Family spring break trip to Jekyll Island

9 May 2022

Here I am, making good on my New Year’s resolution to report more promptly on our family travels! The trip we’re chatting about today makes this easy, because it’s pretty much a carbon copy of last year’s spring break trip to Jekyll Island :) That means it’s heavy on the photos and light on words, though I sprinkled a few thoughts and memories throughout! If you’re thinking of traveling to Jekyll Island and would like the deep dive, I’ve got that for you right here. If you’re just here for the pictures, enjoy!

My swim suit (love, size up!), my hat, Annie’s swim suit!

I was happy and excited to return to Jekyll in back-to-back years, but easily the least thrilled of my family members, ha. My reasoning: we already have several annual or regular trips we’re committed to – Maine, Michigan, Connecticut, the NC Mountains – and I’d like to keep spring break as an opportunity to explore new places and make fresh memories.

The argument for Jekyll is strong, though: southern Georgia is about as far south as we can comfortably drive in a day, avoiding a flight for our family of five, and it’s far enough south that we have a reliable chance for pool and beach weather in early April. So a return to Jekyll and the Ocean Club it was!

Is that spot not dreamy!!

One thing I enjoyed about returning to the same place a second year in a row: it was nice to know exactly what we were getting into! We knew our favorite chairs at the pool, how to get an umbrella set up at the beach, to request the table near the porch swing at 80 Ocean, that there’s live music at the Wharf on Wednesdays. And of course, we got to revisit several of our favorite experiences from 2021, like biking to Driftwood Beach, roasting s’mores around the fire pit, and breakfast on the porch at the Pantry.

June’s bathing suit, Shep’s bathing suit

But there was newness and novelty, too! Our kids were all a year older, and Annie was outside my body :) We spent two hours playing at Driftwood Beach, far longer than our quick in-and-out due to chilly weather last year. The big kids loved it – they were able to roam independently, climbing trees and poking at tide pools, while Annie and I hung in the shade.

June’s dress, bike trailer (love – we bought ours used), Shep’s hat, Annie’s bathing suit, June’s bike (love!)

We brought our bikes and trailer from home and so were able to take more bike rides than last year, which was wonderful. It was so nice to hop on our bikes to move between the Island and Ocean Clubs instead of loading everyone into the car. AND we saw alligators on every single trip between the two!! (Not sure if that’s a plus or minus, ha!)

Also of note: we got to play an abbreviated, very casual game of croquet on the Island Club lawn. If you’ve ever read my bio, you’ll know this was thrilling to me.

There’s this little moment from our time in Jekyll that has really stuck with me… it was late afternoon, and most people had left the pool. Annie was napping and Shep was snuggling with John. I had been reading my book on a lounge chair, but I guess I got too hot, and so I hopped in the pool with June. For whatever reason, we started doing underwater somersaults and handstands in the shallow end, cheering and spitting out water and giggling at each other’s attempts.

This lasted 15 minutes or so (until my ears started to hurt from being underwater, ha), but it’s one of my favorite memories from the trip, if not my favorite. It was a delight, and it brought to mind Catherine Price’s definition of True Fun: we were playful, connected, and in flow. I don’t have a huge takeaway – John will continue to be the parent more likely to horse around with the kids in the pool – but it was such a sweet nugget from our time and a reminder that it’s hard to predict when connection and joy will strike, and so we must make more space for them than we think we need. This idea was first crystallized for me in an essay that has stuck with me for years:

With a more expansive stretch, there’s a better chance that I’ll be around at the precise, random moment when one of my nephews drops his guard and solicits my advice about something private. Or when one of my nieces will need someone other than her parents to tell her that she’s smart and beautiful. Or when one of my siblings will flash back on an incident from our childhood that makes us laugh uncontrollably, and suddenly the cozy, happy chain of our love is cinched that much tighter.

There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.

We delude ourselves when we say otherwise, when we invoke and venerate “quality time,” a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.

We can try. … And there’s no doubt that the degree of attentiveness that we bring to an occasion ennobles or demeans it. Better to spend 15 focused, responsive minutes than 30 utterly distracted ones.

But people tend not to operate on cue. At least our moods and emotions don’t. We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones. The surest way to see the brightest colors, or the darkest ones, is to be watching and waiting and ready for them.

Each day with these people is precious. What a gift to have this time together, to explore somewhere beautiful, and to have the largesse of quality, and quantity, time. Thank you for allowing me to share a peek at it, friends!

P.S. A family trip to the mountains and eating at restaurants with kids.

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May 9, 2022 7:53 am

Lovely thoughts and that looks like a lovely place!

May 9, 2022 1:17 pm

I love that NYT op-ed you linked! It gave me a lot to mull over, especially in light of the social distancing and restricted travel we’ve experienced over the past couple of times

May 12, 2022 2:40 pm
Reply to  Sarah

Hi Sarah, I agree with you! I recently returned from a vacation to the UK, and I was surprised at how much I started reflecting and processing during the trip on everything that’s transpired in the 2.5 years since my last trip outside the US. My husband and I were visiting friends, some of whom we haven’t seen since before the pandemic or our wedding in 2019! Reading this quote from the NYT essay helped put our trip in perspective when I returned.

May 9, 2022 2:08 pm

If you haven’t been, you might want to check out Hilton Head Island- specifically Sea Pines Plantation. Our whole family goes annually… 35 years and counting :)

May 9, 2022 8:23 pm

So glad you came back to Jekyll and made great memories in our neck of the woods :-) That spot under the oak and the swaying moss is just perfect! I will never get tired of those trees!! And that excerpt – lots of food for thought. I will look up the entire article right now.