Life continues at a frantic pace. Labor Day is going to be just that, laboring as I have a messy yard after Tropical Storm Hermine came through here on Friday morning. That turned out to be a busy day that started way too early as we (Volunteer Fire Department) were called out early. A tornado struck the north end of our island and damaged a number of homes and blocked many roads with a tangled mess of live oaks. More about that later. Here is a post I started Thursday night.
I’d scheduled a few days R&R after dropping my daughter off at college. My plan was to spend a couple of nights on Cumberland Island, enjoying the beach (more about that in another post), but I needed a place to stay the night before heading over to the island. As the Cumberland Island ferry leaves from St. Mary’s GA (a town just north of the Florida border), I checked for local establishments. There are a lot of rooms in the St. Mary’s area, especially out near Interstate 95, but in the old town there were several B&Bs and an old hotel, The Riverview, that was celebrating 100 years of business (and 90 years in the same family). Their lists of guests included Rockefellers, Carnegies (the family once owned most of Cumberland Island) and Willard Scott. I knew that was the place. I have a thing for old hotels.
|Notice the cat|
|The cat was yawning, and isn't fierce at all!|
The Riverview Hotel looks like an old hotel from out west, except that instead of using adobe, they used tabby construction. Tabby is a cement made from oyster shells and sand. The building has a veranda out front, from which one could look out on the harbor and the St. Mary’s River and look over to Amelia Island, Florida. It was also a place where certain guests went to smoke, but more about that later. The rooms are all upstairs, the first floor consist of the office in the middle and a saloon on the north end and a restaurant on the south side. Inside, at the registration desk sitting on the sign-in booklet is a friendly black cat (I never did sign in). When we arrived there were no one at the front gate and a note that said to see the bartender as they’d taken the dog for a walk. The office area wasn’t air conditioned and was extremely hot at the end of a day that approached the century mark (100 degrees F) with extremely high humidity. The bartender was friendly and got us our keys. We were in the Willard Scott room. We were told we’d want to turn on the air conditioner and cool the room (no kidding!). We went up and dropped our bags, turned on the AC, then went down to the dining room where we stood waiting for a table. There was only one server and she was engaged in a deep conversation with the only table with patrons. We waited and waited and decided we didn’t need to give our business to someone who didn’t even acknowledge us. We headed to the saloon. We learned they shared menus and the place was lively. The bartender was over immediately to get us drinks and give us a menu. I had a wonderful blacken grouper sandwich.
|Upstairs hallway (beautiful but hot)|
We sat at the bar and talked to other patrons (a couple from Beaufort, South Carolina who regularly visits) and a couple of locals. The beer was cold and the prices reasonable. An hour or so later, we were back to the room. The room was just beginning to cool off. We watched a little of the closing of the Olympics, but went to bed early. I’d been a long day and we needed to be up early in the morning to catch the ferry to Cumberland Island. The ferry terminal was across the street.
The next morning, I went out and wrote in my journal on the veranda. Even though the sun was just coming up, it was hot and sticky. Another guy came out on the veranda and spent the time talking on the phone and smoking a cigarette. I realized then why the room which was non-smoking smelled like smoke. He stood right in front of our air conditioner unit and it was sucking in his exhaust. The hotel had a light breakfast (cereal, fruit, pastries and coffee), which fueled us for our trip to Cumberland Island.
|The ferry to Cumberland Island|
I wouldn’t recommend this hotel for everyone, but if you like old places, you might like it. I’d take it any day over the cookie cutter hotels along the interstate. The room was clean. I wish they could have cooled the room a bit before we arrived. Also, the air conditioner unit was loud. I would stay again, but probably not in the summer. Also, I wouldn’t pay the extra fifteen dollars for the veranda room as it doesn’t really matter. The room didn’t have a door onto the veranda and all patrons have access to it (though a sitting room). Furthermore, not being on the veranda would mean that you wouldn’t have to deal with cigarette smoke being drawn into the room. I’d enjoy spending time exploring St. Mary’s as well as returning to Cumberland Island, so maybe one day I’ll return.