They say that your favorite beach is always the beach you went to as a child. For me, that was the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, Gulf Shores, Alabama.
But I think I might be converted.
Now, I’m willing to tell you all how great it is. But I don’t want a bunch of you coming down there. Because we love it just the way it is — sparsely populated. (Ha! Just kidding!)
Truthfully, I know a lot of Knoxvillians go to Fripp regularly. Susan has been talking about it for as long as I’ve known her. But it took actually experiencing it to make me understand and identify with what author Pat Conroy says about his home, which is Fripp.
“Though I have traveled all over the world, it is the smell of the tides and marshes of Fripp Island that identifies and shapes me,” wrote Conroy in the introduction to “Fripp Island: A History.” “Its seeds and grasses grow along the margins of my books. Its soft mosses hang like laundry from my high-strung prose. I’ve made a career out of praising the sea islands that form the archipelago that makes Beaufort County the loveliest spot on earth to me.”
According to the 2000 census, the year-round population of Fripp Island is 887, although the population triples during the summer season. It contains apporoximately 6.5 square miles, but much of that is marsh land. Only 2 square miles are above sea level.
Now, some insights from the weekend:
The wildlife is a delight (most of it). We arrived a few weeks after an elderly golfer lost his arm to a 10-foot alligator while retrieving his errant golf ball. Everyone was still talking about it. Needless to say, we cut a wide swath when we encountered one of the ancient reptiles while traipsing around the island.
The deer are everywhere and are being controlled through a sterilization program. You can tell which ones have been neutered by the red tags on their ears.
Other wildlife we encountered: numerous species of land and sea birds, dozens of dolphin, and a (thankfully!) dead snake in the middle of the road.
Development and commercial activity are strictly controlled. Therefore I found it amusing to note that unlike in Knoxville where there are very few visual controls, the people of Fripp take pride in their water towers, painting them like golf balls and emblazoning them with the island’s name.
One of the golf courses, Ocean Creek, was designed by professional golfer Davis Love III. (The men of our party didn’t play that one.)
For non-golfers, primary island activities include sight-seeing rides on golf carts, wildlife viewing, reading, long walks on the beach, sunsets and, of course, naps. We can’t wait to go back!