Mac Norton ’17- It is 6:10 a.m when my roommate and I’s alarms sound off loudly in unison. As our barely awakened bodies moved through the morning rituals, we knew nothing of the day to come. Where we would travel, what we would see, today’s experience, at that point it all lived within two words, Sapelo Island. 7:30 hits and we are all packed in the van hurdling down the surprisingly busy rural Georgia highway. A few miles here, a few here, a few turns every direction all give way to beautiful miles upon miles of Georgia low country articulately dissected by muddy Georgia waterways.
The van comes to a halt at the visitor center and we all file out of the van under the partly cloudy Georgia sky. We shuffle around for a bit and make our way towards the road to the ferry. The class in its entirety steps onto the nice large ferry, and in a few minutes we’re off. We pass birds, fishers, other boats, and even answer a few questions about the College and the course prompted by some other passengers on the ferry. A windy twenty minutes comes to an end as we find ourselves at the dock of Sapelo Island. We see other people, cars, trucks, and a hunter, how different is this so called “island” anyway?? Well, was I in for a lesson. We hop onto a buss with our tour guide J.R., a man who lives on this island and was born and raised here. He welcomes us to Sapelo and gives a short introduction. With that, the trip is on.
We stop at the most barren cemetery I’ve ever seen, where he explains there are graves here from the early 1800’s all the way up to March of this year. We take pictures from outside the fence, as he explains the ground is sacred, and tourists have a way of unknowingly disrespecting the area when let inside. Our old yellow school buss winds around mostly gravel and dirt roads, as we spend a short amount of time at the visitor center where we see animal skulls, turtle shells, horseshoe crabs, and even chew on a toothache plant that literally numbed our entire mouths. We stop at the smallest convenient store I’ve ever seen, where we all buy a drink or two and a small snack. We walk around outside and find a tree with small oranges growing on it; some of us pluck one off and take a bite. They were surprisingly sweet! We drive to the lighthouse and beach on the island, where we eat a fantastic semi soul food lunch and take a long walk on the flattest beach that exists. We walk around and find several horseshoe crabs and take several pictures both individually and as a group. We all pile into a smaller van and journey to the north end of the small island. This magical place seems untouched, we see tabby ruins from the very first slave quarters ever built on the island, we enter a barn that stands today with several names carved in the walls. We enter the Reynolds mansion where we see the circus room and bowling alley. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves; we open our mind to a way of life that is foreign to us. There re two gas pumps on this island, you must own land to have a car on the island, there aren’t any police officers, there’s no need. All these things combined to provide a truly wonderful experience, an experience unlike any other I have had before. I am truly thankful for the opportunity my Professors and the College has provided! Long live Sapelo Island, and Immersion Trips. Thank You Wabash!!