if climbed. Two large ramps give visitors access to the rampart and gun deck with its 10-inch smoothbore cannon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today will be a day of fascination and historical adventure. Through an expert led history in the classroom, learn about the history of the eight flags of Fernandina. First populated by the Timucuan Indian tribe, the area eventually became known as the “Isle of 8 Flags” because, since 1562, it has had the flags of France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States flying over it at one point or another. Afterward, on our trolley field trip, we will explore the downtown historic district of Amelia Island as our expert shares the story of the visionary whose exhilarating dream so stirred his neighbors that they agreed to move their entire town to the site of a plantation he owned, thereby creating "New" Fernandina in the 1850’s. From the "giant" Timucua Native Americans, to Spanish and French explorers, to the lawless spirit of pirates, to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents, Amelia Island has been home to diverse cultures that have left a truly exciting heritage. Expect the rare privilege of observing the uniquely gracious and historic homes of another century. Allow yourself to get in touch with efforts to preserve the nearly extinct, pristine architectural styles within a small, gifted American town struggling to retain its fragile sense of family and community as well as its birthright and historical integrity.

Lunch: At a popular local restaurant, located inside a charming historic downtown building, we’ll enjoy a delicious meal selected from a limited menu. An eclectic palette of colors, furnishings and a large garden patio shaded by huge oak trees will invite us to a fun and unique culinary experience. Water and tea are included with your meal. Additional beverages for purchase.

Afternoon: Fort Clinch State Park is a 1,086 acre outpost of pristine beaches and dunes, nature trails, ponds and salt marshes and the island's only campgrounds. Named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, an important figure in Florida's Seminole War of the 1830's who also fought in the War of l812, the fort is one in a system of permanent coastal fortifications. Construction began in 1847 and was occupied briefly by the Confederate forces while it was still being built until it was eventually overrun by the Union troops. It has been meticulously preserved and will provide us with a glimpse as to what life was like over 150 years ago. While here, a re-enactor dressed in period uniform will take us back in time on a field trip around the fort while vividly describing what our ancestors may have experienced here. Inside Fort Clinch, visitors can tour five Bastions, Guard Rooms, a Prison, Enlisted Men’s Barracks, Bakery, Blacksmith Shop, Storehouses, Hospital, Kitchens, Lumber Sheds and Galleries. Every room inside Fort Clinch is furnished to re-create a depiction of the site as garrisoned by the 1st New York Volunteer Engineers in 1864. Close your eyes for a moment and you can almost hear the roar of the cannons!

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Presentation on island ecology in hotel meeting room.

DAY
4
Amelia Island River Cruise, Free Time
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; vessel is wheelchair accessible; the boat is covered and may be closed to protect guests against inclement weather.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: As we cruise the backwaters of Amelia Island and Cumberland Island on a covered pontoon boat, enjoy the spectacular views while watching for rare birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife. We’ll glide back in time along the rivers, creeks and marshes that surround Amelia Island. Commentary along the way is provided by a local expert.

Lunch: On the riverfront at a well known restaurant, we’ll enjoy a meal featuring local specialties. Pick from a limited menu that includes an entrée and dessert, coffee, tea and water. Additional beverages for purchase.

Afternoon: At leisure. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to venture to the Amelia Island Museum, the historic village, or just relax on the beach.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Okefenokee Swamp, Musical Entertainment
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B,L,D
Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat; the covered boat ride is approximately 1.5 hours into the swamp; vessel is wheelchair accessible. Lunch on-site at the swamp.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Officially identified as a “Wetland of International Importance,” the Okefenokee Swamp is composed of a wealth of various habitats including a multitude of black-water lakes, pine & oak forests, and freshwater marshes (locally called “prairies”) with floating flowering islands amid flooded lowlands covered by cypress, black gum, and shrubs. This enormous peat bog is host to a lively human history of “swamp culture” as well as to an infinitely beautiful and complex ecosystem of flora and fauna with perhaps the most notable residents of which being Florida black bears and American alligators. An expert will lead our field trip into the Okefenokee Swamp, one of America's most famous national wildlife refuges. If you are a birder, don't forget your binoculars as there are sure to be opportunities for viewing red-cockaded woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, owls, and others. Whatever your interest, have a camera with you as Okefenokee is one of the most picturesque and photographic places! Sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks, are recommended for EVERYONE! Plan to wear sneakers or closed-toed shoes because you are going to be walking on the boardwalk (1.5 miles round trip) plus you will be taking a boat trip into the swamp. A hat and sunglasses will probably be something you don't want to forget. It is always recommended to be prepared for changing weather conditions in case an afternoon storm pops up!

Lunch: In the swamp, we’ll have a tasty cookout lunch complete with a favorite local dessert.

Afternoon: We’ll then take a drive along Swamp Island Drive to explore the19th to early 20th century farmhouse located deep in the swamp that was home to a family for several generations. Fortunately, the property was saved from the fire of 2011 and has survived the constantly wet conditions of the environment, thereby sustaining the legacy of the “swampers” who once lived there. The boardwalk is 1.5 miles roundtrip. There will be a few benches to rest along the way.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Enjoy the music of a multi-talented person from Jacksonville, FL, who sings and plays numerous musical instruments. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
6
Shrimping Industry, Program Concludes
Fernandina Beach, Florida
B

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local expert on shrimping will join us and speak about what is currently happening in the world of the industry. He comes from a family of shrimpers and will share some of the often surprising goings-on regarding how shrimpers make a living. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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