The Key to a Good Time


photo Jekyll sign

I turned up the heat one notch as the car idled in the parking lot.  My sister Teena was making a last-minute pit stop, and Mom, Callie and I chatted about our Jekyll Island trip while we waited for her return.

“What time is our tour today?” Mom was the recipient of this trip as a Christmas gift from me and my sister, and she was excited about the prospect of touring the old millionaires’ homes. Anytime there’s a chance to plunder through turn-of-the-century antiques, she gets a gleam in her eye.

“We need to be there a little before three.”

“Are we going to be out in this weather?” The current digits on the thermometer read 43, and as with most lightweights of the southern states, we don a parka as soon as it drops below 70.

“It’s only 10am, Mom.  It’ll warm up before then.”

“The forecast says it’s supposed to be 63,” Callie offered.

“Wow,” I added.  “Old Man Winter is really rearing his head.”

Mom nodded and burrowed deeper into her wool jacket. “I’d like to take a shotgun to his butt.”

We made good time across the state and stopped for a leisurely lunch before reaching our final destination.  The tour was conducted from a golf-cart train, and we loaded the last car.  Teena had the forethought to bring a blanket, so she tucked Mom in.  The conductor’s voice warbled through the intercom, and she gave us a history lesson as we crawled past one elaborate home after another.  She kept referring to the dwellings as “cottages,” though not a single one was under 6,000 square feet.  I guess by these standards I’m living in a utility closet.

Just a tiny place to call home

Just a tiny place to call home

The Rockefeller cottage was one of two we were allowed to tour, and we were told that every residence this family owned had the same blood-red interior.  The carpet was actually made of velvet.  Which I guess made it convenient in case of wine spills, murders, or accidental decapitations, but it must have been a real pill for the servants to clean.  As a person with a mere 1,200 feet to spruce up every week instead of 12,000, I gained a new appreciation for linoleum and plush fibers.

We stayed in the Jekyll Island clubhouse, and for the first time in years, the receptionist handed me a key.  A real key.  Not one of those plastic things that become the equivalent of a bookmark the second they bump against a credit card.  It was five inches in length and made me anticipate a door the size of the ones I’d seen on Notre Dame.  I was disappointed, but it was nice to have the throw-back memory.

I'm pretty sure this is the size of the Keys to the Kingdom

I’m pretty sure this is the size of the Keys to the Kingdom

The next day we stopped by the beach before heading home, and the temp had risen to a respectable 71.  While we may not be living the lifestyles of the rich and famous, I’m pretty sure that this is a winter’s paradise.

We prefer sand to snow

We prefer sand to snow in January

© 2014 – Traci Carver


17 responses »

  1. Always love your posts and your way with words, inspiring. More importantly, I envy you the time and experiences you are having with your mother. Make as many memories as possible and enjoy her every chance you get. Still miss mine. Say hello to Marcia.

    • Watching my dad suffer with his illness, which began right as he retired, really emphasized to me how precious and uncertain time is. I want to spend time with my mom, but I also want her to travel and visit as many places as she can. Our trips have been wonderful!

    • After living in the tropics for several years, I do appreciate mild seasons, but when I read about people going for a walk in sub-temperatures, I just can’t wrap my mind around it. One week of snow a year (on Christmas, of course) would be perfect.

  2. We’ve talked about stopping there, but never have. St Simon’s won out the one time we did . And when you are handed a real key; you know you are in for a treat. What a great gift- maybe a tradition in the making? ;-

  3. A beach right now sounds fabulous. We’re getting flurries today and there is snow in the forecast nearly every day this week. In NC! And you’re right, who gives real keys anymore?? Funny. Sounds like a great trip.

    • I’m sure our students would trade a kidney for a few more snow days, but I’m hoping for blue skies. I’m such a cold weather wimp! And isn’t it funny how something as simple as a key creates a Twilight Zone feeling?

    • That was a few days before The Big Chill, so I wonder how they fared. They’ve probably been replaced by a new batch of soldiers who are crossing their petals for a mild forecast this month!

  4. Your post reminded me of how much I need to get away for a break. We often go to Jekyll Island, and we have rented bikes to cycle down Millionaires Row. I guess the same logic that makes the owners call these mansions cottages applies to Newport Beach up north. What a lovely Christmas gift for your mother.

    Yes, I too live in a winter’s paradise, but I wouldn’t mind just one night of snowflakes sifting through the palm trees and a tiny blanket of white stuff to mute city noise. Great post!

    • I think that’s the PA girl coming out in you 🙂 I used to tell people that I loved winter until I actually experienced a real one in Kentucky. I’ve been a tropics girl ever since!

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